Skip to main content

Red-footed or Bronze-tailed Plumeleteers

Red-footed or Bronze-tailed Plumeleteers Red-footed Plumeleteer (Chalybura urochrysia)
Hummingbird Information ... Species Photo Gallery ... Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Garden

The Red-footed Plumeleteer (Chalybura urochrysia) - also known as Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer - is a large Central American hummingbird that is found from eastern Honduras to northwestern Ecuador.

It is usually found in forests, can also be seen along the forest edges and second-growth forests. In the Caribbean lowlands they typically occur up to an elevation of 2,300 feet or 700 m.

The Red-footed Plumeleteers are aggressive and territoria.

Common and Global Names:

Other Common English Names: Dusky Plumeteer, Gould's Plumeteer, Black-vented Plumeleteer, Dusky Plumeleteer, Ecuadorian Plumeleteer

Global Names: Spanish: Colibrí colibronceada, Colibrí Colibronceado, Colibrí Grande de Cola Bronceada, Colibrí Patirrojo; Italian: Colibì codaramata di Gould, Piumarolo codabronzo; French: Colibri à queue bronzée, Colibri à queue de bronze, Colibri à queue d'or; German: Bronzeschwanz-Buffonkolibri, Straußkolibri, Strauss-Kolibri; Czech: kolib?ík k?ivozobý, Kolibrík pštrosí; Danish: Bronzehalet Silkekolibri; Finnish: Pronssipyrstökolibri; Japanese: douirohachidori; Dutch: Bronsstaartpluimkolibrie, Bronsstaart-pluimkolibrie; Norwegian: Rødfotdungump; Polish: kwiaciarek rudosterny

Red-footed Plumeleteer (Chalybura urochrysia) Subspecies and Distribution:

  • Chalybura urochrysia urochrysia (Gould, 1861) - Nominate Race
    • Range: extreme southeastern Panama, north-central and western Colombia, and extreme northwestern Ecuador.

  • Black-vented/Dusky Plumeleteer (Chalybura urochrysia melanorrhoa Salvin, 1865 - Caribbean slope of Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
    • ID: Has a black, not bronze, tail.Note: By many authorities considered a separate species, but they hybridize (intergrade) with subspecies isaurae along the border of Costa Rica with Panama.
    Chalybura urochrysia isaurae (Gould, 1861)
    • Found on he Caribbean slope of Panama to extreme northwestern Colombia. Also found locally on Pacific slope in western and central Panama, and extensively in eastern Panama.
    Ecuadorian Plumeleteer (Chalybura urochrysia intermedia) (E. Hartert and C. Hartert, 1894)
    • Found in the subtropical zone of southwestern Ecuador.The intermedia race is geographically isolated race intermedia often placed in White-vented Plumeleteers (Chalybura buffonii); however, its mostly pinkish lower bill supports the treatment in present species. Needs verification.

Red-footed Plumeleteer (Chalybura urochrysia) Description:

The Red-footed Plumeleteer measures 4 inches or 11 cm long. The female is slightly smaller than the male. She averages 0.21 oz (6 g) in weight, and the male 0.24 ounces oz (7 g).

Both males and females have pink or red feet, for which they have been named..

The adult male hasa a glossy bronze-green upper plumage and green under plumage. He has a dusky lower belly. His tail is either bronzed or purple-black colored, depending on subspecies.

The adult female has a glossy bronze-green upper plumage and is grey below. On the sides, there is some green speckling. Her dusky bronze tail has grey corners.

Immature birds resemble the adult, but have buff feather tips to the head, neck and rump feathers.

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 Red-footed Plumeleteer is responsible for building a deep cup-shaped nest out of plant fibers woven together and green moss on the outside for camouflage in a protected location about 5 ft or 1.5 m high in a small scrub. 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.

Red-footed PlumeleteerCall / Vocalization:

The Red-footed Plumeleteer's call has been described as a high metallic chip call; and the male’s song as a soft ter-pleeleeleelee ter-pleeleeleelee ter-pleeleeleelee ter-pleee.

Diet / Feeding

The Red-footed Plumeleteers 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.

The male Red-footed Plumeleteer is known for defending large clumps of Heliconia and other large flowers.

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.