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Name

  • Common Name (English): Booted Racquet-Tail
  • Scientific Name: Ocreatus underwoodii

 

 

Etymology

The generic name Ocreatus comes from the Latin term, meaning leg armour. This is likely because of the white feathers that cover the tarsi, which look like a small pair of trousers. The specific label underwoodii was given in honour of the naturalist Thomas Underwood, who collected the first specimen of this species.

Distribution and habitat

The booted racquet-tail is found in the Andes mountain range of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Its distribution in Venezuela includes the Sierra de Perijá, the Andes from Táchira to Lara, Falcón, Yaracuy, Cordillera de la Costa, Distrito Capital and Miranda. Uncommon resident from seasonal rainforest to cloud forest, forest edge, secondary forest and shade coffee plantations. It can live at altitudes between 800 and 3000m. Like many other hummingbird species, it makes altitudinal migrations following plants’ flowering season.

Biology and Conservation

Specimens are found between the understory and the forest canopy. Depending on which stratum they are inhabiting, their behaviour varies greatly; in the understory, they are solitary and prefer flowers with short corollas such as Palicourea, Miconia and some ericaceae of the genera Cavendishia, Psammisia and Macleania. In the canopy, they gather in groups with other species of hummingbirds, sharing the flowers of trees such as Inga and Clusia. They have a zigzagging flight like that of a bee. The booted racquet-tail feeds in flight while opening and closing its tail, although it may sometimes also hold on to the flowers it visits. Their nests are small and cup-shaped, built with plant fibres and lichens, usually attached to horizontal twigs between 6 and 8m above the ground. The clutch consists of two eggs, which the female incubates for 15-19 days. The chicks have brown down, and spend up to 25 days in the nest. These birds are in the category of least concern.

 

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