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Friday, November 19, 2021

Return of Bird of the Week: Violet Sabrewing

Violet Sabrewing, Costa Rica

Violet Sabrewing, Costa Rica

Another stunningly beautiful hummingbird, to which WC’s photo doesn’t being to do justice. A gem of purple, blue and green, with a strongly decurved bill, this is another ridiculously colorful hummingbird. It’s also Central AMerica’s largest hummingbird, measuring 15 centimeters (a little over 5.25 inches).

Unlike most hummingbirds, male Sabrewings compete for females on a lek. As many as ten birds gather and sing in saplings in the forest understory or edge, two to four meters above the ground. The song is described as “a long series of evenly spaced but variable notes: cheep tsew cheep tik-tik tsew cheep …, high-pitched and piercing.” It’s not very melodic, but it is the loudest notes WChas heard come out of a hummingbird.

This species is found in the understory of humid montane evergreen forest, at forest edges, in old second growth forest, in banana plantations and in flower gardens. It is uncommon below 1,500 meters elevation or so.

Violet Sabrewing, Costa Rica

Violet Sabrewing, Costa Rica

The bill is somewhat specialized for flowers with long, curved stems, like Heliconia. But it’s also an enthusiastic user of hummingbird feeders. In fact, WC was hard-pressed to get photos of this species anywhere but at feeders.

The throat and upper chest on the males is highly iridescent, a beautiful violet color WC only partially captured in this photo. It’s also a remarkably belligerent species, fighting with other sabrewings, other hummingbirds, tanagers and anything else it sees as a threat.

The comparatively wide distribution of the species – southern Mexico to western Panama – and its adaptability to human disturbance gets this species classifies as Least Concern.

For more bird photographs, please visit Frozen Feather Images.



One Response to “Return of Bird of the Week: Violet Sabrewing”
  1. Huhnkie Lee says:

    Thank you for the beautiful bird pictures-

    And I appreciate you and your organization.

    We may not agree but hey, we are all Alaskans, all Americans.

    Thank you for your service and courage to be different.

    –Lee in the Valley //!-)

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