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10 Fascinating Facts About the Versicolored Emerald Hummingbird

Versicolored Emerald, Chrysuronia versicolor, is a bird species that belongs to the Hummingbird family, Trochilidae. This medium-sized bird is found in Central and South America, primarily in highland forests and clearings.

The Versicolored Emerald is an attractive bird with a range of unique physical features.



Identification: To identify the Versicolored Emerald in the field, you need to consider its physical features. This species is 9.5 – 11cm long, with a wingspan of 12-14cm.

They have a prominent, straight bill that is long and thin, ideal for extracting nectar from flowers. The male Versicolored Emerald has a green head, back, and underparts.

The throat and underparts feature a vibrant red or purple color, while its closed wings are blue. The female is less conspicuous, with a greenish-gray back and belly, and a pale throat.

Similar Species: Some members of the Trochilidae family bear a striking resemblance to the Versicolored Emerald. For example, the female White-tailed Goldenthroat has a similar shape, wings, and tail, but lacks the bright upper throat feathers of the female Versicolored Emerald.

The male Rufous-tailed Hummingbird has a similar shape and size as the male Versicolored Emerald, but its bill and tail are longer.


The Versicolored Emerald has three distinctive plumages: the juvenile, the female, and the male. Juvenile: The juvenile Versicolored Emerald is mostly the same as the adult female, but with paler plumage and less prominent throat feathers.

Female: The female’s plumage is greenish-gray on the back and belly, and its patchy front holds white spots that are difficult to see even in good light. It provides better camouflage for the nests where they lay long, white eggs.

Male: The male Versicolored Emerald is the most colorful in this species. His feathers are generally metallic green, especially on the head and back of the neck.

The bird’s throat feathers, however, may switch through a rainbow of blue, purple, and green, and are one of the primary ways to differentiate the male bird from the female and juvenile.


Like other bird species, the Versicolored Emerald undergoes different molts throughout its life cycle. Juvenile molt: The juvenile changes into adult plumage through a partial molt that takes place in the fall of its first year.

Basic molt: The adult male bird molts from his colorful breeding plumage into a duller winter plumage. At the end of the non-breeding period, the male executes a complete molt that takes approximately 200 days.

Alternative molt: The male bird molts back into the bright breeding plumage after the period of the basic molt. The bright feathers are typically produced during the rainy season, giving the bird the best coloring for courtship displays.

In conclusion, the Versicolored Emerald is a bird species worthy of attention from birdwatchers and enthusiasts. To identify it in the field, it is essential to pay attention to its distinctive physical features and unique plumages.

As a species that undergoes different molts throughout its life cycle, it is crucial to observe the bird closely to differentiate them. By maintaining forest habitats where Versicolored Emeralds live, we can help to preserve this fascinating species for future generations.

Systematics history refers to the study of taxonomy that attempts to identify and classify organisms based on their evolutionary history, genetic makeup, and anatomical characteristics. Studying the systematics of animals, in particular, birds, is vital to better understand their evolution and geographic distribution, providing insights into the changes that take place over time.

In this article, we will delve further into the systematics history of the Versicolored Emerald (Chrysuronia versicolor).

Geographic Variation

Geographic variation, also known as regional variation, refers to the differences or variations that exist among individuals of a species found in different geographical regions. The Versicolored Emerald is widespread in its distribution from Mexico to Brazil and Argentina, and as such, it displays a considerable variation in morphology and coloration, depending on its location and habitat.


The Versicolored Emerald has various subspecies that exhibit unique morphologies. These subspecies are divided based on their physical features and the location they reside in.

The classification of subspecies is essential in the study of birds as it offers insights into their geographic range and evolutionary process. The following are the subspecies of the Versicolored Emerald:


C. v.

versicolor: This is the nominotypical subspecies and is found in eastern Panama, Central and northwest South America. 2.

C. v.

emmae: Found in South Panama and west Colombia

3. C.

v. simplex: Occupy the eastern part of its range, from eastern Venezuela to the east of Brazil.

4. C.

v. viridicauda: Found in east Brazil, from Rondonia to Espirito Santo.

5. C.

v. colombiana: Occur in western Colombia

Related Species

The Trochilidae family, also known as hummingbirds, is the closest related family to the Versicolored Emerald. The Versicolored Emerald is a part of the Chlorostilbon clade of hummingbirds, which are known for their iridescent feathers and long, slender bills.

Within the Chlorostilbon genus, the closest relatives of the Versicolored Emerald include the Blue-tailed Emerald, Blue-chinned Sapphire, and Lesser Goldfinch.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The distribution of the Versicolored Emerald has changed over time as a result of several factors such as climate change and habitat fragmentation, leading to the isolation of populations. Historical changes to distribution provide insights into the evolution and history of the species.

