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Coppery-naped Puffleg

Hummingbird Information

Coppery-naped Puffleg (Eriocnemis sapphiropygia)

Coppery-naped Puffleg (Eriocnemis sapphiropygia) The Coppery-naped Puffleg (Eriocnemis sapphiropygia) - also sometimes (mistakenly) referred to as Sapphire-vented Puffleg - is a South American hummingbird.

Some authorities include the Coppery-naped Puffleg as a subspecies of the Sapphire-vented Puffleg (Eriocnemis luciani), but morphological (physical) differences support treatment as separate species.

Alternate (Global) Names

Spanish: Calzadito Colilargo Sureño ... French: Érione à nuque d'or, Érione à ventre bleu ... German: Kupfernacken-Höschenkolibri ... Latin: Eriocnemis luciani sapphiropygia, Eriocnemis luciani sapphiropygia/cathatina, Eriocnemis sapphiropygia ... Czech: kolib?ík m?d?notýlý ... Danish: Kobbernakket Kvastben ... Norwegian: Kobbernakkedunfot ... Slovak: pancuchárik medenotylý ... Swedish: Kopparnackad tofsbena

Distribution / Range

The Coppery-naped Pufflegs occur naturally in the Andes in Peru, where it is found along the wet montane forest edge at an altitude between 2,000 - 4,000 m (~6,500 - 13,000 ft) .

Coppery-naped Puffleg (Eriocnemis sapphiropygia)\ Subspecies and Distribution

    • Eriocnemis sapphiropygia sapphiropygia (Taczanowski, 1874) - Nominate Race
      • Range: East Andes of central and south Peru (Pasco and Junín to Puno).
        • [Eriocnemis sapphiropygia marcapatae] - Disputed Race
          • Range: Southeastern PeruMostly identical to the nominate race.

    • Eriocnemis sapphiropygia catharina Salvin, 1897
      • Range: Eastern Andes of northern Peru (Utcubamba Valley).


The Coppery-naped Pufflegs averages 4.25 inches (10.8 cm) in length, including the 2 inch (5 cm) forked, dark blue tail and the 1 1/8 inch (2.9 cm) straight, black bill.

The upper plumage is bronzy green, turning pure green on the rump and upper tail feathers. It has been named for the coppery sheen to its nape (back of the neck). The wings are publish-black. The under plumage is glittering green. The under tail feathers are a glossy sapphire blue.

It has distinctive small white eye spots and snow-white dense feathering around the legs known as "leg puffs" (which are not always visible). These leg puffs are unique to the pufflegs and have been described as resembling "woolly panties" or "little cotton balls" above the legs,

Calls / Vocalizations

Like most hummingbirds, they are mostly silent. Their occasional calls (often given after taking flight) are described as a monotonous repeated metallic "tsip tsip tsip".

Coppery-naped Puffleg (Eriocnemis sapphiropygia) Nesting / Breeding

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 Coppery-naped Puffleg is responsible for building the cup-shaped nest out of plant fibers woven together and green moss on the outside for camouflage in a protected location in a shrub, bush or tree. 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, which she incubates alone, while the male defends his territory and the flowers he feeds on. The young are born blind, immobile and without any down.

The female alone protects and feeds the chicks with regurgitated food (mostly partially-digested insects since nectar is an insufficient source of protein for the growing chicks). The female pushes the food down the chicks' throats with her long bill directly into their stomachs.

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 days old.

Emerald-bellied Puffleg (Eriocnemis aline) - Peru

Diet / Feeding

The Coppery-naped Pufflegs 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.

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.

Metabolism and Survival and Flight Adaptions - Amazing Facts

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson

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