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5 Fascinating Facts About the Andean Emerald Bird

Have you ever spotted a vibrant green bird hovering around flowers? That’s likely to be the Andean Emerald, a beautifully colored hummingbird species native to South America.

In this article, we will explore the identification, plumages, and molts of the Andean Emerald bird.


The Andean Emerald bird is a small hummingbird species, measuring up to 9cm in length and weighing around 4g. Males and females have different colorations.

The male Andean Emerald has vibrant green feathers on its back and wings, while its throat and face are a metallic green. On the other hand, the female Andean Emerald bird is less bright, with a duller green on its back and wings, and a white throat and underbelly.



In the wild, the Andean Emerald bird is easily recognizable with its unique physical features and flight patterns. When in flight, they beat their wings rapidly, hovering mid-air, and then swooping to reach the nectar of the flowers they feed on.

They also have a distinct high-pitched chirping call that can help identify them from other birds.

Similar Species

The Andean Emerald bird can be confused with other hummingbird species, particularly the Green Thorntail and the Green-crowned Brilliant. Both have similar body shapes and feather patterns, but their beak size and coloration set them apart.

The Green Thorntail has a longer beak with a purple iridescence, while the Green-crowned Brilliant has a metallic green crown and blue-purple abdomen.


Like most birds, the Andean Emerald goes through different plumages in its lifetime. During the breeding season, males display brighter colors than females to attract potential mates.

Both males and females moult annually, typically after the breeding season, just before their winter migration.


The molting process appears in different stages, marking the replacement of feathers. In the prebasic stage, birds replace body feathers, mainly tail, and wing coverts.

During the prealternate stage, they replace colorful breeding feathers. The male Andean Emerald has an iridescent gorget only during the breeding season, and loses it during the prealternate molt.

However, once the prealternate molt is over, the male regains its brilliant green color in preparation for breeding season. In conclusion, the Andean Emerald bird is a delightful species to observe in the wild.

Its characteristics, including its vibrant coloration, hovering flight pattern, and distinct chirping call, make it easy to spot in the wild. It’s also a year-round resident of mountainous regions of South America, making it an ideal specimen for bird enthusiasts.

With this article exploring the identification, plumages, and molts of the Andean Emerald, you are now equipped with information that will help you with the identification of this beautiful bird. The Andean Emerald bird is a remarkable hummingbird species, belonging to the trochilidae family.

It is found across the Andes mountains of South America, where it breeds year-round. In this expansion, we will explore the historical background of the Andean Emerald bird, its geographic variation, subspecies, related species, and historical changes to its distribution.

Systematics History

The Andean Emerald bird was first described by Charles Dumont de Sainte Croix in the late 18th century. The bird’s genus name, Uranomitra, is derived from the Greek word “ouranos,” meaning sky or heaven, and “mitra,” meaning head-covering.

The species name, franciae, was given in honor of the French zoologist, Auguste Franck. The Andean Emerald bird has undergone taxonomic changes over time.

Previously, it was classified as a member of the genus Polyonymus, which was subsequently reclassified to Chrysuronia before being placed in Uranomitra.

Geographic Variation

The Andean Emerald bird has notable geographic variation in its appearance and behavior. Birds from the north Andes have a more metallic-colored throat and bronzy lower back compared to their southern counterparts.

Additionally, individuals from the eastern Andes are generally larger than those from the west. These variations in coloration and size can be attributed to genetic differences and environmental influences across the Andes Mountains.


There are eight recognized subspecies of the Andean Emerald bird, differentiated by their geographic location and physical characteristics.


Uranomitra franciae intermedia: ranges from western Venezuela to central Colombia and has a green head and back.


Uranomitra franciae franciae: found in northern and central Colombia with a metallic blue head.


Uranomitra franciae aequatorialis: located in the eastern Andes of Colombia and Ecuador with a broad metallic green gorget. 4.

Uranomitra franciae kubtchecki: native to southwestern Colombia, Ecuador, and northwestern Peru with a bluish gorget and bronze lower back.


Uranomitra franciae cyanicollis: found in central and eastern Peru with a bluish-green lower neck.


Uranomitra franciae boliviana: ranging from Bolivia to northwest Argentina, with a bluish neck, a broad metallic green gorget, and bronze lower back.


Uranomitra franciae napensis: found in central and southern Peru with a green head, a broad gorget, and an oily bronze lower back.


Uranomitra franciae niceforoi: located in the eastern Andes of Colombia with a deep metallic blue-green throat.

Related Species

The Andean Emerald bird is part of a larger grouping of hummingbirds known as the bearded helmetcrests clade. Other members of this clade include the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest, White-bearded Helmetcrest, and Viridian Metaltail.

