The Bearded Mountaineer (Oreonympha nobilis) is a South American hummingbird that is native to Peru, where they occur in subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland at elevations from 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) to 3,700 meters (12,100 feet). However, they are most abundant above 3,600 meters (11,800 feet).
Alternate (Global) Names:
Spanish: Colibrí Coludo Celeste, Colibrí Noble; French: Colibri noble … Italian: Montanello barbuto, Ninfa delle montagne … German: Bergnymphe, Weißhalssylphe … Czech: Kolibrík výšinový, kolib?ík výšinoyý … Danish: Skægget Bjergkolibri … English: Bearded Mountaineer, Beared mountaineer … Finnish: Vilkkupyrstökolibri … Japanese: tennyohachidori …Dutch: Bergnimf … Norwegian: Stolakolibri … Polish: góralik … Russian: ?????? ????? … Slovak: vrchárik ozdobný … Swedish: Bergskolibri
Subspecies and Distribution
- Oreonympha nobilis nobilis (Gould, 1869) – Nominate Race
- Range: Andes of south-central Peru (Apurímac and Urubamba Valleys in Cuzco)
- Oreonympha nobilis albolimbata (Berlioz, 1938)
- Range: Andes of west-central Peru (Huancavelica and southern basin of Apurímac river).
- Oreonympha nobilis nobilis (Gould, 1869) – Nominate Race
The adult male’s forehead, the center of his crown (top of his head), the cheeks and sides of his throat are black; the rest of his head is dark blue.
His throat is glossy green, followed by a tuft of elongated metallic reddish-purple feathers.
The upper plumage is a coppery brown. The sides of the neck and under plumage are greyish-white, mottled faintly with brown on the abdomen and sides.
The under tail feathers are a coppery brown. The central tail feathers are bronze and the external feathers are white except for a streak of bronze at the tip of the inner web.
The bill and feet are black. The stout bill is longer than the head with a slight downward curve.
Females and Immatures: They look similar to the male, but the center of their crown is chestnut-colored and the rest greenish-blue. The sides of the face and throat are black. The center of the throat is glossy green; and they lack the tuft of the adult male. The under plumage is brownish-white.
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, skinny 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 Bearded Mountaineer 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.
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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