The Black-crested Coquette (Lophornis helenae) is a small hummingbird species found in specific areas of Central America, including Costa Rica. It is especially recognized for its unique appearance and somewhat limited distribution. Here's some detailed information about the species:
The Black-crested Coquette is a tiny hummingbird; males are approximately 6.6 to 7.5 cm long, while females are slightly larger.
Males have a distinctive spiked crest that is black with a bluish sheen.
Their plumage includes shimmering green on the upper parts and flanks, with a rufous tinge on the lower back.
The male's throat is also decorated with a brightly colored, spangled gorget, which can have green to golden-green discs.
Females lack the black crest and have a more subdued coloration with white-tipped outer tail feathers.
This species prefers hilly or lower mountainous areas with forest edge, secondary growth, coffee plantations, and gardens at elevations typically ranging from 400 to 1,400 meters, though they can be observed up to 2,250 meters.
In Costa Rica, Black-crested Coquettes are often found at higher elevations on the Caribbean slope, and the species is considered uncommon to fairly common within its preferred habitat.
Like other hummingbirds, the Black-crested Coquette feeds primarily on nectar from a variety of flowering plants, showing a preference for small red tubular flowers. They are known to be quite aggressive despite their small size, often defending feeding territories against much larger hummingbirds.
They also supplement their diet with insects and other small invertebrates, which are important sources of protein.
Little is known about the breeding habits of the Black-crested Coquette, as is the case with many hummingbird species due to their elusive nature.
Generally, hummingbirds lay very small eggs (only one or two), and the female is solely responsible for nest building and care of the young.
The Black-crested Coquette is not currently listed as threatened or endangered, but like many species with relatively small ranges, it can be susceptible to habitat loss and changes in climate.
Ongoing conservation efforts to protect natural habitats are important for the continued survival of specialized species like the Black-crested Coquette.
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