The peacock coquette (Lophornis pavoninus) is a species of hummingbird found in tropical South America. With its vibrant colors and unique appearance, this tiny bird has captivated ornithologists and bird enthusiasts alike.
The peacock coquette is one of the most colorful hummingbirds in the world. The male has an iridescent green forehead and crown, an iridescent blue-green throat, bright green underparts, and a short forked black and blue tail. What makes this hummingbird truly stand out are the elongated uppertail coverts that form extravagant ornamental plumes streaming behind the bird in flight. These plumes shimmer in hues of green and blue, resembling an elegant peacock’s tail.
The female peacock coquette lacks the ornamental plumes and is overall less vibrantly colored than the male, with dull green upperparts and gray underparts. She can however be identified by her white tips on the outer tail feathers. Juveniles of both sexes resemble adult females.
This hummingbird is relatively small, measuring 7-9 cm (2.8-3.5 in) in length and weighing around 3-4 g (0.11-0.14 oz). Despite its diminutive stature, the peacock coquette makes up for its size with its bold, lively behavior.
Range and Habitat
The peacock coquette is found in tropical South America in the Amazon and Guiana Shield regions. Its range extends through parts of Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
This species inhabits humid lowland tropical forests, forest edges, and clearings. It occurs predominantly in lowlands up to 1200 m in elevation. The peacock coquette can also be found visiting forest streams and rivers.
Like all hummingbirds, the peacock coquette feeds on nectar from flowers using its specialized long bill and tongue. It favors bright tubular blossoms in the understory and forest canopy, including flowers from heliconia, costus, and other ginger plants.
The peacock coquette inserts its bill deep into flowers to extract nectar. It prefers flowers with corollas matching the length of its bill, which allows it to efficiently access nectar rewards. This species uses tracheal suction to draw nectar up through its bill while feeding.
In addition to nectar, the peacock coquette feeds on small arthropods like insects and spiders. It gleans these prey items from foliage and branches. The extra protein gained from eating arthropods helps fuel the hummingbird’s supercharged metabolism.
Courtship and Breeding
During courtship displays, the male peacock coquette performs dramatic flying maneuvers and aerial dances to impress females. He flies in repeated upright loops above the female while fanning his colorful tail plumes.
Females build a small cup nest out of plant down and fibers on the underside of large leaves. They lay two tiny white eggs in the nest. The female alone incubates the eggs and cares for the chicks after they hatch.
Widespread and relatively common throughout its range, the peacock coquette is evaluated as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. Habitat loss from deforestation poses the biggest threat to its future survival. Fortunately, a large percentage of its range occurs in the Amazon where forest remains intact.
The dazzling plumes and energetic disposition of the peacock coquette make it a jewel of the avian world. This exotic hummingbird deserves protection to preserve its unique beauty for future generations. Maintaining neotropical forests will be crucial for ensuring this species continues to adorn its tropical haunts. With proper habitat conservation measures, this peacock of the hummingbird family will hopefully persist in shimmering splendor.
– The peacock coquette has one of the most elaborate and elongated tail plume displays of all hummingbirds.
– Males gather together in leks to perform courtship displays for females. Up to 12 males may gather at one lek.
– This species traplines, moving methodically between patches of different flower species to feed. They remember locations of good nectar sources.
– Peacock coquettes use a rapid flight mode called “hover-gleaning” to pluck spiders and insects from leaves.
– They have specially adapted feet that allow them to perch vertically on branches, a useful ability in dense forests.
– Their long, slender bills match the shape of their preferred tubular flowers, like Heliconia. This co-evolution helps the birds access nectar.
– Peacock coquette males are polygamous, mating with multiple females. Females provide all parental care.
– These hummingbirds produce a sharp “tsip” call made with the bill closed. Both males and females vocalize to communicate.
– Their genus name Lophornis comes from Ancient Greek words meaning “crested bird”, referring to their head plumes.
The resplendent peacock coquette hummingbird dazzles with its colorful plumes and spunky personality. This tropical species brings vibrant life to South America’s forests. Ensuring adequate habitat remains to sustain these exotic birds will allow continued enjoyment of their beauty. With careful conservation, the peacock coquette’s radiance will hopefully persist for many generations to come.