Buff-Tailed Sicklebill 

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Eutoxeres condamini

The Buff-Tailed Sicklebill is a species of bird in the Trochilidae family. There are two subspecies which are not very distinct and almost form a continuous cline, with an extensive intergradation zone in northern Peru:

  • Eutoxeres condamini condamini (Bourcier, 1851) – northern buff-tailed sicklebill Colombia and Ecuador. Bill longer, lower belly much streaked
  • Eutoxeres condamini gracilis (Berlepsch & Stolzmann, 1902) – southern buff-tailed sicklebill Central Peru to Bolivia. Bill shorter, lower belly less streaked

It is a relatively large hummingbird with a total length of 5 – 6 inches and weight of 7.9 – 12.5 grams.

Males and females are virtually identical, differing only in size (especially wing measurements), with the females being some 20% smaller.

Upperparts are iridescent dull greenish, while the underparts are whitish, densely streaked with dusky. The neck-side has a relatively faint blue patch. The tips of the rectrices (tail feathers) are white, and there is a naked stripe on top of the head (but this is usually concealed).

The most conspicuous features, however, are those the common name refers to: the bill is strongly decurved, and the outer three rectrices on each side are deep buff, best visible from below.

Immature birds have light-tipped remiges (pinions), hardly any blue on the neck, and lack the naked crown stripe.

Hatchlings have black skin and gray down.

Song is an extended, rollicking series of soft chirps given from a concealed perch.

The peculiar bill is an adaption to the shape of certain flowers, namely of the genera Centropogon and Heliconia.

It feeds mainly by trap-lining. In addition to nectar, it will also catch small arthropods.

It is restricted to the undergrowth of humid forested and wooded habitats, recorded from 590–10,800 ft (180–3,290 m) ASL.

It will tolerate more habitat disturbance than its congener, regularly occurring in plantations, bamboo stands and open habitat where populations are healthy, though it still prefers natural vegetation.

Andes and adjacent west Amazonian lowlands from southern Colombia and northern Ecuador to Peru and Bolivia.

Two white eggs are laid in a nest which is attached to the underside of a leaf, a few meters above ground. Only the female incubates the eggs for 16 – 18 days.

The young fledge 22 – 24 days after hatching. They start to breed when they are 1 – 2 years old.


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