The Black-throated Mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis) is a medium-sized hummingbird found in tropical regions of Central and South America. With its metallic green upperparts, black throat, and long decurved bill, it is one of the more distinct hummingbird species.
The black-throated mango measures around 12-13 cm long and weighs 5-8 grams. As its name suggests, adult males have a velvety black throat patch, bordered below with an iridescent emerald gorget. The upperparts and flanks are golden green, while the belly is grayish-white. The tail is forked and steel blue. Females lack the black throat and have white spotting on the throat and breast. The bill of the black-throated mango is long, slim, and decurved.
Distribution and Habitat
The black-throated mango is found from Mexico south to Bolivia and central Brazil. Its habitats include tropical evergreen forests, forest edges, second growth, plantations, and parks and gardens. It is generally quite common within its wide range.
Like all hummingbirds, the black-throated mango feeds on nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, scented small flowers of herbs, shrubs and trees. It favors flowers with the highest sugar content. It uses its long, specialized tongue to retrieve the nectar while hovering in front of the flower. It also takes some small insects and spiders as an essential source of protein.
Behavior and Breeding
The black-throated mango is solitary and territorial. Males will aggressively defend their flower and feeding territories from intruders, engaging in intense aerial chases and displays. Their courtship display consists of flying in rapid, elliptical patterns low over their territory.
Males and females form breeding partnerships that last only for a single breeding season. The female builds a small cup nest on a low horizontal branch or tree fork, binding plant fibers and lichens together with spider webs. She incubates the two white, elongated eggs for 15-19 days. The chicks fledge about 20-28 days after hatching.
Northern populations of the black-throated mango are migratory, moving southward after breeding. Those breeding in Central America migrate down the mountains to the Pacific lowlands in winter. South American populations are largely resident year-round, undertaking only local migrations.
Status and Threats
A widespread and often common species, the black-throated mango is ranked as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. Its numbers appear to be stable, and it tolerates modified habitats such as gardens and plantations quite well. As long as sufficient flowers remain available, this adaptable hummingbird should continue to thrive.
No special conservation actions are currently needed for the black-throated mango. Maintaining diversity of flowering plants and trees in parks, gardens, and agricultural areas is beneficial. Providing clean nectar feeders, limiting pesticide use, and keeping cats indoors helps support hummingbird populations. Ecotourism projects can also aid conservation efforts in many parts of its range.
– The black-throated mango gets its name from two sources – the glossy black throat of the male, and the fact that it feeds on mango flower nectar in some areas.
– Its scientific name comes from two Greek words – anthos meaning flower, and thorax meaning chest – referring to its colorful gorget. The species name nigricollis combines the Latin words for black (niger) and neck (collum).
– The tail feathers make a humming sound during flight, hence the name “hummingbird”. The black-throated mango’s wingbeat frequency is around 15 beats per second.
– Hummingbirds have the fastest metabolic rate of any bird, about 10 times faster than humans. This enables their super-charged lifestyle and aerobatics.
– To conserve energy, they go into a state of torpor at night, lowering their body temperature and slowing their heartbeat and breathing.
– Like all hummingbirds, the black-throated mango has weak feet and can barely walk. They do almost everything – feed, mate, groom, bathe – while hovering mid-air.
– The black-throated mango features prominently in ancient Aztec legend. It was considered a symbol of the sun god Huitzilopochtli.
In summary, the dazzling black-throated mango is a charismatic tropical hummingbird species equipped with special adaptations for a life on fast-forward. Sipping sugary nectar while buzzing between brilliant flowers, it adds a spark of energy and vibrancy to its habitats across the Americas. With continued conservation of native flowering plants, this emerald-hued jewel of the hummingbird family will continue to thrive.