The Berylline Hummingbird is a medium-sized hummingbird that grows up to 8-10 cm long and weighs about 4-5 g. The male is a nit larger compared to the female, with an average weight of 4.87 g compared to 4.37 g of the female.
The Berylline Hummingbird’s color explains why the bird is named as such. Its feathers closely resemble the color of the sea green gem called beryl. Berylline, which implies ‘like a beryl’, eventually became the official name of the hummingbird.
The dominant color in adult Berylline Hummingbirds is metallic olive green with a rusty fray lower belly. The bird’s head, throat and chest has a bright iridescent turquoise-green color that shows a stark contrast against the darker cinnamon red wings and tail. Its lower abdomen is buff to whitish-gray. The bill of the male Berylline is straight and slender. The upper bill is black and the lower bill appears red-orange.
The bird’s tail, primary wings and underwing are rufous in colour and slightly forked. The rufous wing patches help on distinguishing the birds from Buff-bellied Hummingbirds and Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds.
The female Berylline is notably less colourful compared to the male.
The Berylline Hummingbird primarily feeds on nectar from flowers and flowering trees with the use of its long, extendable tongue. They source the nectar from different brightly colored, scented small flowers of trees, herbs, shrubs and epiphytes. They prefer flowers with the highest sugar content.
Sometimes, they visit garden nectar feeders for some sugar water, or drink out of birdbaths or water foundation to sip for water.
Aside from nectar, they also feed on some small spiders and insects as a source of protein. They need the protein especially during the breeding season in order to ensure the proper development of their young. They catch these insects while flying, snatch them out of leaves or branches, or take them out from spider webs. The Berylline Hummingbirds are so skilled in capturing insects that a nesting female could catch up to 2000 insects in a day.
The Berylline’s breeding habitat spans from the forests and thickets of western Mexico to central Honduras in Central America. Most of the time, it would go to southeastern-most Arizona in the United States, where it sometimes breeds in the Madrean sky islands region.
The Berylline Hummingbird is one of Arizona’s three hummingbird species. It is among the rare types of hummingbirds in the state. The bird has also been recorded to appear in the mountain ranges of Texas. And a few sightings were recorded in New Mexico.
The Berylline Hummingbird can be found in the foothills and highlands in oak and pine-oak forests, forest edges, scrub, clearings with trees, thorn forests, and suburban gardens. They are commonly found at elevations ranging from 3000 to 10000 feet.
Since the Berylline Hummingbirds do not regularly breed in the United States, they are sometimes listed as accidental species. Berylline Hummingbirds are classified as non-migratory.
At the height of the breeding season, the nests of different pairs are placed in different heights. However, in the case of Berylline Hummingbirds, they prefer to gather in the tops of flowering trees with other hummingbirds in order to demonstrate their dominance.
Nesting and Behavior
The Berylline Hummingbirds are often described as solitary and aggressive. The only involvement of the male in the process of reproduction is only on the actual mating with the female. He does not participate in choosing the nest location, building the best, or raising the young birds. Also, Berylline Hummingbirds do not live nor migrate as a group. And for this species, there is no bonding between pairs.
The female builds the cup-shaped nest alone. She would find a safe spot in a shrub or a tree for the nest location. She uses woven plant fibers in constructing the nest, which green moss outside coverings for camouflage. The nest is lined with soft plant fivers, animal hair and feather down, and is strengthened by either spider webs or other sticky material.
Female Beryllines lay two white eggs in average. The young Berylline Hummingbirds are generally helpless upon birth. They are blind, immobile, and has no down.
As territorial animals, they would fiercely chase intruders away from their favorite perching spots.
The Berylline Hummingbird’s population is ‘not threatened’. With its huge numbers in the normal Mexican range, the Berylline Hummingbird’s population is considered stable. However, since it resides in forests, the bird may be susceptible to habitat loss as a result of new human developments.