The Short-crested Coquette is an incredibly small hummingbird – at less than three inches long, it’s barely the size of a butterfly! This is one of the rarest Mexican hummingbirds, with an extremely limited range in the state of Guerrero.
Coquettes may be small, but they are among the showiest hummingbirds, with males having spiky crests and cheek tufts. Their common names hint at their gaudiness. Of the ten species, including Tufted, Dot-eared, Spangled, Peacock, Festive, andFrilled Coquettes, the rarest by far is the Short-crested.
Over the past 50 years, the conservation movement in North America has famously helped protect some of the most iconic birds from extinction, including bald eagles, wild turkeys, white pelicans, peregrine falcons, Kirtland’s warblers, and California condors. But a new study in the journal Science shows that while those rare birds were recovering, total bird numbers were plummeting, even among some of the most common backyard species.
The researchers found broad population decreases, not just with rare or threatened birds. “We saw that these losses occurred in the common species and across every habitat,” Rosenberg says. “Even birds we were calling generalists that should be well-adapted to human environments were in decline. Starlings and house sparrows, these invasive species that we thought may be taking over, were showing the same declines.
The beautiful, liquid song of the Palila was once thought a sign of rain. Now the distinctive sound is rarely heard.
The Palila and the māmane tree are two of Hawai’i’s many species found nowhere else. The tree is essential to the bird: The Palila’s hooked bill is just right for opening the tough, fibrous seedpods of māmane, the bird’s primary food.
SCIENTIFIC NAME:Somateria spectabilis POPULATION: 4.5 million TREND: Decreasing HABITAT: Nests near freshwater lakes and ponds; winters along rocky coasts and on open ocean.
The King Eider’s species name spectabilis is Latin for “remarkable display,” referring to the drake, or adult male, in its breeding plumage. During that time, the drake is unmistakable, with powder-blue head and neck, light green cheek, orange-yellow frontal lobe outlined in black, and a red bill.
The female eider sits tightly on her eggs and sometimes can be approached very closely. Females are so faithful to their nests that they sometimes go a week or more without feeding, and thus may lose significant amounts of weight while incubating.