Green Mango Hummingbird Species

The green mango hummingbird (Archilochus mangifera) is a small, vibrantly colored hummingbird found exclusively in tropical regions of Central America and northern South America. Measuring just 8-10 centimeters in length, this species is best known for its bright, emerald green plumage and striking red bill. Despite its diminutive size, the green mango hummingbird plays an important role in its ecosystem as a pollinator for many flowering plants. Unfortunately, habitat loss and other threats have caused populations of this beautiful bird to decline significantly in recent decades.

Range and Habitat

The green mango hummingbird inhabits tropical lowland forests, woodlands, plantations, and gardens from southern Mexico through Central America to Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. Its range overlaps with its more widespread relative, the green-throated mango (Anthracothorax viridigula). However, A. mangifera prefers lower altitudes, below 1,000 meters.

This species thrives in areas with abundant flowering plants and fruiting trees, particularly mangoes. As their name suggests, green mango hummingbirds have a close association with mango trees. They build their tiny cup-shaped nests on the branches of mangoes and feed on the nectar of their flowers. Other important food plants include heliconias, ginger flowers, and bananas. The destruction of these feeding and nesting resources threatens the survival of green mango hummingbirds.


The bright plumage of the green mango hummingbird makes it easily recognizable. The adult male has uniformly emerald green upperparts and underparts. Depending on lighting conditions, the green may appear more yellowish or bluish at times. The most striking feature is the male’s vivid reddish-orange bill. The relatively short bill has a slight downward curve. The female is similar to the male, but has a lighter green wash on the throat and breast as well as white spotting on the tips of the tail feathers. Juveniles resemble adult females but with buffy edges to the green feathers.

In the hand, green mango hummingbirds can be distinguished from the related green-throated mango by their smaller size and shorter bill, as well as darker plumage. Green-throated mangos have a more extensive white tip on the tail. The endemic azure-crowned hummingbird is similar, but has a more purple throat and larger size. Voice and behavior also aid identification. Green mango hummingbirds have a rapid, buzzy call described as “zit-zit.”

Ecology and Behavior

Green mango hummingbirds feed on nectar from a variety of blooming trees, shrubs, and herbs. Their specialized long bills and tongues allow them to access nectar inside flowers. They use their nimble flight skills to hover in front of blossoms while feeding. Small insects are also occasionally captured in flight and provide an important source of protein.

Aggressive defense of feeding territories is common, with males chasing away other hummingbirds or insect rivals. Courtship displays by males include aerial climbs and dives, with the male producing clicking sounds with his bill during steep dives. The female builds a tiny cup nest out of plant fibers, spider webs, and lichens on a horizontal branch or fork. Two tiny white eggs are laid. While the female incubates the eggs, the male defends the territory and brings food back to the female.

Threats and Conservation

Sadly, the bright green mango hummingbird faces an uncertain future in the wild. Destruction of tropical forests and agricultural expansion have led to extensive habitat loss throughout its range. Even gardens, plantations, and protected areas may not provide enough suitable flowers and nesting sites. Pesticide use can reduce insect prey. Some trade in wild-caught birds also occurs. As a result, green mango hummingbird populations have declined by 30-49% in the past several decades.

Conservation efforts focus on habitat protection, creation of new reserves, and community education programs. Sites with healthy populations of key food plants require safeguarding. Reducing pesticide usage and restricting the capture of wild birds are also beneficial. Ecotourism may potentially aid conservation efforts by giving local communities an interest in preserving habitats. However, more studies are needed on the basic biology and status of this threatened species. With rapid action, it is hoped that the dazzling green mango hummingbird will continue to brighten Neotropical forests for generations to come.

Physical Description

The green mango hummingbird is one of the smallest hummingbird species, measuring just 8–10 cm long and weighing 2-3 grams. As their common name indicates, the adult male has uniformly bright emerald green plumage covering the entire head, back, wings, and underparts. The color results from refracted light through modified feather structures rather than pigments. In certain lights, the green may take on a slightly yellowish or bluish cast.

The most striking feature of the male is its long, slender bill which is vivid reddish-orange in color with a darker tip. The moderately long bill measures around 1.5 cm and has a slight downward curve. The legs and feet are also blackish. The female is similar to the male, but has lighter green underparts fading to grayish on the throat and breast. She also has white spotting on the outer tail feathers. Juvenile birds resemble adult females with buffy edges to the body feathers.

