Green-breasted Mango Hummingbird Species

The Green-breasted Mango (Anthracothorax prevostii) is a species of hummingbird found in tropical regions of Central and South America. With its vibrant green plumage and elongated tail feathers, this striking bird has captured the fascination of birders and nature enthusiasts alike.

Description and Appearance

Reaching lengths of 7-9 cm, the green-breasted mango is medium-sized for a hummingbird. The male lives up to his name with bright, emerald green feathers covering his throat and upper breast. This brilliant coloration contrasts sharply with the velvety black on his face and crown. The rest of his body features a mix of golden-green and bronze plumage on the back, rump, and wing coverts. His tail is strongly forked and remarkably long, often exceeding 10 cm. Females lack the male’s vivid bib, instead exhibiting pale gray underparts speckled with green. Their bronze-green plumage also contains white spotting on the throat and chest. Both sexes have a straight black bill suited to feeding on nectar.

Distribution and Habitat

The green-breasted mango’s distribution extends from southern Mexico down through Central America into northern South America. Countries such as Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, and Costa Rica host thriving populations within this range. They primarily inhabit tropical forests, woodlands, and scrublands. Mangos occupy a variety of elevations up to 2000 m, favoring habitats near sources of nectar-bearing flowers.

Feeding Ecology

As with all hummingbirds, nectar is the fuel that keeps green-breasted mangos going. Their long, slender beaks allow them to delve into flowers where less specialized birds cannot reach. Mangos use their extensible tongues to lap up nectar while hovering in front of blossoms. Favorite nectar sources include flowers from the Heliconia genus as well as wild citrus relatives. Although they meet most of their energy needs from nectar, mangos supplement their diet by catching small insects such as flies, beetles, and moths. They intercept aerial insects in flight or glean them from leaves and branches.

Unique Adaptations

Several key adaptations allow hummingbirds to exploit nectar resources. High metabolism and miniature size let them endure the extreme energy demands of hovering flight. Their wingbeat frequency of 50 beats per second is among the highest known of all birds. Rotating their wings in a full circular motion generates the lift needed for sustained hovering. Further, mangos possess specialized tongue structures to lap nectar. They have tubes running down their lengthy tongues which split nectar via capillary action. This allows them to keep licking even while breathing.

Reproduction and Breeding

The breeding season for green-breasted mangos coincides with the wet season from May-July. As solitary nesters, females alone construct a small cup nest out of plant materials such as moss, lichens, and downy feathers. She then lays two tiny white eggs. After a 14-16 day incubation period, the helpless chicks hatch. The female alone rears the chicks, feeding them regurgitated nectar and insects. They fledgge in 18-26 days, soon gaining independence. Males establish small territories during the breeding season and perform aerial displays to court females.

Unique Behaviors

Green-breasted mangos exhibit some intriguing behavioral quirks. They have unusually slow wingbeats compared to similar hummingbirds. This adaptation may maximize their force production during territorial displays. The distinctive mechanical sounds generated by their wing feathers advertise territorial boundaries. Mangos also partake in an intriguing behavior called “hover-hawking”. They hawk flying insects by hovering in place below them before snatching them out of the air. This maneuver takes advanced aerial skills.

Conservation Status

Currently, the green-breasted mango remains relatively secure with a conservation status of Least Concern. Logging and development present local threats in parts of their range, but they adapt readily to degraded forests. As long as sufficient flowers exist to provide food, mangos continue to flourish. Providing nectar feeders and preserving natural areas aids conservation efforts for this spectacular hummingbird. With appropriate habitat, green-breasted mangos should retain stable populations into the foreseeable future.

The green-breasted mango’s dazzling plumage and energetic nature have captured the fascination of people across its range. We still have much to learn about the unique behaviors and adaptations of this diminutive bird. As striking emblems of Neotropical forests, mangos provide an important draw for ecotourism. Safeguarding key habitats will ensure this hummingbird continues to jewel the rainforests of Central and South America.