Green-and-white Hummingbird Species

The green-and-white hummingbird (Amazilia viridicauda) is a small yet vibrant hummingbird species found in Central America. With its bright green back and tail contrasting with a bold white underside, this hummingbird puts on quite a show as it zips through the forest canopy. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the key identification features, behavior, habitat, diet, reproduction, conservation status, and interesting facts about this eye-catching bird.

Identification Features

The green-and-white hummingbird lives up to its common name, with the male exhibiting glossy green plumage on its back, head, wings and tail. The breast and belly are clean white. The thin bill is straight and black. Females are similar but less vibrant, with more grayish plumage overall. Juveniles resemble adult females.

Some key identification features to look for include:

– Iridescent emerald green back and tail
– Pure white underside from chin to belly
– Black legs and feet
– Straight black bill, medium length
– Females and juveniles less brightly colored

The green-and-white hummingbird can be confused with the charming hummingbird, but is distinguished by more white on the belly and a straighter, darker bill. It is smaller and greener compared to the buff-bellied hummingbird. Overall, the vibrant green and white make this species stand out.

Behavior

The feeding and flight behavior of the green-and-white hummingbird is classic for a hummingbird. It feeds mainly on nectar from flowers using its specialized long tongue and ability to hover in place. It will aggressively defend flower patches to gain exclusive access to nectar. This species also consumes small insects for protein.

The green-and-white hummingbird is solitary and territorial. Males will ascend rapidly up to 100 feet in mating displays, before diving back down. Their wings beat an average of 50 times per second, making the distinctive humming sound. Despite their small size, these hummingbirds are feisty and will readily chase off intruders entering their territory. Beyond defending feeding areas, they have also been observed displaying aggression near nest sites.

Habitat

The green-and-white hummingbird inhabits tropical deciduous forests, plantations, gardens, and second growth woodlands. Its elevation range stretches from sea level up to around 1,600 feet. This species occurs locally across the Pacific slope of Central America, ranging from southern Mexico to northwestern Costa Rica.

Within its forest habitat, the green-and-white hummingbird prefers forest edges, clearings, and gaps that receive ample sunlight. It favors areas with a diversity of flowering plants and feeders, which provide nectar and insect sources. Despite its bright plumage, this hummingbird blends into dense vegetation surprisingly well. It alternates between perching in the shadows and making brief feeding dashes into sunny openings.

Diet

Like all hummingbirds, the green-and-white hummingbird has a high metabolism and must feed frequently to fuel its energy needs. Its diet consists mainly of nectar from tubular flowers such as Heliconia, bananas, and palms. It uses its specialized long, extendable tongue to lap up nectar while hovering. The bill is perfectly adapted for this task.

The green-and-white hummingbird also consumes small insects including flies, beetles, butterflies, spiders, and aphids. Insects provide important amino acids absent from floral nectar. By spending more time near forest edges, the hummingbird can find both flowers and insects in ample supply.

Reproduction

The breeding season of the green-and-white hummingbird varies across its range. In general, breeding takes place between November to June in Mexico, and February to July in Central America.

Males are promiscuous and court multiple females. Courtship displays involve flying in repeated U-shaped patterns to attract females. If a female is receptive, she will allow the male to approach her. The male and female may also participate in a courtship flight together.

The female alone builds the nest out of soft plant fibers and moss, binding it with spider webs. She chooses a low horizontal branch or tree fork 3-6 feet off the ground. The tiny cup-shaped nest measures only 1.5 inches wide and 0.5 inches deep.

The female lays just two tiny white eggs. She incubates them alone for 15-19 days until hatching. The chicks fledge in another 20-26 days, an astonishingly short development window. The female cares for the chicks alone. She may raise up to two broods per year. Males provide no care and may even attack the female while she’s nesting.

Conservation Status

The green-and-white hummingbird has a large range and population, estimated up to 500,000 mature individuals. Its population appears to be stable with no major threats at this time. Due to this, the IUCN Red List categorizes this species as Least Concern. However, habitat loss from clearing of forests for agriculture or development represents the main future threat across its Central American range.

Interesting Facts

– Iridescent plumage color caused by specialized feather structure that refracts light

– Wings beat up to 50 times per second, allowing sustained hovering and flight even backwards or upside-down!

– Heart rate can reach up to 1,200 beats per minute during flight

– High metabolism requires eating up to twice their body weight in nectar daily

– Specialized tongue is grooved and extends past the bill to lap up nectar

– Males perform courtship displays up to 100 feet in the air

– Females intricately build a tiny nest out of plant fibers and spider silk

– Babies fledge only 20-26 days after hatching, extremely fast development

– Males provide no care and may attack females and chicks at the nest

In Summary

With its brilliant emerald and white plumage, energetic flight, and pugnacious behavior, the green-and-white hummingbird is a jewel of Central America’s forests. This species exhibits many fascinating adaptations for nectar-feeding, from tongue to feet to flight muscles. While boldly colored, it can disappear into the shadows when it chooses. If you are lucky enough to come across one, take a moment to appreciate the aerobatic show as it buzzes from flower to flower – a flash of green and white in the tropical forest. With a range limited to one small region of our planet, this hummingbird serves as an important reminder to preserve habitat and biological diversity.