The Swordbill Hummingbird

The Yanacocha Reserve near Quito stands at 10,500 feet above sea level and boasts a spectacular views across a verdant volcanic landscape.

http://www.worldlandtrust.org/projects/ecuador/jocotoco-reserves/yanacocha

There were a number of new (to me) hummingbird species but the star of my show was a bird that I have long wanted to photograph: the Swordbill Hummingbird. I have caught glimpses of it before, I have spend a fruitless previous rainy day at Yanacocha looking for it, but I have never had this remarkable bird in my viewfinder.

Swordbill Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) Yanacocha, Ecuador. October

Swordbill Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) Yanacocha, Ecuador. October

 

The Swordbill has the longest bill of any species of hummingbird – over 5” in length. It has evolved to feed on the trumpet flowers such as the Brugmansia sanguinea (Red Angel’s Trumpet) – which has a bulb concealed at the very end of the tubular flower. To reach this feast the Swordbill thrusts not only its bill but its whole head inside the trumpet– quite a feat while flying blind to maintain position. This is a wonderful example of natural selection on the basis of a highly unusual characteristic – an absolutely enormous bill!

Swordbill Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) Yanacocha, Ecuador. October

Swordbill Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) Yanacocha, Ecuador. October

Swordbill Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) Yanacocha, Ecuador. October

Swordbill Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) Yanacocha, Ecuador. October

Red Angel's Trumpet (Brugmansia sanguine)

Red Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia sanguine)

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