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Trinidad Hummingbirds

A Score of Hummingbirds of Trinidad

The island of Trinidad, the southernmost island of the eastern Caribbean archipelago, has, due to its South American linked natural history, 21 hummingbird species, although the presence of two of them are disputed. The island's hummingbird tally is the most amongst the islands of the archipelago: amethyst woodstar (newly discovered), black-throated mango, blue-chinned sapphire, blue-tailed emerald, brown violet-ear, copper-rumped hummingbird, the most common of the local hummers, forked-tailed nymph (disputed presence), glittering-throated emerald, golden-tailed sapphire (disputed presence), green hermit, green-throated carib, green-throated mango, little hermit, long-billed starthroat, ruby topaz, rufous-breasted, rufous-shafted woodstar (rare/accidental), tufted coquette, the male has extravagant plumes, white-chested emerald, white-necked jacobin, and the white-tailed golden throat hummingbird. Seven of Trinidad's hummingbirds are shared with Tobago, its sister isles, which has eight species including the white-tailed sabrewing.

Ffrench (deceased), author and an acknowledged Trinidad and Tobago bird expert, recognized 17 hummingbird species for the island of Trinidad (18 for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago), in his 1986 book Birds of Trinidad and Tobago; and the Trinidad and Tobago Rare Bird Committee (TTRBC) recognized 16 species (17 for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, they omit the glittering-throated Emerald included in the Ffrench list in its January 2014 account). Some observers augment the tally with the forked-tailed woodnymph and the golden-tailed sapphire but these are disputed by others and the TTRBC does not include them in its records; but, the situation is in flux, there have been sightings of the green-throated carib[a] on both islands plus an undated specimen collected, circa. 1877, by F. Ober (1849 – 1913, an American naturalist and writer), from the island of Tobago is housed at the Smithsonian Institution Archives; and, in February 2016, the Trinidad and Tobago Rare Bird Committee, TTRBC, acknowledged multiple sightings of the amethyst woodstar hummingbird (Calliphlox amethystina) in northern Trinidad at Lopinot, Yerette, and Asa Wright Nature Centre[1] between late May and the end of June 2015.

The largest of the local hummingbirds is the green hermit, around 13.5cm (5.3"), and the smallest is the tufted coquette, at 6.6cm (2.60"). The green-throated carib is an itinerant visitor, from the Lesser Antilles, to both islands of Trinidad and Tobago. These birds are commonly seen at known birding spots, but more generally on the northern range and central range of Trinidad, and also in east Trinidad.

Trinidad and Tobagoˈs hummingbird species including the hermits range across the recent typical hummingbird 9-clade classification (groups of typical hummingbirds, i.e., genera and individual species, sharing unique characteristics inherited from their last common ancestor), i.e., topazes and jacobins, mangoes, coquettes, mountain gems, the bees, and emeralds, but except for the brilliants clade and the Giant Hummingbird.

The hummingbird has played an integral part in the historical and current day culture of Trinidad and Tobago. It figured in the Amerindian era, in legend and myth; during the colonial period in trade and fashion—Tucker Valley, Chaguaramas is named after the Englishman William Tucker who shot stuffed and cured hummingbirds for export to Europe; it figures in contemporary activities as national and commercial symbols; and the local Emperor Valley Zoo has devoted an exhibit and a garden to the hummingbird.

Notes

aOgygianHummers predicts that the purple-throated carib—being of the same genus and approximate size as the green-throated carib—will one day be sighted on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago; the species shares an overlapping range in the eastern Caribbean with the green-throated Carib but is a vagrant in South America, i.e., Brazil.

Citations

1CHU FOON, kimberly. The 18th Hummingbird in Trinidad and Tobago: The Amethyst Woodstar. The BellbBird Newsletter: Asa Wright Nature Centre. July 2015, 2015.

Trinidad Hummers
Amethyst Woodstar (Calliphlox amethystina)

Length: 6–8.4 cm (2.36"–3.3")
Weight: 2.3–2.5 g
Description: a small hummingbird; white spot behind the eyes; a short, straight black bill; upperparts dark green bronze with white splashes on the posterior flanks; mottled green-gray underparts; and, short wings and forked tail; male: purple (amethyst) gorget with white, narrow band across chest; and female: dappled green spots on throat, pale orange underparts towards the flanks but whitish along the narrower lateral division, and shorter tail than the male.
Habitat: forest boundary/edges, gardens, glades, savannahs, and woodlands.
Range: central, and eastern South America proper: in Brazil, northeastern Peru, eastern Ecuador, eastern Colombia, southern Venezuela, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, northern Bolivia, Paraguay, northeastern Argentina, and, Trinidad and Tobago.

