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A photo of a Violet-crowned Hummingbird (Leucolia violiceps)
Violet-crowned Hummingbird

Violet-crowned Hummingbird

Leucolia violiceps

The Violet-crowned Hummingbird, known scientifically as Ramosomyia violiceps, is a member of the "emeralds", tribe Trochilini within the subfamily Trochilinae. This diminutive avian jewel measures between 10 to 11.5 cm in length and tips the scales at a mere 5.1 to 5.8 grams. Both sexes boast a striking bright red bill, which may occasionally feature a black tip, and exhibit a plumage that is a blend of intense violet-blue on the crown, with a more subdued grayish to greenish brown on the back and rump.

Identification Tips

To identify the Violet-crowned Hummingbird, look for the adult male's vibrant violet-blue crown and bluish violet hindneck, contrasted with a pure white underside extending from throat to undertail coverts, and light olive green flanks. The tail is a distinctive coppery bronze. Females are similar in appearance but generally display a slightly duller overall coloration. The subspecies R. v. ellioti males have a more turquoise blue crown and a greenish bronze tail, with females again being similar but duller.

Habitat

This hummingbird favors a variety of landscapes, including riparian corridors within thorn scrub, deciduous and pine-oak forests, fields, orchards, and even urban and suburban parks and gardens.

Distribution

The Violet-crowned Hummingbird is found in Mexico and the southwestern United States. The subspecies R. v. ellioti is more commonly seen in the northern range, from southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, extending into Mexico. The nominate subspecies, R. v. violiceps, is typically found in the southern part of its range, from eastern and southern Michoacán down into northwestern Oaxaca.

Behaviour

In the United States and parts of Mexico, these birds are mostly migratory, with some overwintering as far north as Arizona. They are considered sedentary from southern Sonora and Chihuahua, though they may move locally in search of food.

Song & Calls

The Violet-crowned Hummingbird's song is a series of very high, thin, descending notes, reminiscent of "seew seew seew seew seew," delivered from an exposed perch. Its calls vary, including a dry "tak" or "chap," or a hard "chip," "stik," or "tik," especially when interacting with other hummingbirds.

Breeding

Breeding season in Arizona and New Mexico spans from April to September, with nests typically found in Arizona sycamore trees. In Mexico, breeding occurs mostly between March and August, although nesting can happen at almost any time of year. Nests are crafted from soft plant down and spiderweb, adorned with lichen on the exterior, and usually contain two eggs. Incubation and fledging periods are not well documented.

Diet and Feeding

The Violet-crowned Hummingbird forages for nectar from a wide variety of flowering plants and shrubs, hovering as it feeds. It also consumes small insects, which it catches by hawking from a perch or by hover-gleaning from vegetation.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Violet-crowned Hummingbird as Least Concern. With an estimated population of two million mature individuals and a large range, the species is believed to be stable with no immediate threats identified.

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Violet-crowned Hummingbird Fun Facts

Did you know?
Violet-crowned Hummingbirds can live for over six years.

Violet-crowned Hummingbirds on Birda

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