The Ecuadorian Hillstar (Oreotrochilus chimborazo) - also known as Chimborazo Hillstar or Violet-hooded Hillstar - is a South American hummingbird.
Alternate (Global) Names
Spanish: Colibrí del Chimborazo ... Italian: Orostella dell'Ecuador, Stella del Monte Chimborazo ... French: Colibri des montagnes à calotte noire, Colibri du Chimborazo ... German: Ecuador Kolibri, Ecuador-Andenkolibri ... Latin: Oreotrochilus chimborazo, Oreotrochilus estella chimborazo ... Czech: kolibřík čimborazský ... Danish: Chimborazo-kolibri ... Finnish: ecuadorinandienkolibri ... Japanese: ekuadoruyamahachidori ... Dutch: Ecuadoriaanse Bergnimf ... Norwegian: Vulkanoreade ... Polish: górzak fioletowoglowy, górzak fioletowogłowy ... Russian: Эквадорская горная звезда ... Slovak: vrchárik vysokohorský ... Swedish: Ecuadorbergsstjärna
Distribution / Range
The Ecuadorian Hillstar occurs naturally in the Andes of Ecuador and far southern Colombia.
They inhabit grassland, scrub and stunted woodland areas at altitudes of 3,500 to 5,200 meters (11,500 to 17,100 ft).
Subspecies and Distribution:
- Oreotrochilus chimborazo chimborazo - Nominate Race (DeLattre and Bourcier, 1846)
- Range: Central Ecuador - Mount Chimborazo, possibly also Azuay
- Oreotrochilus chimborazo jamesonii (Jardine, 1849)
- Range: Found in the mountains of extreme south Colombia and north Ecuador (Cotacachi, Pichincha, Iliniza, Antisana, Cotopaxi)
- Oreotrochilus chimborazo soederstroemi (Lönnberg and Rendahl, 1922)
- Range: Central Ecuador (Mount Quilotoa)
The Ecuadorian Hillstar is a truly spectacular hummingbird – very unlike most hummingbirds.
The male's head is a striking violet-purple, iridescent color contrasting sharply against his white under plumage which has copper spotting on the sides. He has a black color around the neck, although it is dissipating in the back. His back is a mix of intertwined green and cooper. The outer wing feathers are very dark - nearly black.
Nesting / Breeding
The female is responsible for building the cup-shaped nest out of plant fibers woven together and green moss on the outside for camouflage in a protected location in a shrub, bush or tree. 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 nest is typically found on a low, thin horizontal branch.
The average clutch consists of one white egg, 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 Ecuadorian Hillstar Hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, scented small flowers of trees, herbs, shrubs and epiphytes; but they favor the flowers of the orange-flowered Chuquiragua shrub above all and it is its major food source.
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. Sometimes they may be seen hanging on the flower while feeding.
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.
They 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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