Note: This species was newly discovered in Trinidad in 2015.

Amethyst Woodstar
Black-throated Mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis)

Length: 10.2cm (4")
Weight: 7.2g
Description: predominantly green hummingbird, black throat and underparts, dark central tail feathers; wine-red outer tail feathers tipped with black, 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 glade.
Range: Trinidad and Tobago, Northern Argentina to Panama.

Black-throated Mango Hummingbird
Blue-chinned Sapphire (a.k.a. Blue-chinned Emerald) (Chlorostilbon notatus)

Length: 8.9cm (3.5")
Weight: 3.8g
Description: green overall, dark blue tail, thin blue coating on throat, straight bill, black upper mandible, and reddish lower mandible; male: darker green above, white thighs, and forked metallic blue tail; 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 Costal Atlantic Ocean.

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

Blue-chinned Sapphire Hummingbird
Blue-tailed Emerald (Chlorostilbon mellisugus)

Length: 7.5cm (2.95")
Weight: 2.6g
Description: a short straight and black bill, the male has brilliant green feathers, forked dark metallic blue tail; female: brief white eyebrows, ear patch tending to black, grey-white under parts, white-tipped outer tail feathers, and short tail coextended by the wings.
Habitat: cultivations, glade, scrubland, and savannahs.
Range: east of Andes from Columbia to Trinidad, and Guianas.

Blue-tailed Emerald Hummingbird
Brown Violet-ear (Colibri delphinae)

Length: 11.5cm (4.53")
Weight: 6.5–7g
Description: a large hummingbird, short almost straight bill, primarily dull brown plumage, bright violet outer ear, rufous rump, greyer rufous under-parts, and, blue and glittering green throat stripe; female: smaller throat patch; and immature: brownish red edging to the upperpart plumage and slight or no auricular violet.
Habitat: forest; forest boundary/edgesglade, plantations, and secondary forest.
Range: Central America, western and northern South America, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Brown Viole-ear Hummingbird
Copper-rumped Hummingbird (Amazilia tobaci)

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

Copper-rumped Hummingbird
Fork-tailed Woodnymph (Thaluronia furcate)

Length: 9–10cm (3.54–3.94")
Weight: 5g
Description: straight or slightly decurved, medium sized bill, generally bronzy green above, glittering green throat, violet across nape and back, violet across belly, white under tail coverts, white thighs; and female: pale grey below and white tipped outer rectrices.
Habitat: forest, forest boundary/edges, gardens, glade, lowlands; plantations, and secondary forest.
Range: South America, except Chile, and Trinidad.

Note: This species presence in Trinidad is disputed.

Fork-tailed Nymph Hummingbird
Glittering-throated Emerald (Amazilia fimbriata)

Length: 8–12cm (3.11–4.72")
Weight: 4–6g
Description: medium, straight bill with a rather black upper mandible and pinkish lower one; generally bronze-green towards golden back; shiny bronze-green head; glittering gold on the throat; small white patch behind eyes; blackish-brown primaries (flight feathers); glittering gold breast but white in lower breast and belly; bronze green flanks; lower abdomen white with brownish centre; blackish bronze tail with two centre bronze green rectrices, outer rectrices blue black; showing white with brownish centre, lower tail coverts; bronze-green flanks; and dull black legs and feet; female: almost similar to the male, white bars on throat, and greenish grey tips on outer rectrices (tail feathers); and immature: more greyish brown than white on belly.
Habitat: cultivations, forest, forest boundary/edges, forest undergrowth/shrubbery, gallery forest, gardens, plantations, secondary forest, savannahs, and woodlands.
Range: Trinidad, Guianas, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Peru.

Glittering-throated Emerald Hummingbird
Golden-tailed Sapphire (Chrysuronia oenone)

Length: 9.4cm (3.7")
Weight: 4.5–4.7g
Description: 0.8" (20mm) long, nearly straight bill and pale red lower mandible with black tip; generally shiny green; glittering blue violet head and throat (may appear black); shiny green nape; shiny green back; glittering blue-green chest and bronze-green belly; otherwise glittering green below; shiny golden copper and slightly forded tail; reddish copper upper tail coverts and grey brown under tail coverts; female: shiny green head; glittering green spots on throat, chest and flanks; but mostly green below with median line down under parts; otherwise mostly white below with some glittering green spots; and shining golden copper tail with greyish tips on outer rectrices; and immature: like females with blue flecks on the throat.
Habitat: forest, gardens, lowlands, parks, plantations, secondary forest, and woodlands.
Range: east of Andes, South America including Brazil, Bolivia, and Trinidad.

