Saturday, 2 February 2013

Bananaquit


order : Passeriformes      Genus & Species : Coerebidae     Family : Coereba flaveola

The nonmigratory bananaquit remains in its tropical habitat year-round, constantly on the lookout for new nectar sources and persistently singing its high-pitched song. The bananaquit does not feed on the fruit of the banana tree, but instead uses its sharp bill to reach the sweet nectar of the blossoms. They found in Central and South America, including islands in the Caribbean, excluding Cuba and the Caymans; in North America, only in Florida. 

Habitat : As its name suggests, the bananaquit is found near bananas. Its prime habitat requirement is an abundance of flowers, its primary food. The bananaquit lives mainly in tropical regions, including Venezuela, Brazil and the Bahamas, but is also found in subtropical areas and occasionally in temperate regions, as far south as Rio Grande do Sul in South America and as far north as Florida. The bananaquit frequents forests, mangroves, plantations and gardens. 
Food & Feeding : The bananaquit is always on the move from flower to flower, and from tree to shrub, exploring plants to find nectar. Its favorites include the whorl-like clusters of flowers, called inflorescences, on the banana plant. More than two-thirds of its diet is nectar; the rest is insects and insect larvae. The bananaquit can reach the nectar of some flowers directly from the top, which aids pollination, since pollen sticks to the bird’s facial feathers and bill and is transported to other flowers. But other flowers have nectar that is not as easy to reach. The bananaquit then uses its sharp, awl-like bill to poke a hole in the base of the flower, and sticks out its tongue to lick the carbohydrate-rich fluid. This does not help pollination, but it does assist other animals: when the flower wilts, the hole gets larger, and hummingbirds and insects can reach the leftover nectar. The bananaquit also frequents man-made feeders that contain a mixture of sugar and water and flower boxes on verandas in towns. 
Behavior : The bananaquit is a tireless singer. Its hurried, high-pitched call can be heard any time of the day or year. The bananaquit also bathes often. Sticky from its flower foraging, it rinses in rainwater that accumulates in the thick leaves of bromeliad plants, while grabbing an extra meal of mosquito larvae. It cleans its gooey bill by wiping it on the sides on a branch. The bananaquit keeps intruders at bay with rapid wing vibrations. If that doesn’t work, it pecks at its opponent; the fighting birds often flutter down to the ground where they continue their struggle. 
Breeding : When spring arrives, the bananaquit looks for a mate. Once paired, the birds abandon their own small roosting nest and join together to painstakingly construct an elaborate structure big enough for a family. This thick-walled breeding nest has a high opening almost hidden by a protruding lip, which extends up from the bottom of the nest. The female lays three white eggs with brown spots and incubates them for almost two weeks. Though the male doesn't help incubate, he helps feed the nestlings regurgitated food. Insects play a more important role than nectar in a chick’s diet — they supply needed protein for growth. The nest is always kept clean; the nestlings’ diaper like fecal sacs, containing wastes, are either swallowed by the female or carried away. Within three weeks the chicks have fledged. 

Bill & Tongue : The long, curved bill is awl-like, and is used to drill into the base of flower petals.The feathered tongue then licks up the sweet nectar. 
Eyes : The bananaquit has a conspicuous white stripe that extends over the eyes. 
Feet : The bird has three toes pointed forward and one backward, a perfect arrangement for perching.The long, sharp claws help provide a firm grip when the bird hangs upside down to get to hard-to-reach flowers. 
Plumage : Sexes are almost indistinguishable. Both have blackish-brown upper-parts  tail and wings, and a lemon yellow breast. 
Juvenile : The juvenile lacks the bold colors of the adult.The plumage is grayer, and the white streak above the eye, prominent in adults, is almost completely missing. 

Weight : 0.35 oz. 
Length : 4-5"
Sexual Maturity : 1 year
Breeding Season : March–May

The bananaquit is the territory bird for the U.S. Virgin Islands.