Tumbes Hummingbird Species

The Tumbes Hummingbird (Amazilia rosenbergi) is a small hummingbird native to coastal Peru and some parts of Ecuador. With an average body length of only 8-9 cm and weight of 3-4 grams, it is one of the smallest hummingbird species in the world. Despite its tiny size, the brilliantly colored Tumbes hummingbird plays an important role as a pollinator in its dry forest habitat.


The Tumbes hummingbird has predominantly green plumage on its back and crown, with a bright metallic blue-green throat patch, known as a gorget. The male has an elongated tail and its outer tail feathers have white tips. The female is slightly duller in coloration, lacking the elongated tail streamers. Both sexes have a thin dark bill adapted for drinking nectar.

The species gets its name from the Tumbes region of northwest Peru where it was first discovered. Tumbes is an arid tropical and subtropical region near the border with Ecuador.

Habitat and Distribution

The Tumbes hummingbird is endemic to a small region along the arid Pacific coast of northwestern Peru and adjacent southwest Ecuador. Its total global range covers only about 12,000 sq km.

Its habitats are dry forests, woodlands, scrub, and thickets where flowering plants provide nectar. It occurs at elevations from sea level up to 1,000 m.

Conservation Status

Due to its tiny range and threats from habitat loss, the Tumbes hummingbird is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Extensive deforestation has occurred within its range due to agriculture, logging, and development. Only 10% of its original dry forest habitat remains. Other threats include mining, overgrazing, and infrastructure projects.

To protect this rare hummingbird, conservation efforts are needed to preserve remaining patches of tropical dry forest habitat. Some protected areas such as Cerros de Amotape National Park provide refuge, but more habitat conservation is essential for the species’ survival. Raising local community awareness and promoting sustainable development will also help safeguard the Tumbes hummingbird.

Behavior and Ecology

The Tumbes hummingbird, like all hummingbirds, is a fast flier and hovers in mid-air while drinking nectar from flowers. Its rapid wing beats allow it to hover precisely while feeding and fly backwards or upside down. It has a swift, acrobatic flight to evade predators or to chase intruders away from its territory.

The species lives alone or in pairs, not in flocks. Males perform elaborate courtship displays, flying in u-shaped patterns to attract mates. Females build tiny cup-shaped nests out of plant fibers, lichens and spider webs, camouflaging them on branches. They lay two pea-sized white eggs and incubate them for 14-19 days. Chicks hatch with closed eyes and little to no plumage but develop quickly on a diet of regurgitated nectar and insects from the mother.

The Tumbes hummingbird’s main food source is nectar from flowering trees and shrubs including Erythrina, Cordia, and Hamelia. It also forages on small insects for protein. Like other hummingbird species, it plays a key ecological role as a pollinator of native plants. The loss of these important pollinators could disrupt the whole ecosystem.

Significance for Birders and Ecotourism

The diminutive Tumbes hummingbird is one of the most endangered and range-restricted hummingbirds in the world. As such, it is a top target for specialized birdwatching tours to northwestern Peru. Although tiny, a sighting of this glittering green hummingbird is a thrill for avid birders seeking endangered and localized species. This boosts wildlife tourism revenues that can potentially support habitat conservation.

Responsible ecotourism to see rare endemic birds like the Tumbes hummingbird can raise awareness and funding for habitat protection. But tourism activities must be carefully managed to limit further disturbance in sensitive areas. Ideally, visiting birders and tourists may visit protected reserves and contribute to reforestation efforts aiming to expand suitable habitat.

In Conclusion

The exceptionally localized Tumbes hummingbird faces grave threats from deforestation across its tiny range. But this sparkling green pollinator plays a vital role in dry forest ecosystems along the Peruvian and Ecuadorian coasts. Conserving ample stretches of tropical dry forest habitat will be crucial for protecting populations of this and other endemic wildlife. With proper habitat management, ecotourism, and community stewardship, the diminutive Tumbes hummingbird can hopefully continue gracing its dry forest home.