White-vented Violetear Hummingbird Species

The white-vented violetear is a medium-sized hummingbird species found in South America. With its bright plumage and elongated bill, this species is highly distinctive among hummingbirds.


As its name suggests, the white-vented violetear has a prominent white patch on its undertail coverts. The upperparts are mostly metallic green, while the underparts are grayish-white. The most striking feature is the male’s brilliant violet ear-tufts, which can be raised and lowered. Females lack the violet ear-tufts and have more dull plumage overall. Both sexes have a long, slender and slightly decurved bill. Their length ranges from 9-11 cm and they weigh 5-8 grams.

Distribution and Habitat

The white-vented violetear has a broad distribution across northern and central South America. Its range extends from Colombia and Venezuela south to Peru and central Brazil. It occupies a variety of forest and woodland habitats, including rainforests, deciduous forests, plantations and gardens. This species occurs mainly at lower elevations up to 1500 m.

Food and Feeding

Like all hummingbirds, the white-vented violetear feeds on flower nectar and small insects. Its long bill allows it to access nectar from longer tubed flowers that cannot be reached by shorter-billed hummingbird species. Some favorite nectar sources include heliconias, gingers, and bromeliads. Small insects like flies and spiders are also caught in flight to provide essential proteins. The violetear uses its specialized long tongue to lap up nectar while hovering in front of flowers.

Behavior and Breeding

The white-vented violetear exhibits energetic territorial displays, with males pursuing intruders while vibrating their tail and erecting their ear-tufts. Courtship displays also involve the male hovering in front of the female while orienting his fanned tail towards her.

Nesting occurs from March to June across most of its range. The small cup-shaped nest is constructed with plant fibers and attached to a branch. Typical clutch size is two white eggs which are incubated by the female for 15-19 days. The chicks are fed regurgitated food by both parents and fledge after about 3 weeks.

Relationships with Humans

With its ornate plumage, the white-vented violetear is a popular species among birdwatchers and ecotourists. Several reserves protect its habitat, such as Manu National Park in Peru. While not considered threatened, habitat loss in some regions has caused local declines. Providing sugar water feeders in gardens can help supplement its diet and provide close viewing opportunities. Overall, the white-vented violetear remains widespread and can thrive in modified habitats if sufficient flowers are present. With appropriate protection, this colorful hummingbird will continue brightening forests from Venezuela to Brazil.