Brown Violetear, Colibri delphinae (4)

photo: Ken Wilson via Talon Tours

Brown Violetear, Colibri delphinae (5)

photo: James Adams via

brown violetear, Colibri delphinae

photo: Flickr user Dave 2x

Habitat: Central America, and western and northern South America (primarily the Andes and the Tepuis) with isolated populations on Trinidad and in the Brazilian state Bahia
Status: Least Concern

At first glance, this doesn’t appear to be a particularly stunning species of hummingbird. We’re used to seeing emerald green bodies with ruby throats or bright fuchsia bodies with rust-colored accents. However, if you take a close look at the Brown Violetear (Colibri delphinae) you’ll be amazed to discover the intricate and gorgeous gem-like feathers that fleck its upper throat and below its eyes. Shimmering blues, greens, purples and yellows can be found on the birds’ throats (especially in the males) and bright purple ‘ear’ feathers can be displayed when necessary.

These birds reach 11.5 cm in length and weigh between 6.5-7 g. Breeding takes place in forests at altitudes between 400–1600 m and males try and court females by flying in a u-shaped pattern in front of them with their ‘ear feathers’ sticking straight out. One male may mate with several females and they play no role in raising the chicks – it’s up to the female to do all the work, including building the nest to lay her eggs in! Brown Violetear females represent some strong girl power.