What types of hummingbirds can you find in El Salvador?
Hummingbirds have captivated people’s interest and attention for a long time. But because they’re incredibly fast and small, these birds can be hard to distinguish from each other. Most of the time, they just look like green, iridescent blurs streaking by your face!
Today, you will learn about 10 of the most COMMON hummingbirds found in El Salvador.
There are DOZENS of different hummingbird species found here. For the sake of time, I did my best to narrow the list to the species that are most often seen and observed! Each description includes pictures, range maps, fun facts, AND ideas of how to attract them.
#1. Berylline Hummingbird
- Saucerottia beryllina
- Adults range from 3.1 to 3.9 inches long.
- Their coloring is primarily metallic green with a rusty lower belly, wing patch, and tail which often has purple and bronze highlights.
Berylline Hummingbirds occupy mountain forests and canyons in El Salvador.
You’ll most likely see them at elevations between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. In their winter range, they usually inhabit foothills and lower mountain slopes.
Although this hummingbird is easy to spot, it’s rare to see more than one at a time. Individuals are solitary and tend to be aggressive towards other hummingbirds, even those of their own species. It’s common for Berylline Hummingbirds to defend patches of flowers or their favorite perching spots.
These small but powerful hummingbirds feed on nectar, spiders, and insects. They often hover while eating from flowers, grab insects from mid-air, or pluck them from spider webs. They’re quite athletic when it comes to dinnertime!
#2. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
- Archilochus colubris
- Adults range from 2.8 to 3.5 inches in length and have a wingspan of 3.1 to 4.3 inches.
- Their coloring is bright emerald green on the back and crown with white-gray underparts and a black bill.
- Males have an iridescent red throat.
Look for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in El Salvador only during the winter.
If you live in the eastern half of the United States and Canada, you may recognize this species as they migrate north during the breeding season. You may notice they are particularly aggressive in defending feeders and flower patches. They chase other hummingbirds, get into dogfights, and occasionally jab other hummingbirds with their bill!
These feisty little birds are incredibly agile in flight. However, their short legs prevent them from walking or hopping. They usually just perch for a short rest and then get back into the air.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have a particular affinity for red or orange tubular flowers, which are great to plant if you want to attract them. Hummingbird feeders are also a great idea, as they will visit them regularly once they discover them.
#3. Cinnamon Hummingbird
- Amazilia rutila
- Adults are 3.7 to 4.5 inches long.
- Their coloring is metallic bronze-green above and cinnamon below, slightly paler on the chin and upper throat.
- They have a bright red bill tipped in black, a chestnut tail, and dark brown wings.
Cinnamon Hummingbirds DO NOT migrate! Instead, they are a year-round resident in El Salvador. If you’re lucky enough to live in its range, look for a medium-sized hummingbird in bronze, tan, and green shades.
Try planting tube-shaped red flowers, including encliandra fuchsias, peacock flowers, and cypress vine, to attract this species. Unfortunately, they are territorial and will defend preferred feeding sites from other hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
Except for breeding, Cinnamon Hummingbirds are solitary. Males will perform courtship displays, flying in a U-shape in front of females to try to convince them they are the best suitor.
#4. Rivoli’s Hummingbird
- Eugenes fulgens
- Adults range from 4.3 to 5.5 inches long with a wingspan of about 7.1 inches.
- Males are nearly black below and green above with a dark tail, and in the light have a purple crown and violet throat.
- Females are gray below and green above, with limited pale tips in their tail corners.
- Both sexes have small white marks behind the eyes, a long, almost straight bill, long wings, and a tail with a shallow fork.
These beautiful birds have the fastest recorded heart rate of any hummingbird in El Salvador.
Believe it or not but it ranges from 420 to 1,200 beats per minute!
Most Rivoli’s Hummingbirds use a foraging strategy known as traplining, moving quickly from flower to flower in a predictable order. In some cases, they defend a patch of flowers from smaller hummingbirds. However, studies indicate that they often coexist peacefully with other species.
In addition to the flowers they frequent, Rivoli’s Hummingbirds consume “honeydew,” the sugary water that scale insects excrete. That’s one interesting way to supplement your diet! 🙂
#5. Azure-crowned Hummingbird
- Saucerottia cyanocephala
- Medium-sized hummingbird.
- Both sexes have a whitish throat and breast, dusky vest, dusky brown rump and tail, and blue crown and sides of the head.
- They have some red at the base of the bill and white spots behind the eyes.
Look for Azure-crowned Hummingbirds in pine-oak woodlands near shrubby clearings. They may also inhabit lowland pine savannas, plantations, urban areas, and along the edge of cloud forests.
Like other hummingbirds in El Salvador, Azure-crowned Hummingbirds feed on nectar and insects. However, they’ve adapted to their pine forest habitat in the way they forage. They often search bark and clusters of pine needles for insects.
