Blue-Tufted Starthroat 

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Heliomaster furcifer

The Blue-Tufted Starthroat is a species of hummingbird in the family Trochilidae.

It is a medium-sized hummingbird measuring 4.9 – 5.12 inches in length and weighs 5 – 6.5 grams.

Adult males have emerald-green crown, nape and upper mantle, whereas the rest of the upperparts are shiny coppery-green.  Tail is forked and dark green above. Throat is glittering violet. The sides of the neck show elongated lateral feathers. These feathers and the underparts are iridescent ultramarine. On the underwing, the coverts are glossy green and the flight feathers are brownish. Undertail is blue-green.

The long bill (30 mm) is black and slightly decurved. Eyes are dark brown with a white spot on the rear eye. Legs and feet are blackish.

After the breeding season, they adopt an eclipse plumage with grayish underparts. This plumage occurs from July to October.

Females have coppery-green upperparts, gray underparts and their throat is mottled darker gray. There is a white line down center of belly, and several small glossy green disks on the body sides.

Tail is less forked than in males. Uppertail is bronze-green with black central tail feathers. Undertail is shiny blue-green with outer tipped-white rectrices.

Immature birds are similar to the females.

Utters series of monosyllabic “triii” or “trrr” with little variations.

Feeds on nectar from several plants’ species. But it “steals” the nectar by piercing the flower at the base of the corolla with its long bill, and does not play its role in pollination. It also hawks insects in the air.

Forest edges, lowland grasslands, scrub and “cerrado” (vast tropical savannah of Brazil

N Argentina, C and S Brazil, C and E Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. There are some records in SE Colombia and NE Ecuador.

The female builds a cup-shaped nest with soft plant fibers, and the outside is decorated with lichens. It is placed between 3 and 6 meters above the ground.

The polygamous male does not take part in nesting duties.

The female lays 2 eggs and incubates alone during about two weeks. At hatching, the chicks are covered in black down with some greyish tufts on the back. They fledge about 20-25 days after hatching.

They can breed in the second year.


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