Reddish Hermits

Hummingbird Information

Reddish Hermit


Reddish Hermit (Phaethornis ruber) The Reddish Hermit (Phaethornis ruber) - also known as Red-vented or Pygmy Hermit - is a South American Hermit (part of the hummingbird family).


Alternate (Global) Names:

Spanish: Ermitaño Rojizo; French: Ermite rousstre; German: Roter Zwergschattenkolibri; Italien: Colibrì del sole rossastro


Distribution / Range

The Reddish Hermit is found in Bolivia, south Brazil, Suriname, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, southern and eastern Venezuela, and in the Guianas (Caribbean and Atlantic coasts). Its natural habitats are primary humid forest and woodland areas. In Suriname, this hermit is often found in savanna forests.

In Brazil, they occur on the Atlantic coastal strip that extends from northeastern states Rio Grande do Norte and Paraíba in the north, to the southern São Paulo state.

They inhabit variety of habitats, including rainforests, wooded savannah, forest edges and thickets. They are often seen near their favored feeding plants, the Heliconia flowers.

They are sedentary throughout their range.

Reddish Hermit feeding


Sub-species & Ranges

Male Reddish Hermit or Red-vented or Pygmy Hermit (Phaethornis ruber)

      • Phaethornis ruber ruber (Linnaeus, 1758) - Nominate Race
        • Range: Surinam and French Guiana through Brazil to SE Peru and N Bolivia
        • Phaethornis ruber episcopus (Gould, 1857)
          • Range: C and E Venezuela, Guyana and adjacent N Brazil
        • Phaethornis ruber nigricinctus (Lawrence, 1858)
          • Range: Extreme SW Venezuela and E and S Colombia to N Peru
        • Phaethornis ruber longipennis (Berlepsch and Stolzmann, 1902)
          • Range: Southern Peru


The Reddish Hermit is one of the smallest hummingbirds measuring from 7.5 - 9 cm (3 - 3.5 inches) in length and weighing only about 2 grams (0.07 ounces).

The lower back and under plumage are cinnamon rufous colored. The male has a black spot, sometimes extending to a band across his chest. The bill is long with a slight down curve; the base of the lower bill (mandible) is yellow.

Reddish Hermit (Phaethornis ruber)


Reddish Hermit Nest Nesting / Breeding

Hummingbirds in general are solitary and neither live nor migrate in flocks; and there is no pair bond for this species - the male's only involvement in the reproductive process is the actual mating with the female.

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 Reddish Hermit is responsible for building the remarkable cone-shaped nest which hangs by a single strong string of spiders' silk and/or rootlets from some overhead support, which could be a branch or the underside of the broad leaves of primarily palms, such as Astrocaryum mumbaca, but also Heliconia plants, banana trees or ferns about 3 - 6 ft (1 - 2 m) above ground. However, these unusual nests have been found beneath bridges, in highway culverts and even hanging from roofs inside dark buildings.

The nest is often near a stream or waterfall. It is constructed 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 average clutch consists of 1 to 3 white eggs (mostly 2), which she incubates alone for about 15 - 17 days, 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 15 - 22 days old, but are still cared for the mother for several days after fledging.

Reddish Hermits


Male Reddish Hermit or Red-vented/Pygmy Hermit (Phaethornis ruber)Diet / Feeding

The Reddish Hermits 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).

Hermits are "trap-line feeders". This feeding techniques - as it relates to hummingbirds - entails visiting plants along a long route (in this case of up to 0.6 miles or 1 km). This differentiates them from most other hummingbird species which generally maintain feeding territories in areas that contain their favorite plants (those that contain flowers with high energy nectar), and they will aggressively protect those areas.

They use their long, 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


Please Note: The articles or images on this page are the sole property of the authors or photographers. Please contact them directly with respect to any copyright or licensing questions. Thank you.