Bird of the Week, June 15, 2012
Esmeraldas Woodstar


Esmeraldas Woodstar by Roger Alhman


The Esmeraldas Woodstar is one of the world's rarest and smallest hummingbirds, measuring barely 2½ inches long.  Called “Estrellita” (little star) by local people, this tiny hummingbird sports a striking combination of coppery-green, white, and violet plumage.


The woodstar breeds at lower elevations along streams next to large forest patches; most birds move upslope to spend the non-breeding season at higher elevations. Unfortunately, its range has been severely fragmented  by human activities -- only 5% of original forest remains in western Ecuador due to logging, development, agriculture, and overgrazing. Although part of its range occurs in Machalilla National Park, this provides inadequate protection, since the bird breeds at lower elevations beyond park boundaries.


As of this month, the Esmeraldas Woodstar began receiving additional protection from a new 38-acre reserve established by Fundación Jocotoco, World Land Trust-US, and ABC, with the involvment of the local Las Tunas community. These organizations plan to purchase more properties, with a long-term goal to protect 600-700 acres of habitat for the woodstar and other endemic species.


Learn more about the recent reserve creation!




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Photo: Roger Ahlman; Range Map, NatureServe