Travel Ecuador : Bird watching : Birds :

Black-tailed Trainbearer

It’s a pleasant day in Quito, the sunny morning reminding you of so many northern Spring seasons that melted away the winter snow. While sipping your coffee in the garden of your hotel, you are reminded of just how far away you are from the temperate zone, though, when a large, spectacular looking hummingbird feeds only 2 meters away in a patch of purple flowers. The dark green hummingbird has a sharp, slightly decurved bill, and a fantastic, elongated tail that slightly quivers as it feeds. Before zooming off to another of flower patch, it hovers for a moment in front of your face and you are reminded once again why you came to equally fantastic Ecuador.

Identification
The Black-tailed Trainbearer is identified as a hummingbird by its distinctive hovering flight on rapid, blurred wings, and by its needle-like bill. A dark green, fairly large hummingbird, the Black-tailed Trainbearer has a thin, slightly decurved bill, and a very long, elegant tail. This species also shows a dark throat patch that shines green at certain angles. Females are mostly white on the underparts, lack the dark throat patch, and have a shorter tail than the males.

Behavior in Ecuador
Like many other hummingbirds, the Black-tailed Trainbearer searches for flowers to provide it with nectar; its main food source. Once a productive flower patch is found, they vigorously defend it from other hummingbird species as well as Trainbearers, and are in turn harassed by aggressive hummingbird species such as the Sparkling Violetear and the Great Sapphirewing. Hummingbirds are so fierce in defending their food sources because their high rates of metabolism require a huge amount of energy. To save energy during the cold Andean nights, many species, including the Black-tailed Trainbearer, pass the night in a temporary state of hibernation known as torpor.

Habitat and distribution in Ecuador
The Black-tailed Trainbearer is a non-forest hummingbird species that occurs in open areas with flowering bushes and shrubs. It occurs at high elevations in Andean valleys and is a fairly common species in Quito gardens.