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Discover the Fascinating Behavior and Stunning Plumage of the Bronzy Inca Hummingbird

Bronzy Inca: A Stunning Sight in the Cloud Forest

The Bronzy Inca (Coeligena coeligena) is a small, hummingbird species that inhabits the cloud forests of South America. With its brilliant iridescence and distinctive plumage, it is a striking addition to any bird watcher’s checklist.


The Bronzy Inca measures 11-12 cm in length and has a wingspan of 15-18 cm. The male bird has a vibrant bronze-greeny head with a metallic green back, bronze rump, and green-black tail.

The throat coloration is variable ranging from white, buffy, or grey with violet, blue, or purple gorget. Meanwhile, the female bird has a similar appearance to a male but with a duller body and buff flanks.

They have black bills and feet, and their eyes are dark brown. Field


The Bronzy Inca is primarily located in the cloud forests of South America, especially in the Andes, such as Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Colombia.

They perch on high branches of misty forests, often near their favorite food sources, such as flowers and insects. They can also be observed hovering in mid-air, feeding on nectar from various types of flowers.

Similar Species

The Bronzy Inca is often mistaken for the similarly shaped Chestnut-breasted Coronet and Brown Inca. The Chestnut-breasted Coronet (Boissonneaua matthewsii) has a chestnut breast rather than buff and a broader bill.

The Brown Inca (Coeligena wilsoni), on the other hand, has brown coloration instead of bronze with a forked tail.


The Bronzy Inca goes through two molts, much like most other hummingbird species. The basic plumage of both male and female is silent as the birds begin their lives dull olive-brown before molting into their adult plumage.

The male Bronzy Inca develops his breeding plumage after his second molt, where the bright bronze-green head and metallic green back signify mating readiness.


The Bronzy Inca goes through a prealternate molt (PAM) and prebasic molt (PBM). Their PAM occurs during the breeding season and starts with the head feathers.

Their PBMs take place after the breeding season from late autumn to winter, shedding wornout feathers and replacing them with new ones. In


The Bronzy Inca is a small hummingbird species found in the cloud forests of South America, with the males’ striking bronze-green head and metallic green back, while the females share similar plumages with duller body colors. Their population status is considered stable, and they have adapted well to the presence of humans in their habitat.

Their colorful plumage, preference for nectar-rich flowers, and hovering flight style make them a delightful sight to bird enthusiasts across the world.

Systematics History, Geographic Variation, and

Historical Changes to Distribution of Bronzy IncaBronzy Inca (Coeligena coeligena) is a tiny hummingbird species that is native to the forests of South America. It has a distinctive plumage of metallic greens and bronze with an iridescent sheen that gives the bird a unique appeal to bird enthusiasts.

This article presents a comprehensive discussion on the systematics history, geographic variation, subspecies, related species, and historical changes to distribution of the Bronzy Inca.

Systematics History

Like most hummingbirds, the Bronzy Inca has a complex taxonomic history. Initially, it was classified as a species under the genus “Trochilus” – a large genus that contained over 200 species of hummingbirds.

However, with advances in molecular and morphological techniques, hummingbirds were reclassified into smaller genera. In 1847 a British ornithologist, John Gould, proposed the use of the genus Coeligena to classify a small group of hummingbird species, including the Bronzy Inca.

Geographic Variation and Subspecies

The Bronzy Inca has a notable geographic variation across its range. It is distributed across the Andes mountain range in South America, where it inhabits areas of montane cloud forests.

In terms of the subspecies, there are currently ten recognized subspecies of the Bronzy Inca, each with its unique physical traits. The C.

c. coeligena, found in Colombia, has a white throat, while the C.

c. henricae, found in Ecuador, has a greenish-yellow throat.

The C. c.

aliciae, found in northern Peru, is a smaller bird with dark metallic-green upperparts. The C.

c. cerro de La Neblina, located in southwestern Venezuela, is a larger bird with a green throat.

Meanwhile, the C. c.

cupellus, found in central Peru, has an elongated bill that is advantageous in reaching flowers with curved corollas. The C.

c. septentrionalis, found in northwestern Venezuela, has a golden-green forehead and throat.

The C. c.

cyanolaema, located in southeastern Peru and northern Bolivia, has an iridescent blue throat and forehead. The C.

c. obscura, located in the High Andes of Bolivia and western Argentina, is small with blackish-green upperparts and yellowish-orange underparts.

Lastly, the C. c.

puri, located in central Bolivia, is small with a bronze-green gorget and lower breast.

Related Species

The Bronzy Inca belongs to a group of small hummingbird species classified under the genus Coeligena. These species are distributed across the Andes mountain range and other areas of South America.

