The Hoary Pufflegs (Haplophaedia lugens) are rare South American hummingbirds that occur on the Pacific slope of the Andes in south-west Colombia (Nariño) and north-west Ecuador (south to Pichincha).
They inhabit wet premontane to montane evergreen forests, forest edges and occasionally scrub, at elevations of 3,600 8,200 ft (1,100-2,500 m).
They generally favor low, dense vegetation at small clearings or along ridges in primary forests, and are often seen near small streams, They may take advantage of backyard feeders within their range.
Hoary Pufflegs are listed as Near Threatened due to their limited range and declining population at a rate of 20 to 29% over 10 years.
Alternate (Global) Names
Spanish: Calzadito Canoso, Calzoncitos del Pacífico, Colibrí Pantalón Gris …Italian: Colibrì zampepiumose canuto, Fiocchetto canuto … French: Érione givrée … German: Schuppenbauch-Höschenkolibri, Schuppenschneehöschen, Schuppen-Schneehöschen … Czech: Kolibrík quitský, kolib?ík quitský … Danish: Mørk Kvastben … Finnish: Nokikolibri … Japanese: haiiroashigehachidori, koimidoriashigehachidori … Latin: Eriocnemis lugens, Haplophaedia lugens … Dutch: Geschubd Pluimbroekje … Norwegian: Sørgedunfot … Polish: puchatek luskowany, puchatek ?uskowany … Russian: ????? ?????????? … Slovak: pancuchárik hnedastý … Swedish: Mörk tofsbena
The Hoary Puffleg’s plumage is greenish above and greyish below, with narrow white scaling on its throat. It has a straight black bill and slightly forked tail.
It has distinctive small white eye spots. This species was named for the dense feathering around the legs known as “leg puffs” (which are not always visible). These leg puffs are unique to the pufflegs and have been described as resembling “woolly panties” or “little cotton balls” above the legs. As is suggested by its name, the feathering around its legs is black.
Nesting / Breeding
Hummingbirds are solitary in all aspects of life other than breeding; and the male’s only involvement in the reproductive process is the actual mating with the female. They neither live nor migrate in flocks; and there is no pair bond for this species. Males court females by flying in a u-shaped pattern in front of them. He will separate from the female immediately after copulation. One male may mate with several females. In all likelihood, the female will also mate with several males. The males do not participate in choosing the nest location, building the nest or raising the chicks.
The female Hoary Puffleg is responsible for building the cup-shaped nest out of plant fibers woven together and green moss on the outside for camouflage in a protected location in a shrub, bush or tree. She lines the nest with soft plant fibers, animal hair and feather down, and strengthens the structure with spider webbing and other sticky material, giving it an elastic quality to allow it to stretch to double its size as the chicks grow and need more room. The nest is typically found on a low, thin horizontal perch.
The average clutch consists of two white eggs, which she incubates alone, while the male defends his territory and the flowers he feeds on. The young are born blind, immobile and without any down.
The female alone protects and feeds the chicks with regurgitated food (mostly partially-digested insects since nectar is an insufficient source of protein for the growing chicks). The female pushes the food down the chicks’ throats with her long bill directly into their stomachs.
As is the case with other hummingbird species, the chicks are brooded only the first week or two, and left alone even on cooler nights after about 12 days – probably due to the small nest size. The chicks leave the nest when they are about 20 days old.
Diet / Feeding
The Hoary Pufflegs primarily feed on nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, scented small flowers of trees, herbs, shrubs and epiphytes.
They favor flowers with the highest sugar content (often red-colored and tubular-shaped) and seek out, and aggressively protect, those areas containing flowers with high energy nectar.
They use their long, extendible, straw-like tongues to retrieve the nectar while hovering with their tails cocked upward as they are licking at the nectar up to 13 times per second. Sometimes they may be seen hanging on the flower while feeding.