Bird of the Week: Marvelous Spatuletail

 

The Marvelous Spatuletail, like so many of South America’s hundreds of hummingbird species, has a name that is both charming and descriptive. This one occurs only in the Rio Utcubamba valley, in the Andes of northern Peru. Here, in a bid to prevent the species’ extinction, ABC and Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) helped establish the Huembo conservation easement in 2005.

 

The main threat to this hummingbird is habitat destruction, caused by illegal wood-cutting and burning for agriculture. Other threats include illegal hunting and invasive plants, which crowd out native flowering plants that provide food.    

 

 

The male’s unique tail features two long, wire-like outer feathers ending in bluish-purple disks (spatules), which the birds wave around during their elaborate courtship displays. Male Marvelous Spatuletails perform at leks, or communal display areas, where females visit to select a mate.

 

ABC and ECOAN continue work with local communities to reforest the Huembo Reserve, which is an Alliance for Zero Extinction site, and surrounding private lands. Huembo also protects other vulnerable and endangered species including the Little Woodstar and Speckle-chested Piculet.

 

If you’re interested in visiting Huembo, please visit our Conservation Birding website and ECOAN's website for more information. You can see it and help to save it through your visit!