The Hummingbirds of Puerto Rico

The archipelago of Puerto Rico consisting of the main island of Puerto Rico and smaller ones, such as, Mona and Vieques has nine hummingbird species that charm its mountains, forest, countryside, and gardens. Amongst them, the green mango and the Puerto Rican emerald are endemic to the island; whilst the presence of four species is accidental: the green-breasted mango, purple-throated Carib, the ruby-throated hummingbird and the vervain hummingbird. The others, the Antillean Mango, green-throated Carib, and Antillean-crested hummingbird are shared with Hispaniola and the Lesser Antilles.

Puerto Rico has more hummingbird species than any other island of the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, and Hispaniola), averaging four, as well as, more than the Lesser Antilles, seven, to the south, excluding Trinidad and Tobago. It has the greater number of native species, inclusive of endemics, five, when compared with the remaining Greater Antilles islands and a comparable number of native species with the Lesser Antilles (the Leeward Islands and the Windward Islands), which has six native species. Also, the number of accidental hummingbird visitors to its shores, four, is greater than the other Greater Antilles territories, one, and the Lesser Antilles, one. However, the Lesser Antilles has a greater number of endemic species, four—possibly due to isolation on a larger number of smaller islands.

Pertaining to their clades, the mangos, large hummingbirds, represent most of Puerto Rico's hummers, five species; they are the Antillean Mango, green-breasted mango, green mango, green-throated Carib, and the purple-throated Carib. There are two species in the emerald clade, the Antillean-crested hummingbird, and Puerto Rican emerald. Lastly, two species compose the 'bees' clades, the ruby-throated hummingbird, and the vervain hummingbird.

The mangos are either endemic, native, or accidental arriving from the Lesser Antilles to the south or in the case of the green-breasted mango, possibly, from South America or Central America. The emeralds are native or endemic to Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles. Whilst the bees are accidental to the island arriving from the west, i.e., directly from Hispaniola--in the case of the vervain hummingbird—or from North America, through Jamaica, Cuba, and Hispaniola—in the case of the ruby-throated hummingbird.

Puerto Rico with more hummingbird species than neighbouring islands, whether in total or by residency status, appears to be a convergence zone for hummingbirds in the Caribbean. Its location at the junction of the Caribbean archipelago where the Greater Antilles meets the Lesser Antilles—roughly at an earlier junction of the Caribbean, North American, and the South American tectonic plates—may be a contributing factor. The occurrence of endemism matches the rate found in the other Greater Antilles territories but lower than the rate in the Lesser Antilles. On this island hummingbird species in the mangos clade predominate.

Some leading birding-areas on Puerto Rico are El Yunque (formerly Caribbean National Forest), Humacao National Wildlife Refuge, Cabo Rojo, Guanica State Forest, La Parguera, Maricao State Forest, Toro Negro State Forest, and Fajardo Beach.

Puerto Rican Hummingbirds/caption>
Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus)

Length: 8–9.5 cm (3.15–3.7")
Weight: 3.5–4g
Description: a short, straight, black bill and dark-brown eyes; male (♂): glossy-green crown with a green crest tipped metallic-green to blue-green set forward on the head; coal-black malar; glossy green nape; lustrous bronze-green upperparts; coal-black chin and throat; blackish underparts; glossy, bronze-green feathers at front of shoulder; bluish-black flight feathers, and sooty black underwing; dark, bronze-green, central retrices but sooty-black undertail; and blackish legs and feet; female (♀): without the crest on the crown; upperparts are like the male; however, exhibits pale grey underparts; and broad, light-greyish tips on the outer tail retrices; and immature: resembles female with washed yellowish-brown head
Habitat: forest edges, clearings, urban areas, parks, lowlands, and highlands.
Range: the eastern Caribbean, from Puerto Rico, in the north, to the Lesser Antilles, i.e., until Grenada in the South. It is recorded as a vagrant in Florida, USA[1].

Note: O.c. exilis is the subspecies of the Antillean crested hummingbird found on Dominica.