Here are some observations:

1. During the last ice age, the range of the Versicolored Emerald was more extensive than it is today.

The bird’s range likely extended northward, up to the southern United States, based on fossil evidence discovered during excavations. 2.

The existence of historical rivers, such as the Marica, that flowed across Brazil and separated populations into different geographic locations, has promoted the development of several distinct subspecies in the region. 3.

The distribution of the Versicolored Emerald in the Andes has been affected by climate change, with populations moving either uphill, or toward the coast, based on the changes in temperature and precipitation patterns over time. 4.

Human activities, such as deforestation, have caused a decline in the bird’s population in certain regions, making it extremely difficult to monitor the range of the subspecies over time. In conclusion, the systematics history of the Versicolored Emerald is a fascinating area of study.

The geographic variation, subspecies distinctions, and related species information provide a deeper understanding of the bird’s dynamic evolutionary history. Historical changes to its distribution provide insight into the bird’s adaptation to changing environments over time and the impact of habitat loss and human interference.

As we continue to learn more about the Versicolored Emerald, we can work to prevent the decline of populations that have already been affected by human activities.

Habitat plays a significant role in the life cycle of birds and is essential to their survival. The Versicolored Emerald (Chrysuronia versicolor) is a medium-sized bird species that lives in the tropical and subtropical forests of Central and South America.

In this article, we will discuss in detail the habitat, movements, and migration patterns of the Versicolored Emerald.


The Versicolored Emerald prefers a variety of habitats that include forests, both primary and secondary. It is also known to inhabit abandoned farmland, gardens, and parks.

In particular, it occurs at high altitudes in Ecuador and in the Andean forest from Peru to Bolivia. These habitats provide different resources for the bird, including food, nest sites, and shelter.

The bird’s primary food sources are nectar from flowering plants and small insects such as spiders, flies, and moths. They prefer to feed on red and orange flowers, plants with tubular flowers, and those located in the lower to middle forest canopy.

Although the Versicolored Emerald is not known for its vocalization, it uses physical displays to attract mates and ward off predators. They have a unique vocalization where the male makes a whistling sound, while the female makes a slightly rougher croak.

Movements and Migration

The movement and migration patterns of the Versicolored Emerald are dependent on the availability of resources. As a short-distance migrant bird, the Versicolored Emerald changes location within its range between non-breeding and breeding seasons.

Non-breeding Season: During the non-breeding season, which lasts from August to November, the bird descends from the higher altitudes to the lower regions of its range. At this time, food, especially nectar, is readily available as it coincides with the rainy season.

The bird becomes more visible during this period, leading to higher chances of spotting it. Breeding Season: The breeding season of the Versicolored Emerald varies within its different ranges.

In the northern parts, especially Costa Rica and Mexico, breeding occurs from January to July. In the southern parts, breeding often occurs from August to December.

During the breeding season, the males defend their territories using physical displays and vocalization to attract females. Once they pair, the female builds a small cup-shaped nest using soft materials such as plant fibers, spider webs, and lichens.

They are aggressive guardians of their nests and will attack perceived threats with their beaks. The incubation period takes about two weeks, after which the eggs hatch, and the young are vulnerable to attacks from predators.

They remain in the nest for about three weeks before they can fly. Once the young birds are fledged, they become independent of their parents.

In conclusion, the Versicolored Emerald’s habitat is critical to its survival, as it provides the required resources for their survival, including food, nesting, and shelter sites. The bird’s movement and migration patterns occur within its range, where it changes location between breeding and non-breeding seasons.

Understanding this bird’s movement and migration patterns is essential to its conservation, as it helps in monitoring of population and identifying changes in its distribution. As such, it is crucial that conservation efforts focus on preserving the bird’s natural habitat, especially for forest-dependent species like the Versicolored Emerald, to ensure their continued existence.

The Versicolored Emerald (Chrysuronia versicolor) is a neotropical hummingbird species found in the tropical forests of Central and South America. In this article, we will delve into the bird’s diet and foraging behavior as well as its vocalization and behavioral communication.

Diet and Foraging

Feeding: The Versicolored Emerald feeds on nectar from a variety of flowering plants, insects, and spiders. They have long, curved, and slender bills that perfectly suit the extraction of nectar from tubular and elongated flowers.

They use their long tongues to extract nectar from flowers, which they supplement with insects and spiders to provide essential nutrients, proteins, and lipids. They prefer to feed on flowers of the Rubiaceae, Asteraceae, and Bromeliaceae families.

Diet: The Versicolored Emerald’s diet is mainly composed of nectar, fruits, and insects. The fruits they consume include bananas, guavas, and papayas.

They also consume small insects such as gnats, spiders, mosquitoes, and moths. They maintain their metabolism high, which enables them to process the nectar quickly and extract the high amount of calories they need to maintain their hyperactive lifestyle.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation: Hummingbirds are endothermic, and as such, they regulate their body temperature through metabolic heat production. They maintain their metabolic rate high by feeding frequently on high-calorie foods such as nectar and insects, which they can process quickly to produce the required energy.