Some of the closely related species include the Collared Inca (Coeligena torquata) and the Chestnut-breasted Inca (Coeligena castanea), both of which share a similar range and habitat as the Bronzy Inca.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The distribution of the Bronzy Inca is broader than it was initially, thanks to human impacts such as deforestation and introduction of non-native plants. The conversion of cloud forests into pastureland has led to the fragmentation of the bird’s habitat, limiting its range further.

Pesticide use in farming and habitat degradation has also resulted in a reduction in the availability of food and nesting sites for the bird. However, there has been some positive news for the Bronzy Inca.

In recent years, the bird’s range has expanded in some areas due to the accelerated growth of some plants favored by the bird, including the eucalyptus tree. The eucalyptus tree is a non-native species introduced to some areas of South America, including parts of Argentina and Brazil, as a cash crop.

Despite its negative impacts on native plants and biodiversity, the eucalyptus tree has provided more nesting sites and food sources for the Bronzy Inca.


The Bronzy Inca is a fascinating hummingbird species with a unique plumage and characteristic hovering flight style. Its geographic variation across its range and ten subspecies make it an exciting bird to see in the wild.

Despite its historical range reduction due to human activities, the Bronzy Inca is still holding up. With proper planning and management, there is hope that the bird will continue to thrive in the future.

Habitat and Movements & Migration of the Bronzy IncaThe Bronzy Inca (Coeligena coeligena) is a tiny hummingbird species that is known for its stunning bronze-green and metallic green plumage. These birds are primarily found in the montane cloud forests of the Andes mountain range in South America.

This article provides an in-depth discussion of the

Habitat and Movements & Migration of the Bronzy Inca.


Bronzy Inca inhabits a broad range of altitudes spanning 1000 and 3500 meters above sea level. Their typical habitat is montane cloud forests with various tree species, including oaks, laurels, and eucalyptus.

These forests are characterized by frequent fogs and low clouds that often blanket the forest floor, providing an adequate source of moisture and ecosystem for epiphytes, small plants, and flowers. These hummingbirds use different environmental stimuli like color, shape, and scent to select plants and trees on which to feed and perch.

They generally prefer flowers whose mouth parts are long and slender ranging from small-sized ericaceous gloxinias to several large and tubular flowers from the Heliconiaceae and Myrtaceae families.

Movements and Migration

The Bronzy Inca is considered a sedentary bird, meaning it is typically non-migratory. The bird is an exceptional hoverer, ranging far from its feeding areas and spending long hours foraging.

The search for food is the primary reason for movements within the bird’s range. According to studies based on color-banding of the birds, it was observed that young individuals tend to disperse more widely than adults that are site-faithful.

Some studies have indicated that some individuals closer to the equator may be resident, while those further south may be altitudinal migrants. The migration is more of moving up and around the Andean mountains to follow the blooming of flowers they rely on.

The birds usually track seasonal blooming plants and tend to stay in one area during breeding season.

Breeding Habits

While some movements between seasons have been observed with the birds moving from lower to higher elevations in the non-breeding season, the Bronzy Inca does not migrate far distances. During the breeding season, between March and August, they become territorial and perform fantastic aerial displays with the male diving repeatedly from 20 meters high and then rebounding from a few meters off the ground.

During courtship, the males and females mate frequently and bond sexually over several days. The nesting season gravitates around the blooming plant species and the availability of food.

These birds have been observed creating small, neat cup-shaped nests that they build from spiderwebs, downy plant fibers, and other soft parts they can gather. These materials mostly come from the surrounding trees and vegetation, which is bound together using spider silk to make their highly functional nests.

The Bottom Line

In summary, the Bronzy Inca’s habitat is the montane cloud forests of the Andes mountain range. These birds are site-faithful and display limited movements within their ranges outside of the breeding season.

They are sedentary and typically non-migratory, but some horizontal and vertical movements to track seasonal blooming plants and flowering locations. During the breeding season, they become territorial and perform aerial displays, with both males and females mating frequently.

The birds rely on a vast range of flowers and other nectar sources to provide their food requirements. As the natural habitat destruction continues, it is, however, unclear whether the breeding success and the survival of the Bronzy Inca might be threatened.

Diet and Foraging, and

Sounds and Vocal

Behavior of the Bronzy IncaBronzy Inca is a stunning hummingbird species that inhabit the cloud forests of South America. Known for its metallic green and bronze plumage, this species’ diet, foraging behavior and vocalization have garnered significant interest among bird lovers.

This article provides a discussion of the diet and foraging behavior, and the sounds and vocal behaviors of the Bronzy Inca.

Diet and Foraging

Bronzy Inca is highly nectar-dependent, and their long, narrow bills are adapted for reaching deep into the corollas of a range of flowers to extract nectar. They prefer flowers whose mouth parts are long and slender, and that provides ample nectar.

