Cinnamon-throated Hermit Hummingbird Species

The Cinnamon-throated Hermit Hummingbird (Phaethornis nattereri) is a small hummingbird found in South America. With an average body length of 11-12 cm and weight of 4-7 grams, it is a relatively petite member of the hermit hummingbird group. Its plumage is primarily green above and gray below, with a distinctive rusty cinnamon-colored throat that gives the species its common name.

Range and Habitat
The Cinnamon-throated Hermit is found across much of the Amazon basin in countries like Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. Its habitat is lowland tropical rainforests and moist forests along the edges of rivers and streams. It resides mainly in the understory and mid-level forest layers, building small cup nests on branches.

The species is a year-round resident across its range, not migrating annually like some hummingbird species. However, it may make minor local movements between different forest areas depending on the season and availability of food sources. Overall numbers are believed to be decreasing due to deforestation, but the Cinnamon-throated Hermit remains fairly common throughout its range.

Physical Description
The Cinnamon-throated Hermit has vibrant green upperparts from its back to the top of its head. The underside is more muted, with gray on the throat, breast and belly transitioning into greenish-gray undertail coverts. As the name suggests, the standout feature is the cinnamon-rufous colored throat, which can appear almost rusty orange in bright light.

The straight black bill is of medium length for a hermit hummingbird. The tail is mostly rufous-brown with hints of russet and black centrally and on the outermost feathers. Legs and feet are grayish-brown. Sexes are alike in plumage, while juveniles have greener throats and shorter bills.

Diet and Feeding
Like all hummingbirds, the Cinnamon-throated Hermit feeds on floral nectar from a variety of rainforest flowers and flowering plants. It uses its specialized long tongue to lap up nectar while hovering in front of blooms. The species seeks out flowers with the richest and most plentiful nectar.

Small insects are also caught on the wing and supplement the nectar diet, providing protein. Spider webs may be raided for trapped insects. The Cinnamon-throated Hermit will defend nectar-rich flowering plants in its territory from other competing hummingbird species.

Flight and Behavior
In flight, the Cinnamon-throated Hermit alternates between rapid wing beats and gliding. It can hover in place efficiently, maneuvering itself into upside down or backward positions to access nectar from all angles. The wings beat approximately 70 times per second. burst flight speed can reach around 25 miles per hour.

Usually solitary or in pairs, this species is not very aggressive compared to other hermit hummingbirds. It perches quite frequently, adopting an upright posture on low exposed branches while watching for food sources or intruders. In interactions at flowers, it is typically dominant over smaller hummingbird species but subordinate to larger stronger ones.

Courtship displays by the male involve flying in repeated oval patterns and diving steeply while vocalizing with buzzing or popping sounds. In aggressive encounters, a sharp ticking call is produced. The most common vocalization of both sexes is a single scratchy chip note used in short bursts.

Breeding and Nesting
The breeding season of the Cinnamon-throated Hermit coincides with the rainy season, which provides abundant flowers and insect prey. Courtship pursuits begin in earnest in March and April, and nest building occurs from May to July. The tiny cup nest is intricately woven from plant down and fibers into a soft, warm interior, using spider silk and lichens to bind it to a thin branch.

Two small white eggs are laid and incubated by the female for about 16-19 days. The male plays no role in incubation or feeding. Once hatched, the helpless chicks are fed regurgitated insects and nectar by the female. After another 20-26 days, the young leave the nest and soon become independent. Pairs may raise multiple broods in a season.

Conservation Status
Still a common species across most of its range, the Cinnamon-throated Hermit is classified as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. However, localized declines due to rainforest destruction are a threat requiring ongoing monitoring. Collection for the pet trade may also impact some populations.

Efforts to preserve tracts of native forest habitat can help safeguard the future of this and other hummingbird species that depend on the diverse flora of tropical South American rainforests. Maintaining connectivity between protected areas via habitat corridors can allow necessary seasonal movements and promote genetic diversity.

Fun Facts
– The Cinnamon-throated Hermit has one of the more colorful throats among its hermit hummingbird relatives, only surpassed by the Red-necked and Blue-throated hermits.

– Its genus name Phaethornis refers to an ancient mythology-based character who was keeper of a lamp, alluding to how hummingbirds seem to “hover at flowers as if holding a lamp.”

– Hummingbirds are the only group of birds able to fly backwards thanks to specialized shoulder joints. This helps the Cinnamon-throated Hermit access nectar from all angles.

– Its long bill is perfectly adapted to feed from rainforest flowers with lengthy curved corollas that other birds can’t access, making the hermit a key pollinator.

– Individuals consume over half their body weight in nectar each day and visit hundreds or even over a thousand flowers daily.

In Summary
With its rusty cinnamon throat patch standing out against bright green plumage, the Cinnamon-throated Hermit is a charming and important fixture of South American lowland rainforests. It plays an integral role as a specialized pollinator for many native plants. Conserving its preferred habitat will ensure we continue to enjoy the aerial agility and vibrant beauty of this and other tropical hummingbird species.