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A photo of a Stripe-tailed Hummingbird (Eupherusa eximia), male
Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Male

Stripe-tailed Hummingbird

Eupherusa eximia

The Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Eupherusa eximia, is a diminutive avian jewel, measuring a mere 9 to 10.5 cm in length and tipping the scales at an average of 4 to 4.5 grams. This species is adorned with a straight black bill, and the males boast a resplendent metallic grass green plumage with a bronzy sheen on the uppertail coverts and a distinctive cinnamon rufous patch on the folded wing. The females, while also sporting grass green upperparts, have a more subdued brownish gray underparts with green speckling on the sides.

Identification Tips

To identify the Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, look for the male's dark bronze green tail feathers and the characteristic black and white pattern on the outer tail feathers, which gives this species its name. Females share a similar tail pattern but with additional dusky to black tips on the inner feathers. Subspecies variations include size differences and subtle changes in the underparts' coloration and tail feather markings.

Habitat

This species thrives in the edges and interiors of humid montane forests, semi-deciduous woodlands, and pine-oak forests, as well as in plantation areas. It is also known to inhabit areas from sea level up to 2,450 meters in elevation, depending on the geographic location.

Distribution

The Stripe-tailed Hummingbird is found from southeastern Mexico to Panama, with three subspecies distributed across this range. The northernmost subspecies, E. e. nelsoni, resides in the eastern Mexican states of Veracruz and Oaxaca, while the nominate subspecies, E. e. eximia, is found from Chiapas in Mexico to central Nicaragua. The E. e. egregia subspecies can be found in Costa Rica and western Panama.

Behaviour

Seasonal elevational movements are a characteristic of the Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, with breeding occurring in higher altitudes and post-breeding descent to lower elevations.

Song & calls

The vocal repertoire of the Stripe-tailed Hummingbird includes a series of squeaky, metallic notes followed by a low, insect-like trill and concluding with additional squeaks. Its calls are varied, featuring a liquid, rattling trill, a sharp, piercing "peet" or "bzeet," and a sharp buzz.

Breeding

Breeding seasons vary across the range, with April to August in Mexico and September to April in Costa Rica. The species constructs a cup nest adorned with lichens, often red, and typically positioned 1 to 3 meters above the ground near a stream. Clutch size is two eggs, though incubation and fledging periods remain undocumented.

Similar Species

While there are no similar species mentioned, it is important to note that the White-tailed Hummingbird and the Oaxaca Hummingbird have been considered additional subspecies by some authors.

Diet and Feeding

The Stripe-tailed Hummingbird forages for nectar throughout the forest canopy, favoring Inga trees, Acanthaceae and Rubiaceae shrubs, epiphytes, and the flowers of Clusia, Besleria, and Salvia. Males are known to aggressively defend flower patches, while females are more commonly found foraging in the understory.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Stripe-tailed Hummingbird as Least Concern, with no immediate threats identified. It is considered fairly common to common within its extensive range, though habitat loss, particularly in southern Mexico, could pose future risks.

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