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