Andean Hillstar

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Oreotrochilus estella

Andean Hillstar

The Andean Hillstar is a species of hummingbird in the family Trochilidae.

It is a medium-size hummingbird measuring about 5.12 – 5.91 inches in length with males weighing 8.8 grams and females 8 grams.

Adult males have grayish-green to grayish-brown upperparts. Flight-feathers and rectrices are bluish-black.

They have white underparts with broad, iridescent green gorget that contrasts strongly with a black collar and the pale underparts. There is a rufous-brown median stripe on belly. Breast sides and flanks are buffy-white. The central pair of rectrices is dark green, whereas the outer rectrices are white with dusky edging.

Bill is black and slightly curved. Eyes are dark brown. Legs and strong feet are blackish.

Both males and females show a small white spot on the rear eye.

Adult females are duller, with grayish-green upperparts and mostly grayish underparts. Their white throat shows fine, dusky specks. Bases and tips of rectrices are white. Flight-feathers are dark brown with blue/green iridescence.

They resemble the female Ecuadorian Hillstar, but are greener above and grayer below.

Juvenile birds are more grayish. The base of the mandible is yellow.

Immature birds have dark glaucous gorget.

A short, repeated “tsip”. During chasing, it gives rapid, melodious twittering.

Feeds on nectar from several flowering plant, but especially Chuquiragua spinosa shrubs and low cushion cacti, occasionally Eucalyptus.

Insects are also taken while drinking nectar from plants, or gleaned from vegetation or caught in flight.

Usually found in the sparse vegetation and grasslands of the Puna Plateau in the Andes, often around rocky outcrops and in places.

It is relatively common near habitations and at the edges of woodlands with Polylepis and areas with Bromeliaceae.

Found from SW Peru, through W Bolivia and N Chile to NW Argentina.

The nest is a large cup-shaped, bulky structure glued to a rock surface or under an overhanging rock. It is usually made with moss and lichen held together with spider webs. 

The female lays 2 eggs and incubates alone during 20 days.

She feeds the chicks alone and the young fledge about 38 days after hatching, or less in warmer places. A second clutch is sometimes possible.

The young birds are fully fledged at about fine weeks old. During this period, the male moves out to live at higher elevation.


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