Long-billed starthroat

Long-billed starthroat
Heliomaster longirostris

Photo by Jim Watt (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
long-billed starthroat (en); bico-recto-cinzento (pt); colibri corinne (fr); colibrí piquilargo (es); rosenkehlkolibri (de)

Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

This species is found from southern Mexico down to Ecuador, eastern Peru, northern Bolivia, and north-western and central Brazil. It is also present in Trinidad and Tobago, but absent from all other Caribbean islands.

These birds are 10-12 cm long and weigh 6,5-7 g.

The long-billed starthroat is mostly found in moist tropical forests, especially in forest clearings, but also uses dry tropical forests, moist scrublands, pastures, second growths and sometimes gardens. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.500 m.

They feed mainly on the nectar of flowers with very long corollas, such as Erythrina and Heliconia. They also consume insects.

Long-billed starthroats breed in October-March. Males are polygamous, mating with several females and having no further part in the breeding process. Females build their nests, each consisting of a broad cup made of spider webs, moss, lichens and plant fibres. The nest is placed in an horizontal branch or sometimes on a telephone wire, usually 4,5-12 m above the ground. There she lay 2 eggs which she incubates alone for 18-19 days. She raises the chicks alone and they fledge 25-26 days after hatching, but continue to be fed by their mother for another 3 weeks.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and the global population is estimated at 0,5-5 million individuals. The long-billed starthroat is suspected to lose 13-15% of suitable habitat within its range based on a model of Amazonian deforestation, so the population is expected to suffer a small decline in the near future.

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