About the Honduran Emerald

Yes, its about time for another post in english and what better post than one about our only completely endemic bird…The Honduran Emerald Hummingbird Amazilia luciae.
This a very sincere post, no B.S. or sentimental “things will get better” kind of thing, so bear with me.

The honduran emerald is a little endemic bird we have in the country totally restricted to arid thorn forest and scrub, spefically in a handful of localities in the country around Olanchito in the department of Yoro (i.e. state in the U.S.) and San Esteban in the department of Olancho.
Once upon a time the range of the bird was more extense and it covered an area of dry forest in Cofradia inthe department of Santa Barbara but the clearing of forest for grazing land led to the local extinction of the bird in the area.


Copyright Sophie Webb

Close range youll see that A. luciae is slightly smaller than A. rutila and in posture and habits differs little from other Middle American Amazilia. The sexes appear to differ only slightly, mainly in the intensity and extent of the gorget. In life the maxilla is blackish, the mandible pinkish-red with a dark tip; the bill appears relatively long and slightly decurved. A white post-ocular spot and smaller preocular spot lend the species a distinctive facial expression. The upperparts are deep emerald green and the upper tail-coverts and tail are more bronzy with a blackish subterminal band on the outer rectrices. Remiges are dark brown. Seen in the right light, the gorget flashes solidly turquoise but most of the time the underparts appear pale grayish, with dark mottling on the throat and upper chest. (Wilson Bull., 101(4), 1989, pp. 642-643)

From time to time Biologists and other folk have tried to estimate population densities of this species and have come up with weird and untruthful results, these mistakes have led to an increase of the deterioration of their original habitat. Sad story is that the most serious attempt at estimating the population came up with a totally wrong density because they counted A. rutila as A. luciae so that went bad.
Couple of years ago some biology students with one of the original researchers of the bird went back to olanchito for a re estimate of the population but they never finished the research and they go along talking about the bird and its problems but no one has an idea of how many there are left…

The problem the way I see it is that in Honduras cattle are raised in a form of migratory grazing and for that matter year after year lots of acres of dry forest (specifically speaking on this case) have to be cut down in order for the cows to eat the grass and such. The habitat for the Honduran Emerald is smack down in the middle of cattle country and adding insult to injury theres a proposed highway that will cut through one the largest reserves of the bird, and because this road will be a major score for Ranchers they cant wait to wipe out the whole lot of hummingbirds by means of increasing the size of their pastures and by sistematically destroying bird nests…..


Copyright Martin Ebert

Right now The Honduran Emerald Hummingbird is Critically Endangered according to IUCN´s Red List. A reserve was declared a few years back to help preserve the bird, but if you ask me and its my sincere opinion This bird doesnt have more than 20 more years at the rate that things are going.
Believe me, it makes me sad to write this down but here in the country almost everyone thinks that the bird is faring up nicely when its totally the opposite and no serious conservation plans are going on, well there are some programs but the problem is still far from being solved……If youre ever down here come and check out the Honduran Emerald Hummingbird its a really cool bird.

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~ por Luis Daniel en mayo 20, 2007.

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