Note: This species presence in Trinidad is disputed.

Golden-tailed Sapphire Hummingbird
Green Hermit (Phaethornis guy)

Length:13.5cm (5.3")
Weight: 6.3g
Description: a large hummingbird; primarily dark green; reddish long and de-curved bill; dark mask around eyes with tawny markings above and below and down the throat; grey abdomen(ventral surface), blue-green rump; long, white-tipped central tail feathers on a tapered tail; female: dirtier grey below and has longer bill and tail than the male; immature: like the female with tawny fringes on upper parts.
Habitat: foothills, forest, forest boundary/edges, forest undergrowth/shrubbery, glade, plantations, and secondary forest.
Range: Central America to northwest South America, and Trinidad.

Green Hermit 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 Lessor Antilles including Trinidad and Tobago.

Note: This species is an itinerant/accidental visitor to Trinidad and Tobago.

Green-throated Hummingbird
Green-throated Mango (Anthracothorax viridigula)

Length:10.2cm (4.02")
Weight: 9g
Description: slightly decurved longish black bill; green throat and upper parts; green under parts with a black bisecting stripe on breast and belly; dark central tail feathers but red, tipped with black outer rectrices; male: more glossy green upper parts with reddish brown tinge, the rump more so; female: shows more reddish brown on upper parts and flanks; white under parts with black central stripe; dark central tail feathers, wine-red tipped with white outer rectrices; and immature: males have reddish-brown flanks and resemble the females; the species is sometimes indistinguishable from the black-throated mango hummingbird but the male green-throated mango has less black on the underparts.
Habitat: lowlands, mangroves, savannahs, swamps, and woodlands.
Range: north eastern Venezuela, north eastern Brazil, Trinidad, and Guianas.

Green-throated Mango Hummingbird
Little Hermit (Phaethornis longuemareus)

Length: 9cm (3.5")
Weight: 2.5–3.5g
Description: a small hummingbird; black upper mandible, yellow lower one with black tip on a long de-curved bill; blackish face mask outlined by whitish light-yellow cheeks and supercillium; olive-green upper parts; dark brown throat; orange ochraceous belly but sometimes greyer; elongated tipped white central rectrices on tail; orange-ochraceous upper tail coverts; white undertail coverts; and female: lighter throat and broader beige borders on tail rectrices.
Habitat: forest boundary/edges, forest undergrowth/shrubbery, mangroves, plantations, scrubland, secondary forest, and swamps.
Range: South America and Trinidad.

 
Long-billed Starthroat (Heliomaster longirostris)

Length: 10.2–12cm (4.02–4.72")
Weight: 6.5–7.68g
Description: large hummingbird; notable long, straight black bill; light blue to bluish-green crown; muted white strip behind the eyes; black stripe on cheek; black chin; reddish or dark metallic purple throat with white stripe along each side; grey ,chest; green bronze sides; bronzy-green back; with white stripe mid-rump; grey under parts, shading to white or green-bronze flanks; dark square tail with white tipped outer rectrices; female: more brownish overall, less blue on crown and dimmer throat; and immature: dark throat with some purple and overall spotted plumage.
Habitat: forest boundary/edges, gardens, glade, and secondary forest.
Range: Central America and South America (east of the Andes, Colombia, Amazon Basin, north-eastern South America including Guianas, and Trinidad).

 
Ruby-topaz Hummingbird (Chrysolampis mosquitus)

Length: 8.1cm (3.2")
Weight: 3.5g
Description: a very small hummingbird; with short straight black bill; bright deep red crown and nape; iridescent gold gorget and breast; and vivid orange tail, tipped black; male: green glossed dark brown upperparts, brown belly, its colours are more apparent in sunlight, otherwise it appears dark; female: bronze-green upperparts, sometimes with a greenish throat streak, pale grey underparts, chestnut (deep reddish brown) tail with dark sub terminal band and white tip; and immature: resembles the female with some iridescent orange on the throat.
Habitat: cultivations, forest undergrowth/shrubbery, gardens, grassland, and savannahs.
Range: Trinidad and Tobago; Panama, Columbia, Venezuela, Guianas, Brazil, and Bolivia.

