The Coppery-headed Emerald (Elvira cupreiceps) is a small hummingbird endemic to Costa Rica. It measures a mere 3 in (7.6 cm) in length, and weighs only 3 g (0.11 oz). The male has distinctive coppery crown and rump with a whole green belly and white vent. The female has a white belly and a narrow black subterminal band on white outer rectrices of the tail. Its noticeably decurved bill sets it apart from similar the allopatric White-tailed Emerald.
Endemic to Costa Rica, this small hummingbird is found in the highlands of the Caribbean slope or at higher elevations along the Pacific slope.
Coppery-headed Emeralds prefer cool, wet, highland forests and their edges, but also occupy pastures with trees, second growth, and shaded coffee plantations. Within the forest interior, males spend the majority of their time in the canopy and females remain in the understory. However, around edges and gaps in the forest, both sexes forage at all heights on small flowers. During the breeding season, a handful of small males sing together and chase after each other at lek sites. Following the breeding season, most males and females descend to elevations of 300-600 m
Elvira emeralds are small hummingbirds with a relatively short bill, and a short, notched tail with mostly white outer rectrices. The body of Coppery-headed Emerald is mostly green, but the crown, rump and uppertail coverts, and the central pair of rectrices all are coppery bronze. The bill of Coppery-headed Emerald is mostly black, and is slightly decurved. The sexes are similar, but the female is white below, speckled with green.
The crown, upper tail, and central tail feathers of the male are copper. Interestingly, males found in the Cordillera de Guanacaste boast a purple spot in the center of the chest, while birds found elsewhere in the country do not.
The small size, mostly white tail, and coppery rump of Coppery-headed Emerald render this species difficult to mistake for other species of hummingbird.
There is no geographic overlap with White-tailed Emerald (Elvira chionura), which has a straighter bill and green crown and rump. Eupherusa hummingbirds (Stripe-bellied Hummingbird Eupherusa eximia and Black-bellied Hummingbird Eupherusa nigriventris) are larger, with straight bills, have rufous secondaries, and have green crowns and rumps. Male Snowcap (Microchera albocoronata) is mostly purple, with a white crown; female
Snowcap is white below.
Adult male: Crown dull coppery bronze. Nape, back, scapulars, and rump bronze green. Uppertail coverts bright coppery bronze. Central pair of rectrices bronze (much less coppery than the uppertail coverts); four outer pairs of rectrices white; the three outer pairs are tipped with pale gray, and the outermost pair is tipped with black. Wing coverts bronze green. Remiges mostly dusky purplish brown, but the inner secondaries are bronze green. Underparts bright yellowish metallic green; undertail coverts pure white.
Adult female: Upperparts metallic green (less bronzy than the adult male). Uppertail coverts and central pair of rectrices bright bronze (more coppery on the uppertail coverts). Four outer pairs of rectrices white, with a V shaped subterminal bar of gray or dusky, the outerpair also tipped with black or gray, and edged with blackish along the terminal half. Remiges as in the male. Underparts dull white or grayish white, becoming pure white posteriorly; the flanks are more or less spotted with metallic green.
Immature male: Similar to adult male, but coloration slightly duller, especially on the underparts, and the four outer pairs of rectrices are tipped with black or grayish black.
Like all hummingbirds, the Coppery-headed Emerald feeds on nectar and small invertebrates. Because its bill is short, it forages at small flowers, including those in the genera Besleria, Cavendishia, Clusia, Guarea, Pithecellobium, Quararibea and Satyria. It feeds at all levels in mature wet montane forest and forest edges. Males form small leks at middle levels of forest edges.
Calls of Coppery-headed Emerald are described as a high, thin, liquid quip or quit or rapid high sputtering in chases (Stiles and Skutch 1989). The song of male Coppery-headed Emerald is weak [and] warblerlike (Slud 1964) and a high, thin, twittering and warbling (Stiles and Skutch 1989).
Wikipedia, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
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