Family Trochilidae: Hummingbirds

There are over 350 species in this large family.

(Wayqecha Lodge, Peru)

They are known as 'hummingbirds' because of the relatively loud humming sound from the beating of their wings. When I first heard it, I thought it was a growl from a predatory mammal! The smaller species can flap their wings up to 80 times a second.

(Wayqecha Lodge, Peru)

Hummingbirds have long thin bills that are well adapted for their diet. They mostly drink nectar from flowers, although they also take insects and spiders to provide other nutrients. The lower bill fits tightly into the upper bill. The forked tongue is used to lap up nectar. It was presumed that the feeding worked by capillary action, however high speed filming has revealed it works through pump action. Tubes that run the length of the tongue open up and then close trapping nectar, which is then pulled back into beak. They spend about 10% of their time feeding, the rest of the time perching. They can detect the percentage of sugar in the nectar, and usually don't drink from flowers with less than 10% sugar in their nectar. They drink about half the body weight each day, more if the nectar has lower percentages of sugar ; that is like a human drinking 35 litres.

(Wayqecha Lodge, Peru)

As far as known, only the females build the nests. These are are small and usually cup shaped, and constructed with the addition of lichens and spider silk to bind the material together, but also allow for expansion. The female usually lays two eggs.


This is a huge family of over 335 species, so I have split this page up into the many different genera.

Ramphodon 'Hermits', Eutoxers 'Sicklebill', Glaucis, Threnetes, Anopetia, 
Phaethornis, Androden, Doryfera, Phaechroa, Campylopterus
'Sabrewings', Aphantochroa, Eupetomena.

 Florisuga spp. 'Jacobins'

There are two species in this genus.

'White-necked Jacobin' (image by Damon Ramsey)(Amazonia Lodge, Peru)

Florisuga mellivora, 'White-necked Jacobin'. Widespread in lowland forest Central and South America.

Colibri spp. 'Violet-ears'

The name 'Colibri' is Espanol for 'hummingbird'. There are five species. They are generally greenish, with colourful throat and ear patches, thus the common name.

(Manu Paradise Lodge, Peru).
violet-ear-sparkling-sumaco(WildSumaco Lodge, Ecuador)

Colibri coruscans, 'Sparkling Violetear'. Relatively large hummingbird, that is often conspicuous around feeders. Bright green with black wings. As suggested by common name, blue patch on side of head, as well as on belly. Widespread, being found in high altitude rainforest either side of Andes, all the way along the mountain chain through tropical South America. 

Anthracothorax, Avocettula, Topza, Eulampis, Chrysolampis, Orthoryhnchus, Klais, Styephanoxis, Abeillia, Lophornis, Discosura, Trochilus, Chlorostilbon 'Emeralds', Panterpe, Elvira, Eupherusa, Goethalsia, Goldmania, Cyanthus, Cyanophaia, Thalurania, Juliamyia, Lepidopyga, Hylocharis

Chrysuronia spp. 'Saphires'

There are 9 species in this genus.

(Amazonia Lodge, Peru)

Chrysuronia oenone, 'Golden-tailed Saphire'. Found in rainforest in northern South America and along the Andes.

Leucochloris, Polytmus, Leucippus, Taphrospilus

Amazilia spp.

There are 5 species in this genus.

(Machu Picchu, Peru).

Amazilia viridicauda, 'Green and White Hummingbird'.

Microchera, Anthocephala, Chalybura, Lampornis, Basilinna, Lamprolaima

Adelomyia spp.

This is the only species in this genus.

(Bellavista Lodge, Ecuador)

Adelomyia melanogenys, 'Speckled Hummingbird'. Widespread in the mountain rainforests of South America.

Phlogophilus, Clytolaema

Heliodox spp. 'Brilliants'

There are 9 species in this genus.

(Manu Paradise Lodge, Peru)

Heliodoxa leadbeateri, 'Violet-fronted Brilliant'.

Eugenes, Hylonympha, Sternoclyta, Urochroa, Boissonneaua

Aglaectis sp. 'Sunbeams'

There are 4 species in this genus.

