This lively colorful diminutive hummingbird is an eye-catcher for sure. Ornately-patterned hummingbird, the adult male Tufted Coquette (Lophornis ornatus) has broad, rufous-and-black throat tufts as well as an orange crest that give this species its common name. He's a real humdinger.
It occurs in northeastern South America from Venezuela east across the Guianas to northeastern Brazil. Sightings indicate they are best found in elevations of 500m (.3 miles). But can they travel distances? For instance, can it migrate as far north as the United States?
Can they get a Visa?
With upbeat narration by birder Jo Alwood, all of her videos are peppered with homespun humor. And this one is no different. Her informative video provides an interesting insight into the male Tufted Coquette, who can be considered "a cad about town" . . . or is that, "coquette about floral beds." Music accompaniment features "Beethoven Quartet 4" and "Tchaikovsky Quartet 1."
At the very end of this 2-minute video, Alwood queries about visa status for this species, which gave me the idea for today's blog.
Evolving to get high
The idea of this rare hummingbird venturing as far north as the States is highly unlikely due to its current geographical preferences.
New research finds that hummingbird species living at high altitudes have evolved hemoglobin with enhanced oxygen-binding properties so they can thrive in oxygen-poor environments. This enhanced oxygen-binding property is derived from the same mutations that arose independently in these birds' hemoglobin genes.
Migration by air transport?
It is an uncommon but widespread species and appears to be a local or seasonal migrant, although its movements are not well understood, according to limited research.
Suffice to say they live in mountainous terrain, and to travel to that type of terrain in the U.S. would take a lot of "miles to go before (they) sleep. So highly unlikely. But a jocose thought, nonetheless. Afterall, Hummingbird Air did offer scheduled and chartered air taxi services throughout the Caribbean. However, don't know if this species would fare well in 'cargo' passage?
Primary Source: Neotropical