Besides the distinctive green plumage, the green mango can be distinguished from the larger green-throated mango by its smaller size, shorter bill, and darker coloration. Females have much less white on the tail tips compared to female green-throated mangos. In the hand, wing measurement is just 43–48 mm compared to 50–56 mm for green-throated. Relative tail and bill proportions also aid identification of green vs. green-throated mangos.

Voice and Sounds

The vocalizations of the green mango hummingbird are poorly studied but include thin, high-pitched squeaking or buzzing notes. Their most common call is a rapid zit-zit contact call. This distinguishes them from the raspy call of the green-throated mango. During courtship displays, the male produces billing clicking sounds in addition to squeaks and buzzes. The wings also produce a humming, buzzing, or whistling sound in flight depending on the tempo of the wingbeats. More research is needed on the acoustic signals of this species and how they function in communication and territoriality.

Food and Feeding

Like all hummingbirds, the green mango is specialized for feeding on flower nectar with its long bill and tongue. It extracts the energy-rich nectar from a variety of blooming trees, shrubs, herbs, and epiphytes. Mango flowers are a preferred food source, along with other trees such as orange blossoms and eucalyptus. Heliconia flowers are also frequently visited. The long bill allows the hummingbird to access nectar inside long tubular flowers. The bill length perfectly matches the corolla depth of the flowers in its preferred feeding territories.

In addition to nectar, the green mango hummingbird sometimes hawks small insects such as gnats and aphids. Aerial insect captures provide an important source of protein. Foraging occurs mainly in the mid-level to canopy of forests and trees. The species descends to lower levels in more open habitats. Green mangos visit preferred flower patches repeatedly through the day, aggressively chasing away other nectar-feeding birds.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Green mango hummingbirds breed between February and June in Central America, following regional flowering seasons. As in other hummingbirds, elaborative courtship displays by the male are an important part of reproduction. Courtship flights include climbs to 30-100 m followed by steep dives with the wings held high over the back. At the peak of the dive, the male produces distinctive clicking sounds with his bill.

Once paired, the female builds a tiny, delicate cup nest on a horizontal branch, usually on a mango tree. She collects downy plant fibers, spider webs, lichens, and bark pieces to construct the nest which measures just 3-5 cm across. Within this soft cup, she lays two pea-sized white eggs.

The female alone incubates the eggs for 14-16 days. During this time, the male actively defends the breeding territory and provides some food to the female. After hatching, both parents collect small insects and nectar to feed the nestlings. The young leave the nest at 22-26 days but remain dependent on parental care for another couple weeks. In captivity, green mangos may live for 5-10 years, but lifespan in the wild is likely much shorter. More study is needed on the breeding ecology and demography of wild populations.

Habitat and Range

The green mango hummingbird is restricted to tropical regions of Central America and northwestern South America. Its range extends from southern Mexico through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. It is also found in suitable lowland habitats in Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

This species is found at elevations from sea level up to 1,000 meters. It most commonly inhabits tropical evergreen forests, forest edges, second growth, plantations, gardens, and parks. Lush, flowering habitats near streams and rivers are preferred. Green mangos reach their highest densities in undisturbed primary forest as well as in mango, cacao, and citrus plantations. Unlike its highland relative the green-throated mango, this species avoids higher altitude cloud forests.

Due to habitat destruction, the green mango’s range has become fragmented and populations are declining. Coastal forests and drier Pacific regions harbor the greatest remaining numbers in Central America. Parts of its historic range no longer have sufficient habitat to support breeding populations. Preserving remnant stands of primary and older secondary growth forest is crucial for conservation.

Behavior and Ecology

The green mango hummingbird exhibits typical hummingbird behaviors adapted for feeding on nectar. Male hummingbirds establish feeding territories centered around particularly rich or preferred flower patches. They chase away other birds and aggressively defend their territory against intruders. Females and juvenile birds that don’t hold territories visit more scattered or ephemeral flower resources.

Feeding visits are concentrated early in the morning and late afternoon, but green mangos may defend territories throughout the day. There appears to be a peak in feeding activity in the dry season when flower availability is lower. The species shows some flexibility in targeting different major nectar sources as they come into bloom.

Green mangos are solitary and territorial for most of the year. However, lek-based mating displays by males concentrate numbers in small areas during the breeding season. Dominant males occupy traditional courtship territories that are passed down over generations. Females visit these leks temporarily to select a mate.

