Violaceous Euphonia

(Euphonia Violacea)
If the size of a bird was akin to the length of its name, one would never have given a 4.5 inch long bird the name Violaceous Euphonia. Although no such rule exists, its vernacular name, ‘Semp’, would seem to better suit its size. That being said, there is a reason behind the name. Violaceous, meaning violet, describes the bluish-black colour on its back and head. Its shiny coat of feathers and sunny yellow chest and forehead make the Semp a sight to behold.
The Semp can be found in forested areas, cocoa estates and in the homes of many bird enthusiasts, living up to its status as a cage bird in Trinidad and Tobago. Its popularity as such is probably due to its ability to imitate the tunes of several other species, as well as its array of melodious chattering notes and short tweets. It is one of eight birds listed in the Conservation of Wildlife Act that can legally be kept in cages once the minimum size of the cage is one cubic foot for each captive bird. However, one does not need to have this bird confined in order to enjoy it. Truthfully, birds are better enjoyed when they are free to roam their territory.
A native of eastern South America, the Violaceous Euphonia prefers fruit at mealtime. In fact, it can regularly be seen hanging out around the vine-like cactus Rhipsalis, as the fruit of this epiphyte is one of its more favoured snacks.
Look out for this vocalist throughout the year as it breeds regularly (except for a short moulting period between July and September). The Violaceous Euphonia is a regular at Springhill. Come visit him!
By J.L. Ryan
ffrench, Richard. 1991. A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. Hilty, Steven L. 2003. Birds of Venezuela. Conservation of Wildlife Act of Trinidad and Tobago
Audio clip from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology