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Sword-billed hummingbird

Ensifera ensifera

Photo by Larry Thompson (Discover Life)

Common name:
sword-billed hummingbird (en); beija-flor-bico-de-espada (pt); colibri porte-épée (fr); colibrí picoespada (es); schwertschnabelkolibri (de)

Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae

This species is found along the Andes mountain range, from western Venezuela to central Bolivia.

These large hummingbirds are 17-23 cm long, including the 9-11 cm long bill. They weigh 10-15 g.

The sword-billed hummingbird is mostly found in mountain rainforests, but also uses high-altitude grasslands and scrublands, and rural gardens. They are present at altitudes of 1.700-3.600 m.

They feed mainly on nectar of flowers with long pendent corollas, namely Datura sp. and Passiflora sp., but also take small insects and spiders.

Sword-billed hummingbirds are polygynous, with males mating with multiple females and having no further part in the breeding process. The female build a cup-shaped nest made of woven plant fibres, green moss and spider webs, lined with hairs, feather down and fine fibres. It is placed on a thin, horizontal branch in a tree or scrub, or in bromeliad, usually quite far from the ground. There she lays 2 white eggs, which she incubates alone. There is no information regarding the length of the incubation period. The chicks are raised by the female and fledge 7-10 day after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a large breeding range and is described s uncommon to locally common and patchily distributed. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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