The Blue-fronted Lancebill (Doryfera johannae) is a South American hummingbird that is generally uncommon throughout its range, but due to its very large range this species is not currently considered endangered.
Distribution / Range
The Blue-fronted Lancebill is found in the following South American countries: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Venezuela.
They occur at elevations of 1,300 - 5,200 ft (400 - 1600 m) at the eastern base of eastern Andes ranging from eastern Cundinamarca (Rio Guatiguia) and western Meta (Villavicencio, Pico Renjifo in Macarena Mountains). South to eastern Colombia and southeastern Peru. Also found in the Tepuis of Guyana, southeastern Venezuela and adjacent northern Brazil in Roraima.
The related Green-fronted Lancebill occurs at higher elevations - namely from 4,600 ft - 8,800 ft (1,400 - 2,700 m).
They are usually seen alone and low at forest openings or thicket borders.
Subspecies and Distribution:
- Doryfera johannae johannae (Bourcier, 1847) - Nominate Race
- Found along the eastern slope of the east Andes from central-eastern Colombia to northeastern Peru.
- Found in south Guyana, southern Venezuela and tepuis of adjacent northern Brazil.
- Doryfera johannae johannae (Bourcier, 1847) - Nominate Race
Alternate (Global) Names
Spanish: Colibrí Picolanza Menor ...Portuguese: Bico-de-lança or Bico-de-lança-de-testa-azul ... French: Porte-lance de Jeanne ... Italian: Beccodilancia fronteblu ... German: Blaustirn-Lanzettschnabel ... Czech: kolib?ík modro?elý ... Danish: Blå Lansenæb ... Finnish: ... metsäpistinkolibri ... Japanese: sumirehitaiyarihachidori ... Dutch: Blauwvoorhoofd-lancetkolibrie ... Norwegian: Blåpannelansenebb ... Polish: wlócznik modroczelny ... Slovak: jagavicka modrocelá ... Swedish: Blåbröstad lansnäbb
Blue-fronted Lancebills are about 8.6 cm or 3.4 inches long, including their 1.0 - 1.2" or 25-30 mm long, slender, black and straight bill and the rounded steely blue-black tail.
The plumage looks generally dark, except for the glossy blue-violet forecrown of the male or the shining blue-green forehead of the female. The upper plumage is dark bronzy green with a bluish-green tinged rump. The under plumage is dark green to bluish black. The under tail feathers are tinged bluish.
The female is paler than the male and with a shining blue-green forehead. Her under plumage is greyish-green. She has grey-tipped outer tail feathers.
Similar species: They resemble the related Green-fronted Lancebill, but are generally smaller. The males are much darker with a violet frontlet compared to the green frontlet of the Green-fronted Lancebill. The females can be distinguished from the female Green-fronted Lancebill by her smaller size, shorter bill, and dull (no coppery) rearcrown. The Blue-fronted Lancebill occurs at lower elevations than the Green-fronted Lancebill.
Voice / Vocalizations
They make high chittering calls while perched or flying. They also make quiet click-clack sounds in flight.
Nesting / Breeding
Hummingbirds are solitary in all aspects of life other than breeding; and the male's only involvement in the reproductive process is the actual mating with the female. They neither live nor migrate in flocks; and there is no pair bond for this species. Males court females by flying in a u-shaped pattern in front of them. He will separate from the female immediately after copulation. One male may mate with several females. In all likelihood, the female will also mate with several males. The males do not participate in choosing the nest location, building the nest or raising the chicks.
The female Blue-Fronted Lancebill is responsible for building the cup nest on a moss and cobweb cylinder suspended from rock overhang in a cave. She lines the nest with soft plant fibers, animal hair and feather down, and strengthens the structure with spider webbing and other sticky material, giving it an elastic quality to allow it to stretch to double its size as the chicks grow and need more room.
The average clutch consists of one to two white eggs, which she incubates alone, while the male defends his territory and the flowers he feeds on. The young are born blind, immobile and without any down.
The female alone protects and feeds the chicks with regurgitated food (mostly partially-digested insects since nectar is an insufficient source of protein for the growing chicks). The female pushes the food down the chicks' throats with her long bill directly into their stomachs.
As is the case with other hummingbird species, the chicks are brooded only the first week or two, and left alone even on cooler nights after about 12 days - probably due to the small nest size. The chicks leave the nest when they are about 20 days old.
Diet / Feeding
The Blue-Fronted Lancebills primarily feed on nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, scented small flowers of trees, herbs, shrubs and epiphytes. They favor flowers with the highest sugar content (often red-colored and tubular-shaped) and seek out, and aggressively protect, those areas containing flowers with high energy nectar.They use their long, extendible, straw-like tongues to retrieve the nectar while hovering with their tails cocked upward as they are licking at the nectar up to 13 times per second.
Many native and cultivated plants on whose flowers these birds feed heavily rely on them for pollination. The mostly tubular-shaped flowers actually exclude most bees and butterflies from feeding on them and, subsequently, from pollinating the plants.IThey may also visit local hummingbird feeders for some sugar water, or drink out of bird baths or water fountains where they will either hover and sip water as it runs over the edge; or they will perch on the edge and drink - like all the other birds; however, they only remain still for a short moment.
They also take some small spiders and insects - important sources of protein particularly needed during the breeding season to ensure the proper development of their young. Insects are often caught in flight (hawking); snatched off leaves or branches, or are taken from spider webs. A nesting female can capture up to 2,000 insects a day.
Males establish feeding territories, where they aggressively chase away other males as well as large insects - such as bumblebees and hawk moths - that want to feed in their territory. They use aerial flights and intimidating displays to defend their territories.
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