Berylline hummingbirds are cute little birds found mainly in the highlands of Mexico and Central America. With numerous green, copper, and bronze feathers covering its body, the they are truly a sight to behold. Let’s learn 13 Berylline hummingbird facts and take a closer look at these feathered beauties.
13 Berylline Hummingbird Facts
1. Males are more colorful than females
Berylline hummingbird feathers are a blend of vibrant green, bronze, and copper hues. Both males and females share the same coloring, but females tend to be slightly duller. During the breeding season, the males coloring becomes rich and vibrant and can be spotted glistening in the sunlight.
They are known to perform elaborate courtship displays to showcase their vibrant colors, thus increasing their chances of attracting females.
Their name comes from the root “beryl”, which is a type of mineral that is green or bluish-green.
2. Young birds are altricial
When young Berylline hummingbirds hatch, they depend entirely on their mother for survival. This is because they are altricial, meaning they cannot see or move when hatched. The female will feed the chicks until they gain strength and learn how to fly. They eventually become independent once they can forage and survive on their own.
Female Berylline hummingbirds feed their young on a diet of nectar and insects. In some cases, the female will even regurgitate food for her young, providing them with the necessary nutrients to grow.
3. They have specialized tongues
With a diet made up mostly of nectar, Berylline hummingbirds have a special adaptation that helps them drink the sweet liquid faster. They have long, forked tongues that act like tubes to suck up nectar from flowers.
These bifurcated tongues are specially adapted to drink nectar from various flowers and can be stretched to almost double the bill’s length. Special fringe-like modifications at the tip of the tongue called lamellae help the Berylline hummingbird extract every drop of nectar from a flower.
4. They are very territorial
Berylline hummingbirds are very territorial and will aggressively defend their turf against any intruders. During the breeding season, males can become especially aggressive and will even attack other birds if they enter their territory. They will also try to monopolize the best food sources in an area, like hummingbird feeders or flower gardens.
5. They sleep with half of their brain awake
Like most birds, Berylline hummingbirds have the unusual ability to sleep with half of their brain awake. This is known as unihemispheric sleep, a behavior that helps them stay vigilant and aware of their surroundings while they sleep.
This adaptation is especially useful as it allows the birds to detect and react quickly to predators or other dangers in their environment.
6. They are not migratory
Unlike many other species of birds, Berylline hummingbirds do not migrate long distances. Instead, they stay in their territory year-round and can often be found in the same area throughout the entire year.
As such, they are particularly vulnerable to changes in their environment, such as the destruction of their habitats or extreme weather conditions. While western Mexico and Central America is their main range, some occasionally cross the border into the southwestern U.S.
7. They have special adaptations for cold weather
Berylline hummingbirds are able to survive freezing temperatures by going into a type of hibernation known as ‘torpor.’ During this state, their metabolism slows down dramatically, and they can reduce their body temperature by as much as 30 degrees. This helps them conserve energy, and during torpor, they can survive low temperatures.
Interestingly, these birds can maintain torpor for up to 10 hours, allowing them to survive cold nights without expending too much energy. This adaptation allows Berylline hummingbirds to stay alive in colder climates and extends their range further north than other hummingbird species.
8. Males are slightly larger than females
Berylline hummingbirds have a slight size difference between genders. The males weigh up to 4.87g compared to the females, which weigh up to 4.37g. This size difference is, however, not easily visible to the human eye as they look almost identical.
Other dimorphic attributes include the duller, less buffy belly in the female birds compared to the male’s brighter, buffy belly. Male underparts tend to be a shiny golden-green compared to the female’s duller green.
9. They have an extremely high metabolism
Berylline hummingbirds have an incredibly high metabolism and need to feed often to survive. They will typically eat up to 8 times an hour, consuming almost double their body weight in food every day.
These tiny birds mostly feed on nectar but supplement their diet with small insects like mosquitoes, gnats, and moths. As a result of their high metabolism, berylline hummingbirds are always on the lookout for food sources and can be found congregating around hummingbird feeders or flower gardens.
10. Berylline hummingbirds are highly agile
The Berylline hummingbird is known for its impressive agility, enabling them to swiftly change direction mid-flight. They are able to hover in the same spot for several seconds and fly backward, reaching for nectar from the back of flowers. This impressive agility allows them to feed from a wide range of flowers and stay out of harm’s way when hunting for food or avoiding predators.
11. They gather on treetops to show dominance
Berylline hummingbirds are known to show dominance by gathering on treetops. This can be done alongside other hummingbirds or even with other species of birds. Apart from these odd gatherings, Berylline hummingbirds are solitary creatures and will spend most of their time alone. They do not even raise their young together, as the female alone is responsible for caring for and raising her chicks.
12. They prefer arid habitats
These birds primarily inhabit open and arid habitats, from oak and pine forests to plantations. They are also found in submontane and montane habitats, including grassland, scrubland, and meadows, at altitudes ranging from 500 to 1,800 meters above sea level. Berylline hummingbirds can also be seen foraging in suburban gardens and parks.
13. They are threatened by human activity
While the IUCN has not yet listed the Berylline hummingbird as a threatened species, it still faces risks due to human activity. In particular, habitat loss and fragmentation caused by logging, mining, and urban development are all potential threats to this species. Additionally, the use of pesticides can also have a detrimental effect on their food sources.
Climate change is another major threat facing this species, as rising temperatures can cause a decrease in the abundance of food sources and lead to increased competition for resources.