The White-crested Coquettes (Lophornis adorabilis) are Central American hummingbirds.
Distribution / Range
White-crested Coquettes are native to central Costa Rica and western Panama.
They inhabit subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, as well as heavily degraded former forest – mostly from about 300 meters up to 1220 meters but may move down to lower levels.
During the breeding season, the male coquette – also referred to as “Adorable Coquette” – has a white crest and long green cheek tufts. These ornate feathers may be helpful in territorial defense and potentially in attracting females. After the breeding season, the male loses his ornate decoration.
Nesting / Breeding
The breeding season takes place during the rainy season – from December to February with courtship seen as early as October. During the courtship dance, the male will fly and flutter side to side, forming short arches in front of the female.
The female is responsible for building the small lichen-covered cup-shaped nest out of green moss and line it with other soft plant fibers, and strengthen the structure with spider webbing. The nest is typically found on a low, skinny horizontal perch along the forest edge or a clearing; and is typically not well concealed.
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 7 – 10 days old.
Diet / Feeding
White-crested Coquettesprimarily feed on nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, scented small flowers of trees, herbs, shrubs and epiphytes – favoring Inga, Vochysia, Stachytarpheta and Lonchocarpus.
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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