The Snowy-bellied Hummingbird (Amazilia edward) - also known as Snowy-breasted or Edward's Hummingbird - is found in Costa Rica, Panama and extreme north-western Colombia (close to the border with Panama). Within its natural range, this hummingbird is referred to as Amazilia de Edward.
They inhabit subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests or montanes, as well as heavily degraded former forest.
Subspecies and Distribution:
- Amazilia edward edward (DeLattre and Bourcier, 1846) - Nominate Race
- Range: Panama, from Canal Zone to western Darién
- Amazilia edward niveoventer (Gould, 1851) - Range: Southwestern Costa Rica to western and central Panama
- Amazilia edward collata (Wetmore, 1952)
- Range: Central Panama.
- Amazilia edward margaritarum (Griscom, 1927)
- Range: Northern Gulf of Panama, in Pearl Is and on Urabá I, Taboga I and Taboguilla I; East Panama to Southwest Darién.
The Snowy-bellied Hummingbird is easily identified by its glittering green chest and contrasting white abdomen. The head, back and throat are green in most races. Subspecies Amazilia . edward niveoventer from southwestern Costa Rica, western and central Panama has a blue-black tail and a coppery-greenish lower back - these areas are rufous-colored in the nominate species found in Panama. Based on this difference, the race A. e. niveoventer has in the past been considered a separate species.
Males and females look alike.
Similar Species: The Snowy-breasteds are easily confused with male or female Mangrove Hummingbirds, which have an adjacent range but not overlapping with that of the Snowy-breasted. The males of both species are mostly green with a white abdomen. However, in the male Snowy-bellied, the contrast between the green throat and the white abdomen is clearer. Also, the Snowy-bellied's tail is black, while the Mangrove's is bronzy green. Additionally, the Snowy-breasted's rump is green to coppery green, while the Mangrove's is green to coppery bronze.
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 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 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 7 - 10 days old.
Diet / Feeding
The Snowy-bellied Hummingbirds 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. 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; 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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