Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Hummingbird male becomes mother

3 November, 2010 - 11:46 -- World Land Trust
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Unusual behaviour even for a hummingbird.

Luciano Breves, the World Land Trust’s (WLT) multimedia officer in Brazil, spotted a Black-throated Mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis) hummingbird nest on a road bridge just 10km from his back garden. Viewers of our webcams will recognise this species as a regular visitor, but because this was an unusual place to build a nest Luciano stopped for a closer look.

The unusual location of the Black-throated Mango nestThe Black-throated Mango Male sitting on his nest

Above top: the location of the nest was unusual as it was precariously perched on a road bridge. Above: Luciano’s photo clearly shows a male sat on the nest. Photo © Luciano Breves

To his surprise he discovered a male hummingbird sitting on the eggs. This is extremely unusual behaviour as male hummingbirds rarely take  interest during nesting; they don’t help in nest building and never share in the incubation or rearing of chicks. There are a few reports of males standing guard at a discreet distance and occasionally darting at an intruder, but females will often drive him away.

Male and female hummingbirds are easily distinguished by their markings and colourings; male Black-throated Mangos are green with a black throat and chest, whereas females are golden green with a white throat and chest that is patterned with a black strip down the centre. This species is found throughout much of South America and is often spotted on our webcams.

Luciano watched the male regularly but unfortunately someone removed the nest before he could discover if the male could successfully raise the chicks. Luciano believes that something must have happened to the female, forcing the male humming bird to take over the rearing.

If you know of any similar cases of unusual hummingbird behaviour or have any other suggestions as to why this may have happened do let us know. Please leave your comments, it would be great to have your help in solving this mystery.

More information

Visit the WLT wildlife Webcams to watch Black –throated Mangos live from the Rainforest

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