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The Stunning Violet-bellied Hummingbird: From Plumage to Behavior Everything You Need to Know

Birds are fascinating creatures that captivate the imagination of people worldwide. One such bird is the Violet-bellied Hummingbird, scientifically known as Chlorestes julie.

This beautiful bird is a small, vibrantly colored, and fast-flying hummingbird species that inhabits tropical and subtropical regions of South America. In this article, we will delve into the identification, plumages, and molts of the Violet-bellied Hummingbird.


In terms of field identification, the Violet-bellied Hummingbird measures approximately 9 cm from beak to tail and weighs around 3.5 grams. Males and females have a similar appearance, with the male having more vibrant coloration.

The entire upper body of the bird is bright metallic green, with some undertones of blue on the back. The lower part of the belly and the under-tail coverts are a deep violet or blue-purple color, hence the bird’s name.

In contrast, the throat of this hummingbird species can vary from vivid blue-green in males to a more subdued or olive-green color in females. Additionally, both males and females have a short black bill and a dark chestnut-colored tail.

The feet and legs are also black. Overall, the Violet-bellied Hummingbird has a striking appearance that makes it easy to recognize.

Similar Species

While the Violet-bellied Hummingbird has a distinctive appearance, it can sometimes be confused with similar hummingbird species such as the Sapphire-vented Puffleg or the Glittering-throated Emerald. However, a closer look often reveals distinguishing characteristics.

For example, the Sapphire-vented Puffleg has a blue vent with violet-blue undertail feathers, whereas the Violet-bellied Hummingbird has a violet-blue belly and lower undertail coverts. The Glittering-throated Emerald has green underparts instead of the Violet-bellied Hummingbird’s vivid purple belly.


As with most bird species, the plumage of the Violet-bellied Hummingbird changes during molts. Molting is the natural process by which birds replace their old, damaged feathers with new ones.

During molting, birds become less active and may hide more, as their broken feathers make them more vulnerable to predation. In the case of the Violet-bellied Hummingbird, juveniles typically have a muted coloration before they reach their first molt, usually before their first winter.

The second plumage is similar to that of adults, but the vibrancy of colors is not as intense.


The Violet-bellied Hummingbird molts twice a year, once after the breeding season in late summer and again before the breeding season in late winter or early spring. This bird species tends to molt in a sequential manner, starting from the head and moving backwards.

During the post-breeding period, males may display a partial molt where they lose some feathers, which results in a slightly different appearance from their pre-breeding plumage. In summary, the Violet-bellied Hummingbird is a stunning bird species that is easily recognizable in the field.

It has a unique, vibrant coloration that sets it apart from similar species, and its plumage changes during molts. Understanding these aspects can further enhance our appreciation of this beautiful bird.

The Violet-bellied Hummingbird (Chlorestes julie) is a widely distributed hummingbird species in South America. It has been of interest to ornithologists who have been studying its systematics history, geographic variation, subspecies, and related species.

Systematics History

The systematics history of the Violet-bellied Hummingbird has been a long and complicated one. It was initially classified as Trochilus julie in 1847, but its genus-level classification has changed many times in the past.

The species was later moved to the genus Chlorestes in 1860 and remained there until a 2014 revision of hummingbird taxonomy placed it in the genus Chlorestes, where it currently resides.

Geographic Variation

The Violet-bellied Hummingbird has a broad distribution throughout South America. As such, it exhibits considerable geographic variation across its range.

The degree of variation is not always clear, and some subspecies may need further examination to determine their status accurately. Ornithologists have identified various morphological, vocal, and genetic differences between various populations of the bird.


Several subspecies of the Violet-bellied Hummingbird have been described so far. However, the exact number is still debated, as some subspecies have similar features, making them taxonomically challenging to distinguish.

Some of the subspecies that have been proposed and accepted through time include:

1. C.

j. coeruleus, found in southeastern Ecuador and northeastern Peru.

2. C.

j. julie, found in northeastern and eastern Brazil.

3. C.

j. julianus, found in southeastern Brazil.

4. C.

j. roemeri, found in Bolivia and Brazil.

5. C.

j. sylvanellus, found in Colombia.

6. C.

j. viridicauda, found in southeastern Peru.

Related Species

Various studies suggest that the Violet-bellied Hummingbird is closely related to other species in the Chlorestes genus, specifically the Gorgeted Sunangel and the Lesser Violet-ear. Additionally, recent genetic studies suggest that the Violet-bellied Hummingbird is closely related to the Red-billed Emerald within the genus Chlorestes.

Historical Changes to Distribution

The Violet-bellied Hummingbird has undergone historical changes to its distribution across South America. Some of these changes occurred due to climate changes, alterations in vegetation patterns, and other anthropogenic influences.

The distribution of the species is speculated to have been even broader in the past than it is now, as some subspecies of the bird are presently isolated from each other. In recent decades, the Violet-bellied Hummingbird has experienced a range expansion, and some subspecies have now inhabited regions outside their traditional range.

For instance, viridicauda, which was formerly restricted to southeastern Peru, can now be seen in parts of northern Bolivia. These changes have been attributed to the bird’s capacity to adapt to changing climatic conditions and to exploit novel resources.


The systematics history, geographic variation, subspecies, and related species of the Violet-bellied Hummingbird are widely debated topics among ornithologists worldwide. This stunning bird species has a broad distribution and remarkable adaptability, which has helped it survive in different habitats.

Understanding the systematics history and geographic variation is vital for managing and conserving the species effectively. Additionally, research on related species can give us insights into the evolutionary processes leading to the diversity of hummingbirds.

