Masked Flowerpiercer (Diglossa cyanea)

The Flowerpiercers are small birds in the Tanager family that have the upper tip of the bill curved down, allowing them to pierce flowers from the base and drink their nectar, hence their name. Their very short bill do not allow them to drink nectar like a hummingbird does, by inserting the bill into the flower, so they do not pollinate flowers. Instead, they used their bill to open up a hole at the bottom of the flower, and drink the nectar that dips from it. Both the Masked and the Black Flowerpiercer have a similar shape and size, however their colors are pretty different. The black mask with bright red eye of this species is unmistakable.

Masked Flowerpiercer - Diglossa cyanea - Picaflor de Antifaz (2)

With an overall blue color, the black mask and red eye look out of place. It is an intriguing combination.

Masked Flowerpiercer - Diglossa cyanea - Picaflor de Antifaz (3)

Flowerpiercers can’t drink the nectar from flowers like Hummingbirds do, as they don’t have the long bills and tongues to reach it.

Masked Flowerpiercer - Diglossa cyanea - Picaflor de Antifaz (4)

They use their bill to open a hole in the base of the flower, and access the nectar deep down.

Masked Flowerpiercer - Diglossa cyanea - Picaflor de Antifaz (5)

It has a broad altitudinal range. We saw it at Rio Blanco Natural Reserve (2,606m high) and at Termales del Ruiz (3492 m high).

Masked Flowerpiercer - Diglossa cyanea - Picaflor de Antifaz

Most of the time, they stayed under the cover of a plant densely packed with flowers.

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