Birds Species

Crimson Topaz History and 5 Best Facts

Crimson Topaz

The Crimson Topaz hummingbird (Archaelix rubinoides) is a rare and beautiful hummingbird found in parts of Central America. With its brilliant red and orange colouration, it is one of the most colourful hummingbirds in the world. In this article, we will review the Crimson Topaz key identification features, geographic range, habitat, diet, breeding behaviour, conservation status, and interesting facts about this amazing Forest bird.

Physical description

The male scarlet topaz hummingbird is inconspicuous with its vibrant plumage. The head, throat and chest are deep metallic red. The underbelly turns bright orange-red. The back and upper parts are emerald green. The tail is mostly black with a white tip. The bill is long, straight and black. Females have green upperparts and grey underparts with white patterns on the abdomen and throat but lack the bright red plumage. Juveniles resemble adult females.

These small Species of birds measure only 2.5-3 inches in length on average. Their wingspan is about 4 inches. They weigh only 2-3 grams. Despite their small stature, the red colour is clearly visible in the male plants. The species gets its common name from the fiery orange-red tone that resembles the lustre of the topaz gemstone.

Native Geographic Range

The Crimson Topaz hummingbird is native to a small region of Central America. Its breeding centres around the Alva Valley in western Honduras. It is also found in limited contiguous parts of Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Within this narrow area, it inhabits subtropical broadleaf and pine-oak forests in rugged, mountainous terrain.

Habitat and Foraging

This species inhabits forests, forest edges and thickets, often with an abundance of flowering plants. It is a particular preference for areas with agave plants. It also searches for flowering trees and shrubs along river banks.

The Species bird’s distinctive long, thin bill allows it to drink nectar from tubular flowers. It prefers red flowers that are high in sugar. Some favourite forage plants include poinsettias, honeysuckle and orchids. To supplement its diet, the hummingbird eats small insects such as mosquitoes and spiders. It is known for its aggressive territorial behaviour, chasing intruders from favourite nectar sources. It uses its aerial agility to pluck insects from branches and leaves.

Reproduction and Lifecycle

The Crimson Topaz hummingbird’s breeding season runs from March to May. Males display extensive aerial courtship to attract mates. Once mated, the female builds a small cup-shaped nest of cobwebs and lichens under the plant. She lines the inner nest with soft plant fibres. The nest is only 1.5 inches wide and is usually placed on the lower branch of a tree.

The female lays two pea-sized white eggs. She spends roughly 16 days alone incubating the eggs.. After hatching, both parents share the responsibility of feeding the chicks. The nestlings fledge in about 22 days. Chicks are fed regurgitated insects to provide protein for growth.

The life expectancy of this species is 5 to 6 years. It faces threats from habitat loss and competing exotic bird species. Climate change may also affect future breeding success and access to food sources.

Conservation status

Due to its extremely restricted global range, small population size and declining trend, the Crimson Topaz hummingbird is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Habitat loss from deforestation and human development is the biggest threat. Conversion of its montane forest bird ecosystems for agriculture, logging and housing has greatly reduced its breeding and foraging grounds.

Exotic species such as the blue-crowned motmot have also invaded its territory, competing for food and other resources. Pollution, climate change and extreme weather events are further threatening the future of this rare bird. Extensive habitat conservation and reforestation efforts are needed to prevent its extinction. Birdlife International currently estimates the remaining population at only 2,500 to 9,999 adults.

Crimson Topaz Cool Facts

– The red colour comes from unique pigments in bird food called carotenoids. They obtain these compounds from the nectar of colourful fruits and flowers.

– Males perform a characteristic pendulum display flight, flying in repeated U-shaped arcs to impress females.

– The white-tipped tail spreads like a fan during aggressive displays towards rivals.

– Their long, specialised tongue can extend more than 5 cm to reach the nectar inside some flowers.

– They have the fastest wingbeat rate of all hummingbirds, up to 70 flaps per second.