Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Purple Honey Creeper

Purple Honey Creeper, Cyanerpes caeruleus, is native to Trinidad, Columbia, Venezuela and Brazil. It uses its long, curved beak to feed on nectar from bromeliad flowers. This one is the latest resident of the hummingbird house at the San Diego Zoo.

It is amazing how similar the purple honey creepers, members of the tanager family, Thraupidae, are in form and diet when compared to the Hawaiian honey creepers who are members of the finch family, Fringilidae. Both have evolved long, curved beaks for accessing nectar from long curved flowers. In the case of the purple honey creeper, the primary food is nectar from bromeliad flowers. In the case of the hawaiian honey creepers, it was nectar from members of the lobelia family. Fascinating how birds from different families located thousands of miles apart, relying on different totally different plants, with, ironically enough, similarly shaped flowers, could evolve in a parallel manner.

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