The country of Belize is both a full time and part time home to about 26 species of hummingbirds. In fact, many of those you'll see here migrate from North America during the cold winter months. For those who engage in bird watching, this incredible bird is one of the most popular and all its species are such a sight.
Hummingbirds are very interesting to say the least. They float like little fairies from flower to flower and are highly intelligent in many ways. For example, this tiny bird can remember each and every flower they fly to for a tiny visit. Moreover, they are also supreme pollinators. They can even detect ultraviolet patterns in flowers, which pinpoint the exact location of pollen and nectar inside the blossom.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - Courtesy of Audobon Field Guide
The Courtship Process
Hummingbirds act out a fantastic courtship process. Many, but not all male hummingbirds, will form a “lek” to attract females. Leks are basically groups of males, sometimes up to 100, that assemble together in order to attract and find a mate. And wow, what a show they put on for the females!
Performing solo acts or as an ensemble, they literally razzle and dazzle the females with their high pitched singing, dancing, parading their brilliant feathers, and showing their little guy swagger. Once the male hummingbird satisfactorily draws a female’s attention, he continues on with his performance by accomplishing an incredible aerial move known as the “courtship dive”.
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird - Courtesy of Neotropical Birds Online
A courtship dive is an extreme aerial display the male performs by flying high up in the air, approx 50-60 ft up, then turning and taking a nose dive straight toward the female. Once he is inches away from her, he turns and flies back up and repeats this dive until the female decides that he is a worthy mate. Females are quite selective when it comes to choosing a mate, so if she is persuaded; this mating ritual is considered a success.
Courtship Between Two Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds in Belize - Photo by Gil Wizen
Hummingbirds Don’t Mate in Midair
But they don’t mate in the air. The female will fly to a branch and perch and wait for the male to consummate their brief 4-second relationship. After that, the male makes his way in search of another female to court and mate with, whereas the female makes her way to build her nest. In Belize, there isn’t an actual hummingbird-breeding season per se.
Violet Sabrewing Hummingbird
Breeding takes place throughout the year and especially during the time when there’s an abundance of flowers in bloom. Research shows that leks are formed just before sunrise, so you’ll need to be an early bird yourself to catch the show.
The different species of hummingbird in Belize have varied habitats, such as broadleaf forest edge and canopies, clearings, cultivated areas, towns and villages.
So, if hummingbirds are on your radar, be sure to make Belize your next bird watching destination. And remember, Belize has an early bird special of its own.
For other amazing creatures to admire in Belize, be sure to check out our blog “5 Must See Animals in Belize and Where to Find Them”.
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