The Green-tailed Goldenthroat (Polytmus theresiae) -also known as Green Goldenthroat - is a South American hummingbird.
Alternate (Global) Names
Spanish: Colibrí de Teresa; Portuguese:
Beija-flor-verde or Beija-flor-dos-tepuis; French: Colibri tout-vert; Italian: Colibrì codadorata codaverde; German: Grünschwanz-Glanzkehlchen; Czech: kolibřík Thereslin; Danish: Grønhalet Guldstrube; Finnish: viherkultakolibri; Dutch: Groenstaart-goudkeelkolibrie; Norwegian: Grønnkolibri; Polish: koliber zielonosterny; Slovak: jagavicka zelenochvostá; Swedish: Grönstjärtad; uldstrupe; Japanese: himemaruohachidori
Distribution / Range
The Green-tailed Goldenthroat is endemic in the following South American countries: Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, northeastern Peru, Suriname and Venezuela, and possibly Ecuador.
They are usually found along the edges of sandy-belt forest and in savannah with scattered bushes; as well as seasonally wet or flooded lowland grassland, and heavily degraded former forest. In Suriname, they are confined to sandy savanna with open shrubbery. Outside the breeding season, they may wander to the coastal areas.
This species is sedentary throughout range; however, after the breeding season, some dispersal is possible.
Subspecies and Ranges
- Polytmus theresiae theresiae (Da Silva Maia, 1843) - Nominate Race
- Found in the Guianas and northcentral Brazil (Amazonas, Pará, Amapá)
- Polytmus theresiae leucorrhous (P. L. Sclater and Salvin, 1867)
- Found in eastern Colombia and southern Venezuela (Bolívar, Amazonas) to northwestern Brazil (Negro River) and northeastern Peru (Loreto).
The Green-tailed Goldenthroa measures 3.6 to 4 inches (9 to 10 cm) in length. The upper plumage is a coppery-green and the male's plumage below is a pale golden-green; and the female is white below with large spangles of green.
It has a slightly down-curved bill; the upper bill is dark and the lower bill is flesh-colored with a darker tip. It has a small white mark behind each eye.
Nesting / Breeding
Hummingbirds in general are solitary and neither live nor migrate in flocks; and there is no pair bond for this species - the male's only involvement in the reproductive process is the actual mating with the female.
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 Green-tailed Goldenthroat is responsible for building an open 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 (up to 6.6 feet or 2 meters above the ground). 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 1 - 3 white eggs (mostly 2), which she incubates alone for about 14 to 15 days, 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 - 25 days old.
Diet / Feeding
The Green-tailed Goldenthroats 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.
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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