Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera)

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Sword_Billed_Hummingbird

Sword-billed hummingbird in flight.

The sword-billed hummingbird is the only bird in existence that has a beak that is longer than its body.  It is from Andrean South America, ranging from Colombia in the north to Bolivia in the south.

At about 13g, which the internet reliably informs me is just over the weight of two bic biros, and 14cm in length, it is one of the larger hummingbird species.  This dwarfs the smallest bird species in the world, the bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae), which weighs about 2g (not even half a bic!) and is around 5.5cm long.

Unfortunately there is little breeding information available for these guys.  Here is the gif in video form, in slow mo, to stem your disappointment.

This species is typically a nectar feeder, although it also feeds on some insects.  Some species of passion flower, such as Passiflora Datura, depend upon this species for pollination.  When the hummingbird enters the flower to feed on delicious nectar they get covered in pollen, which they then carry to the next flower, pollinating it.  Not just a free-loader.

Population size for this species is unknown, but they are listed as of least concern on the IUCN red list.  Efforts to preserve this species with ecotourism should help prevent habitat destruction in its range and keep population numbers stable.  They are most commonly found 2500-3000m above sea level.

Xeno canto once again provides a great distribution map and a few call recordings.

References

BirdLife International 2012. Ensifera ensifera. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 08 May 2015.

BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Ensifera ensifera. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/05/2015.

Chai, P., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2014). Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved fromhttp://www.hbw.com/node/55653 on 8 May 2015).

Züchner, T. & Kirwan, G.M. (2015). Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2015). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/55570 on 8 May 2015).

Videos

Angela Drake. 2014. Sword-Billed Hummingbird (2x slow). [Online]. [08/05/2015]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU8FCtsYbpA