Friday, August 19, 2011

Calliope Hummingbird

Stellula calliope
The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird in North America, and is also the smallest long-distance migrating bird in the entire world!  Weighing only .1oz (3g), it is astonishing to think that these little guys are able to fly all the way from the Pacific Northwest down to their wintering ground in Mexico

Calliope Hummingbirds are named after the Greek Muse of Epic Poetry. Like many birds, the males of the species are more brilliantly colored, with metallic green backs, stark white undersides, and pinkish-purple streaks on the neck. Females are green on the back, but have a more tan underside and no bright  neck coloration. 

Calliope Hummingbirds often  live near bodies of water, and build their nests in forests near lakes and streams. They are also typically found at higher elevations; Calliope Hummingbirds have been seen as far up at 11,000 ft! 

Calliope Hummingbird perching
When Winter comes, the Calliope Hummingbirds head south to Mexico. However, unlike many other migrating birds, these little guys make the trip solo. They make short stopovers to “refuel” and eventually end up over 2,700 miles (4,500km) away. While in Mexico they remain at higher elevations but are not necessarily found near bodies of water. In fact, some even spend their yearly “holiday” in desert-like areas!

Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot else specifically known about Calliope Hummingbirds, as they haven’t been extensively studied. However, we do know that through nectar consumption they serve as pollinators within their home environments, helping to fill an important role within their ecosystem.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Western North America
Size : Length 3.5in (9cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Trochiliformes
Family: Trochilidae -- Genus:  Stellula -- Species : S. calliope

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