White-throated Hummingbird, Leucochloris albicollis

Skeleton of a white-throated hummingbird in the displays of the Museum of Zoology

Museum Volunteer Natasha Lavers writes:

Throughout the pandemic, I have been using my daily wellbeing walks to seek out local wildlife. Spending some time in nature is a great way to look after our physical and mental health! Above all, I have become extremely fond of spotting noisy birds and often return to places I know I can find some robins to admire. This newfound appreciation for birds has led me to research some of the different bird species in the Museum of Zoology’s collections. One I would love to take a closer look at has to be the White-Throated Hummingbird which can be found nestled underneath the enormous mammals in the lower gallery. I love its beautifully delicate structure and I find the stark contrast between such a miniscule bird and some of the largest mammals on Earth endlessly fascinating. It is a shame this specimen can only be seen here in its skeletal form, as this bird’s plumage shows off a vibrant array of shiny blues and greens with a striking white chest and belly. Although tiny, it certainly isn’t dull! I can only imagine how exciting it would be to stumble across a White-Throated Hummingbird on my daily walks. Sadly, these birds can only be found in the warmer climates of South America and are commonly spotted in highly vegetated areas like woodlands, forests, and gardens, therefore considered of least concern for conservation. Despite this, the RSPB reports that hundreds of people in the UK claim to have spotted a Hummingbird each year. In fact, the misidentified species is more often than not the Hummingbird Hawkmoth. As its name suggests, this moth takes an uncanny resemblance to a Hummingbird and similarly hovers above flowers as it feeds on the nectar with its long proboscis. They can be found across the UK usually in June-September when the weather is warmest. I know I’ll be looking out for one when Summer comes around, and I can’t wait to explore the Museum’s collection of other beautiful creatures.

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