Did you know there are many species of hummingbirds? One of them is the rufous-crested coquette (Lophornis delattrei) that lives in America. The Lophornis delattrei is one of the smallest birds in the world. That’s why it can’t be seen so easily. If you will take a birding tour in the mountain and forest regions of Peru, learn more about the rufous-crested coquette here.
How do rufous-crested coquettes look?
The adult male’s forehead and crest, composed of quite rigid feathers, are cinnamon red. The back of their neck and most of the tops show a tan green colour. A band varying from white to cinnamon blue crosses their upper rump. The central pair of rudders is dark bronze, the others are cinnamon-reddish with black tips.
The feathers of their chin and throat show a yellowish green colour with metallic shine, and have a cinnamon-rufous base that is most evident on the sides of their throat. The underparts are metallic bronze green, with the exception of a small white spot, located just below their throat.
Their irises are brown and their legs are greyish brown. The beak varies from red to reddish with a small grey or blackish spot on the tip depending on the subspecies. Central and South American breeds have a long crest and a reddish beak, while those of Mexico have a short, bushy crest and a blackish beak.
How do females differ from males?
Female rufous-crested coquettes differ from their partners in that they have no crest. Their forehead is dyed reddish while their throat has a reddish-cinnamon, white-cinnamon or white colour. Small dark specks at the bottom of their throat sometimes form a transverse strip. The side rectrices have reddish tips and a wide black underground band.
Central rudders are metallic green, just like the back. Belly and flanks are greyish brown and have no spots. The undertail coverts show a more or less pale cinnamon tone. Their beak has a darker tip than the male’s. Immature males resemble females, but their forehead, chin and upper throat vary from cinnamon red to opaque grey. As they get older, they acquire a crest of variable development.
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Rufous-crested coquettes live in humid or semi-humid forests with permanent leafy trees. They are also found on the edges of wooded areas and in clearings, even in mixed pine and hardwood forests, as well as in semi-deciduous stands. They tolerate highly degraded areas. Moreover, they live mainly in heights ranging from 1000 to 1500 metres. Outside the breeding season, they probably descend to lower altitudes.
Rufous-crested coquettes often perch prominently on a well-exposed branch. When in flight, they move their tail up and down like true hummingbirds. Because of the band that covers their rump, these coquettes are often mistaken for moths, and more particularly, with sphinxes of the genus Aellopus, which have a similar size.
Coquettes have a solitary lifestyle, except during the breeding season. These birds are sedentary, but they wander in search of places with abundant and small flowers. They are often forced to move because they are too small to compete with some species of hummingbirds.
These birds find their food in 3 different sources: they feed mainly on the nectar found in the small aromatic flowers of trees, grasses, shrubs or epiphytes. These usually have vibrant colours, tubular shape and contain a high energy content.
In Central America, coquettes are attracted to legumes of the genus Inga. These trees are often used for shade in coffee and cocoa crops. They also visit the cecropias found in secondary forests, although these produce mainly pollen and little nectar.
These hummingbirds occasionally visit artificial feeders, hoping to find sweet juices there. They also catch spiders and insects that are an important resource during the nesting period due to its high protein content.
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Coquettes do not establish marriage ties. In an attempt to seduce a partner, the male performs an air show, in which they make a “U” flight in front of her. After copulation, they cease all relationships and do not participate in various tasks, such as nest construction or feeding of young. They return to their courtship activities and try to mate with a new female.
The female builds a cup-shaped nest that ties a web to a horizontal branch of a tree, between 6 and 25 metres above the ground. The laying usually consists of 1 or 2 white eggs, whose weight does not exceed 3 grams.
The female incubates alone, probably for 12 or 13 days. Chicks are born naked and blind, depending entirely on their mother to take care of them for the first few days. This heats them for the first 2 weeks and then the mother leaves them after 12 days. Finally,the chicks leave the nest about 20 days after hatching.
These were some facts about the rufous-crested coquette. As you see, it’s a small beautiful hummingbird that lives in Peru and in other countries in America. If you love photographing birds, we highly recommend you take a birding tour in Colourful Birding, so you can capture this creature through the lens of your camera.
Colourful Birding invites you to discover beautiful bird gardens that can be visited and that create a space of protection for many animal species. Do not hesitate to contact us if you require further information about our bird photography travels.