Monday, December 20, 2010

Amethyst-throated Hummingbird

The birdathon itself may be over, but the work it sponsors still continues, and so can your financial support of that work. As noted before in this blog, all funds raised in the birdathon benefit the SalvaNATURA bird monitoring program, a monthly bird banding effort in three national parks in El Salvador and one biological reserve in Honduras.

The bird at the top is an Amethyst-throated Hummingbird, a resident highland species found in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. In this photo, the bird is being fed some sugar water, a standard procedure for aiding hummingbirds caught in mist-nets.

This individual was one of the birds we caught last week at the pine-oak banding station in national park Montecristo, El Salvador. By collecting morphological data we can learn more about the life history of these tiny jewels. For example, molt status and age indicators such as percentage of bill striations provide us with clues regarding the timing of breeding. Many hummingbirds time their breeding to coincide with the seasonal flowering of their preferred food resource, which may vary per species. Capture rates provide source data for estimating population trends.

Click on the photo for a wonderfully detailed view of this spectacular bird. Clicking on it again will enlarge the view even more. (And just in case you're wondering: we did not process this bird at night, but early morning in a shady spot. The flash made the surroundings look a lot darker than they really were...)

Here it is again, now ready for take off. A second later, it did indeed take off, ready to resume its daily activities.

The current IUCN conservation status of this species is Least Concern, but with a world population estimated at less than 50,000 individuals, a gradually decreasing trend, and severe fragmentation of its highland range (IUCN 2010), continued monitoring of the Amethyst-throated Hummingbird's population status is key for its conservation.

At least for the Salvadoran part of its range, the SalvaNATURA bird monitoring program is without a doubt the single most important source of information for making these kinds of assessments. Your continued support of our program can help us conserve this and other birds in the region, both residents and wintering visitors.

I would like to ask you to consider a tax-deductible donation to this program, and invite you to sponsor the SalvaNATURA birdathon:

Please visit The Resource Foundation and click on "Donate". This will open a secure (https) connection. You may then select the amount you want to donate, or fill in a different amount of your choice. It's important that you select "El Salvador - SalvaNATURA" in the pull-down menu called "Program Designation". Please also write in the "Dedication" box that your donation benefits the "SalvaNATURA 2010 Birdathon". That's all! When you're done, please send an email to john.vandort AT to confirm your donation (and the amount).

Thank you very much for your generosity!

From all of us at SalvaNATURA, we wish you a wonderful time with your family and loved ones in these last days of 2010, and a happy, prosperous and bird-rich 2011!

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