Thursday, 18 November 2010

Swallow-tailed hummingbird

Eupetomena macroura

Photo by Flávio Brandão (Flickr)

Common name:

Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

This South American species is mostly found in the east-central portion of the continent, from the Guianas and north-eastern Brazil, down to Paraguay in the south and Peru and Bolivia in the west.

This large-sized hummingbird is 15-17 cm long, half of which is made up by the tail. They have a wingspan of 16-18 cm and weigh up to 9 g.

It occurs in virtually any semi-open habitat, even in gardens and parks within major cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. It generally avoids the rainforests of the Amazon Basin, and is only locally found in this region, along forest edges and in isolated enclaves of woodland or savanna-like habitats such as Amazonian Caatinga. It is generally found in the lowlands, but can be found up to 1500 m.

The swallow-tailed hummingbird mainly forages at mid-levels, but can exploit good food sources from anywhere near the ground up to the tree tops. It feeds on nectar, particularly from Fabaceae, Gesneriaceae, Malvaceae, Myrtaceae, Rubiaceae and epiphytic Bromeliaceae. They can also use the flowers of some introduced ornamental plants.

This species starts breeding at 1-2 years of age. They can be found breeding almost year round, but the birds have been seen carrying nest material mostly in July-September and in December. The nest is a cup-shaped structure built with soft plants, lichens and mosses, held together with spider webs. The nests are typically placed in small trees, below 3 m high. The clutch consists of 2 white eggs which are incubated by the female for 15-16 days. The female raises the chicks alone, feeding them 1-2 times per hour until fledging, 22-24 days after hatching. They chicks may continue to be brooded and fed for another 2-3 weeks after fledging.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
Although the population hasn't been quantified, they are described as fairly common and have a very wide breeding range, which indicates the species is not threatened at present.

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