Tufted Coquette

Tufted Coquette, male, Asa Wright Nature Centre

Tufted Coquette, male, Asa Wright Nature Centre

One of the smallest hummingbirds, when this little orange bullet zooms by, you’re not sure if it’s an insect or a bird.

 

Tufted coquette, male

Tufted coquette, male. See the pollen on the tip of his bill?

Plumes and polka dots, metallic green, a spikey rufous crest, and a red bill–this bird has jazz.

 

Lophornis ornatus–even the Latin name implies decoration. More bird info here.

 

We saw them on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, but they are also seen in the humid rainforests, gardens, and plantations of Venezuela, Guiana, and northern Brazil. Measuring 2.6 inches (6.6 cm) long, the genders of this tiny species do not look alike.

 

Like many hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies, this bird trap-lines while feeding; meaning they repeatedly check the same nectar source, like a trapper checking their traps.

 

If it wasn’t for the vervain plant they predictably visit for nectar, they would have been impossible to observe or photograph. The flower has several tiny petal clusters. The coquette probes its bill into one flower cluster, then on to the next and the next; but they do this so fast, it’s usually just a blur.

 

They feed on the nectar so fast that often their rear end is lagging behind the rest of the body.

 

Tufted Coquette, female

Tufted Coquette, female

 

 

Studying the field guide before our Trinidad arrival, we had hoped to see this splashy bird. Once we found them, and the vervain, we parked ourselves in front of the bush–especially Athena; every morning at dawn.

 

A daily routine has never been so delightful.

 

Coquette drawing from Charles Darwin’s book: The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex

Photo credit: Athena Alexander

 

 

 

 

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103 thoughts on “Tufted Coquette

    • South and Central America are so wonderful for seeing hummingbirds. I’m glad you enjoyed the coquette here, and that you have seen them in person in Ecuador, Trini. Many thanks!

    • Hi Alastair, yes, comparatively this hummingbird’s bill is not so long or curved, but the vervain doesn’t require this. No, they do not feed exclusively on the vervain, but it is a favorite. Always a delight, my friend, thanks for your comment and visit.

  1. Bravo to Athena for these incredible captures! As you describe the wee thing being so fast even its own rear end can’t keep up with the action, I am amazed at the clarity of her photos. It instantly came to my mind that the bird looks like a teenager pushing the limits. ‘I’m going to try this mohawk hairdo, you don’t mind if I dye it brilliant orange do you? Oh and these clothes? Yes picked up this polka dot piece at the thrift store. Love how it goes with the rest of my psychedelic outfit.’

    What an amazing little bird that I would have never known about if not for the two of you. Thank you and I shall be happily thinking about this colorful trap liner all day.

    • I think half of the people who were near the coquette never even knew it was there, because the bird zips in and zips out in the blink of an eye. But we had studied this amazing bird in the book, and really wanted to see it; and then when we found they frequently came to this bush, that was it. Athena has about a hundred blurry photos of this little speed freak, as you can imagine, so thanks for the kudos, I will be sure to pass them on, Sue. I enjoyed your teenager scenario and delightful comment, as always. 🙂

  2. Just seeing the title of your post was intriguing! And it didn’t disappoint. What a curious, beautiful and delightful creature. And kudos to you and Athena for searching out these gems!

    • Thank you for your kind and warm comment, dear Nan. A lot of people do not realize that hummingbirds have lots of different names, and one we don’t hear much about is the tufted coquette. So I am happy to share it with you, and appreciate your visit, as always.

    • Oh yay — the tufted coquette made it onto the Draw a Bird Day. I imagine this would be very hard to draw…but then to me, everything is hard to draw. That’s why I so appreciate your drawings. Many thanks~~

  3. Jet: Excellent photos of the hummingbirds in action. I’m expecting them to fly out through my computer scene! I heard the hummingbirds in the cedar trees today communicating to each other with their sharp chitter, chitters! Have a fun day observing birds and wildlife

    • I’m so glad the tufted coquette warmed your day, SWI, and that hummingbirds grace your space even on this cold winter day. I am actually really glad to hear you have them active today up there on Whidbey Island. I’m assuming you speak of the Anna’s. We went on a trip once with some Canadians who told us about the Anna’s up there in your vicinity on cold winter days, so I’m glad to know it’s still occurring. Many thanks, my friend~~

  4. Amazing pictures. Wow! We have hummingbirds in our backyard but I have no idea what they look like – they just buzz by my head. Gotta love a bird with a name that includes “coquette”!

    • The most prevalent hummingbird you would have, given where you live Jan, is the Anna’s. The male has a red/pink throat (see link). But I totally understand if you don’t see them because man, can they buzz by in a blur. And I love that you, a writer, commented on the name. They are such coquettes! Also wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your recent Mapes Hotel post and our comment exchange — many thanks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna's_hummingbird

    • It was indeed a wonderful find. And you know how birding is, Sherry — once you find a bird you’ve been hoping to see, you don’t stop appreciating it until it flies away. And even then, you have the photos (hopefully) for memory. Many thanks for your visit today.

