Food Preferences of the Spatuletail Hummingbird
Like most hummingbirds, Marvelous Spatuletails primarily feed on nectar from brightly colored, fragrant flowers. They particularly favor the Peruvian Lily and the flowers of the “mupa mupa” tree. This habit on feeding from flowers makes Spatuletails very important pollinators. As the hummingbirds flit from flower to flower, they subsequently pollinate the plants. These hummingbirds are responsible for pollinating many local and cultivated plants.
In addition to nectar, these hummingbirds also feed on small insects and spiders, which provide an important source of protein. Hummingbirds need protein as well as high-energy nectar during breeding season to ensure their broods develop properly.
As Marvelous Spatuletails forage for nectar, they tend to stay low at the edges of flowering shrubs. While feeding on nectar, they prefer to perch or hang on the flowers, but like all hummingbirds, they are also able to hover while they feed. They visit each of their nectar sources in a regular, repeatable sequence, known as trap-lining.
When foraging for insects, hummingbirds use a technique called hawking, meaning they catch them out of the air while in flight. Marvelous Spatuletails will also snatch spiders and insects from leaves and branches, as well as take them from spider webs. Nesting female hummingbirds can catch as many as 2,000 insects in a single day.
Marvelous Spatuletail Hummingbirds are an aggressive hummingbird species. Males establish their own feeding territories and will chase away other male hummingbirds as well as large insects like bumblebees and hawk moths that try to feed in their territory. However, Spatuletails will in turn be chased off by larger, more aggressive hummingbird species.
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