Posted By Zoey T. Posted On

A Bird That Wears A Rainbow Of Color On His Face That Quickly Explodes Into A Spectacular Show Of Glittering Iridescence – Meet The Rainbow-bearded Thornbill!

A bird that wears a rainbow of color on his face that quite literally explodes into a show of glittering iridescence in the right light.

Photo Courtesy of Félix Uribe/CC BY-SA 2.0

The rainbow-bearded thornbill (Chalcostigma herrani), is a species of hummingbird in the Trochilidae family. This medium-sized hummingbird is around 10.8 – 10.9cm long with a very short, needle-like bill. His head is dark green with a white dot behind each eye. On top of his head is a long, rufous crest, below his beak, is a gorget (beard), which is a rainbow of color from celadon-green through to turquoise, yellow, and red at the lower end. His tail is dark purple with prominent white tips at the corners. The feet are black, as is the beak.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Woodruff / CC BY-SA 2.0

The female looks similar to the male, except overall her plumage, is duller. She is yellowish-ochre-colored from the belly to the under-tail coverts.

She also lacks the colorful beard the male has. Juvenile birds have white speckles on the throat, with no beard.

Photo Courtesy of Félix Uribe/CC BY-SA 2.0

This bird is found in Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru in subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, elfin forest, open country with bushy patches and small woodlands, and gulleys with thickets of ferns and bromeliads.

Photo Courtesy of Félix Uribe/CC BY-SA 2.0

The Rainbow-bearded thornbill likes to feed on nectar from small flowers, low bushes, and shrubs. It will dine on insect prey they are available.

The only act the male of this species is responsible for is the sex act itself. From then on the female does everything else on her own. She builds a cup-shaped nest out of woven plant fibers, woven together and green moss on the exterior for camouflage, built in a bush, shrub, or tree. The interior of the nest is lined with soft plant fibers, animal hair, and feather-down, into which she lays a single white egg. Once they have hatched, she feeds the chicks which are fully-fledged at 7-10 days old.

Though this species has a restricted breeding range, it is described as being fairly common, though patchily distributed, with little evidence of substantial threats or declines.