Rachel is featured in Trinidad Newsday
The tufted coquette - Lophornis ornatus - is the smallest** resident bird in Trinidad and Tobago and the second smallest hummingbird in the world (the Bee hummingbird - Mellisuga helenae - being the smallest). It breeds in eastern Venezuela, Trinidad, Guiana, and northern Brazil. It is an uncommon but widespread species, and appears to be a local or seasonal migrant, although its movements are not well understood.
This small bird inhabits open country, gardens, and cultivation. It is 6.6 centimetres (2.6 in) long and weighs 2.3 grams (0.081 oz). The black-tipped red bill is short and straight.
The male tufted coquette is a striking bird. It has a rufous head crest and a coppery green back with a whitish rump band that is prominent in flight. The forehead and underparts are green, and rufous plumes with iridescent green spots project from the neck sides. The tail is golden rufous.
The female lacks the crest and plumes. She has green upperparts (dorsal), except for the whitish tail band, and rufous underparts (ventral) that become much paler on the belly. The tail is mostly bronze green with a dusky band and whitish tips to the feathers. Immature males resemble the female, but their throats are whitish with fine dark spotting.
The female tufted coquette lays two eggs in a small cup nest made of plant down and placed on a branch.
Tufted coquettes are quite tame and approachable which allows you to get close for photographs! Their call while feeding is a light chik.
Their food is nectar, taken from a variety of flowers, and some small invertebrates. They particularly love cultivated vervain and lantana in the garden. With their small size and steady flight, these birds resemble a large bee as they move from flower to flower with their distinctive bobbing tail motion.
** note that the rufous shafted woodstar which is extremely rare (can sometimes be seen at Yerette hummingbird sanctuary) is similarly small - 2.75 inches
The purple honeycreeper (Cyanerpes caeruleus) is a small bird in the tanager family. It is found in the tropical New World from Colombia and Venezuela south to Brazil, and on Trinidad. A few, possibly introduced birds have been recorded on Tobago.
The purple honeycreeper is 11.5 cm long, weighs 12 g and has a long black decurved bill. The male is purple with black wings, tail and belly, and bright yellow legs. Females and immatures have green upperparts, and green-streaked yellowish-buff underparts. The throat is cinnamon, and there is a blue moustachial stripe. The call of purple honeycreeper is a thin high-pitched zree.
The Trinidadian subspecies C. c. longirostris has a longer bill than the mainland forms.
This is a forest canopy species, but also occurs in cocoa and citrus plantations. At the upper limit of its altitudinal range, it frequents premontane rainforest, usually rather low-growing (10–15 m) and full of epiphytes and mosses.
The purple honeycreeper is often found in small groups. It feeds on nectar (particularly from bromeliad and similar flowers, to which its bill shape is adapted), berries and insects, mainly in the canopy. It is a bold and inquisitive bird, responding readily to the call of the ferruginous pygmy owl (Glaucidium brasilianum) by coming out of cover and searching for the presumed predator to mob it. The female purple honeycreeper builds a small cup nest in a tree, and incubates the clutch of two brown-blotched white eggs.
Purple honeycreeper photographed by Rachel Lee Young at Yerette Hummingbird Sanctuary, Maracas St Joseph.
The blue-chinned sapphire (Chlorestes notata) is a hummingbird that breeds from Colombia south and east to the Guianas, Trinidad, Peru, and Brazil. There have been occasional records from Tobago.
It is a bird of forests and sometimes cultivated areas with large trees. The female lays her eggs in a deep cup nest, made of lichen and other fine plant material and placed on a horizontal tree branch. Incubation is 16 days with a further 18–19 days to fledging.
The blue-chinned sapphire is 8.9 cm long and weighs 3.8 g. The bill is fairly straight, with the upper mandible black and the lower reddish. The male has mainly green plumage, darker above, with white thighs, a forked metallic blue tail and blue upper throat. The female differs from the male in that she has green-spotted white underparts.
Blue-chinned sapphires feed on insects and nectar, mainly in trees but sometimes on vines or smaller plants like Heliconia. The song is a high metallic ssooo-ssooo-ssooo.