These species share similar characteristics, including the presence of a bearded or forked gorget.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Andean Emerald bird has historically undergone changes in its distribution. In the past, the species was restricted to tropical forests of South and Central America.

However, with deforestation and habitat loss, the Andean Emerald has become more tolerant of urbanized areas, such as gardens and plantations. This has led to the expansion of its range beyond forested areas.

Additionally, changes in climate patterns have resulted in the formation of new habitats and movement of populations. In conclusion, the Andean Emerald bird is a remarkable species that has undergone taxonomic changes over time.

It exhibits geographic variation, has eight recognized subspecies, and is part of a larger group of hummingbirds. The species has also historically undergone changes to its distribution due to habitat loss, urbanization, and climate change.

Understanding the historical and taxonomic background of the Andean Emerald bird is vital for conservation and appreciation of this unique species. The Andean Emerald bird is a small but stunning hummingbird species found in the Andes mountain range of South America.

Its habitat, movements, and migration patterns are essential in understanding the species’ behavior and distribution. In this expansion, we take a closer look at the habitat of the Andean Emerald bird and its movements and migration.


The Andean Emerald bird is a resident of montane forests. These forests are typically humid and range in altitude from 900 to 3,200 meters, with some populations found as low as 100 meters.

The Andean Emerald can be found in moist to wet montane forests, edges, and clearings. They also frequent riparian forest areas next to rivers or streams where food sources are abundant.

The species prefers the forest edge to the interior, which offers a wider variety of food sources. They are also seen in gardens, plantations, and cultivated areas close to their native habitat.

Movements and Migration

The Andean Emerald bird is a year-round resident of the Andes mountain range, making seasonal movements but not long-distance migrations. These movements are often due to changes in food availability, ranging from lower altitudes during the dry season to higher altitudes during the rainy season.

Studies have shown that the Andean Emerald bird moves to different elevations to follow the flowering of their preferred food sources, such as Ericaceae shrubs and Gesneriaceae plants. During the breeding season, males will defend their territory and mate with resident females.

Offspring will be raised within the same territory as their parent, and there is little evidence of dispersal by juveniles. In response to environmental changes, the Andean Emerald bird has exhibited flexibility in its movements.

For example, deforestation and urbanization have led to the species adapting to cultivated habitats and garden settings.

Migration patterns in the Andean Emerald bird are not well documented, but it is assumed that the species does not undertake long-distance migrations due to the specialized nature of its habitat requirements.

Conservation Status

The Andean Emerald bird has a vast range in South America, stretching from Venezuela to Argentina. However, the species has been affected by habitat loss due to deforestation and clearance for agriculture and urbanization.

The ongoing impact of climate change on the Andes Mountains could also have significant effects on the species’ habitat and food sources. Despite these challenges, the Andean Emerald bird is listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

This classification is mainly due to its large range and presumed stable population size over the years.


The Andean Emerald bird is a remarkable species with a unique habitat and behavioral pattern. The species’ mountain-dwelling lifestyle and preference for flowers’ nectar make it an essential pollinator in the Andes ecosystem.

Understanding the habitat and movements of the Andean Emerald bird is vital for the preservation and conservation of the species. Despite its current conservation status, there is still a need for continued monitoring of the species as it faces several potential threats from habitat destruction, urbanization, and climate change.

The Andean Emerald bird is a unique hummingbird species that can be found throughout the Andes mountain range in South America. Its diet and foraging habits, as well as vocalization behaviors, are of great interest to scientists and bird enthusiasts alike.

In this expansion, we will delve into the diet and feeding habits of the Andean Emerald bird and explore its vocalization behaviors.

Diet and Foraging

The Andean Emerald bird is primarily a nectarivore, foraging for nectar from a variety of flowering plants, including Ericaceae shrubs, Lobeliaceae trees, and Gesneriaceae herbs. The species has a specialized feeding apparatus featuring a long, thin bill that enables it to reach deeply into the flowers to extract nectar.

The bill’s shape and size also help the bird to hover in place while feeding, which is where it earns its name as a hummingbird. The Andean Emerald bird is also known to supplement its diet with small insects, spiders, and mites.

These insects serve as an additional protein source for the species and are typically captured while the bird is hovering in front of a flower. The species is agile and can quickly catch small insects in flight using its bill or tongue.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Andean Emerald bird has a unique metabolism and temperature regulation system that allows it to sustain its hovering flight patterns for extended periods while foraging. The species has a high metabolic rate, which provides it with sufficient energy for its hovering flight behavior.

