The copper-rumped hummingbird (Amazilia tobaci) is a small, colorful hummingbird species found in Central and South America. With an average body length of only 8-9 cm and weight of 3-4 grams, it is one of the smallest hummingbird species in the world. Despite its tiny size, the copper-rumped hummingbird has beautiful, vibrant plumage that makes it stand out.
Description and Identification
The most distinctive feature of the copper-rumped hummingbird, as its name suggests, are the coppery-colored feathers on its rump and lower back. The males have an iridescent reddish-copper rump, while females have a more greenish-bronze colored rump. The throat and breast feathers are a shimmering golden green. The belly and undertail are white. The back and uppertail feathers are primarily green, with some bronzy or golden tinges on the uppertail. The tail is fairly long and forked. The bill of the copper-rumped hummingbird is straight and black.
Males and females are similar in appearance, except females lack the bold coppery rump patch. Immature birds resemble adult females but have buffy edges to the feathers on the throat and breast. The combination of a forked tail, coppery rump, and golden green throat help distinguish the copper-rumped hummingbird from other similar hummingbird species that overlap in its range, such as the reddish hermit.
Range and Habitat
The copper-rumped hummingbird has a range that extends from Mexico through Central America and much of South America. Its range includes southern Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, and northwestern Argentina. It is generally found up to elevations of around 2500 meters in mountainous areas.
This species inhabits tropical and subtropical forests, woodlands, scrub, plantations, and gardens. It has readily adapted to deforested areas and agricultural lands as long as scattered trees, shrubs, and flowers are present. The copper-rumped hummingbird is considered common within its broad range.
Feeding Behavior and Diet
Like all hummingbirds, the copper-rumped hummingbird feeds on flower nectar and tiny insects. It uses its long, extendable tongue to drink nectar while hovering in front of flowers. It also hawk insects out of the air and gleans them from foliage. Some favorite flowers include mint flowers, lantana, and various tropical flowering trees and shrubs. These nimble, energetic birds feed from early in the morning until late afternoon, visiting hundreds of flowers each day to fuel their high metabolisms.
The copper-rumped hummingbird, like other tropical hummingbirds, is quite aggressive around nectar sources and will actively chase away other hummingbirds or insects trying to feed from their preferred flowers. They have specialized bills and tongues perfectly adapted for accessing nectar from certain tubular flowering plants.
Reproduction and Behavior
The breeding season for copper-rumped hummingbirds coincides with the rainy season in its tropical range, which varies locally but generally occurs from spring through summer. Males perform elaborate aerial courtship displays to impress females, diving and soaring in U-shaped patterns. Once paired, the female builds a tiny cup nest out of plant down, spider webs, and lichen on a low branch or tree fork.
She lays two tiny white eggs and incubates them alone for 15-19 days. The chicks hatch with their eyes sealed shut and minimal down. The female feeds them with regurgitated nectar and insects. They fledge at approximately 20-26 days old. While the female incubates and cares for the young, the male establishes a feeding territory and continues his courtship displays to attract additional mates. The copper-rumped hummingbird is polygynous, with males mating with multiple females in a season.
The copper-rumped hummingbird has a mix of aggressive behaviors and elaborate courtship displays. Males sing to advertise their territories and attract females. They perform courtship displays by flying in repeated u-shaped or oval patterns, diving and rapidly ascending again. Aerial chases and dogfights between males competing over territories or females are also common. Though small, they are feisty and bold in defending feeding areas.
The copper-rumped hummingbird has a large range estimated at more than 1 million square kilometers (390,000 square miles). Within this broad geographic range, population sizes appear to be stable with no major threats. For these reasons, the IUCN Red List categorizes this species as Least Concern. Habitat loss and degradation present local threats in some regions, but the species remains common over most of its range. Providing flowering gardens with favored nectar plants can help support local populations. With its vibrant colors and energetic behavior, the copper-rumped hummingbird remains one of the most delightful and easily observed tropical hummingbirds across its range.