Conservation Status

Nine hummingbird species are listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as Critically Endangered, facing an extremely high risk of extinction, dying out, in the wild. Eleven species are Endangered, facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild, and nine are Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction. Threats to hummingbirds include loss of habitat as trees are cut down for lumber or land is used for farming.


Glaucis hirsuta


Physical characteristics: Hairy hermits are also called rufous-breasted hermits. Rufous is the reddish brown color on the hummingbirds' chests and lower feathers. Upper feathers are green. Males have darker chests, and their wings are longer than female birds. All birds' bills curve down, but males' bills curve more.

Hairy hermits measure 4 to 4.7 inches (10 to 12 centimeters). Males weigh 0.21 to 0.28 ounces (6 to 8 grams). Females weigh from 0.19 to 0.26 ounces (5.5 to 7.5 grams).

Geographic range: Hairy hermits live in South America and are found in countries including Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Suriname, Panama, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago.

Habitat: Hairy hermits live in rainforests, other wooded areas, and wetland.

Diet: Birds drink nectar and sometimes eat small spiders.

Behavior and reproduction: Hairy hermits are solitary unless breeding. During the day the birds eat. They also bathe by hovering close to water and then diving in partly or all the way.

Hairy hermits are trapliners, they look for food in a large area instead of a small territory. Traplin-ers usually follow a regular route, line, to flowers, their traps.

During the breeding season, males form a lek, a group of up to twelve birds. Males sing so that females will choose them for mating. After breeding, the male leaves. The female flies to a nest located under leaves, hidden from predators like snakes and larger birds.

The cone-shaped nest is made of plant material. The female lays two eggs. Sometimes two females will share a nest, so there may be more eggs in the nest. The female incubates the eggs, which hatch after seventeen to nineteen days. Chicks are black with gray down, soft "baby" feathers. Birds fledge, growing feathers needed for flight, in twenty to twenty-five days. Fledglings stay with their mother for three to four weeks.

The breeding season varies by location. Birds mate in September through May in Brazil and from January to July in Trinidad.

Hairy hermits and people: People travel to see hairy hermits in places like Machu Picchu, the ruins of an ancient city in Peru.

Conservation status: Hairy hermits are not threatened with extinction.

Hairy hermits mostly drink nectar, but may also eat small spiders. (Illustration by Patricia Ferrer. Reproduced by permission.)
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