Antillean Mango, a.k.a, Hispaniolan Mango, Dominican Mango or Puerto Rican Golden Hummingbird (Anthracothorax dominicus)

Length: 11–12cm (4.33–4.71")
Weight: 4–8g (.14–.28oz)
Description: a large hummingbird boasting a lengthy, somewhat decurved, black bill; male (♂): lustrous copper green head and generally coppery-green upper parts: nape and back; iridescent-green throat with sometimes with accentuated golden shine; black beneath but with strong suggestions of dark blue on the chest becoming brown nearer the abdomen; dark-purple tail with coppery coverts toward the rump; female (♀): green upperparts with bluish tint; white or greyish underparts and white tips to tail; immature: like the female but the males show a black streak underneath down the middle.
Habitat: subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, and secondary forest; observed from sea level to 2,600m[2].
Range: Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Note: A member of the mangos clade, there have been reported sightings of this species on Inagua island in the Bahamas. The Antillean Mango is also known as the Hispaniolan Mango. Other known local names are Zumbador Grande (Dominican Republic), Zumbador Dorado (Puerto Rico), and Quanga Négresse, Oseau-mouche, and Wange Nègès (Haiti)[3].


Green-breasted Mango, a.k.a. Mango de Prèvost (Anthracothorax prevostii)

Length: 10.2 [4]–12cm (4–4.7")
Weight: ♂ 7.2g (0.3oz), ♀ 6.8g (0.2oz)
Description: a medium to large hummingbird, similar to the black-throated mango, with a black, decurved and somewhat long bill; green upper parts: i.e., greenish crown, nape and back; slender dull-black strip on throat and chest delimited with blue-green; bright yellow-green flanks; dark tail fringed by deep purple-red retrices. female (♀): bronze-green upper parts; white underparts with black stripe on throat that continues as blue-green on the chest; dark tail with broad purple-red and iridescent dark blue bands terminated by white tips on outer retrices; immature: like the female but with a black patch on the abdomen; some grey or beige on head and wings and yellow-brown bordering the belly strip.
Habitat: deciduous forests (to 1,000 m in the upper Cauca River Valley, south-western Colombia[5], glades, orchards, gardens, cultivated areas, savannahs, and pastures.
Range: Bahamas, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, USA, and Venezuela

Note: This partly migratory species is rare/accidental visitor to Puerto Rico—more than 840km (522mi) from the nearest known breeding populations on northern Venezuela. They occur on some islands off the coast of Central America, in patchworks along the coast of northern South America, and in the USA, e.g., Texas, North Carolina, and Florida, where immature birds account for the majority of sightings. It is a member of the mangos clade.


Green Mango (Anthracothorax viridis)

Length: 11–14cm (4.33–5.5")
Weight: 6.6–7.2gms (0.23–0.25oz)
Description: a large, monomorphic hummingbird; black, shallow-curved bill; polished emerald-green upperparts, i.e., crown, nape, and back; white chin; emerald green throat; bluish-green chest, in general metallic bluish-green underparts; slate grey wings; rounded tail that could be dark or deep, steel-blue; female (♀): like the male; immature: like the adults but with duller underparts or with brown trims to feathers.
Habitat: forests, forest boundary, plantations, and usually on foothills and mountains.
Range: Puerto Rico and affiliated islands

Note: this species is endemic to Puerto Rico and a member of the mangos clade.


Green-throated Carib (Eulampis holosericeus)

Length: 10.5–12cm (3.94–4.72")
Weight: 5–7.8g
Description: a large hummingbird; slightly decurved black bill; metallic green head otherwise metallic bronze-green upperparts; bright green gorget bordered by brilliant metallic blue on chest, depending on lighting; black belly with some green feathering; deep dark blue primaries, may appear greyish brown; green underwing coverts; rounded tail, mostly blue-green upper tail coverts, under tail coverts are metallic blue; dark grey legs; dark grey feet; female (♀): longer and more de-curved bill, duller green upper parts, dark blue tail feathers, in low light the tail looks black; and immature: resembles the female but with bleached brown head.
Habitat: cultivations, deciduous forest, forest, forest undergrowth/shrubbery, gardens, parks, plantations, roadside, secondary forest, and woodlands.
Range: Puerto Rico, Eastern Caribbean, i.e., Lesser Antilles including the Netherlands Antilles (St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius), and vagrant on Trinidad and Tobago.

Note: The green-throated Carib, a.k.a. green doctor bird, has two subspecies: Eulampis holosericeus and Eulampis chlorolaemus. Eulampis holosericeus ranges from Puerto Rico in the Greater Antilles to the Windward Islands except the island of Grenada. Eulampis chlorolaemus, resident on the island of Grenada, has a darker green throat with a thicker violet-blue delimit at the chest.


