Wire-Crested Thorntail

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Discosura popelairii

Wire-Crested Thorntail

The Wire-Crested Thorntail is one of the smallest birds on earth. This species is mainly threatened by intense deforestation in Amazon Basin, and the population is declining.

It is currently listed as Near Threatened.

It is a small hummingbird, with males measuring 4.5 inches in length, including its tail and females 3 – 3.2 inches in length. Their average weight is 2.5 grams.

Adult males have coppery green upperparts with conspicuous white band on rump. Flight feathers are blackish- brown. The long forked tail is dark bluish- black with three narrow, pointed outer rectrices. All the tail feathers have white shafts. Gorget is glittering green and rest of underparts is black. Body sides are brownish with white patch on flanks. Crown is glittering green with long, narrow wire-like crest. Bill is short, straight and black. Eyes are dark brown. Legs and feet are dark brown with orange thighs.

Adult females have coppery green upperparts with white rump band. Underparts are black with white patch on flanks. There is a white malar streak contrasting with the dark plumage. Tail is short and slightly forked, with bluish- black rectrices and white tips. The long, wire-like crest is absent, only some short feathers on the crown.

Gives short, quiet, liquid “tew” while feeding on nectar at flowers.

Feeds primarily on nectar, and also takes some arthropods.

Frequents humid forests and forest edges in Ecuador where it occurs between 600 and 1200 metres of elevation.

Found in E Colombia (W Meta), E Ecuador and NE Peru (S to Puno). There are some records from adjacent Bolivia.

The female builds a cup-shaped with woven plant fibers. Green moss is added to the outer part of the nest as camouflage. It is lined with soft materials such as animal hair, down and finer plant fibers. The nest is strengthened by spider webs and some sticky material.

It is usually built on fine, low, horizontal branch in shrub, bush or tree. The female lays two white eggs and incubates alone.


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