Blue chinned sapphire feeding on the flowers of Antigua Heath photographed by Rachel Lee Young in the RAPSO garden, Diego Martin.
The white-necked jacobin (Florisuga mellivora) is a large and attractive hummingbird that ranges from Mexico, south to Peru, Bolivia and south Brazil. It is also found on Tobago (sub-species F. m. flabellifera) and in Trinidad (sub-species F. m. mellivora)
The white-necked jacobin is approximately 12 cm long and is a widespread inhabitant of forest, usually being seen at a high perch or just above the canopy. It is less common at lower levels, except near hummingbird feeders.
The white-necked jacobin is remarkable for its dazzling plumage and unique wing structure, which makes it extremely adept at maneuvering with incredible agility through the forest. The male of this species has a shimmering blue head and chest, and bright iridescent green upperparts. This contrasts starkly with the snow-white plumage of the belly, the broad white crescent on the back of the neck, and the white tail, which is tipped with black. The plumage of female white-necked jacobins is highly variable; a female may have the same plumage as a male, and only be distinguished by its longer bill and shorter wings and tail, or it may differ from the male by having blue-green on the breast, a dull white belly, and a mostly green tail with a dark blue tip. Both the male and female have black feet and a straight black bill
These birds usually visit flowers of tall trees and epiphytes for nectar, and also hawk for insects.
During the breeding season, the fantastic plumage of the male white-necked jacobin is most prominent, as it performs an attractive territorial display. A male will shoot up into the air, suddenly fan out its white tail, and then slowly descend as it steadily turns, displaying the tail in its full glory to a watching female. Such displays often take place at considerable heights, up in the forest canopy. The white-necked jacobin nests in the forest understorey, one to three metres above the ground, where it constructs a shallow nest of soft vegetation and cobwebs on the surface of a broad leaf, which is sheltered from above by another large leaf.
White necked Jacobin photographed by Rachel Lee Young at Yerette Hummingbird Sanctuary, Maracas St Joseph.
The black-throated mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis) is a mainly South American hummingbird species. It breeds from Panama south to north easterm Bolivia, southern Brazil and northern Argentina. It is also common on both Trinidad and Tobago. It is a local or seasonal migrant, with some birds moving up to 1000 miles, although its movements are not well understood.
It is 10.2 cm long and weighs 7.2g. The longish black bill is slightly decurved. The tail in both sexes has dark central feathers, the outer tail being wine-red tipped with black.
The male has glossy bright green upperparts. His throat and chest are matt black, bordered with blue-green. The flanks are bright green, and the black of the chest tapers onto the belly.
The female black-throated mango has bronze-green upperparts and white underparts with a black central stripe. Immature birds show some grey or buff feather tips on the head and wings, and have brown around the eyes.
Black-throated mangos inhabits open country, gardens and cultivation. They feed on nectar, often taken from the flowers of large trees and are also notably insectivorous, often hovering in open areas to catch flying insects. The call is a high-pitched tsiuck, and the song is a buzzing hsl-hsl-hsl-hsl-hsl-hsl-hsl.
The black-throated mango's breeding season lasts almost year-round in most of its range. It builds a tiny cup nest on a high, thin, and usually bare branch. For this it uses fluff like seed down, cladding the outside with lichen. Nests are maybe 35–40 mm wide and 25–30 mm tall on the outside and some 25 mm wide and 10–15 mm deep inside. The two all-white eggs measure c.15 by 9.5 mm. They are incubated by the female for 16 or 17 days, and fledging takes another 24.
This species is very similar to the closely related green-breasted mango. Although the male black-throated mango has more extensive black on the underparts, this and other plumage differences are not always easy to confirm in the field because the birds appear all-black. The females of the two species can be almost inseparable, although the black-throated lacks the more extensively coppery upperpart of its relative.
Black throated mango (female) photographed by Rachel Lee Young in the RAPSO garden, Diego Martin
Black throated mango (male) photographed by James B Solomon at Adventure Farm Eco Villas, Tobago