Additionally, the Andean Emerald bird has a mechanism for regulating its body temperature called torpor. During periods of low energy, such as at night or when food is scarce, the bird enters a state of torpor where it reduces its metabolic activity and body temperature.

This state allows the bird to conserve energy while still maintaining essential body functions.

Sounds and Vocal


The Andean Emerald bird is known to produce various vocalizations, including calls and songs, which serve specific purposes.


The Andean Emerald has a unique vocalization that can be described as a chirping call. These calls are used primarily for communication between birds during territorial disputes, courtship displays, and general interactions with other birds.

The species produces a distinct sound while hovering mid-air, which helps it to locate and defend feeding territories from other birds. The male Andean Emerald bird produces a unique mating call during the breeding season.

The call is a high-pitched chirp, and it is used to attract potential mates. Males will typically perch on a branch while producing these calls, attracting females with their unique sound.


The Andean Emerald bird is a unique and fascinating species with a specialized diet and foraging behavior. Its high metabolic rate and unique temperature regulation system allow it to sustain its hovering flight pattern while foraging for nectar and insects.

Additionally, the species produces distinct vocalizations that serve specific purposes, including communication and courtship displays. Understanding the feeding and vocalization behavior of the Andean Emerald bird is essential for the species’ conservation and management in its Andean mountain range habitat.

The Andean Emerald bird is a fascinating species of hummingbird that can be found in the Andes Mountains of South America. The species exhibits a variety of behaviors, including locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, sexual behavior, breeding, and demography and populations.

Understanding these behaviors is critical for conserving the species and managing its populations effectively. In this expansion, we will take a closer look at each of these behaviors.


Locomotion: The locomotion of the Andean Emerald bird is specialized and adapted for its feeding habits. The bird hovers in mid-air while foraging for nectar and small insects, and it can move in any direction, forward, backward, or sideways, with great precision.

Self Maintenance: Like all birds, the Andean Emerald bird engages in behaviors to maintain its physical well-being. Self-maintenance behaviors of the species include preening its feathers, scratching itself with its feet, and taking frequent baths to clean itself.


Behavior: The Andean Emerald bird exhibits agonistic behavior during territorial disputes and interactions with other birds. The species is known to aggressively defend its feeding territories from intruders, and disputes between birds can lead to physical altercations, such as beak fencing and chasing.


Behavior: Sexual behaviors in the Andean Emerald birds include courtship displays, which involve the male actively pursuing a female, displaying his bright green coloration, and performing distinctive aerial maneuvers. Males will also chase off potential rivals to secure their position as the dominant male in their designated breeding territory.


The breeding season for the Andean Emerald bird is year-round, with nesting occurring between November and March. Males will defend their chosen territory and court females for mating.

The female Andean Emerald bird builds the nest, which is typically a cup-shaped structure made using mosses, lichens, and spider webs. The nest is attached to a branch or stem using plant fibers.

The female Andean Emerald bird typically lays two eggs per clutch, with incubation lasting between 15 to 17 days. Once hatched, the female feeds the young by regurgitating nectar and insects, and the chicks fledge around 20 to 22 days after hatching.

Demography and Populations

The Andean Emerald bird has a large range across the Andes Mountains, from Venezuela to Argentina, with populations estimated in the millions. Despite being dispersed across a considerable geographic range, the species’ populations are susceptible to habitat destruction, deforestation, and loss of their primary food sources due to climate change.

The Andean Emerald is considered a species of least concern, but monitoring and management of its populations are required to mitigate these threats.


The Andean Emerald bird is a unique and fascinating hummingbird species. The species exhibits different behaviors, including locomotion, self-maintenance, agonistic behavior, sexual behavior, and breeding.

These behaviors serve essential functions in the bird’s life, including feeding, defense, reproduction, and survival. Understanding and managing the behaviors and populations of the Andean Emerald bird are critical for its conservation.

Environmental concerns, such as deforestation and climate change, require ongoing monitoring of the species to protect it and ensure its survival. The Andean Emerald bird is a remarkable hummingbird species found in the Andes mountain range of South America.

Through this article, we have explored different aspects of the species, from its physical characteristics and identification to its behavior, foraging practices, vocalization, and breeding habits. We have also delved into the historical changes to its distribution, its geographic variation and subspecies, and the environmental challenges it faces.

The diverse topics covered in this article highlight the importance of understanding the Andean Emerald bird, which is an essential pollinator and indicator species of its ecosystem. Proper management and conservation of the species are essential to preserving the biodiversity of the Andes mountain range.

By learning about the Andean Emerald bird, we are better equipped to appreciate and protect this remarkable species for generations to come.

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