The Stripe-tailed Hummingbirds (Eupherusa eximia) occur naturally in Middle America.
They are closely related to the Mexican Blue-capped Hummingbirds (also known as Oaxaca Hummingbirds) and White-tailed Hummingbird (Eupherusa poliocerca), which are sometimes considered subspecies.
Distribution / Habitat
The Stripe-tailed Hummingbirds occur along the Gulf slope from southeastern Mexico south through Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica to Panama.
They are mostly found in pre-montane and lower montane forests and adjacent clearings.
Subspecies and Ranges
Stripe-tailed Hummingbird (Eupherusa eximia eximia) – Delattre, 1843) – Nominate Form
Range: Extreme southeastern Mexico south through the highlands to central Nicaragua.
Stripe-tailed Hummingbird (ssp. nelsoni) (Eupherusa eximia nelsoni – Ridgway, 1910)
Range: Eastern and southeastern Mexico.
Stripe-tailed Hummingbird (ssp. egregia) (Eupherusa eximia egregia – Sclater,PL and Salvin, 1868)
Range: Found in the highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama.
These small hummingbirds measure around 3.5 inches or 8.89 cm in length (measured from tip of bill to end of tail) and weigh between 0.14 – 0.17 oz (4 – 5 g).
Plumage Details / Adults
Males have a mostly metallic green plumage, except for conspicuous bronzy upper wing patches, whitish vent and two pairs of the two pairs of the long flight feathers (rectrices) on the side of the tail have white inner webs and black or partly black outer webs.
Females and juveniles are whitish / pale grey below (throat, chest, abdomen).
Diet / Feeding
The Stripe-tailed Hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, scented small flowers of trees, herbs, shrubs and epiphytes.
They favor flowers with the highest sugar content (often red-colored and tubular-shaped) and seek out, and aggressively protect, those areas containing flowers with high energy nectar. They use their long, extendible, straw-like tongues to retrieve the nectar while hovering with their tails cocked upward as they are licking at the nectar up to 13 times per second. Sometimes they may be seen hanging on the flower while feeding.
Many native and cultivated plants on whose flowers these birds feed heavily rely on them for pollination. The mostly tubular-shaped flowers actually exclude most bees and butterflies from feeding on them and, subsequently, from pollinating the plants.
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They may also visit local hummingbird feeders for some sugar water, or drink out of bird baths or water fountains where they will either hover and sip water as it runs over the edge; or they will perch on the edge and drink – like all the other birds; however, they only remain still for a short moment.
They also take some small spiders and insects – important sources of protein particularly needed during the breeding season to ensure the proper development of their young. Insects are often caught in flight (hawking); snatched off leaves or branches, or are taken from spider webs. A nesting female can capture up to 2,000 insects a day.
Males establish feeding territories, where they aggressively chase away other males as well as large insects – such as bumblebees and hawk moths – that want to feed in their territory. They use aerial flights and intimidating displays to defend their territories.
Males are fiercely territorial. Aerial battles between males are frequently observed and are usually very entertaining to the observer. Even though males will defend the flowers and scrubs in their feeding territories against other male hummingbirds; they usually tolerate females.
Breeding / Nesting
Hummingbirds are solitary in all aspects of life other than breeding; and the male’s only involvement in the reproductive process is the actual mating with the female. They neither live nor migrate in flocks; and there is no pair bond for this species. Males court females by flying in a u-shaped pattern in front of them. He will separate from the female immediately after copulation. One male may mate with several females. In all likelihood, the female will also mate with several males. The males do not participate in choosing the nest location, building the nest or raising the chicks.
The female is responsible for building the bulky cup-shaped nest out of plant fibers woven together and green moss on the outside for camouflage in a protected location. She lines the nest with soft plant fibers, animal hair and feather down, and strengthens the structure with spider webbing and other sticky material, giving it an elastic quality to allow it to stretch to double its size as the chicks grow and need more room. The nest is typically found on a low, thin horizontal branch.
The average clutch consists of two white eggs (about the size of coffee beans), which she incubates alone for about 15 – 19 days, while the male defends his territory and the flowers he feeds on. The female alone protects and feeds the chicks with regurgitated food (mostly insects since nectar is an insufficient source of protein for the growing chicks). As is the case with other hummingbird species, the chicks are brooded only the first week or two, and left alone even on cooler nights after about 12 days – probably due to the small nest size. The chicks leave the nest when they are about 20 – 26 days old.
Calls / Vocalizations / Sounds
Alternate (Global) Names
Chinese: ???? … Czech: Kolibrík páskovaný … Danish: Stribehalet Kolibri … Dutch: Streepstaartkolibrie … Finnish: Sälepyrstökolibri … French: Colibri à épaulettes… German: Streifenschwanzeupherusa, Streifenschwanzkolibri … Italian: Colibrì codastriata … Japanese: kurosujiojirohachidori …Norwegian: Stripehalekolibri … Polish: Diamencik pregostern … Russian: ??????????????? ???????? … Slovak: kolibrík pásochvostý … Spanish: Calibrí / Colibri Colirrayado, Colibrí Cola Rayada, Colirrayado, Colibrí Colirrayado, Colibrí de Cola Rayada … Swedish: Strimstjärtad kolibri