Giant Hummingbird   

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Patagona gigas

Giant Hummingbird

The Giant Hummingbird is the largest hummingbird of the family Trochilidae and the only member of the genus Patagona.

This species is included in the subfamily Trochilinae which comprises about 90% of the species. The genus Patagona is part of the “Andean clade”.

The hummingbirds of this group share several common features such as courtship behavior, perching displays, calls and songs, nest-sites and some morphological criterions. 

It is the largest hummingbird in the world, measuring 7.9 – 8.7 inches in length and a weight of 18 – 23 grams.

Adult males have dull olive-brown upperparts with conspicuous white rump, whereas the bronze-green uppertail-coverts are edged white. The forked tail is wedge-shaped. The bronze-green rectrices have whitish bases, but the outermost feathers show pale grey central part. Wings are dull olive-brown. They are very long and almost reach the tip of the tail when closed.

Underparts and neck sides are dull cinnamon and contrast with the white undertail-coverts.

Bill is black, stout and straight. Eyes are dark brown, surrounded by narrow white feathered eyering. Legs are feathered dull cinnamon from tarsi to toes, and the feet are large and sturdy.

Females are duller overall with variably spotted gray underparts, although some females resemble males.

Immature birds have rufescent underparts with speckled gray throat. Upperparts show narrow scaling pattern and the flight-feathers have white edges.

Calls are very short and uttered by both sexes. A single, squeaky “squip” and a less characteristic “tee” or “zrr”. These are usually given from exposed perches in shrubs or at tree tops.

The chase calls are heard from birds during the defense of their feeding areas. These loud vocal signals include mixed squeaky piping whistles and trills. These sounds play a role in field identification.

Feeds on nectar from numerous plant species such as Agave and Puya flowers, Opuntia cylindrical and other tall cacti, Buddleia, Passiflora, Sittacanthus, Eucalyptus, Mutisia, Nicotiana and Lobelia.

It particularly favors nectar from Oreocereus celsianus, and from the similar, but smaller, Cleistocactus tupizensis. The first plant is flowering during the entire wet season.

Usually occurs in open habitats and can be seen in arid montane scrub or cultivated areas with hedgerows, and shrubby hillsides with thistles and columnar cacti.

Found in C and S Chile and adjacent CW Argentina. The southern populations winter N to NW Argentina. This species is regularly seen in summer in Sierras Grandes de Cordoba in C Argentina.

The female builds the nest with moss and lichens, and lined with soft materials, often sheep wool. The outer part is covered with spider webs.

It is usually built in an area near water, placed in large bush or tree, often Eucalyptus or poplar, but also on top of cactus, often 2 - 4 meters above the ground.

The female lays 1-2 white eggs, usually two. She incubates alone during 12 - 13 days.


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