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Name

  • Common Name (English): Orange-throated Sunangel
  • Scientific Name: Heliangelus mavors

Etymology

The generic name Heliangelus comes from the Greek helios and angelus, meaning sun and angel – hence its common name. The name mavors comes from the Latin for Mars, the god of war.

Distribution and habitat

The orange-throated sunangel is only present in the Andes of Venezuela and Colombia. In Venezuela, it is found in the Andes from Táchira to Lara. It is a common resident from seasonal rainforest to cloud forest, and occasionally Páramo, at the forest edge and in secondary forest, between 1500 and 3300m elevation.

It makes altitudinal migrations to lower elevations during the rainy season, unlike most Andean high mountain hummingbird species.

Biology and Conservation

It is generally solitary and aggressively defends patches of flowers with short tubular corollas. Some of the plant genera it frequents are Cavendishia, Miconia, Psammisia, Palicourea and Psychotria. When the flowers’ corolla is longer than its beak and tongue, it chooses to steal nectar by making perforations in the bases of the flowers. In the Andean cloud forest, it has been observed stealing nectar from the genera Fuchsia, Aphelandra and Passiflora.

The Angel del Cuelliocre is one of the most important species of hummingbirds associated with the Curuba (Passiflora mixta). This hummingbird operates as a nectar stealer and the majestic Sword-billed hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) as a pollinator.

It also congregates in trees that are in bloom, especially in Eucalyptus, with the Green-eared Hummingbird (Colibri thalassinus), the Great-eared Hummingbird (Colibri coruscans) and Blue-rumped Hummingbird (Aglaiocercus kingi). It keeps its wings open for short periods when perching. The female builds her cup-shaped nest from moss and lichens, a few metres above the ground. It is in the category of least concern (IUCN).

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