(Tambo Condor, Ecuador)

Aglaeactis cupripennis, 'Shining Sunbeam'. Found in montane rainforest and shrubland in the Andes.

Oreotrochilus, Lafresnaya

Coeligena spp.'Incas'

There are about a dozen species in this genus.

(Bellavista Lodge, Ecuador)

Coeligena torquata, 'Collared Inca'. Lives in mountain rainforest of South America.

Ensifera sp.

There is only one species in this genus.

'Sword-bliled Hummingbird' in Ecuador, image by Damon Ramsey(Tambo Condor, Ecuador)

Ensifera ensifera, 'Sword-billed Hummingbird'.  As suggested by the name, the bill is very long; the only bird that has a bill longer than it's body. It looks absurd, and the bird can not preen with it's own bill like most birds, but must use it's feet. When it perches, it is usually with the bill pointing upwards. They mostly feed on the nectar from flowers in the genera Datura and Passiflora, especially 'Curuba' Passiflora mixta, which it is thought to have co-evolved with. The bird is found in montane forest and shrublands in the Andes. 

Pterpophanes spp.

Patagona sp. 

There is only one species in this genus.

(Tambo Condor, Ecuador)

Patagona gigas, 'Giant Hummingbird'. Plain brown with rufous underbelly. As the names suggests, this is the largest of all hummingbirds; it is about the size of an European Starling, but is much lighter. It is found on the edge of the montane forest and in shrublands in the Andes.

Sephanoides spp.

Heliangelus spp. 'Sunangels'

There are 10 species in this genus.

(Wayqecha Lodge, Peru)

Heliangelus amethysticollis'Amethyst-throated Sunangel'. Found in mountain rainforest.

(Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge, Ecuador)

Heliangelus strophianus, 'Gorgeted Sunangel'. Found in rainforest on western slopes of Andes, Ecuador and Columbia.

Eriocnemis, Haplophaedia, Urosticte

Ocreatus spp. 'Booted Racket-tails'

There are (probably) 4 species in this genus.

(Manu Paradise Lodge, Peru)

Ocreatus addae, 'Rufous-Booted Racket-tail'.

Look at the cute fluffy go-go boots on the Booted Racquet-tail Hummingbird! (Tandayapa Lodge, Ecuador)

Ocreatus underwoodii, 'White-Booted Racket-tail'.

Lesbia, Sappho, Polyonymus, Ramphomicron, Oreonympha, Oxypogon

Metallura spp., 'Metaltails'

(Waychega Lodge, Peru)

Metallura (aeneocauda or williami), '(Scaled or Viridian) Metaltail'. Found in high altitude cloud 'elfin' forest. In males, throat is black-green depending on angle. Scaly breast and white patch behind eye.

Chalcostigma, Opisthoprora, Taphrolesbia

Aglaiocercus spp. 'Slyphs'

 Only the males have the longer tails, as this would be impractical for nesting females.

(Wayqecha Lodge, Peru)

Aglaiocercus kingii, 'Long-tailed Sylph'.. Often seen at feeders. Found in mountain rainforest and edge in Andes.

(Tandayapa Lodge, Ecuador)

Aglaiocercus coelestis, 'Violet-tailed Sylph'.  Visits feeders. Found in mountain rainforest of the Andes.

Augastes, Schistes, Heliothyrax, Heliactin, Loddigesia, Heliomaster, Rhodopsis, Thaumastura, Tilmatura, Doricha

Calliphlox spp. 'Woodstars'

There are four species in this distinctive genus. They are small (even for hummingbirds) and fly like giant bumblebees.

(Tandayapa Ecuador)

Calliphlox mitchellii, 'Purple-throated Woodstar'. Found only in rainforest on west slopes of the Andes (and a small spot in Panama).

Microstilbon, Calothorax, Mellisuga, Archilochus, Calypte, Atthis, Myrtis, Eulidia, Myrmia, Chaetocercus, Selasphorus

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