Indigo-capped Hummingbird Species

The Indigo-capped Hummingbird (Amazilia cyanifrons) is a small hummingbird species found in Central America. With its bright indigo-blue cap and throat, it is one of the most colorful hummingbirds in its range. This species averages 9–10 cm (3.5-4 in) in length and 4-6 grams (0.14-0.21 oz) in weight. The male has an iridescent indigo-blue crown, tail, and throat, with a bright green back. The female lacks the bright blue crown patch and has greenish upperparts and whitish underparts with green flanks. Both sexes have a straight black bill and pinkish legs.

The Indigo-capped Hummingbird inhabits tropical deciduous forests, woodland edges, second growth, parks, and gardens from sea level to 1500 m elevation. Its breeding range extends from southern Sinaloa in Mexico south through Costa Rica. It occurs year-round in Nicaragua and in the lowlands of Costa Rica’s Pacific slope. Elsewhere it is partially migratory, breeding in southern Mexico and overwintering in Costa Rica and Panama.

This species feeds on nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, mostly tubular flowers including shrubs, trees and epiphytes. It also takes some small insects. Its preferred habitat offers many flowers and feeding opportunities. The species plays an important role in pollinating many of these plants.

The Indigo-capped Hummingbird breeds between March and June in Mexico and February to May in Central America. The male performs aerial displays during courtship as he flies in repeated u-shaped patterns to attract females. He may also produce brief high-pitched vocalizations. After pairing, the female builds a small cup nest on a twig 1-15 m high, often overhanging water. She lines the nest with soft plant down and other fibers bonded with spiderwebs.

The female lays two tiny white eggs that are only about 0.5 cm long. She incubates the eggs alone for 15-19 days until they hatch. The chicks are born blind, bald and helpless. They develop quickly though, and pin feathers emerge within a few days. The female cares for and feeds the chicks with regurgitated food. The young leave the nest at 18-26 days old. The female continues to feed them for another 3-4 weeks as they learn to forage on their own. She may raise 2-3 broods per year.

The Indigo-capped Hummingbird faces some threats across its range. Habitat loss from land conversion for agriculture, logging and development remains a concern. Use of pesticides and herbicides also reduces food availability. Additionally, climate change may alter flowering cycles and food availability. However, the species remains relatively common across its range. With a large geographic distribution and substantial populations, the IUCN Red List categorizes this hummingbird as Least Concern.

Conservation measures recommended for the Indigo-capped Hummingbird include habitat protection, limiting use of chemicals, providing artificial feeders and nesting sites, and public education programs. Natural areas, parks, gardens and regenerating forests help provide the essential nectar plants and nest sites needed by this species. Careful planning can allow human development while also maintaining enough natural areas to support hummingbird populations. More research is still needed on the migrations, breeding biology and habitat needs of the Indigo-capped Hummingbird to help inform future conservation actions.

With its glittering indigo plumage, the Indigo-capped Hummingbird is considered one of Central America’s most beautiful hummingbirds. While feeding, it wings its way from flower to flower in a blur of color. The high-pitched hum of its rapidly beating wings announces its presence as it hovers and darts among blossoms. This tropical species brings vibrant life and energy to its natural habitats. Conserving sufficient food resources and nesting sites will allow the Indigo-capped Hummingbird to continue lighting up its Central American range with dazzling flashes of brilliant blue.