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
Rachel Lee Young. Photographer