Thursday, 17 November 2011

Rufous hummingbird

Selasphorus rufus

Photo by Nan Moore (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
rufous hummingbird (en); beija-flor-ruivo (pt); colibri roux (fr); colibrí rufo (es); rotrücken-zimtelfe (de)

Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

This North American species breeds in southern Alaska, along the pacific coast of Canada and in the north-western United States. They migrate south along the Pacific coast of North America to winter in southern Mexico.

This small hummingbird is 7-9 cm long and has a wingspan of 11 cm. They weigh 2-5 g.

During the breeding season they are found in open or scrubby areas, forest openings, yards, and parks, and sometimes in coniferous forests, thickets, swamps, and meadows, from sea level up to an altitude of 1.800 m. They winter in oak, pine, and juniper woods, scrublands and thorn forest, coastal areas and mountain meadows, from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m.

Rufous hummingbirds mostly feed on the nectar of colourful, tubular flowers including columbine, scarlet gilia, penstemon, Indian paintbrush, mints, lilies, fireweeds, larkspurs, currants, and heaths. They also eat insects, particularly gnats, midges, flies taken from the air, and aphids taken from plants.

These birds breed in April-July. The female builds the cup-shaped nest alone, using soft plant down held together with spider web. She camouflages the outside with lichen, moss, and bark. There she lays 2-3 white eggs which she incubates alone for 15-17 days. The male guards the nest and helps raise the chicks, which fledge 15-19 days after hatching. Each pair raises a single brood per season.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population of 7 million individuals. This species has undergone a small decline of 1-2% per year over the last few decades, but is overall not considered threatened at present.

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