Lazuline Sabrewing Hummingbird Species

The Lazuline Sabrewing (Campylopterus falcatus) is a medium-sized hummingbird found in Central America and northern South America. With its metallic blue upperparts and white underparts, it is one of the more colorful and eye-catching hummingbird species.

Physical Description
The Lazuline Sabrewing has a total body length of around 8-9 centimeters. The male has vivid metallic blue upperparts that cover the crown, back, rump and tail. The underparts are snowy white from the throat to belly. The wings are blackish-blue with a violet sheen. The relatively short black bill is slightly decurved. The female is similar but has greener upperparts, white flecked underparts and more rounded tail feathers. Juveniles resemble adult females but with buffy sides and paler underparts with dusky streaking.

Distribution and Habitat
The Lazuline Sabrewing is found from southeastern Mexico through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Its range extends into northwestern Colombia and northwestern Ecuador. Its natural habitats are humid lowland and foothill forests, forest edges, second growth, plantations and gardens. It occurs from sea level up to elevations of 1200 m.

Behavior and Ecology
Like other hummingbirds, the Lazuline Sabrewing feeds on nectar taken from a variety of colorful tubular flowers and flowering trees. It uses its specialized long, extendable tongue to lap up nectar while hovering in front of flowers. It also takes small insects and spiders as an essential source of protein.

The Lazuline Sabrewing is somewhat territorial, with the male defending feeding areas from other males or other hummingbird species. It has a swift direct flight with rapid wingbeats that produce a buzzing sound. Courtship displays by the male involve ascent flights up to 100 feet high followed by a steep downward power dive.

Reproduction occurs from November to May, varying based on geographic location. The tiny cup-shaped nest is constructed by the female from plant down bound together with spider webs. It is attached to a twig, vine or fern frond, usually overhanging a stream. The normal clutch size is two white eggs which are incubated by the female for 15-19 days. The chicks are fed regurgitated food by the female and fledge after 20-26 days.

Conservation Status
With an extremely large range and no evidence of significant population declines, the Lazuline Sabrewing is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Its habitat is threatened by deforestation in some regions but the species remains common enough throughout its broad range. More protected reserves in Central America would help safeguard populations.

Unique Adaptations
The Lazuline Sabrewing has several unique adaptations related to its lifestyle and diet:

– Specialized tubular tongue for lapping up nectar while hovering. The tongue tip is divided into two tubes by a cleft and can extend up to 6 cm beyond the bill tip.

– High wingbeat frequency of up to 70 beats per second, enabling precise hovering in front of flowers. Rotating wings provide lift on both upstroke and downstroke.

– High metabolic rate with rapid breathing and heartbeat. At rest, ~250 breaths/minute and heart rate up to 1200 beats/minute. This provides energy for sustained hovering.

– Ability to enter torpor, a hibernation-like state to conserve energy overnight. Body temperature drops and heart and breathing rates slow dramatically.

– Excellent color vision and color discrimination to locate nectar sources. Red sensitivity allows detection of red tubular flowers.

– Bills slightly curved to match the curvature of many tropical flowers adapted to pollination by hummingbirds.

– Strong feet with sharp claws used for perching while feeding.

– Males are polygamous and attract females with display dives, taking advantage of colorful iridescent plumage.

– Small size allows agile flight through dense forest vegetation and access to small flowers.Compared to larger hummers, the sabrewing has relatively shorter wings and a longer tail.

These specialized adaptations allow the Lazuline Sabrewing to thrive on its nectar diet and play an important ecological role as a pollinator of tropical flowering plants. The saberwing’s beautiful colors also make it a popular tropical hummingbird for birdwatchers and photographers. Protecting its forest habitat will help ensure the continued survival of this diminutive yet vividly colored species.