NATURAL HISTORY

CHILEAN WOODSTAR} Eulidia yarrellii
FAMILY: Trochilidae

DESCRIPTION: The Chilean woodstar is a small hummingbird about the size of a moth. This beautiful bird is no larger than three inches long, with iridescent, olive-green upperparts. Males also have while underparts, accented by a bright violet-red throat.

HABITAT: This hummingbird has varied habitat needs, from riparian thickets to arid scrub, agricultural lands, and gardens.

RANGE: The species is endemic to river valleys near the Pacific coast from Tacna, Peru, to northern Antofagasta, Chile, but current populations are only known to occur in the Vitor and Azapa valleys.

MIGRATION: This bird may migrate to higher and lower altitudes; no other migration is known.

BREEDING: The Chilean woodstar nests in fruit groves. There appear to be two annual peaks in breeding activity, with active nests found in April, May, late August, and September.

LIFE CYCLE: The hummingbird breeds between August and September, and mostly nests in olive trees.

FEEDING: The Chilean woodstar feeds on both insects and nectar from flowers. It prefers the flowers from a variety of native trees, including the Geoffroea decoritcans and the Schinus molle, but it has also been seen feeding on alfalfa, garlic, onion, and tomato.

THREATS: The primary threat to the Chilean woodstar is habitat loss; its historical range has been lost to the planting of olive and citrus grovesleaving it to persist only in two dry, heavily cultivated desert valleys. The bird is also threatened by poisoning by Dimethoate and possibly by competition from the Peruvian sheartail.

POPULATION TREND: This bird’s population is declining.

Photo by Pablo Caceras Contreras