Green-fronted Lancebills

Hummingbird Information

Green-fronted Lancebill (Doryfera ludovicae)


Green-fronted Lancebill (Doryfera ludovicae) The Green-fronted Lancebill (Doryfera ludovicae) is a hummingbird that occurs naturally in the South and Central American countries of Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.

They are fairly common in humid and wet forest ravines and along forest borders at elevations of 4,600 - 8,900 feet (1,400 - 2,700 m) or 2,950 - 6,900 feet on the Pacific slope.

The related Blue-fronted Lancebill occurs at lower elevations from 1,300 - 5,200 ft (400 - 1600 m).


Subspecies and Distribution:

      • Doryfera ludovicae ludovicae (Bourcier and Mulsant, 1847) - Nominate Race
        • Found in extreme eastern Panama (Cerro Tacarcuna), Colombia and western Venezuela south through Andes to northwestern Bolivia (eastern slope only from central Ecuador southwards).

      • Doryfera ludovicae veraguensis (Salvin, 1867)
        • Found in north-central Costa Rica to western Panama

Green-fronted Lancebill (Doryfera ludovicae)

Green-fronted Lancebill (Doryfera ludovicae) Alternate (Global) Names

Spanish: Colibrí Picolanza Mayor, Pico de lanza frentiverde, Pico de Lanza Mayor, Pico-de-lanza Frentiverde ... Italian: Beccodilancia fronteverde, Lanciere fronteverde ... French: Porte-lance de Louise ... German: Grünstirn-Lanzettschnabel ... Czech: Kolibrík zelenocelý, kolib?ík zeleno?elý ... Danish: Grøn Lansenæb ... Finnish: Vuoripistinkolibri ... Japanese: midoribitaiyarihachidori ... Dutch: Groenvoorhoofdlancetkolibrie, Groenvoorhoofd-lancetkolibrie ... Norwegian: Grønnpannelansenebb ... Russian: ???????????? ??????????? ... Slovak: jagavicka zelenocelá ... Swedish: Grönbröstad lansnäbb



The Green-fronted Lancebills are about 4" (10.2 cm) long, including the 1.4" or 36 mm slender and straight bill.

The upper plumage is metallic green, more greyish-green below. The upper tail feathers are bluish. The tail is steely blue-black tipped grey.

The head of both the male and female often look dull and brownish - particularly in low light conditions.

The female's plumage is dull, except for the glittering green frontlet. The rest of her crown is bronzy-colored.

Similar species: They resemble the related Blue-fronted Lancebill, but are generally larger. The males are much darker with a violet frontlet compared to the green frontlet of the Green-fronted Lancebill. The females can be distinguished from the female Blue-fronted Lancebill by her larger size, shorter bill, and dull (no coppery) rearcrown. The Green-fronted Lancebill occurs at higher elevations than the Blue-fronted Lancebill.


Green-fronted Lancebill (Doryfera ludovicae) Nest Nesting / Breeding

The Green-fronted Lancebills have been observed breeding in July through October with a second brood in December through January.

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 Green-fronted Lancebill is responsible for building the cup nest made from fiber and rootlets 5 - 66 ft (1.5 - 20 m) up on a rocky cave ledge. She lines the nest with moss, 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 average clutch consists of one to 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.


Green-fronted Lancebill (Doryfera ludovicae) Diet / Feeding

The Green-fronted Lancebills 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.

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.


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Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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