They are known to have one of the highest metabolic rates of any bird species, enabling them to maintain high-energy activities such as hovering and high-speed flight. Hummingbirds also have unique adaptations to regulate their body temperature, such as their feathers, which trap air around their bodies to reduce heat loss.

They also pant heavily to release extra heat and use their wings to cool down by fanning themselves.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Vocalization: While the Versicolored Emerald is not known for its singing abilities, it is capable of producing vocalizations that play a role in communication. The bird’s unique physical displays and vocalization communicate its territorial boundaries and attract potential mates.

The male makes a whistling sound, which is the primary means of vocal communication. They use a variety of sound patterns to communicate varying messages, including territorial communications and defensive behaviours.

The female, who is less colourful and conspicuous, makes a slightly rougher croak to communicate with the male. Interestingly, although the sound produced by each individual Versicolored Emerald is unique, the frequency of each bird’s sound is distinct.

This may explain how individuals in a species recognize each other and communicate, in addition to existing visual cues. In summary, the Versicolored Emerald’s diet and foraging behaviour depend on the availability of food resources.

They feed on nectar, fruits, and small insects to meet their high-energy requirements. The bird’s highly efficient metabolism enables them to process food quickly and regulate their body temperature through specific adaptations.

Although not known for its singing abilities, the Versicolored Emerald communicates through unique vocalizations, which are essential in territorial marking and attracting mates. Understanding the unique feeding and vocal behavior of the Versicolored Emerald provides valuable insight into its evolutionary history, adaptations, and interactions with the environment.

The behavior of the Versicolored Emerald (Chrysuronia versicolor), like that of other bird species, is essential in understanding their ecological niche, population dynamics, and breeding biology. In this article, we will explore in detail the bird’s Locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, sexual behavior, breeding, and demography and population.

Locomotion: The Versicolored Emerald is known for its unique hovering ability that enables it to remain stationary in mid-air while feeding or searching for enemies. They can also fly forward or backward, climb and dive, allowing them to access flowers, which are harder to reach for other bird species.

The bird’s wings can beat up to 80 times per second, providing the necessary lift to maintain stable flight. Self-maintenance: Hummingbirds, including the Versicolored Emerald, have unique self-maintenance behaviors such as preening and bathing.

Preening involves using the beak and tongue to clean and maintain their feathers, which is essential for insulation, aerodynamics, and waterproofing. Bathing involves placing themselves under the falling water to clean their feathers, remove parasites, and regulate body temperature.

Agonistic Behavior: Agonistic behavior in birds refers to behaviors that are exhibited during confrontations or competition for resources and mates. The Versicolored Emerald is territorial and engages in aggressive behavior during such competitions.

They use physical displays, such as flaring of tail feathers, vocal displays, and chasing to defend their territory and deter intruders. Sexual Behavior: Sexual behavior in Versicolored Emeralds involves a unique set of actions aimed at attracting, attracting a mate, and defending territory.

The male bird uses courtship behaviors such as nuptial flights, which are displays of aerial acrobatics, and vocalizations to attract the female. Once paired, the bird builds a small, cup-shaped nest made of soft materials such as plant fibers and spider webs.

Breeding: The breeding behavior of the Versicolored Emerald varies within its different ranges. In the northern regions, the bird breeds from January to July, while breeding in the southern areas occurs from August to December.

The female incubates the eggs for around two weeks, after which the chicks are hatched. The young birds remain in the nest for about three weeks before they can fly and become independent of their parents.

Population and Demography: The population dynamics of the Versicolored Emerald depend on various factors such as habitat loss, predation, and climate change. Although their population is currently stable, habitat destruction, climate change, and the fragmentation of their range could cause a decline in their population.

Owing to the bird’s large range, the species shows a low level of genetic differentiation and genetic diversity between populations. In conclusion, Versicolored Emeralds exhibit unique behaviors that are essential in understanding their ecology, reproductive success, and population dynamics.

The bird’s hovering ability, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, and sexual behavior are important factors in their survival and welfare. The bird’s breeding biology, along with its population demography, is vital in understanding the bird’s status, monitoring and conservation efforts.

Through proper management of their habitats, including protecting nesting areas and reducing human-introduced disturbances, we can ensure the survival of the Versicolored Emerald for future generations. The Versicolored Emerald is a fascinating bird species found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Central and South America.

In this complete article, we have explored the bird’s unique physical features, plumages, subspecies, geographic variation, systematics history, habitat, movements, and migration patterns, diet, foraging, self-maintenance, agonistic, and sexual behaviors, breeding biology, and population dynamics. Understanding these topics is essential to developing conservation strategies and ensuring the survival of this bird species.

Managers, policymakers, and birdwatchers must work together

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