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A photo of a Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda), male
Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Male

Rufous-tailed Jacamar

Galbula ruficauda

The Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Galbula ruficauda, is a near-passerine bird, a vision of elegance with its vibrant plumage, elongated bill, and tail. Adults typically measure 25 cm in length, sporting a 5 cm long black bill, although the subspecies G. r. brevirostris is characterized by a notably shorter bill. The bird's upper parts shimmer with a metallic green, while the underparts are predominantly orange, including the undertail, complemented by a green breast band. Sexual dimorphism is present; males boast a white throat, while females have a buff throat and often display paler underparts. The subspecies G. r. pallens is distinguished by a coppery back in both sexes.

Identification Tips

To identify the Rufous-tailed Jacamar, look for its long, black bill and the striking contrast between the metallic green of the upper parts and the orange underparts. The male's white throat and the female's buff throat are key identifiers, along with the green breast band that separates the colors. The subspecies can be differentiated by bill length and the unique copper coloration of G. r. pallens.


This species thrives in a variety of woodlands and scrub environments, ranging from dry to moist conditions.


The Rufous-tailed Jacamar has a broad range, extending from southern Mexico through Central America and into South America, reaching as far south as southern Brazil and Ecuador.


The Rufous-tailed Jacamar is a resident breeder that exhibits a distinctive hunting behavior. It perches patiently, bill angled skyward, before darting out to snatch flying insects mid-air with precision.

Song & Calls

The call of this species is a sharp "pee-op," while its song is a high, thin "peeo-pee-peeo-pee-pe-pe," culminating in a delightful trill.


Breeding Rufous-tailed Jacamars lay two to four rufous-spotted white eggs within a burrow, which may be located in a bank or termite mound.

Similar Species

While unique in its appearance, the Rufous-tailed Jacamar could potentially be confused with other jacamar species; however, its distinctive coloration and call usually make it identifiable.

Diet and Feeding

An adept insectivore, the Rufous-tailed Jacamar preys on a variety of flying insects, including wasps, flies, beetles, bees, dragonflies, and butterflies. It has the remarkable ability to discern between edible and unpalatable butterflies, largely based on their body shape.

Conservation status

The Rufous-tailed Jacamar is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population without significant immediate threats to its survival.

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