Sunday, July 3, 2011

A hummingbird surprise in La Laguna

Cinnamon Hummingbird, 3 July 2011, Jardin Botánico La Laguna
Today, Roselvy and I went to the botanical garden La Laguna in Antiguo Cuscatlán, a suburb of San Salvador. The birding there is rarely spectacular, but it's a neat little spot that's easy to get to. I've written about previous visits here and here and also here.

Plain-capped Starthroat, 3 July 2011, Jardin Botánico La Laguna
At least two hummingbird species are resident in the garden, and are always observed when we go there: Cinnamon Hummingbird and Plain-capped Starthroat. The former is really the default hummingbird anywhere in the city; no matter how small a garden, if it has flowers, chances are those flowers are visited by this species. The latter is more localized in the area, but often one of the first birds heard when entering the botanical garden.

In September and October, a third species - Green-breasted Mango - can be very common in the botanical garden, with sometimes up to 10 individuals present. Today, we were rather surprised to find an immature male of this species!

immature male Green-breasted Mango, 3 July 2011, Jardin Botánico La Laguna
Immatures look similar to females, with white median underparts and a dark central stripe, but are distinguished from adult females by the presence of cinnamon borders surrounding the white on the underparts. This particular individual shows dark green feathers coming in on the belly and breast, and thus is molting from immature to adult male plumage. The outer tail feathers look rather abraded, and haven't been molted yet. (The cinnamon color in the proximal part of the rectrices in the photo is odd: possibly an artifact of backlighting.)

Green-breasted Mangos are found from Mexico to Costa Rica, with additional disjunct populations in northern South America. The species is migratory in the northern part of its range (northeastern Mexico). Last year, when I noted an influx of individuals into the botanical garden in September, I assumed these were Mexican migrants. According to Howell & Webb (1995), Green-breasted Mango breeds in eastern El Salvador and is a winter visitor in central and western El Salvador (and thus in the greater San Salvador area).

Curious then to find this individual here in early July!

Howell, S. N. G. and S. Webb. 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, UK.

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