  5. What a beauty! Your daily routine in trying to spot this bird made me smile. Some obsessive behaviour has to be encouraged – equal measures of frustration and then satisfaction?! I have to be honest, if someone had described this bird to me, I’d have said they were pulling my leg, but your words and Athena’s photographs say otherwise.
    Thanks once again, Jet – your adventures show we live in a wonderful world full of delightful (small!) surprises.

    • My thanks for your thoughtful comment, pc. It’s a joy to share the beautiful, and yes unbelievable, tufted coquette with you. And such a satisfying message to hear, for it truly is a “wonderful world full of delightful surprises” that we live in. Your recent post is another such example, cavorting in the wintry Canadian woods, finding delight in the snowy limbs and the resident dipper. My thanks and best wishes to you, pc, for a joyous weekend ahead.

  6. What a beautiful little bird! I’m very fond of hummingbirds,on my mind I always see them as fantastic nymphs out of fairy tales. Nice post my friend, thank you. 🙂

  7. I looooooooooved this post! Thank you, Jet. That first photo is fantastic and I loved reading about these tiny and marvelously feathered creatures. I particularly liked the part about parking yourselves in front of the vervain bush at dawn. Dreamy… 🙂

  8. Good morning Jet, Another superb post…and Bravo to Athena for managing to capture this little magical entity so well! Fantastic images. I spoke with both my sets of friends who have lived in Trinidad, quite some time ago, but also very familiar with Asa Wright…They agreed that it’s fantastic place to go for birders and watercolour painters….Much food for thought.
    I heard on the radio this morning that California is in for a very stormy, rainy weekend. Hope you are not to adversely affected. Enjoy the weekend….janet. 🙂

    • Of course I thought of you when posting the tufted coquette, Janet, given your deep connection with hummingbirds. I’m really glad you enjoyed seeing this bird, and your “magical entity” description gave me a big smile. I can easily see you enjoying the verandah at Asa Wright, finding your inspiration from the many hummingbirds and colorful tropical birds that live there. I am glad you talked to your friends about it too. Meanwhile back in California, we are indeed living through some stormy times. I wake up in the morning so happy that a tree hasn’t crushed me in the night. ha. Many thanks for your warm words, Janet~~

      • It is early Tue. morning, Janet, and I am happy to say I have survived. But whew, it is nuts here! I stayed home over the weekend, didn’t even go for my walks because trees and limbs are dropping everywhere; but now it’s time to go out, should be okay. Thanks so much for your warm thoughts.

      • It’s always a pleasure to share what the resident (Anna’s) hummingbirds are doing. This year, as in every year, the females went to the lowlands about a month ago, where it is a little warmer and less harsh. We live at 2,300′ (701m). They’ll come back up in about a month. So there are a few males who are living here now, and one is especially feisty. He’s a juvenile, but he’s older now, has lost his juvenile markings; he gets all the others stirred up. He and the others have two nectar feeders they battle over; and there are also some flowering manzanita bell-shaped blossoms that they’re enjoying, but only when it’s not freezing. Mostly they’re reliant on the nectar we make and it is kept fresh at all times in order to keep the little guys energized. Their world is an honor to be part of…and how nice that you take an interest in it. Thanks so much, Janet.

      • Good morning, Jet. Thank you so much for this update….I have pictures in my mind’s eye of all the natural beauty you are surrounded by. I do agree with you that anytime we can participate in the the natural world and especially that of the magical hummingbird, we are indeed honoured. Have a lovely weekend…Hope your weather is calming down. We had a huge storm yesterday right across the UK…and of course because this is such a tiny Island…it was quite dramatic. This morning I wake to sunshine and calm. Wishing you a lovely and creative weekend. janet. 🙂

  9. We just spotted our first Rufous a couple of days back. I thought they were flashy, but this cutie beats them all to heck! What a THRILL it must have been to watch them. Lucky you and Athena!

    • There’s something about those orange birds, isn’t there, Gunta? Glad for your rufous (hummingbird I assume), and glad I could share the tufted coquette too. Loved your comment. 🙂

      • I meant to specify that our spring influx of Rufous hummingbirds appears to be starting. A bit early if you ask me. Forgive me if I’m a bit spaced out these days. Way too much on my mind with all the house shifting going on.

    • Well how very wonderful to receive your nomination, Lloyd — I am honored. It is a joy to create posts, to have fun and beautiful activities in this world to share wherever I turn — and I always like seeing what you are up to in the land down under. My thanks for your kindness and friendship. 🙂

  10. Not sure if I mentioned I have collected robins for years but had limited space so had to sell or give some porcelain birds away. Seeing live birds is special and love this sweet bird here. I have a link in the column to a place I wrote of my grandpa’s spirit returning in a cardinal’s visiting me. Take care, Jet. 🙂 xo

    • We spotted the tufted coquette in the field guide before the trip, and were hoping to see them; and were so delighted to have had the opportunity numerous times. Thank you Sylvia!

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