Sunday, 13 May 2012

Rufous-breasted hermit

Glaucis hirsuta

(Photo from Guia das Aves do Pantanal)

Common name:
rufous-breasted hermit (en); balança-rabo-de-bico-torto (pt); ermite hirsute (fr); ermitaño hirsuto (es); rotschwanz-schattenkolibri

Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

This species is found from Panama to Bolivia and south-eastern Brazil, and also in Trinidad and Tobago.

These birds are 10-12 cm long and weigh 5,5-8 g.

Rufous-breasted hermits are mostly found in rainforests, but also in swamp forests, dry savanna, dry grasslands and plantations. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 1.100 m but may occasionally be found as high as 3.500 m above sea level.

They mostly eat the nectar of flowers from the forest understorey, but can only visit flowers with a similar shape to that of their bill, namely Costus scaber, Heliconia standleyi and Heliconia stricta, Duroia hirsuta, Palicourea lasiantha, Psychotria bahiensis and Psychotria platypoda, Sanchezia peruviana, Drymonia semicordata and Cuphea melvilla. They also take small invertebrates such as spiders.

Rufous-breasted hermits breed mostly in May-November, but can breed all year round in some areas. Both sexes build the nest, a small cup made of plant fibres, rootlets, spider webs, dried leaves, very slender twigs, and lichens, which is attached to the underside of a leaf of a palm tree or fern, 1-10 m above the ground. The female lays 2 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 16-19 days. The chicks are fed by the female alone and fledge 20-25 days after hatching, but remain with their mother for another 3-4 weeks.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as fairly common. It is suspected to be in decline owing to habitat loss and loss of suitable food plants, but overall the rufous-breasted hermit is not considered threatened at present.

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