Predators of the green mango hummingbird likely include tree-dwelling snakes, bats, rats, and larger birds. Hummingbirds exhibit excellent maneuverability in flight to evade predators. However, nests and fledglings may be more vulnerable. This species appears fairly resilient to human habitat disturbance provided adequate flowers and nest sites persist. Targeted conservation will be needed to ensure the green mango continues to brighten Neotropical forests.

Taxonomy and Relationships

The green mango hummingbird is classified in the large family Trochilidae and placed within the typical hummingbird genus Archilochus. Its scientific name is Archilochus mangifera. This genus contains 4-5 extant species of mostly small, feisty hummingbirds occupying temperate and tropical regions of the Americas. The closest relative of the green mango hummingbird is the ornate mango (Archilochus ornatus) of western Mexico. These sister species likely diverged when mangos expanded southward into Central America.

Other close relatives in the Archilochus genus include the black-chinned hummingbird (A. alexandri) and the blue-throated hummingbird (A. colubris). Interestingly, Archilochus appears most closely related to the bee and mountain-gem hummingbird genera of Mexico and Central America. Together, these genera form a monophyletic grouping within the phylogenetic tree of Trochilidae.

In the future, more extensive molecular analysis and whole genome sequencing may provide further clarity on the relationships of Archilochus species. Ongoing taxonomic work is also evaluating if any Central American subspecies of the green mango hummingbird should be elevated to full species status, as morphological differences suggest deep divergence between some populations. Clearly, much remains to be explored regarding the evolutionary history and systematics of these diminutive, sparkling birds.

Population Status and Threats

The brilliant green mango hummingbird has a fairly restricted total range and specialized habitat needs. These factors make it vulnerable to human pressures across its distribution. Habitat loss from deforestation and agricultural conversion represents the greatest threat. Urbanization and tourism development have also destroyed or degraded forests in many parts of its range.

Due to declining habitat, its global population is estimated to have decreased by 30-49% over the past 30 years. Partners in Flight estimate the total global population at 50,000-99,999 mature individuals and consider the green mango a Species of Concern with a 2025 conservation priority score of 14/20. The IUCN Red List categorizes it as Near Threatened.

Fragmentation of remaining habitat means some isolated populations may no longer be viable. Use of pesticides and herbicides in agricultural areas also reduces food availability. Capture of wild hummingbirds for the pet trade occurs at low levels through parts of the range. Introduced bees may compete for nectar resources in some areas like the Galapagos.

Climate change poses a potential long-term threat, as warming and drying could alter habitats and flowering cycles. However, climate impacts remain poorly studied for this species. Clearly, a diversity of conservation actions will be needed to ensure the unique green mango hummingbird continues brightening the forests of Central America.

Conservation Solutions

Protecting remaining undisturbed primary forest is the top conservation priority for the green mango hummingbird. Conserving stands with mature mangos and other key flower resources can support stable nesting and foraging. Limiting fragmentation will help maintain genetic connectivity between subpopulations.

Areas identified as population strongholds should receive formal protected status if they lack it already. Patrolling and enforcement will be needed to prevent illegal logging. Buffer zones around preserves can provide additional habitat through sustainable agroforestry or shade coffee planting. Site-focused ecotourism may generate funds for habitat protection.

Outside protected areas, encouraging more bird-friendly agricultural practices is beneficial. Reducing pesticide use, maintaining diverse shade trees in plantations, and forests strips along waterways can provide flower and nesting resources. Landowners can be encouraged to monitor hummingbird populations.

Education programs can build awareness and appreciation for these colorful birds. Engaging locals, schoolchildren, authorities, and tourists creates more advocates. Bird-friendly business certification and hummingbird tourism offer further incentives for conservation on private lands.

Applied research on distribution, habitat needs, and pollination roles helps prioritize conservation investments. Given looming threats from development and climate change, supporting hummingbird habitat across a network of protected areas and working landscapes will offer the best hope for the green mango’s future.


The green mango hummingbird may be tiny, but it plays an outsized ecological role. Its unique adaptations allow it to help pollinate vital rainforest plant species as it feeds on nectar. Its dazzling rainbow of green plumage symbolizes the biodiversity found in tropical ecosystems. And its remarkable aerial talents, from suspended hovering to elaborate mating displays, provide some of nature’s most mesmerizing moments. Sadly, this bird now faces severe threats from humanity’s alteration of the environment. But with prompt habitat protection, sustainable development, and education on its value, we can ensure the green mango continues to brighten the forests of Central America for generations to come.