The Gould's Jewelfronts (Heliodoxa aurescens) are large, yet inconspicuous South American hummingbirds that occur naturally in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, where they are rare and uncommon.
Distribution / Habitat
Their strange stretches from southern Venezuela (central and southern Amazonas - upper Rio Asisa southward; and central Bolivar - Auyan-tepui; southeastern Bolivar - southwest of Santa Elena de Uairen - central Parrish) through Amazonian Colombia (western Putumayo, Vaupés, Amazonas), eastern Ecuador and eastern Peru (south to Puno) to northern Bolivia (Pando, Beni, Cochabamba) and northwestern Brazil (Amazonas and southern Pará, and possibly to the Madeira River and northern Mato Grosso).
They mostly inhabit the interior of shady forests, white sandy soil forests in lowland foothill areas and swamps, up to an elevation of 3,300 feet (~ 1,000 meters).
They are less aggressive and territorial than other hummingbirds.
Gould's Jewelfronts measure about 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) in length and weigh about 0.2 oz or 6 grams. The straight bill is about 0.8 inches (22 mm) long and the feathers extending out over the base of the upper bill (mandible) are contributing to a "cone-headed" shape.
The male's plumage is mostly green; except for a narrow median line of violet up to the forecrown, which is mostly invisible in the field; a black chin; a glossy green throat patch; a broad orange-rufous crescent across the chest; and rufous chestnut tipped and edged bronze green tail feathers.
The female has a much duller plumage; and doesn't have a median forecrown stripe. Her malar (cheak stripe) is buff; her throat is buff spotted green and she has a buff narrow tip to the outer tail feathers.
Within its range, this hummingbird can easily be recognized by the orange-rufous chest band and rufous outer tail.
Diet / Feeding
The Gould's Jewelfronts 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. 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. They also sometimes forage with mixed species flocks.
Breeding / Nesting
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 Gould's Jewelfront 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, skinny horizontal branch.
The average clutch consists of 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.
Alternate (Global) Names
Chinese: ???? ... Czech: kolib?ík nazlátlý, Kolibrík rezavoprsý ... Danish: Kanelbrystet Brillant ... Dutch: Gould-juweelkolibrie, Goulds Juweelkolibrie ... Finnish: Jalokivikolibri ... French: Brillant à bandeau bleu, Colibri à bandeau bleu ... German: Juwelenkrönchen, Juwelen-Krönchen, Rotbrustbrilliantkolibri ... Italian: Colibrì fronte splendente di Gould, Gioiello di Gould ... Japanese: housekihachidori ... Norwegian: Rødbrystbriljant ... Polish: brylancik zlotawy, brylancik z?otawy ... Portuguese: beija-flor-de-peito-laranja, beija-flor-estrela, Beija-flor-peito-laranja ... Portuguese (Brazil): beija-flor-de-peito-laranja, Beija-flor-estrela ... Russian: ??????? ?????? ... Slovak: briliantovec skvostný ... Spanish: Brillante Pechicastaño, Colibrí de Cuello Castaño, Diamante Pechicastaño ... Swedish: Kanelbröstad briljant
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