The Turquoise-throated Puffleg (Eriocnemis godini), also known as Godin's Puffleg, is a possibly extinct South American hummingbird. The last confirmed sighting of this puffleg occurred in the 19th century.
Alternate (Global) Names
Spanish: Calzadito Turquesa, Calzoncitos Gorgiturquesa, Colibrí Pantalón de Garganta Azul ... French: Érione turquoise ... Italian: Colibrì zampepiumose golaturchese, Fiocchetto golaturchese ... German: Türkiskehl-Höschenkolibri, Türkisschneehöschen, Türkis-Schneehöschen ... Czech: Kolibrík šmolkový, kolib?ík šmolkový ... Finnish: Turkoosisukkakolibri ... Japanese: aonodowataashihachidori ... Dutch: Turkoois Pluimbroekje ... Norwegian: Turkisstrupedunfot ... Polish: puchatek turkusowy ... Swedish: Turkosstrupig tofsbena
Distribution and Status
The Turquoise-throated Puffleg's natural range included northwestern Ecuador and possibly also southwestern Colombia.
Ecuador: It has not been recorded since the 19th century where six specimens were located at Guaillabamba, in the ravines of the río Guaillabamba south of Perucho, Pichincha, in north Ecuador at elevations from 6,900 to 7,550 ft. (2,100 - 2,300 m). In 1976, there was an unconfirmed sighting near Quito, in the Chillo Valley
Colombia: The only evidence of its occurrence in Colombia were two trade-skins. It was suggested that they originated from Pasto in south Nariño.
Any surviving populations are likely to be small and for this reason this species is listed as Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct).
The Turqoise-thoated Puffleg measures 3.9 - 4.3 inches (10 - 11 cm) in length. The bill is black and straight. Both genders have violet-blue under tail feathers; distinctive small white eye spots, and snow-white dense feathering around the legs known as "leg puffs" (which are not always visible). These leg puffs are unique to the pufflegs and have been described as resembling "woolly panties" or "little cotton balls" above the legs. The wings are purplish-brown.
The adult male is mostly glossy green with an iridescent turqoise-tinted throat that may appear violet-blue in certain light conditions. His upper plumage and most of his under plumage is golden green. His rump and upper tail feathers are bluish green rump. The rest of his deeply forked tail is steel black.
The female lacks the male's throat patch. Her plumage is less light and her abdomen is more golden.
Similar Species: The Turquoise-throated Puffleg is easily differentiated from other hummingbirds by its white leg plumage; and the blue throat patch of the male separates it from other pufflegs in its range. The female Turquoise-throated Puffleg looks similar to the Glowing Puffleg - except the latter hasextensive cinnamon-buff on her throat and chest.
Calls / Vocalizations
Nesting / Breeding
Little is known about the specific habits of the, Turquoise-throated Puffleg. However, hummingbirds, in general, 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. For all aspects of life other than breeding, hummingbirds tend to live a solitary existence. 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 Puffleg 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 20 days old.
Diet / Feeding
The Pufflegs 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.
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