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Bee Hummingbird
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male
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Trochilidae
Genus: Mellisuga
Species: Mellisuga helenae
The bee hummingbird (mellisuga helenae) is a bird in the Trochilidae family.

DescriptionEdit

Female bee hummingbird

female

This hummingbird is considered world's smallest living bird. It is about 5-6 cm long and weights 1,6-2 g.

The male has an iridescent red head and throat, elongated neck plumes, a white-gray underside, blue spotted wing tips, black tipped tail feathers, with the rest of their feathers being composed of a bluish-green. After the mating season however the males lose their iridescent plumage, and grow a more drab shade of feathers. The female on the other hand is slightly larger than the male and has green upperparts, tail feathers with white tips, no iridescent plumage, and a turquoise-blue or white underbelly . They both have a straight dull black bill. [1]

Bird on pencil

a bee hummingbird on a pencil

HabitsEdit

Beating its wings 80 times per second in a figure-of-eight pattern, the bee hummingbird can hover and move with great agility. [2]

MigrationEdit

These hummingbirds do not migrate because of the climate they inhabit. They do move short distances because of changes in availability of high quality nectar from flowers during different seasons of the year.

BreedingEdit

Nest

hummingbird nest with two eggs

Living in a tropical climate, these hummingbirds mate after the wet season. They require the more abundant nectar of flowering trees and plants available during the dry season. Of course these flowers are for the extra food supply the female will need later for her young.

The male hummingbird makes a series of high-pitched squeaks to attract his mate. More than one male will compete for a female. Unlike some other species, the mating ritual is not dramatic. It normally occurs while perching or simply hovering in the air. Many hummingbirds engage in a theatrical acrobatic hummingbird mating dive. The female builds the nest and typically lays 2 white eggs. The male plays no part in parenting. The female incubates her eggs for 14 to 23 days. These chicks fledge anywhere from 18 to 37 days.

FeedingEdit

Like most hummingbirds, they feed mainly on nectar from flowers. Insects and spiders are a source of protein.

LifespanEdit

This bird lives about 7 years.[3]

PredatorsEdit

The main predators of the bee hummingbird are larger birds like hawks, falcons and orioles, as well as fish, frogs and tropical spiders. [4]

DistributionEdit

The Bee Hummingbird is endemic to the main island of Cuba, although it formerly also occurred on the Isle of Youth, and is currently considered to be Near Threatened under IUCN criteria. It is easily found only in three regions of Cuba, namely the extreme west, on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, further east in the vicinity of the Zapata Swamp, and more widely in the far east of the island [5]

HabitatEdit

These birds primarily inhabit dense coastal forests and forest edges, but are also found in mountain valleys, interior forests, swamplands and gardens. They prefer areas with the plant Solandra grandiflora - a vine with large ornamental flowers - and their preferred source of nectar. Even though, they appear to live at both high and low altitudes, They seem to prefer lowland areas. [6]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Information from [1]
  2. Information from [2]
  3. Information from [3]
  4. Information from [4]
  5. Information from [5]
  6. Information from [6]

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