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A photo of a Rufous-breasted Hermit (Glaucis hirsutus)
Rufous-breasted Hermit

Rufous-breasted Hermit

Glaucis hirsutus

The Rufous-breasted Hermit, also known as the Hairy Hermit, is a species of hummingbird with a distinctive appearance. It has a brownish head, bronze-green upperparts, and rufous underparts, creating a warm palette that blends with the forest undergrowth it calls home. The tail feathers are a mix of green and rufous, each tipped with white, adding a subtle flair to its otherwise earthy tones. Both males and females share this coloration, though males may exhibit yellow streaking on their upper mandible.

Identification Tips

When observing the Rufous-breasted Hermit, look for its long, thin, and strongly decurved bill, which is robust for a hummingbird. The lower mandible is yellow, contrasting with the black upper mandible. Males and females are similar in plumage, but the female's bill is slightly shorter and more decurved, a detail that is more noticeable upon close inspection.


This hermit thrives in the forest undergrowth, often found near the soothing sounds of running water. It is a bird that appreciates the seclusion offered by the dense vegetation and the proximity to moisture.


The Rufous-breasted Hermit breeds from Panama southward to Bolivia and graces the islands of Trinidad, Tobago, and Grenada with its presence. It is generally a common species, though its numbers may fluctuate locally.


An inquisitive and somewhat aggressive bird, the Rufous-breasted Hermit is known for its discriminating feeding habits and its tendency to nest near streams, waterfalls, or roadsides. It is a solitary bird, often seen darting through the understory in search of nectar.

Song & Calls

The vocalizations of this species are high-pitched and sweet, a delightful sound that adds to the enchanting atmosphere of its habitat.


The female constructs a small cup nest with a tail, using rootlets and attaching it to the underside of a leaf, often a palm or fern, at a height of one to two meters above the ground. The nest's location near water or a roadside makes it surprisingly easy to find. The male contributes to nest building and defense but does not partake in incubation. With an incubation period of 17 days and a further 23 days to fledging, this species may nest multiple times within a season.

Diet and Feeding

The Rufous-breasted Hermit has a particular taste for flowers that match the length and curvature of its bill, feeding on a wide array of angiosperms. It favors Zingiberales such as Costus scaber and Heliconia species, as well as plants from the Gentianales, Lamiales, and Myrtales orders. The difference in bill curvature between males and females suggests a division of resources to avoid competition.

Conservation status

The Rufous-breasted Hermit is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that, for now, this species does not face any immediate threat of extinction.

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