Females have also adapted their nesting behavior to use pine needles to construct their nests. In urban areas, they’ve even been known to use human materials like wire in their construction.
#6. Green-throated Mountain-Gem
- Lampornis viridipallens
- Adults range from 4.3 to 4.7 inches long.
- Males have green upper parts, a white throat with bluish-green spots, and a grayish belly.
- Females are similar but have emerald green upper parts and an unspotted throat.
- Both sexes have a straight black bill, a slightly forked tail, and white stripes behind the eyes.
The appropriately named Green-throated Mountain Gem lives at elevations between 3,000 and 8,900 feet above sea level. They inhabit humid evergreen and pine-oak forests.
Like other hummingbirds in El Salvador, this species prefers tubular flowers. They also occasionally visit feeders, offering a flash of their signature blue and emerald color.
Despite its stable population, the Green-throated Mountain Gem has a restricted range that is heavily impacted by deforestation. This species is not known to tolerate human-altered habitats, so conserving its natural habitat is critical for its survival.
#7. Green-breasted Mango
- Anthracothorax prevostii
- Adults range from 4.3 to 4.7 inches in length.
- Males are deep green overall with a black throat and chest and a purplish tail.
- Females have bronze-green upper parts and white underparts. A dark stripe runs from the chin down the belly.
- Large, bulky hummingbird with a slightly arched black bill.
Green-breasted Mangos are the master home-builders of the hummingbird world. They use clever adaptations to make sure their nesting and roosting sites are well-protected and comfortable.
For example, female Green-breasted Mangos nest far enough off the ground to avoid predators, usually about seven feet. The nests are protected by tree foliage. She constructs the nest from moss and spider webs that stretch as the young birds grow, keeping them safe until they can fly away.
Interestingly, this species also chooses to nest and roost near an unlikely neighbor – stinging ants! It’s thought that the ants don’t bother the hummingbirds. However, their painful bite is a deterrent for predators.
#8. Violet Sabrewing
- Campylopterus hemileucurus
- Adults are about 5.9 inches long.
- Males are deep violet and bright blue with dark forest green on their back and wings.
- Females are dark green above and gray below.
- Both sexes have violet throats, large, thick, curved, black bills, and flashy white tail corners.
The stunning Violet Sabrewing is the largest hummingbird in El Salvador.
It’s found in various tropical habitats, including inland forests, tropical grasslands, and coastal slopes.
You’re most likely to see Violet Sabrewings when they feed at dawn and dusk. Although many people picture a hummingbird zipping through the air, this species is known to spend roughly three-quarters of its awake time perched on branches or flowers. You could say it’s the “couch potato” of the hummingbird family! 🙂
Violet Sabrewings consume almost twice their weight in nectar each day. You might think this would make them gain weight with their relative lack of movement. But, a large hummingbird species needs the calories to keep up their strength!
To attract this hummingbird, you can plant brightly colored vines with long, tubular flowers. They prefer plants that allow them to feed on nectar and insects conveniently.
#9. Plain-capped Starthroat
- Heliomaster constantii
- Adults range from 4.3 to 5.1 inches long.
- They have metallic bronze-green upper parts, a white streak behind the eye, and a long, almost straight black bill.
- Their underparts are brownish-gray with a white belly, sooty chin, and a gorget that shines bright red in the sun.
Plain-capped Starthroats are members of the Mountain Gem group of hummingbirds. These medium-sized hummers are typically found in mountain and foothill regions. This habitat, combined with their metallic feathers, earned them this glamorous name!
Like other hummingbirds, Plain-capped Starthroats feed on nectar and insects. However, they also visit feeders, so if you live in their range, you may see them in your yard.
Little is known about the breeding habits of the Plain-capped Starthroat. This is because females are so good at hiding their nests! They place the tiny structures in dense foliage and camouflage the outside with lichen. So even the most seasoned birder could walk right by one and miss it.
#10. Canivet’s Emerald
- Cynanthus canivetii
- Adults range from 3 to 3.7 inches long.
- Males are solid emerald-green with a red bill and long, forked, blue-black tail.
- Females are bronze-green above and gray below, with a black bill and a shorter tail.
Look for this deep green hummingbird in El Salvador in gardens, evergreen forest edges, and clearings.
Canivet’s Hummingbirds are year-round residents that never stray far from their home location. So if you can attract them to your yard, you’re almost guaranteed to keep seeing these beautiful birds!
In addition to their emerald coloring, these hummingbirds are sometimes recognized for their dry, scratchy, chattering call. It sounds a bit like a repeated, “tseee tseeree.”
Do you want to learn more about hummingbirds?
If so, here are a few books you should consider purchasing. 🙂
Which of these hummingbirds in El Salvador have you seen?
Let us know in the comments!
The range maps in this article were generously shared with permission from The Birds of The World, published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I use their site OFTEN to learn new information about birds!