The sparkling violetear (Colibri coruscans) is a medium-sized hummingbird found in South and Central America. With its vibrant violet throat, iridescent green back, and white undertail coverts, it is one of the most colorful hummingbirds in its range. There are four recognized subspecies of the sparkling violetear, which vary slightly in coloration and size.
The sparkling violetear typically measures 8-9 centimeters in length and weighs around 5-8 grams. The male has a velvety black throat and breast, with a large patch of brilliant violet on the lower throat that sparkles in the light. The upperparts are metallic green, while the undertail coverts are white. The tail is forked and steel blue. The bill of the male is straight and black.
The female sparkling violetear lacks the violet throat patch and has more gray underparts with white spotting on the throat. The tail is rounded and marked with white. Immatures resemble the female but have buffy edges to the feathers.
Distribution and Habitat
The sparkling violetear is found from southern Mexico through Central America to Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, and northwestern Argentina. Its natural habitats are forest and woodland edges, second growth, plantations, and gardens from sea level up to 2500 meters in elevation.
This hummingbird prefers semi-open areas with scattered trees and bushes, where it can perch in the open while watching for food sources. It is attracted to colorful tubular flowers and flowering trees. Some favorite nectar sources are lantana, poinsettia, and passionflower. The sparkling violetear also takes insects and spiders to supplement its diet.
The sparkling violetear is territorial and solitary. Males sing to defend their feeding territories and display their colorful plumage during courtship. Their song is a thin, high-pitched vocalization and buzz. Females build a small cup nest out of plant fibers and spider webs on a branch 2-15 meters off the ground.
The female sparkling violetear raises two broods per year. The eggs are white and only about 0.5 centimeters long. Incubation lasts 15-19 days, and the chicks fledge in another 20-26 days. The female cares for the young without any assistance from the male.
The sparkling violetear has a very large range and is described as common in many parts of its habitat. The IUCN Red List classifies this species as Least Concern. However, some local declines have been noted as forests are cleared for agriculture and development. The sparkling violetear adapts readily to gardens and altered environments. Maintaining stands of flowering trees and shrubs in semi-open areas will benefit this beautiful hummingbird.
– The sparkling violetear gets its name from the vivid violet coloration on the male’s throat that seems to sparkle as he turns his head. This sheen is produced by the structure of the feather barbules.
-Ornithologist Alexander Skutch described the male’s call as “a thin tsee tsee tsee, too high pitched for most ears to catch”.
– Males display their colorful throats during courtship flights, flying back and forth in wide U-shaped patterns to attract females.
– The sparkling violetear has unusually short wing bones for its size, an adaptation for hovering and maneuverability in dense vegetation.
– This species is important for pollinating many plants across its range, inserting its long bill deep into flowers to reach the nectar.
In summary, the sparkling violetear is a lovely and wide-ranging hummingbird species found in Mexico, Central and South America. Its vibrant colors and interesting adaptations make this hummingbird a true jewel of the avian world. Maintaining habitat corridors between fragmented forest areas will help ensure the health and longevity of this dazzling pollinator.