Aug 09 – Brains Baffle Brute-force

Thanks to Geoffrey Einon for his photo of the Tufted Coquette

Thanks to Geoffrey Einon for his photo of the Tufted Coquette

I saw a photo of the Tufted Coquette on a stand at a Bird Fair and his extraordinary plumage just took my breath away. I simply had to go and see him on his home turf in Trinidad.

We stayed at a wonderful nature reserve in the unspoilt northern mountains that was established several years ago by a remarkable woman named Asa Wright. It was paradise found for me and never more so than when we tracked the coquettes down to their favourite purple verbena flowers. They produce just one drop of nectar every hour.

As we discovered, the verbena flowers were policed by a pair of the much bigger and extremely aggressive Copper-rumped Hummingbirds and they jealously guarded the verbenas and their golden drop.

Copper-rumped Hummingbird, Asa Wright Center, Trinidad (J.Holden May 2005)

Copper-rumped Hummingbird, Asa Wright Center, Trinidad (J.Holden May 2005)

Yet somehow the coquettes always seemed able to slip in under the radar, just when the nectar was ready. By the time the coppers came to feed all the honey had gone and the coquettes had just melted away into the forest.

A good lesson there for any marketing organisation. Size and power don’t matter so much, so long as you’re smart, well informed, focused and your timing is impeccable.

James Holden
Managing Director

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