Introducing the Ruby-topaz Hummingbird: A Jewel of Nature
The Ruby-topaz hummingbird (Chrysolampis mosquitus), often simply called the ruby topaz, is a tiny avian wonder that can easily be missed in the shadows but transforms into a sparkling gem in the sunlight. Its appearance is a true spectacle of nature, characterized by its remarkable colors that seem to change with the lighting conditions. In the shade of trees, the male may appear as a subdued brown, but when the sun bathes him in its glow, he transforms into a dazzling jewel. His throat and chest shimmer in iridescent golden yellow or emerald green hues, while his head boasts a ruby-red forehead, crown, and nape, sometimes taking on orange tones. His body is brown, wings gray, and tail features a bright chestnut hue tipped with black. Black is also the color of his short bill, legs, and feet, with brown eyes completing his striking visage.
Females of this species exhibit upperparts with a captivating copper-green tint, complemented by an olive-green central rectrices tail encircled by chestnut ones. Their underparts are adorned in a delicate pale gray. In the captivating lands of Trinidad and Tobago, these birds showcase a greenish-golden stripe extending from their chin to their breast.
Young ruby-topaz hummingbirds, as is often the case with many bird species, bear a striking resemblance to their adult female counterparts.
These enchanting birds are known to inhabit a variety of regions, including Aruba, Bolivia, Bonaire, Brazil, Colombia, Curaçao, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. They display a remarkable adaptability to different environments, making them a delightful sight for birdwatchers in diverse settings, from open country to cultivated areas, clearings, and gardens, where they often forage from treetops.
Ruby-topaz hummingbirds primarily sustain themselves on nectar extracted from a wide range of sources, including flowers, shrubs, cacti, trees, and cultivated plants. However, they are not solely nectarivorous; they are also agile insect hunters, adept at capturing insects in mid-air or foraging for arthropods within foliage.
The breeding season of the Ruby-topaz hummingbird varies across its range, typically occurring from December to June in Trinidad and Tobago and from September to January in Venezuela and the Guyanas. During this period, the female constructs a nest crafted from plant fibers and spider webs, carefully placing it in the fork of a small tree branch. Here, she lays two eggs and diligently incubates them for approximately 15-16 days until they hatch, nurturing the next generation of these captivating birds.
In terms of conservation status, the Ruby-topaz hummingbird is currently categorized as of “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List, indicating that its population is relatively stable and not facing immediate threats to its survival. However, as with all wildlife, the preservation of their habitats remains crucial to ensure their continued presence as nature’s living jewels.