29 Nov 2011

The Green Honeycreeper

News of Asa Wright, Tropical Nature News

The Green Honeycreeper is common but far from ordinary. Numerous at the feeders at the Asa Wright Nature Centre and found from southern Mexico to Brazil, the Green Honeycreeper echoes the beauty of a turquoise sea. Its beauty is no surprise since it belongs to the Tanager (Thraupidae) family which boasts some of the most gorgeous small birds in the world. The male Green Honeycreeper has turquoise plumage and appears to wear a black mask while the female has grass green coloured plumage. A main characteristic of this species is the sharp, slightly decurved bill. Both have yellow on the lower part of the beak, the male’s beak being brighter yellow than that of the female. This bird measures 5.5 inches and makes high- pitched “chips”. The song however is not distinctive. It is as though this bird doesn’t need much sound as it can rely on its dazzling feathers to garner attention from other animals. This certainly serves to attract humans.

As the name Honeycreeper suggests, this bird has a sweet tooth, er, beak. It eats fruit, sips nectar and less often, forages for insects. It particularly likes the berries of Miconia spp. and Trema micrantha. Green Honeycreepers are forest-dwellers and are most common in humid forests at low to middle elevations. They often frequent the canopy of the forest.

This Tanager breeds from May to July and lays a clutch of two eggs. Eggs are white with a circle of brown spots at the wider end. This bird can be found in small groups mostly made of other Tanagers and Honeycreepers.

Come to the Asa Wright Nature Centre and let the Green Honeycreeper awaken your sense of wonder.

–J.L. Ryan

 

References:

  • ffrench, Richard. 1991. A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Hilty, Steven L. 2003. Birds of Venezuela.
  • Zamudio, Robert M., and Kevin J. Burns. The Green Honeycreeper. Cornell Lab or Ornithology. LINK

 

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