The Rufous-Crested Coquettes are a species of hummingbirds. They are also known as De Lattre’s Coquettes. Their original habitat is in the forests of South and Central America.
In Central America, the countries where they are usually found are Panama and Costa Rica. From these countries, their habitat extends into the South, in countries such as Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. The Rufous-Crested Coquettes are quite rare. However, they are found widely across the lowland areas in the east. They are completely absent from the north-western part of the Amazons.
The natural habitats of the rufous-crested croquettes are moist lowlands that lie in the tropics. They have also been spotted in montane forests and heavily degraded and formerly forested areas. The Central American species was first discovered in 1839. While in South America, they were spotted almost a century later, in 1921.
The Rufous-Crested Coquette Is Different Than Others
Rufous-crested Coquettes are a bit bigger than usual hummingbirds. On average, they measure about 3 inches, or a little below 8cm, from head to the tip of their tail. Their bill is approximately 0.5 inches or 1.3cm by itself.
The plumage of males is dark green, with a white rump, and a rufous-colored crest that is dark-tipped. They have a glossy patch of green on their throat, called the gorget. Their upper chest has long white feathers. Females do not have the gorget and the crest. Instead, they have a broad whitish stripe that is parted by a dusky green in the throat’s center. Below that, the color becomes dusky brown.
The primary diet of rufous-crested coquettes is nectar. They harvest it from several kinds of scented, brightly colored small flowers found in epiphytes, shrubs, herbs, and trees. Their favorites are flowers that have high sugar content, which is often tubular and red. They search and aggressively defend areas that have flowers that have nectar that provides high energy.
The rufous-crested coquette has straw-like, extendible, long tongues that they use to get to the nectar. They can lick the nectar as many as 13 times in a second while hovering in mid-air. The tubular shape of their preferred flowers keeps out butterflies and bees from pollinating them. Only these birds can pollinate them.
They also sometimes eat small insects and spiders. This gives them the protein they need when the season for breeding arrives. A female that is nesting can catch as many as 2,000 insects in one day. Males use intimidating displays and aerial flights as defensive tactics while protecting their feeding territories.
Like all hummingbirds, the rufous-crested coquettes are solitary for almost their entire lives. They only come together at the time of mating. However, the act is as far as the male is involved. The birds have no flocks or pairings. The males take no part in the nesting process.
The nests are shaped like a cup. Females weave it using plant fibers. They are camouflaged using green moss inside trees, shrubs, or bushes. Spider webbing is used to strengthen the nest. As a result, the nest is quite elastic. The nest can double in size to accommodate the growing chicks.
The young rufous-crested hummingbirds are immobile, blind, and do not have any feathers. The female hummingbirds feed and protect the chicks using regurgitated food. Its habitat is currently being threatened by timber, coffee, and corn plantations. The species is very poorly documented, so its numbers are unknown. However, conservationists are currently working on figuring out if these birds should be considered endangered or not.