Purple-throated Woodstar Hummingbird Species

The Purple-throated Woodstar (Calliphlox mitchellii) is a small hummingbird found in tropical South America. With its vibrant plumage and tiny size, this species is a delight to observe in the wild.

The purple-throated woodstar reaches only 7-8 centimeters in length and weighs 2-3 grams. As its name suggests, the male has brilliant purple feathers on its throat that shine in the sunlight. The rest of the body is mostly green above and white below. The female lacks the purple throat patch and is more greyish-green overall. The long bill of this hummingbird is slightly curved and black.

The purple-throated woodstar exhibits sexual dimorphism, meaning the males and females have different plumage. Juveniles resemble adult females but with some buffy streaking below. After their first year, males molt and acquire the colorful throat patch that distinguishes them.

Native Habitat
This species occupies tropical forests, woodlands, plantations, and gardens from sea level up to 1500 meters elevation. Its range extends along the Pacific slope of the Andes Mountains from western Ecuador south to northern Peru. A disjunct population exists in southeastern Brazil.

Within its range, the purple-throated woodstar prefers edges and clearings in humid forest areas. It is also found in parks and gardens, especially those with flowering plants that provide nectar.

Like all hummingbirds, the purple-throated woodstar has a fast metabolism and must consume nectar frequently throughout the day. It favors flowers with the highest sugar concentrations. Some favorite nectar sources include shrubs like fuchsia and passionflower vines. The woodstar uses its specialized long tongue to lap up nectar while hovering in front of flowers.

In addition to nectar, these hummingbirds supplement their diet with small insects like gnats, flies, and spiders. The extra protein boosts metabolism and aids in reproduction. Males sometimes hawk flying insects in dramatic aerial maneuvers.

The purple-throated woodstar is known for its speed and agility in flight. The wingbeat rate can reach up to 70 beats per second! This allows the hummingbird to precisely maneuver through dense vegetation with ease. In courtship displays, the males ascend rapidly then dive down while making a buzzing sound with their tail feathers.

Males are territorial and use their bright plumage to chase intruders away from nectar sources. They perch conspicuously to advertise occupied territory. Females and juveniles move more cautiously to avoid confrontation with dominant males.

This species has a variety of vocalizations used for communication. Chattering and squeaking notes sound when pursuing insects or defending resources. High-pitched singing establishes territory and attracts mates.

The breeding season for purple-throated woodstars coincides with the rainy season between January and April. Males perform elaborate courtship displays, flying in looping patterns to impress watching females. Once paired, the female builds a small cup nest on a tree branch using plant fibers and spider webs. She incubates the two white eggs for 15-19 days.

The chicks hatch with eyes closed and almost no feathers. Both parents feed the chicks regurgitated insects and nectar. After about a month, the young leave the nest and soon disperse from the parents’ territory. The purple-throated woodstar reaches sexual maturity within its first year.

Conservation Status
The purple-throated woodstar has a wide distribution and large total population. The population trend appears to be decreasing but not steeply enough to approach the vulnerability thresholds for threatened status. Therefore, the IUCN Red List categorizes this species as Least Concern.

However, localized threats from habitat loss may impact some populations, especially at the northern and southern edges of its range. Expanding agriculture and logging are the primary activities reducing suitable forest habitat. The species readily adapts to garden habitats if flowering plants are available. Gardens can serve as refuge patches near disturbed areas. Protecting fragments of native habitat will benefit the purple-throated woodstar into the future.

The dazzling colors and energetic life of the purple-throated woodstar provide a spark of fascination for nature observers. As development pressures increase across South America, preserving habitat connectivity will allow this diminutive species to continue dazzling future generations. The purple-throated woodstar serves as an uplifting reminder that even small creatures have a vital role in sustaining the diversity of life on our planet.