Puerto Rican Emerald, a.k.a Zumbadorcito de Puerto Rico (Chlorostilbon maugaeus)

Length: 9–11 (3.5–4.3")
Weight: 2.8–3.6 (.1–.13oz)
Description: a medium sized bird; long, straight, and dark bill; iridescent green upperparts, i.e., crown, nape, back; iridescent green below, i.e., throat, chest and abdomen; and black or dark blue tail; female (♀): white chin with hints of orange; white throat; white breast and outer tail feathers.
Habitat: glades, woodlands, plantations (coffee), mountains, and mangrove swamps.
Range: Puerto Rico

Note: this species is endemic to Puerto Rico. It is found in the northeastern Sierra de Luquillo that encompasses El Yunque National Rainforest, Cordillera Central, and the island's southwestern coast. It is a member of the emeralds clade.


Purple-throated Carib (Eulampis jugularis)

Length: 11–12cm (4.33–4.72")
Weight: male 9–12g, female 7–10g
Description: a tending large hummingbird; long, decurved, black bill; mostly dark overall with suggestions of deep-purple; lustrous, emerald-green wings; deep-purple to dull-purple, iridescent malar, throat, and chest; bluish rump; and greenish-blue tail; female (♀): smaller than the male, longer and tighter curved bill, and has shorter wings; and immature: shorter bills, dispersed brown feathers on upperparts, red flecks on orange throat and chest. Habitat: forest edges, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, secondary forests.
Range: Lesser Antilles (eastern Caribbean), from Saba in the north to St. Vincent in the south and as a vagrant in Barbados, Barbuda, Grenada and the Virgin Islands.

Note: the purple-throated carib shows in Brazil as a vagrant[3].


Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

Length: 7–9cm (2.8–3.5")
Weight: 2–6g (0.071-0.21oz.)
Description: straight, slender and long bill, up to 2cm (.79"); a ruby-red gorget, appearing black in some lighting; metallic green above and greyish white below; almost black wings; and a dark forked tail; female (♀): devoid of the gorget, though sometimes sporting a light or whitish throat patch and white tips on a rounded tail.
Habitat: deciduous forest, forest, forest boundary/edges, gardens, groves, parks, and secondary forest.
Range: West Indies, Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Note: The female is slightly larger than the male and has a slightly longer beak. It is a migratory bird that winters in southern Mexico, Central America, South America, and the West Indies. It breeds throughout eastern North America, including the United States and Canada. It is a vagrant species on the islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, and Jamaica.

Vervain Hummingbird (Mellisuga minima)

Length: 6–7cm (2.4–2.76")
Weight: 2–2.4g (0.071–0.085oz.)
Description: Small hummingbird; male and females resemble with minor differences; 0.4 inch (1 cm) dull black bill; dark brown eyes; pale grey chin and throat with impression of grey speckles centrally; dull metallic green upper-parts; pale grey chest also with impressions of grey speckles; metallic green under-parts; darker green, occasionally nearly black, rump and darker green upper tail feathers; dusky coloured legs and feet; female (♀): markedly dark metallic green upper-parts; bluish-green or bronze green, glossy metallic green flanks; and white-tipped outer rectrices (tail feathers) on rounded slightly forked tail; and immature males (♂): resemble adult females, but more speckled grey on throat than female, more defined white-tipped outer rectrices, more intense and widespread glossed green flanks.
Habitat: forest, forest undergrowth/shrubbery, gardens, and secondary forest.
Range: Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica, and is a vagrant to Puerto Rico.

Note: it is allegedly the second smallest bird in the world after the bee hummingbird, its close cousin of Cuba and Isla de la Juventud. The vervain hummingbirds are faintly larger. Also, allegedly it lays the smallest bird egg; its egg averaging 1cm (0.038") in length and .0375 grams.


Works Cited

1SCHULENBERG, T. S. Antillean Crested Hummingbird (Orthorhyncus cristatus). Neotropical Birds Online. [Online] Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2010. [Cited: September 19, 2016.]
2SCHULENBERG, T. S. editor. Antillean Mango (Anthracothorax dominicus). In Neotropical Birds Online. [Online] Cornell Lab of Ornithology. [Cited: February 28, 2018.]
3RAFFAELE, Herbert A., et al. Birds of the West Indies (Helm Identification Guides). London: A & C Black, 1998. 0713649054.
4HILTY, Steven L. Birds of Venezuela (2 edition). Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003. 0691092508.
5HILTY, Steven L, Bill Brown. A Guide to the Birds of Colombia (First Edition). Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986. 069108372X.