Tapajos Hermits (Phaethornis aethopyga)

The Tapajós Hermit (Phaethornis aethopyga) is a newly discovered South American species of hummingbird that was found at the *Pantanal and in Alta Floresta (a city in Mato Grosso) in Brazil.

Previously, the Tapajos Hermit was considered hybrid between Reddish Hermit (Phaethornis ruber) and Streak-throated Hermit (Phaethornis rupurumii); [Trochilidae, Apodiformes, 2.03]

* Pantanal is a tropical wetland located in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul but extends into Mato Grosso as well as into portions of Bolivia and Paraguay – and encompasses an area between 140,000 square kilometers (54,000 sq mi) and 195,000 square kilometers (75,000 sq mi).

Nesting / Breeding

Hummingbirds in general are solitary and neither live nor migrate in flocks; and there is no pair bond for this species – the male’s only involvement in the reproductive process is the actual mating with the female.

During the breeding season, the males of many Hermit species form leks (= competitive mating displays) and congregate on traditional display grounds.  Once a female enters their territory, they display for her.   Their display may entail wiggling of their tails and singing. Willing females will enter the area for the purpose of choosing a male for mating. Oftentimes she will choose the best singer.

The average clutch consists of two white eggs, which she incubates alone, while the male defends his territory and the flowers he feeds on (although hermit males tend to be less aggressive than the males of other hummingbird species). 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 Tapajós Hermits primarily feed on nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, scented small flowers of trees, herbs, shrubs and epiphytes.

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