Bird of the Week

This is a tale of two birds.

Named in 1829 to pay tribute to the second Duke of Rivoli, who had a passion for studying birds. Rivoli was a French aristocrat and amateur ornithologist. He amassed a huge collection of bird skins, usually listed at 12,500 specimens in his base in France. (This collection still exists.)

The species was renamed Magnificent Hummingbird in 1983, a fitting name for such a stunning bird. However, this name was officially replaced in 2017 by the American Ornithological Society, which identified a distinct species in the highlands of Panama and Costa Rica. The birds in the south were then named Talamanca Hummingbird, while those in the north went back to being called Rivoli’s. It is still listed in some field guides as the Magnificent Hummingbird.

It is one of the largest hummingbirds in the US measuring up to 5.5” long with a wingspan of 7” and breeds in mountains from the southwestern United States to Honduras and Nicaragua. Forest fires are a potential threat in the U.S. because Rivoli’s is found only in higher isolated mountain ranges.

It feeds on nectar from a wide variety of flowering plants and small insects and is a regular at bird feeders.

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Rivoli’s Hummingbird Fun Facts

In 1829, natural historian and surgeon René-Primevère Lesson named Rivoli’s Hummingbird in honor of the second Duke of Rivoli, an amateur ornithologist.

It has one of the highest recorded heart rates of any vertebrate, up to 1,200 beats per minute!

A specific flower mite uses the Rivoli’s Hummingbird for transport by hiding in the birds’ nasal passages until it can jump off at a upcoming flower patch.

Male’s can be highly territorial in some areas, yet nonterritorial in others.

It only enters the United States during breeding season.

Rivoli’s nesting habits mostly remain a mystery.

The American Ornithological Society is renaming all birds named after people, so it’s very likely Rivoli’s Hummingbird will get yet another name in the near future.

Click here for some closeup views

Hear it’s strange call here