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Esmeraldas Woodstar Chaetocercus berlepschi

A. E. Ágreda
Version: 1.0 — Published June 4, 2010


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The species forages at all levels of the forest. During the breeding season the species is commonly recorded in disturbed riparian forest. In evergreen montane coastal forest and in garúa forest at higher elevation (400 to 800 m), the species may be detected at flowering trees and blooming patches of understory herbs at forest borders and gaps.


Territory can be regarded as any area defended by an individual against the intrusion of others (Ricklefs 2001). Territoriality in birds, such as hummingbirds, that exhibit high demands for energy is directly related to the availability of nectar in space and time. The fact that nectar is a very patchily distributed resource can influence the foraging decisions of hummingbirds. Territoriality can be driven by food concentration, quality, and duration and periodicity of floration. Other factors driving territorial behavior in hummingbirds are related to reproduction, as individuals defend a reprodutive territory during the breeding time. However, hummingbird interactions are not limited to intraspecific encounters, but also to interspecific ones, that are free of reproductive implications (Ortiz 2003). Therefore, a clear distinction between these two different forms of territoriality should be noted.

Territorial behavior was observed in a flowering patch inside garúa forest when a male C. berlepschi chased female-like Little Woodstars (C. bombus) and Speckled Hummingbird (Adelomyia melanogenys) from the patch (Agreda 2007). Similar behavior was recorded in flowering patches of Kohleria spicata (Gesneriaceae) in secondary riparian forest during the breeding period of 2008; juvenile male C. berlepschi established territories of 5 to 10 m2, selected one or two perches within the territory to control the area, and maintained territorial behavior for the brief period (3 to 5 weeks) pf flowering of this annual herb, after which territorial behavior decreased dramatically (Ágreda 2008). Juvenile male C. berlepschi chased adult males of Green-crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania fanny), Violet-bellied Hummingbird (Damophila julie) and other juveniles of C. berlepschi from the patch (Ágreda 2008).

During the breeding period (December – June) adult males defend reproductive territories, which consist of conspicuous leafless, sometimes dead, trees located at the border of secondary riparian forest. Adult males select one or more dead branches of the crown or top of the tree as reproductive display perches. From these posts they perform foraging displays such as flycatching or short visits to flowers in the surrounding vegetation; however, most of the time adult males simply wait for females to approach. In contrast to temporary territoriality at foraging territories, reproductive perches are maintained and defended for prolonged periods of time. Our observations demonstrate that adult males maintain reproductive perches from the beginning of the reproductive season until March or April, lasting approximately four months (Ágreda 2008, Ágreda 2010, Harris et al. 2009).

Sexual Behavior

Males display courtship behavior in reproductive territories and from reproductive perches. Display perches are vertical leafless branches projecting over the canopy. They are strategically located to facilitate male – female visual encounters. Females typically aproach males and replace them at the perch. Males perform lazy – J dives which consist of straight vertical flights several meters above the perch and rapid descents. Females typically follow their movements with the head, flutter their wings and spread their tails continuously. Females may chase males after the male has passed nearby; afterwards the female returns to the perch and immediately male begins a new flying – diving display. During courtship males perform several shuttle displays to females.

Social and interspecific behavior

No information available.


No information available.

Recommended Citation

Ágreda, A. E. (2010). Esmeraldas Woodstar (Chaetocercus berlepschi), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.esmwoo2.01