Glittering-throated Emerald Hummingbird Species

The Glittering-throated Emerald (Amazilia fimbriata) is a species of hummingbird found in tropical regions of Central and South America. With its shining green throat and vibrant colors, this bird has captivated bird enthusiasts for decades. In this article, we will explore the identification, range, habitat, diet, behavior, breeding, conservation status, and interesting facts about this glittering hummingbird species.

The male Glittering-throated Emerald has unmistakable bright emerald green plumage on its throat, breast and crown. When the light catches these iridescent feathers just right, they seem to sparkle and glimmer. The upperparts and wings are a deep green and the undertail is white. The long bill is straight and black. Females are similar but lack the bright emerald patches, instead showing gray underparts and white tips on the tail feathers. Juveniles resemble adult females but have buffy edges to their feathers.

These hummingbirds reach 3.5 to 4 inches in length and weigh around 0.1 to 0.2 ounces. In flight, their wings beat at an average of 12 beats per second. Vocalizations include high-pitched squeaky chip notes and buzzy trills.

Range and Habitat
The Glittering-throated Emerald is found from Southern Mexico down through Panama, and across parts of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil. Its natural habitats include tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, plantations, gardens and heavily degraded former forest areas.

This species can be found up to altitudes of 2500 meters in the Andean foothills but is most numerous below 1500 meters. It prefers forest edges, second growth, semi-open areas, parks and gardens where flowering plants are abundant.

Like all hummingbirds, the Glittering-throated Emerald feeds mainly on nectar from colorful tubular blossoms. Some favorite food plants include Inga, Calliandra, Heliconia, Costus, fuchsia and Salvia flowers. As the bird hovers in front of a flower, it dips its long bill inside to drink the nectar.

The Glittering-throated Emerald will also feed on small insects and spiders which provide essential proteins. Aerial fly-catching, gleaning insects from leaves, and probing into bromeliads are some hunting techniques used.

The Glittering-throated Emerald lives alone or in pairs, aggressively defending flower territories against intruders. Males perform aerial displays during the breeding season, flying in loops and dive displays to impress females. High-speed chases and rapid fluttering movements are used to drive off intruding hummingbirds.

Despite their small size, these hummingbirds are quite bold. They may investigate humans or camera lenses that encroach on their territories. Pumping their tails and flicking their wings, they will approach very closely as they attempt to drive away a potential threat.

In Central America, breeding occurs primarily between March and June during the dry season. Further south in South America, breeding season varies by locality.

Males court females through aerial displays over their territories. Once paired, the female builds a tiny cup nest out of plant down, spider webs and lichens on a low branch or tree fork 2 to 6 meters above the ground. She lines the inside with soft plant fibers, animal hair and feathers.

The female lays two tiny white eggs over 2-3 days which she incubates alone for 15-19 days. The chicks are born helpless, with closed eyes and few feathers. They are fed regurgitated nectar and insects by the female and fledge at 22-26 days old. Males play no role in raising the young.

Conservation Status
With a wide distribution and large total population, the Glittering-throated Emerald is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. Habitat loss and fragmentation are threats in parts of its range. The species has declined locally in Costa Rica and Guatemala due to deforestation. Overall populations remain stable and the bird adapts readily to gardens and altered environments.

Interesting Facts
– The genus name Amazilia commemorates a French scientist named François D’Assas de Mazili who researched hummingbirds in the 18th century. The species name ‘fimbriata’ refers to the fringed tips of the tail feathers.

– Males have an elongated third primary feather on each wing which produces a distinctive high-pitched trill during flight.

– Iridescent colors on the throat feathers are not from pigments, but structural colors that refract light. Microscopic air bubbles and melanin granules in the feathers produce this glittering effect.

– Glittering-throated Emeralds are important pollinators for many trees and flowers. Their long bills and tongues are perfectly adapted to reach nectar at the base of long tropical blossoms.

– These energetic hummingbirds consume up to half their weight in nectar each day and feed every 10-15 minutes at flowers.

– They use spider silk to weave their tiny cup nests together. Spider silk is flexible and stretchable so it can accommodate the growing chicks.

In summary, the aptly named Glittering-throated Emerald hummingbird is a tropical jewel of Central and South America. Its radiant colors and energetic disposition will brighten any forest it inhabits. Conserving the habitats of this species is important so future generations can continue to enjoy this sparkling emerald hummingbird. With a little care and habitat preservation, this bird will continue glimmering through the forest canopy for decades to come.