The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird inhabiting the northwestern part of America. This bird is named after a Greek muse Calliope.
The species is known for its exciting brilliant colors and sheepish personality. While it is notably silent, it also produces high fast chirps and rough buzzing sound that can be heard when it shows aggression or irritation.
The Calliope Hummingbirds get easily intimidated and chased from their sources of food by larger hummingbirds, which leave them to have a more reserved personality unlike the other types of humming birds. They also prefer to peck in low bushes and other non-visible areas.
Calliope Hummingbirds are rarely hardy for their tiny size. They prefer to be in the forest and mountain meadows. They usually migrate and spend winter in central and southern Mexico.
Calliope Hummingbirds are relatively small hummingbirds. They only grow up to 2.8 – 3.9 inches in length. They have short bills and shorts tails. Most of the calliope hummingbirds have glossy green on the back and have white underneath.
The adult males are easily distinguished for having purple-red streaks near their throat in a V-pattern, white spots with green speckles on the sides of their chest and abdomen, and have dark tail. The female and young Calliope Hummingbirds have a pinkish shade on their flanks, dark streaks near their throat, and dark tail with white tips.
The Calliopes feed on floral nectar, but like other humming birds, Calliopes do not suck floral nectar. Instead, they usually lick it with their fringed, forked tongues. The Calliopes can lick up to 10-15 times per second while their eating.
Also, they drink sap from holes that were made from sapsuckers and catch insects on their wings.
Most of the hummingbirds can digest natural sucrose in 20 minutes with around 97 percent efficiency converting sugar into energy. They are also must consume half of its weight in sugar intake, and average feed are roughly around 5-8 times per hour.
Behavior and Ecology
Calliopes Hummingbirds are migratory birds. They usually leave their breeding grounds earlier than most of the birds, although not as early as Rufous Hummingbirds, to take advantage of the late-summer wildflowers in the mountains of northwestern America. They are believed to be the smallest-bodied migrant in the world.
Male Calliope Hummingbirds arrive on their breeding grounds before the female Calliope Hummingbirds do. The males, being territorial in nature, vigorously defend their nesting territories.
During courtship, the male exhibits dive displays. . The male will ascend to about 20 meters above, and then dive at a very high speed, which causes the feathers and wings to create a unique sound. He hovers at accelerated wingbeat frequencies of up to 95 flaps per second.
The males do not take active involvement in the reproductive process, including building the nest, raising the young, and others. Indeed, they would already vacate the breeding grounds before the young hatch.
The females are the ones who build the nest using parts of plants and mosses. The nest is commonly made of the base of large pinecones and somehow resemble as a pinecone itself. Other plants can also be used in constructing the nest.
The female lays about 1-2 white eggs. They lay the smallest eggs of all birds in the world. The estimate measure is around less than half an inch long but may represent 10 percent of the mother’s weight at the times the egg are laid.
After 15-16 days of incubation, the eggs will hatch. Even though the young hummingbirds are in a helpless condition upon hatching, they are properly taken cared of by the female that they already fledge the nest after 20 days.
While there are records of population decline among Calliope Hummingbirds, there is little information about the actual causes of such decline.
Some of the possible causes include habitant loss, increase usage of pesticides, and replacement of native plants by non-native plans; although hummingbirds can also benefit from the non-native plants that provide additional food.
The Calliope Hummingbird is listed under the ‘Least Concern’ category of the IUCN Classification System.