Fr: Emeraude de Porto Rico
Esp: Esmeralda Portorriqueña
Puerto Rico: Zumbadorcito
Ita: Colibrì smeraldo di Portorico
Nd: Puertoricaanse Smaragdkolibrie
Sd: Puerto Ricosmaragd
Puerto Rico Wildlife
Text by Nicole Bouglouan
HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 5 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliott-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334253
Puerto Rican Emerald
Apodiformes Order – Trochilidae Family
The Puerto Rican Emerald is endemic to the archipelago of Puerto Rico. This tiny iridescent green hummingbird displays sexual dimorphism, with different plumages in male and female. This species is the smallest of all hummingbirds in this area, and is named “Zumbadorcito” in Spanish, meaning “small hummingbird”.
DESCRIPTION OF THE SPECIES:
Length: M: 8,5-9,5 cm – F: 7,5-8,5 cm
Weight: 3,4-3,8 g
The adult male has dark shining metallic green upperparts and uppertail-coverts. Its forked tail is mostly shining blue. The flight feathers are dark.
On the underparts, the throat is iridescent bluish-green, whereas rest of underparts and undertail-coverts are shining green.
On the head, forehead and crown are iridescent green.
The short, straight bill is dull black above, whereas the lower mandible is red with black tip. The eyes are dark brown to almost black. Legs and feet are blackish, with white feathered thighs.
The female is duller, with dull dark green forehead and crown, shining grass green upperparts and uppertail-coverts. On the underparts, throat and breast are pale grey, but the belly is darker. The tail is less forked, with brown outer rectrices showing large white spot at tip. The other rectrices are shining green to blue.
The immature is similar to the adult female.
The Puerto Rican Emerald is found on the island of Puerto Rico.
The Puerto Rican Emerald frequents the coastal mangroves and the forested mountain summits. It is usually found in open forest, woodland and coffee plantations. This species is visible from sea-level up to 800 metres of elevation.
CALLS AND SONGS: SOUNDS BY XENO-CANTO
The Puerto Rican Emerald utters high-pitched whistles as song, also used when chasing other hummingbirds.
BEHAVIOUR IN THE WILD:
The Puerto Rican Emerald feeds on nectar from numerous flower species. Its long, tubular tongue is well adapted for sucking the nectar from the corollas. It hovers in front of the flower with very fast wingbeats. Due to its small size, it is sometimes mistaken for a large insect.
It also takes insects such as flies, homopterans and hymenopterans, and small spiders too. It gleans preys from branches and leaves in trees.
Usually, the male forages in the canopy but higher than the female. They may sometimes “rob” the nectar, taking it from a hole at the base of the corolla.
They strongly defend the territory and often chase other hummingbirds while calling loudly.
During the breeding season, the male performs aerial displays to attract females. It flies in a U-shaped pattern in front of one or several females. After the copulation, the male does not take part in nesting duties.
The Puerto Rican Emerald is sedentary in its range.
While hovering in front of flowers to suck the nectar, its wings can beat up to 50 times/second. Like all hummingbirds, it is able to hover in all directions.
REPRODUCTION OF THIS SPECIES:
The breeding season is irregular all year round, with peak between February and May.
The female builds a cup-shaped compact structure with dry plant fibres woven together. Green moss is added on the outside for better camouflage. The inner cup is lined with soft materials such as wild cotton, animal hair and feather down. Spider webs strengthen the structure, giving it an elastic quality.
The nest is placed on low, thin horizontal branch in tree, shrub or bush.
The female lays two white eggs and incubates alone during 14-16 days. At hatching, the chicks are blind and naked, with only two rows of dark down on the upperparts. They are fed by regurgitation by the female. They fledge 20-22 days after hatching. They can breed in the second year.
PROTECTION / THREATS / STATUS:
The Puerto Rican Emerald has restricted range. It is generally common throughout Puerto Rico, and accepts man-made habitats such as parks, gardens, and plantations.
Currently, this species is not threatened.