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Species Guide
A photo of a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl)
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Amazilia tzacatl

The rufous-tailed hummingbird, Amazilia tzacatl, is a medium-sized member of the hummingbird family, Trochilidae, known for its distinctive chestnut-brown tail. This avian jewel measures between 9 to 11 cm in length and weighs around 5 grams, with males and females exhibiting slight variations in plumage.

Identification Tips

Adult males of the nominate subspecies boast a green crown and upperparts, save for the chestnut-brown lores and uppertail coverts. The tail is predominantly chestnut-brown with bronze-green tips. The throat and upper breast shimmer with green, and the lower breast transitions to gray, leading to a white belly and chestnut-brown undertail coverts. Females have a paler gray lower breast and more pronounced scalloping on the throat. Juveniles display a cinnamon wash on the lower breast and sides, with cinnamon-tipped lower back and rump feathers. The bill is a striking combination of black and red, with the outer half of the maxilla black and the inner half red, while the mandible is red with a black tip.


This species thrives in open landscapes such as clearings, gardens, and forest edges, as well as in low, brushy secondary forests. It is also a frequent visitor to feeders.


The rufous-tailed hummingbird is found from east-central Mexico through Central America and Colombia, extending into Ecuador and Venezuela. It occupies a range of elevations from sea level up to 2,500 meters in Ecuador, though such high altitudes may be seasonal or local.


Renowned for its territorial nature, the rufous-tailed hummingbird is a fierce defender of feeding territories, including flower patches and feeders, where it will chase away other hummingbirds and large insects.

Song & Calls

The species' vocalizations include a high, thin, and squeaky song composed of chirps and tsi sounds, as well as hard, smacking calls and dry chips that can merge into a rattling sound.


The rufous-tailed hummingbird is polygynous and may nest in loose colonies. The female single-handedly constructs a cup nest from plant fibers, leaves, and spiderwebs, adorned with lichens and mosses. She lays two white eggs, which she incubates for 15 to 19 days, with fledglings leaving the nest after another 18 to 22 days.

Similar Species

While there are several subspecies of the rufous-tailed hummingbird, they can be distinguished by size, bill shape, and coloration details. For example, A. t. handleyi is larger and darker, while A. t. fuscicaudata is smaller with a shorter bill.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists primarily of nectar and small insects. This hummingbird is a common sight in coffee and banana plantations and is known to frequent sugar water feeders.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the rufous-tailed hummingbird as Least Concern, with an estimated population of over five million mature individuals. The species may even benefit from certain human activities that create open spaces suitable for its habitat.

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