Mexican Woodnymph Hummingbird Species

The Mexican woodnymph hummingbird (Thalurania ridgwayi) is a small hummingbird species found in Mexico and parts of Central America. With its vibrant green plumage and long, curved bill, this little bird is a joy to observe in the wild. In this article, we’ll explore the identification, range, habitat, diet, behavior, breeding, and conservation status of the Mexican woodnymph hummingbird.


The Mexican woodnymph hummingbird measures around 3.5 inches in length, similar in size to other woodnymph hummingbirds. The male has vibrant, emerald green upperparts from its head to tail. The underside is grayish-white in color. The long bill is red with a black tip and slightly curved. The female is similar to the male, but has green restricted to the back only. Her throat is white, belly is gray, and she has white tips on the tail feathers. Juveniles resemble adult females.

This species is most likely to be confused with the very similar Blue-tailed Hummingbird. However, the Mexican woodnymph can be identified by its all dark bill, more extensive green plumage extending to the tail, and lack of blue or purple on the tail.

Range and Habitat

The Mexican woodnymph hummingbird is found predominantly in southeastern Mexico, with its range extending into Guatemala and El Salvador. Its habitat consists of tropical deciduous forests, open woodlands, and second growth forests. This species occurs mainly at elevations between sea level and 3,000 feet.

The Mexican woodnymph is strongly tied to the distribution of one of its preferred food sources, the scarlet bouvardia flower. It prefers streamsides and moist ravines where these tubular red flowers bloom. This species does well in partially open natural areas, but it has also adapted to parks, gardens, and agricultural areas where artificial feeders are maintained.


Like all hummingbirds, the Mexican woodnymph has a high metabolism and must consume a large amount of food relative to its size. Its diet is composed primarily of nectar from flowers and flowering trees. Some favorite nectar sources are the flowers of the scarlet bouvardia, trumpet vine, coral vine, and sage. The long, curved bill of the woodnymph allows it to access nectar from long, tubular flowers.

The bird supplements its diet with small insects including spiders, aphids, and flies. It uses its extendable tongue to capture insect prey while hovering or perched on branches. To meet its high energy needs, the Mexican woodnymph must consume approximately half its weight in nectar each day and hundreds of insects.


The Mexican woodnymph hummingbird has rapid, straight flight patterns with typical hummingbird wing beats between 40-50 per second. The male establishes a breeding territory which he aggressively defends against intruders, using vocalizations and chase flights. Within the territory there may be several favored perches low in shaded vegetation along a stream. This species can be somewhat solitary, but may gather in larger numbers at particularly rich food sources.

Males perform elaborate courtship displays to visiting females, flying in U-shaped or figure-eight patterns while vocalizing. Dominant males may mate with several females who independently build their own nests and raise the young alone. When night falls or temperatures drop, the Mexican woodnymph enters a state of torpor to conserve energy.


Mexican woodnymph hummingbirds breed between March and July. As part of the courtship ritual, the male flies in rapid horizontal loops below the female, flashing his colorful plumage. If receptive, the female will perch and allow mating.

The female alone builds the tiny cup nest out of plant down, moss, and spider webs on the branch of a tree, bush, or plant. She lays two tiny white eggs that are only 0.5 inches long. Incubation lasts 14-19 days. When the chicks hatch, they are completely helpless. They develop quickly on a diet of regurgitated nectar and insects provided by the female. After about 20-26 days, the young leave the nest and must fend for themselves.

Conservation Status

The Mexican woodnymph hummingbird has a wide distribution and large total population estimated between 50,000 to 499,999 adults. Its population trend appears to be stable and it can adapt to disturbed habitat in many areas. For these reasons, the IUCN Red List categorizes this species as Least Concern.

However, there are some threats to certain populations. Continued habitat loss from logging and agriculture remain problems in parts of its range. Pesticide use can reduce insect prey populations. Introduced honeybees may compete with native hummingbirds for flower nectar resources. Climate shifts are a potential long-term threat. Conservation initiatives that preserve flowering trees and shrubs along waterways and promote more sustainable agriculture practices can help protect Mexican woodnymph populations. Eco-tourism based on observation of this charismatic species can also motivate preservation of its habitat.

In Conclusion

With its dazzling emerald plumage and energetic spirit, the Mexican woodnymph hummingbird is truly a national treasure of Mexico and Central America. This delicate species has adapted to thrive among wooded streamsides dotting the tropical landscape. Careful conservation measures focused on protection of riparian corridors and sustainable ecosystem management will help ensure thriving populations of these captivating hummingbirds into the future. Although small, the Mexican woodnymph plays an integral ecological role as a pollinator for many plants. Preserving hummingbirds means preserving the diverse tropical habitats that sustain us all.