Pirre Hummingbird Species

The Pirre Hummingbird (Eupherusa poliocerca) is a species of hummingbird found in Panama and Colombia. With its vibrant green plumage and long, curved bill, the Pirre hummingbird is a beautiful and fascinating bird.


The Pirre hummingbird is a small, stunning bird that lives in the mountain forests of Panama and Colombia. It measures just 8-9 cm in length and weighs around 3-4 grams. The male Pirre hummingbird has vivid emerald green plumage on its head, back and belly, with a bright white breast band. The female is slightly duller, with more gray-green plumage. The Pirre hummingbird’s long, slender, curved bill allows it to feed on nectar from tube-shaped flowers.

This agile hummingbird uses its rapid wing beats to hover in front of flowers as it feeds. It also feeds on small insects, caught on the wing. The Pirre hummingbird produces a high-pitched squeaking call and performs aerial courtship displays. While a common species, the brilliant coloration of the male Pirre hummingbird makes it a prized sight for birdwatchers exploring the mountain forests of Panama and Colombia.

Physical Description

The Pirre hummingbird displays marked sexual dimorphism. The adult male has vivid emerald green plumage on its head, back and flanks. This is offset by a bright white breast band that covers its throat and chest. The lower belly is also emerald green. The tail feathers are deep blue-black with white tips. The bill is very long, slender and decurved. It ranges from pinkish-red at the base to black towards the tip. The eyes are dark brown. The legs and feet are blackish-gray.

The female Pirre hummingbird is less vibrantly colored. Her head and back are more grayish-green. The throat and chest are gray-white. The bill is mostly black. Juvenile birds resemble adult females.

The Pirre hummingbird is a very small bird, measuring just 8-9 cm (3.1-3.5 inches) in length. The weight ranges from 3-4 grams. The wingspan is approximately 5 cm (2 inches). The long, slender bill is around 20 mm in length. This is perfectly adapted for reaching nectar at the base of long, tubular flowers.

Range and Habitat

The Pirre hummingbird is endemic to Panama and Colombia in Central America. Its range extends from eastern Panama through western and northwestern Colombia. It occupies both lowland and highland rainforests up to elevations of 2500 meters.

In Panama, it is found on the Caribbean slopes and on the Panama-Colombia border. In Colombia, it mainly occurs in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Its preferred habitat is humid forest and woodland edges from sea level up to high elevations. It also inhabits coffee plantations and gardens with sufficient flowers.

Diet and Feeding

Like all hummingbirds, the Pirre hummingbird has a high metabolism and must feed frequently. Its diet consists of nectar, tree sap, and small insects. The main food source is nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, tubular-shaped flowers using its specialized long bill. It prefer flowers with red blooms.

The Pirre hummingbird uses its elongated, straw-like tongue to lap up nectar while hovering in front of flowers. The curved bill allows it to access nectar deep within blossoms. The tongue extends past the bill tips to reach the nectar.

Small insects such as gnats, fruit flies and spiders are also caught in flight or snatched from foliage to provide essential proteins. The Pirre hummingbird will vigorously defend flower clumps and feeding territories from intruders. It feeds throughout the day, visiting hundreds of flowers daily and consuming up to half its body weight in nectar.

Courtship and Breeding

The breeding season of the Pirre hummingbird coincides with the peak flowering period in its habitat, which occurs between February and May. As part of courtship, the male performs elaborate aerial displays, flying in loops and dives to impress females.

Males are promiscuous, mating with multiple females in a season. The female alone builds the small cup-shaped nest out of plant down, spider webs and lichens on a low horizontal branch or tree fern. She incubates the two tiny white eggs for 15-19 days.

The chicks hatch altricial (helpless) but are quickly able to regulate their temperature. The female regurgitates food to feed the chicks, which fledge at 20-26 days old. Multiple broods may be raised in a season. The female cares for the chicks without any assistance from the male.

Conservation Status

The Pirre hummingbird has a wide distribution across Panama and Colombia and substantial populations in protected areas. Logging and clearing of forests has reduced its habitat in some regions. However, its ability to adapt to disturbed forest edges has enabled it to fare better than some endemic hummingbirds with more restricted ranges.

The IUCN Red List categorizes the Pirre hummingbird as Least Concern. Despite some threats from habitat loss, its overall population remains stable and it adapts readily to modified habitats such as shade coffee plantations. Provided sufficient floral resources are available, this diminutive hummingbird continues to thrive.

Fun Facts

– The Pirre hummingbird’s scientific name Eupherusa poliocerca references its two distinguishing features: the curved bill (poliocerca means “many-turned tail”) and its green plumage (Eupherusa means “good green”).

– Its very long, curved bill sets the Pirre hummingbird apart from other hummingbirds in its range. This adaptation allows it to access nectar from flowers with long, curved tubes.

– Male Pirre hummingbirds perform elaborate courtship displays, flying up and down in wide U-shaped patterns or sudden dives to impress females.

– The vibrant green plumage of the male provides camouflage as it feeds among rainforest foliage, making it difficult to spot.

– Its tiny nest, made of plant down and spider silk, blends seamlessly into the rainforest environment.

– Like other hummingbirds, the Pirre hummingbird can fly forwards, backwards and even upside down as it acrobatically feeds on nectar and insects.

– Pirre hummingbirds play an important role in pollination of tube-shaped flowers in the diverse rainforest ecosystem.

– Its adaptations, such as a specialized tongue that extends past the bill tips, allow it to access energy-rich resources unavailable to other rainforest birds.

In Summary

The dazzling Pirre hummingbird is a specialized rainforest species endemic to Panama and Colombia. With its striking emerald plumage, long curved bill and energetic flight, this tiny bird is a marvel of natural evolution. Though small in stature, the agile and pugnacious Pirre hummingbird fills an important ecological niche as a pollinator and consumer of insect prey. Provided its rainforest habitats continue to be preserved, this diminutive hummingbird will continue to dazzle birdwatchers and biologists alike with its beauty and vigor.