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©Max Waugh


The Marvelous Spatuletail Passage

written by Carole Turek


          The first time I ever heard about the Marvelous Spatuletail hummingbird was when I saw a BBC video narrated by David Attenborough featuring this bird. I must have watched this little clip a hundred times and I became almost obsessed with knowing everything I could about this hummingbird. How I rooted for the little male expending so much energy to impress the female and hoped the female would be as captivated by him as I was.

The Marvelous Spatuletail is an endangered hummingbird found within a rather small area in the Andean cloud forest in northern Peru. The male is green and white with a purple crown, blue gorget and a black stripe down its chest. But the tail of the mature male is unique and unmatched in any other hummingbird species. It has only four tail feathers which he can move at will: two long straight ones and two longer ones with large discs on the ends.

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Photo credit: Carole Turek, Hummingbird Spot

I have now traveled four times to the Huembo Reserve to see the Marvelous Spatuletail and it has become a yearly tradition, missed only the year of the pandemic. The last thing Santos Montenegro (the manager of the reserve) said to me was "See you next year." This wonderful hummingbird is my totem, my spirit animal. I can't stay away. 

Carole Turek, Hummingbird Spot