Some of their preferred flowers include those of the genera Besleria, Fuchsia, and Ericaceae. In addition to nectar, the Bronzy Inca also feeds on insects, particularly small flies, which supplement their diet with protein for energy.

The Bronzy Inca is well adapted for hovering, which is essential when feeding as they cannot perch on flowers to obtain food. However, they may spend a considerable amount of time perched on the tips of branches and other surfaces during feeding respites.

They have remarkable visual acuity, enabling them to detect flowers from a distance and select those with nectar, which is high in sugar concentration. Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

Like other hummingbirds, the Bronzy Inca has a very high metabolic rate that requires a lot of energy to work.

The high metabolism and active flight of hummingbirds require a continuous supply of energy, and hummingbirds depend on sugar-rich foods for this. They also depend on frequent feeding to maintain thermoregulation, especially in cold environments.

To regulate their body temperature effectively, the Bronzy Inca uses evaporative cooling. They control their body temperature by panting, fluffing their feathers, and metabolic heat production, which helps them counter the low temperatures prevalent in the altitude they inhabit.

Sounds and Vocal


Bronzy Inca, like other hummingbird species, is known for their high-pitched sounds and chirps that can be heard over long distances. They have a complex system of vocalizations that differ slightly between males and females.

Males are known to have a distinct trill-like sound that they use during courtship displays to attract a mate. They also use a series of squeaky notes and chatters to establish their territories and chase off rivals.

In contrast, female Bronzy Inca sings less often and uses quiet notes to communicate among their kind. During territorial conflicts, the Bronzy Inca has been observed producing different vocalizations, with the males making short and audible chirps, whistles or squeaks in quick succession.

These sounds are different from the trills that they use to court females. In contrast, females make soft squeaky sounds when communicating among themselves.


Bronzy Inca is a beautiful hummingbird species that are highly nectar-dependent and supplement their energy with small insects. They have well-adapted visual acuity for detecting sugar-rich flowers, and their hovering flight is perfect for extracting nectar.

Bronzy Inca has a high metabolism that requires a continuous supply of energy, and they mostly depend on sugar-rich food for it. They regulate their body temperature using evaporative cooling and metabolic heat production to counter low temperatures prevalent in their range.

Additionally, they have a complex vocalization system that both males and females use to attract mates, establish territories, and communicate with their kind. Overall, the Bronzy Inca is a fascinating hummingbird species that continues to fascinate bird lovers with its foraging habits, vocal behavior, and interactions with other birds.


Breeding, and

Demography and Populations of the Bronzy IncaBronzy Inca (Coeligena coeligena) is a beautiful hummingbird species found in the cloud forests of South America. With its stunning plumage and attractive behavior, the Bronzy Inca fascinates many bird enthusiasts.

This article presents an in-depth discussion of the Bronzy Inca’s behavior, breeding, and demography and populations.


The Bronzy Inca has unique behavior that makes it stand out among other hummingbird species. The bird possesses a precise and well-coordinated locomotion, as they can hover perfectly in place and move rapidly in all directions.

They are also known for flapping their wings at an incredible speed of 50 to 200 flaps per minute, making a humming sound in the process. The Bronzy Inca also has a well-organized self-maintenance behavior.

They have special feathers that produce a waterproofing fluid that helps them stay dry in the wet cloud forests where they are mostly found. Additionally, the bird is known to take sunbathes by spreading its wings and exposing its back to the sun to dry off.

Bronzy Inca is known for its aggressive agonistic behavior, particularly among the males. They engage in aerial displays that involve high-speed chases and circling movements to defend their territories and attract mates.

These displays often involve body language, vocalizations, and other visual signals that communicate the bird’s strength, vigor, and breeding status. Sexual


Bronzy Inca’s sexual behavior starts with the male courting the female during the breeding season.

The courtship involves aerial displays, with the males performing flight dives to impress the females. In addition to aerial displays, the bronzy male displays its gorget to the female while fluttering its wings.

The male Bronzy Inca is also known to use high-pitched vocalizations to impress the female and establish their territory. During breeding, the females construct cup-shaped nests on the branches of high trees from plant material and other soft materials, and they lay an average of two eggs per clutch.


Bronzy Inca’s breeding behavior is not affected by changes in environmental factors, and the females typically lay two eggs per clutch. The incubation period for the eggs lasts between 14 and 16 days.

After hatching, the chicks are fed by their mother with regurgitated food until they are old enough to feed themselves.

Demography and Populations

The Bronzy Inca’s population numbers are not well documented due to the bird’s elusive nature and its habitat’s remote location. However, the species is considered stable, with no significant population declines or threats of extinction.

Deforestation, habitat degradation, and pesticide use are potential threats to the Bronzy Inca’s populations. However, the bird’s ability to adapt to anthropogenically modified habitats, such as secondary forests and urban gardens, provides some hope for their long-term survival.



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