Volcano Hummingbirds

Hummingbird Information

Male Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula)

Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula)The Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula) - also known as Rose-throated Flamebearer or Rose-throated Hummingbird - is a Central American hummingbird that occurs naturally only in the mountains of Costa Rica and Chiriqui, Panama, where it inhabits open brushy areas, paramo, as well as the edges of elfin forest at altitudes from 1850 m (~ 6,070) to the highest peaks.

At lower elevations, this species is replaced by the related the Scintillant Hummingbird (Selasphorus scintilla).


Alternate (Global) Names:

Spanish: Chispita Volcanera, Colibrí Volcanero ... French: Colibri flammule ... Italian: Colibrì dei vulcani ... German: Kirschkehlkolibri, Vulkanelfe, Weikehlkolibri, Weinkehlkolibri ... Finnish: Ruusukurkkukolibri ... Danish: Selasphorus simoni, Vulkandværgkolibri ... Dutch: Vulkaankolibrie ... Czech: Kolibrík vulkánový, kolib?ík vulkánový ... Norwegian: Vulkankolibri ... Polish: rudaczek kryzowany ...Russian: ??????????? ?????????? ... Slovak: cmelovec vulkánový ... Swedish: Vulkankolibri ... Japanese: baraerifutoohachidori, ??????????? ... Chinese: ?????


Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula) - FemaleSubspecies and Distribution:

    • Selasphorus flammula flammula (Salvin, 1865) - Nominate Race
      • Range: Central Costa Rica (Volcanes Irazú and Turrialba)

    • Selasphorus flammula simoni (Carriker, 1910)
      • Range: Central Costa Rica (Volcanes Poás and Barba)
    • Selasphorus flammula torridus (Salvin, 1870)
      • Range: Southern Costa Rica (Cordillera de Talamanca) and extreme western Panama


This small hummingbird averages only 7.5 cm or ~ 3 inches in length. The male weighs about 2.5 g (0.08 oz) and the female about 2.8 g (0.09 oz) . Their bill is black, short and straight.

Adult males have bronze-green upperparts and rufous-edged black outer tail feathers. The underparts are mostly white. There are some regional differences in their markings:

        • In the Talamanca range, the male's throat is grey-purple;in the Poas-Barva mountains, the male's throat is red;in the Irazú-Turrialba area, the male's throat is pink-purple.

Adult females look like males, but the throat is white with dusky spots.

Immature birds resemblefemales except they have buff fringes to the upper plumage.

Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula) - Female sitting on nest


Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula)Nesting / Breeding

The female alone is responsible for building the nest and incubating the eggs. The nest is usually a tiny plant-down cup about 1-5 m high placed in a scrub or on a root below a south or east facing bank.

The average clutch consists of 2 white eggs. The incubation period is about 15 to 19 days. The young fledge when they are about 20 - 26 days old.

During the breeding season, the male perches conspicuously in open areas with flowers and defends his feeding territory aggressively with diving displays.


Diet / Feeding

The Volcano Hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, scented small flowers of trees, herbs, shrubs and epiphytes - favoring Salvia and Fuchsia. 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.

Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula) - Female 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

Calls / Vocalizations

This hummingbird is generally quiet. Its call sounds like whistled teeeeuu.

Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula) - Female

Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula) - femaleVolcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula)

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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