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

Length: 10.7cm (4.2")
Weight: 7g
Description: long thin de-curved bill (3.3cm or 1.3in) with black upper mandible and yellow lower 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): shallower curved and a tad shorter bill, paler throat and breast, generally duller and more rufous brown under parts, shorter wings; 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, southern Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, and Grenada.

Rufous-breasted Hummingbird
Rufous-shafted Woodstar (Chaetocerus jourdanii)

Length: 6.5–6.9cm (2.56–2.72")
Weight: 2.3g
Description: a small hummingbird with a straight, half inch long bill; upper parts shining green; male: magenta gorget, delimited, below, by white pectoral band that reaches up to behind the eyes; remainder of under parts green, showing white flanks under the wing; deeply forked tail with rufous base and shafts; and female: like the male but dusky ear patch; beige-white under parts with slight impression of a pale crescent across chest that reaches to behind the eyes as narrow line; vague shadowy breast band; dark green central tail feathers, outer rectrices rufous with dusky sub-terminal band; and all tail feathers with beige rufous tips.
Habitat: forest; forest boundary/edges, forest undergrowth/shrubbery, gardens, glade, grassland, highlands/mountains—middle to high elevation—plantations, and secondary forest.
Range: north east Colombia, Venezuela, and Trinidad.

 
Tufted Coquette (Lophornis ornatus)

Length: 6.6cm (2.60")
Weight: 2.3–2.8g
Description: a small conspicuous bird with a short and straight black-tipped reddish bill, brownish red crest, green forehead, black spotted brownish red plumes project from the sides of the neck, copper-green back, whitish rump (noticeable during flight), golden rufous tail, and green under parts; female: crest and plumes absent, green crown, green nape, green back, brownish red under parts that is paler on the belly, whitish tail band on a mostly bronzy-green tail with whitish tips; and immature: males resemble the females but with whitish and fine dark spotted throats.
Habitat: cultivations, forest boundary/edges, gardens, parks, plantations, and savannahs.
Range: Venezuela, Trinidad, Guianas, and northern Brazil. Its itinerary is not well known but it appears to be a seasonal or local migrant.

Tufted Coquette Hummingbird
White-chested Emerald (Amazilia brevirostris)

Length: 9cm (3.54")
Weight: 4.7g
Description: straight and long (2cm) black bill; bright golden-green upper parts; reddish copper upper tail, tipped purple black; white under parts; green or white spotted green flanks. The female is similar to the male.
Habitat: cultivations, forest, forest boundary/edges, mangroves; savannahs; scrubland, secondary forest, and woodlands.
Range: eastern Venezuela, Northern Brazil, Guianas, and Trinidad.

White-chested Emerald Hummingbird
White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga melivora)

Length: 11–12cm (4.33–4.72")
Weight: 6.5–7.4g
Description: medium sized bird; short straight black bill; dark blue head (hood); white collar on nape; bright green upper parts; mostly white underparts; blackish wings; white tail; blue chest; white lower chest; white tail feathers, tipped black; black legs; female: without the blue hood and white nape collar, green upper parts, white belly, sometimes white-scaled green or blue throat, white-scaled dark blue vent, otherwise highly variable resembling the males or other species; and immature: males have a visible rufous patch on the cheeks and less white in the tail.
Habitat: forest, plantations, and secondary forest.
Range: Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico to Peru, Bolivia, and South to Brazil.

White-necked Jacobin Hummingbird
White-tailed Golden Throat (Polytmus guinumbi)

Length: 9–10cm (3.54–3.97")
Weight: 4.4g
Description: a relatively large hummingbird; decurved, rose bill with black tip; primarily green colour; dull grey crown; white streaks above and below the eyes; glittering green throat; white tipped, emerald to blue-green and rounded tail with white base of outer tail feathers; glittering green chest and belly; white centre of belly; and female: rufous streaks above and below the eyes, green circles pattern on throat and chest, and rufous stomach.
Habitat: forest boundary/edges, grassland, pasture, roadside, and savannahs.
Range: north north-east and south east South America (east Colombia, Guianas, Trinidad, Bolivia, east Paraguay, east and central Brazil, Peru, north east Argentina, and Venezuela).

 
White-tailed Sabrewing (Campylopterus ensipennis)

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

White-tailed Sabrewing Hummingbird