Tobago Hummingbirds

The Hummingbirds of Tobago's Main Ridge

Tobago, Robinson Crusoe's Island described in Daniel Defoe's, Robinson Crusoe, novel[a] of 1719, has eight known species of hummingbirds six of which, the rufous-breasted hermit, white-tailed sabrewing—this species is also found in northeastern Venezuela—black-throated mango, ruby-topaz hummingbird, copper-rumped hummingbird and the white-necked jacobin, are routinely seen, and the seventh and eighth, the blue-chinned sapphire and green-throated carib, are occasionally reported. The green-throated carib is an itinerant visitor from the eastern Caribbean; and, except for the white-tailed sabrewing, all of them are shared with the island of Trinidad.

The white-tailed sabrewing stands out in Tobagoˈs culture amongst its hummingbirds as, locally, it has been fondly renamed "Campy"; possibly a contraction of the longer scientific name "Campyloperus ensipennis." The species was thought to be extirpated in 1963 due to the passage of Hurricane Flora, but survived, and was first spotted again in 1974.

These hummingbirds, amongst other bird species, together with an abundant variety of butterflies and picturesque scenery, coves, bays, beaches, rain forest, etc., add charm and enhance the island's ambience of tranquility and natural beauty. The PowerPoint presentation below attempts to exhibit some aspects of that natural scene.

Nearly all these birds and, really, Tobago's wild outdoors can be enjoyed at Cuffie River, Gilpin Trace on Tobago's Main Ridge and Adventure Farm, amongst other birding spots.


[a]For the skeptic, please refer to the preface of Crusoe's Island: A Bird-hunter's Story by Frederick A. Ober (1849 – 1913, an American naturalist and writer).

Main Ridge, Tobago Hummers
Black-throated Mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis)

Length: 10.2cm (4")
Weight: 7.2g
Description: predominantly green humminbird, black throat and underparts, dark central tail feathers, wine-red outer tail feathers tipped with black, and black slightly decurved longish bill; male (♂): glossy bright green back, dull black throat with blue-green border, bright green flanks, and black cravat tapering onto belly; and female (♀): bronze-green upperparts and white underparts with black central stripe.
Habitat: cultivations, forest boundary/edges, forest undergrowth/shrubbery, gardens, and glades.
Range: Trinidad and Tobago, northern Argentina to Panama.

Black-throated Mango Hummingbird
Blue-chinned Sapphire (Chlorostilbon notatus)

Lenght: 8.9cm (3.5")
Weight: 3.8g
Description: green overall, dark blue tail, thin blue coating on throat, straight bill, black upper mandible, reddish lower mandible; male (♂): darker green above, white thighs, and forketd metallic blue tail; and female (♀): greenish-white underparts.
Habitat: cultivations, forest, and forest boundary/edges.
Range: Trinidad and Tobago, Columbia, Venezuela and Guianas, Peru, and Brazil: along the Amazon River Basin and coastal Atlantic Ocean.

Note: Its scientific name Chlorostilbon notatus is synonymous with Chlorestes notatus.

Blue-chinned Sapphire Hummingbird
Copper-rumped Hummingbird (Amazilia tobaci)

Length: 8.6cm (3.4")
Weight: 4.7g
Description: copper-green back; copper-bronze rump; bright green head; bright green underparts; white thighs; black legs; black, straight, long bill but with some pink on lower mandible.
Habitat: cultivations, gardens, and glades.
Range: Trinidad and Tobago; Grenada, and Venezuela.

Copper-rumped Hummingbird
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 and the Lesser Antilles including 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.

This species is an itinerant/accidental visitor to Trinidad and Tobago. An undated specimen collected in Tobago, around 1877, by F. Ober is housed at the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Green-throated Carib Hummingbird
Ruby-topaz Hummingbird (Chrysolampis mosquitus)

Length: 8.1cm (3.2")
Weight: 3.5g
Description: brilliantly ruby (deep red) crown and nape; irridescent gold throat and breast, and bright orange tail; male (♂): green glossed dark brown underparts; and female (♀): bronze-green upperparts, pale grey underparts, and chestnut (deep reddish brown) tail with dark subterminal band and white tip.
Habitat: cultivations, forest undergrowth/shrubbery, gardens, grassland, and savannahs.
Range: Trinidad and Tobago, Columbia, Venezuela, Guianas, Brazil, and west to eastern Columbia.

Ruby-topaz Hummingbird
Rufous-brested Hermit (Glaucis hirsuta)

Length: 10.7cm (4.2")
Weight: 7g
Description: long de-curved bill (3.3cm) with yellow lower mandible and black upper mandible; bronzy-green crown; brownish head; yellow and bronzy green upper parts; darker more dull rufous under parts; rounded tail with bronzy-green, tipped white, central pair feathers; the remainder of the tail yellowish-brown, white tip, with sub terminal band; female (♀): duller and more rufous brown under parts; and immature males (♂) duller all through with beige margins.
Habitat: bamboo thickets, forest, forest boundary/edges, forest undergrowth/shrubbery, grassland, plantations, riverine area, savannahs, secondary forest, and swamps.
Range: central Panama to northern Bolivia and southern Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada.

Rufous-breasted Hummingbird
White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga melivora)

Length: 11–12cm (4.33–4.72")
Weight: 6.5–7.4g
Description: bright green back, white underparts, white tail, white band on the nape, dark blue head (hood); females: green undeparts, white belly, sometimes white-scaled green or blue throat, otherwise highly variable resembling the males or other species
Habitat: forest, plantations, and secondary forest.
Range: Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, to Peru, Bolivia, and south to Brazil.

White-necked Jacobin Hummingbird
White-tailed Sabrewing (Campylopterus ensipennis)

Length: 12cm (4.72")
Weight: 10g
Description: large hummingbird, generally bright green, violet throat; green upperparts, white outer tail feathers, white spots behind eyes, white stripe above upper mandible but below the eyes, thickened and flattened shafts of outer primary feathers giving impression of sabres; and female (♀): similar to the male but duller; 2.5cm, slightly decurved, black bill.
Habitat: forest, forest boundary/edges, glade, grassland, highlands/mountains—middle to high elevation—parks, plantations, secondary forest, and woddlands.
Range: Tobago and northeastern Venezuela.

White-tailed Sabrewing Hummingbird

The Flying Jewels of Tobago's Main Ridge

The Flying Jewels of Tobago's Main Ridge PowerPoint presentation

White-tailed Sabrewing—A Documentary