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Blue-Tailed Emerald Hummingbird

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Golden green with a blue forked tail and white thighs. The bill is short, straight and black. The male has glittering green underparts and sometimes the lower throat is tinged blue. The female is similar to the male but has a blackish ear patch and short white supercilliary. The underparts are white tinged with gray and the tail has a white tip. In both sexes the tail is short and the wings reach to the tip of the tail. The size is approximately 2.9 inches and weight 2.6 grams.

The Chlorostilbon mellisugus species has several sub-species that consist of caribaeus, napensis, phaeopygos, subfurcatus and duidaeEach of the sub-species inhabits different areas with some overlap and there are slight physical variations. According to F. Gary Stiles, the variation between these sub-species is as follows:

Caribaeus    -     Bill black. Males have a glittering crown; breast with trace of blue; tail shallowly forked. Females have at most a trace of dusky on lateral rectrices, otherwise blue. Its range is mostly the Northern coastal region of Venezuela, south to the Orinoco region and Llanos of Colombia

Napensis      -    Like caribaeus but averaging larger. On males the tail is very shallowly forked, nearly truncate, breast strongly tinged blue. Females have extensive green flecking on sides. Its range is South eastern Colombia, south of Llanos; Eastern Ecuador; adjacent Northeastern Peru.

Phaeoygos     -  Like napensis but on males the belly is duller, darker, less contrast with the blue of breast. Females have much less green flecking below. Also averages larger, especially tail. Its range is Eastern Peru to North eastern Bolivia, including adjacent Brazil

Subfurcatus     -  Like caribeus but on males the tail is less forked, breast more bluish. Averages slightly larger. Its range is South and South eastern Venezuela, East to Guyana and adjacent North Western Brazil.

Duidae            -  Like subfirutus but decidedly larger; On males the tail is longer, more forked and the breast less bluish. Its range is Southeastern Venezuela

The sub-species found in Trinidad is Caribaeus.

This hummingbird is similiar to the Blue Chinned Sapphire and Copper Rumped Hummingbirds.

This resident of Trinidad is generally found in savannahs and scrub. It feeds on nectar from shrubs such as Lantana and Hibiscus, preferring short tubed flowers. It tends to feed alone, concentrating on scattered flowers that are not part of any larger hummingbird's territory and have smaller nectar quantities so of less interest to the larger hummingbirds. It regularly visits the same shrubs in a pattern. It is reported that the Blue-Tailed Emerald sometimes also exhibits nectar robbing behavior, piercing holes at the base of the corolla tubes (in the case of flowers with long corollas) to obtain the nectar. It is believed that the serrations on the maxilla are used to pierce the holes.

Family - Hummingbirds

Other Names - Carib Emerald

Latin Names - Chlorostilbon mellisugus

Range - Colombia, Bolivia, the Guianas, Venezuela and Trinidad

Click on this link for additional information on Hummingbirds


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Birds of Venezuela. Steven L. Hilty. 2003, Christopher Helm, London

Birds of Tropical America, Steven L. Hilty. 1994, Chapters Publishing, Vermont.

A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. 2nd edition, Richard ffrench. 1992, Helm, London

F. Gary Stiles, 1996. A New Species of the Emerald Hummingbird from the Sierra De Chribiquete, Southeastern Colombia, with a Review of the C. Mellisugus Complex. The Wilson Bulletin, Vol. 108, 1 - 27.

Juan Franciso Ornelas, 1994. Serrate Tomia, An Adaptation for Nectar Robbing in Hummingbirds? The Auk, Vol. 111, 703 - 710

Brigitte Poulin, Gaetan Lefebvre and Raymond McNeil, 1994. Diets of Land Birds from Northeastern Venezuela. The Condor Vol. 96. 354 - 36

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Last modified: February 16, 2008