Red-billed Emerald Hummingbird Species

The Red-billed Emerald (Amazilia tzacatl) is a small hummingbird found in Mexico, Central America, and parts of South America. With its bright green plumage and long, curved red bill, this species is one of the most striking and easily recognized hummingbirds in its range.


The adult male Red-billed Emerald has brilliant emerald green upperparts and underparts, with a blue-black tail and flight feathers. The most distinctive feature is the long, curved bill which is bright red at the base, transitioning to black towards the tip. The female is similar to the male, but has pale gray underparts and white tips on the outer tail feathers. The bill of the female is also not as dramatically curved. Juveniles resemble adult females but have buffy edges to the plumage feathers.

Red-billed Emeralds are relatively small, measuring just 3.5-4 inches in length and weighing 2-4 grams. Despite their diminutive size, they have a faster wingbeat and can reach higher flight speeds than many larger hummer species. Their wings make a loud buzzing or humming sound in flight.

Distribution and Habitat

The Red-billed Emerald has a wide distribution across tropical regions of the Americas. Its range extends from southeastern Mexico through Central America and much of South America east of the Andes Mountains.

This species occupies a variety of habitats including forests, woodland edges, plantations, parks and gardens. It is found from sea level up to elevations of 7,500 feet in the Andes Mountains. Red-billed Emeralds prefer areas with flowering plants and abundant nectar sources.


As with all hummingbirds, nectar is the primary food source for the Red-billed Emerald. It uses its specialized long bill and tongue to drink nectar from a variety of brightly colored tropical flowers. Some favorite nectar sources are plants in the Heliconia family and various ornamental flowers.

Red-billed Emeralds also consume small insects such as flies, beetles and spiders to obtain protein and other nutrients. The birds often snatch insects out of spider webs or on foliage using their bill.

Behavior and Breeding

The Red-billed Emerald is territorial and males will aggressively defend feeding areas or territories with diving displays and vocalizations. They have courtship rituals where the male flies in U-shaped patterns to impress females.

Breeding occurs in the spring and summer months. The female builds a small delicate cup nest out of plant fibers and spider webs on a tree branch, often overhanging water. She lays two tiny white eggs and incubates them for about 16-19 days. The chicks hatch with eyes closed and almost no feathers. They are cared for by the female and fledge in about 20-26 days.

Conservation Status

The Red-billed Emerald has a very large range and stable population trend. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. Habitat loss is a potential threat, but the species adapts readily to orchards, parks and gardens. The Red-billed Emerald is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States. Backyard birders and eco-tourists eagerly seek out this beautiful hummingbird species. With sufficient flower-rich habitat, its flashy emerald and red plumage will continue to attract admirers across the Neotropics.

In summary, the Red-billed Emerald is a stunning green hummingbird adorned with a colorful curved bill. It is a widespread species occupying diverse tropical habitats in the Americas from Mexico to South America. Feeding on nectar and defending flower territories, this energetic bird brings dazzling life to gardens and rainforests alike. The vibrant emerald and ruby plumage of the Red-billed Emerald makes it one of the most exquisite hummingbirds to observe in its range.