The Violet-bellied Hummingbird (Chlorestes julie) is a small, fast-flying hummingbird species that inhabits tropical and subtropical regions of South America. The bird’s habitat, movements, and migration have been of interest to ornithologists studying its ecology and behavior.


The Violet-bellied Hummingbird is a predominantly lowland species that can be found in a variety of habitats. These include humid and dry forest edges, mixed forest canopies, humid shrublands, and riparian zones.

Due to habitat fragmentation and deforestation, the bird has adapted to use human-made habitats such as gardens and parks. In addition to its broad habitat use, the Violet-bellied Hummingbird exhibits a degree of habitat specialization.

Some subspecies of the bird show a preference for particular vegetation types within their range, such as gallery forests, savannas, or scrublands. These habitat preferences may be partly influenced by seasonal changes, the availability of nectar, and the distribution of other resources.

Movements and Migration

The extent of the Violet-bellied Hummingbird’s movements and migration patterns are still under investigation. It is generally considered a non-migratory species, but some evidence suggests that some populations undertake minor movements in response to seasonal variations.

For example, the species may expand its range to higher elevations during periods of drought or in response to human disturbance or changes in plant blooming patterns. Additionally, some subspecies of the Violet-bellied Hummingbird may respond to changes in winter food availability by moving to different areas.

The subspecies sylvanellus, for instance, may undertake altitudinal migrations in parts of its range. In Ecuador, the subspecies coeruleus may exhibit movement patterns related to the presence of flowering plants along roadsides and cleared areas.

The timing of breeding also varies across the bird’s range, contributing to differences in movements and migration. For instance, the bird may breed during the wet season in the north and during the dry season in the south.

Populations that breed during the dry months may rely heavily on flowering plants at lower elevations. In contrast, populations that breed during the wet season may rely on flowering plants at higher elevations.

Additionally, the Violet-bellied Hummingbird may exhibit limited movements in response to weather phenomena such as El Nio cycles. In areas where rainfall patterns may be disrupted, the bird may migrate to more favorable areas with predictable food availabilities.


The Violet-bellied Hummingbird is a fascinating bird species with broad habitat use and a degree of habitat specialization. Its movements and migration patterns have been the subject of studies attempting to understand the factors that drive these movements.

While the bird may be considered non-migratory, some populations may undertake movements in response to various factors, including seasonal changes in resources. With further research, we may gain insight into the complexities of the species’ behavior and ecology and the factors that shape its movements.

The Violet-bellied Hummingbird (Chlorestes julie) is a small, vibrantly colored, and fast-flying hummingbird species that inhabits tropical and subtropical regions of South America. The bird’s diet and foraging behavior, as well as its vocalization, provide insight into its physiology and ecological relationships.

Diet and Foraging


Like all hummingbirds, the Violet-bellied Hummingbird feeds mostly on nectar, although it also takes insects and spiders to supplement its diet. With its long bill and tongue, the bird can extract nectar from the base of flowers, where other birds cannot reach.

The bird feeds more frequently in the mornings and less during the afternoons.


The bird shows dietary flexibility in its choice of nectar sources. It is known to feed on several flower families, including bromeliads, passionflowers, and epiphytes, that are common in the bird’s habitat.

Additionally, the bird may change its diet based on seasonal changes in flower availability and the amount of energy required for breeding and migration.

Metabolism and Temperature Regulation

The Violet-bellied Hummingbird has a high metabolic rate and is capable of metabolizing nectar at rates up to 6 to 8 times its body weight per day. This high metabolic rate enables the bird to sustain the high levels of activity required for hovering and rapid flight.

Due to its small size, the bird must constantly regulate its body temperature to avoid overheating. To do this, hummingbirds have several adaptations, such as using evaporative cooling by panting, and rapidly entering torpor, a temporary state of decreased metabolism and lowered body temperature.

These adaptations allow the bird to cope with the high body temperature resulting from its high-rate metabolism and hovering flight.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


The Violet-bellied Hummingbird has a varied and complex vocal repertoire, with multiple vocalizations that are used for communication with other birds of its species and other hummingbirds. The bird has a common, high-pitched, trilling song that is used primarily for male-male interactions during territorial defense.

Additionally, the bird can produce a simple, single-note whistle, which is used for attraction of potential mates. The Violet-bellied Hummingbird’s vocalization is also affected by geographic variation, with some subspecies having different tonal qualities and pitch.

Furthermore, the presence of other bird species can affect the Violet-bellied Hummingbird’s vocalizations, inducing it to alter its vocalization frequency to avoid acoustic overlap with those of other hummingbird species. In conclusion, the Violet-bellied Hummingbird is an impressive bird species with fascinating ecological and behavioral adaptations.

Its diet and foraging behavior, as well as its vocalization, provide insight into its physiological and ecological relationships. With further research, we may continue to uncover the complexities of this beautiful hummingbird species.



The Violet-bellied Hummingbird has an impressive ability to hover in place and fly rapidly in any direction, an adaptation that enables the bird to harvest nectar from flowers in its habitat effectively. Additionally, the bird can fly vertically, side to side, and even backwards, making it highly maneuverable in its foraging.


The Violet-bellied Hummingbird maintains a high degree of self-care and personal hygiene. After feeding, the bird will groom its head, neck, and breast feathers with its beak, removing debris and keeping its feathers clean for flight.

Furthermore, the bird will take regular dust baths, which help keep its feathers free of oils, dirt, and parasites.

Agonistic Behavior

The Violet-bellied Hummingbird is a territorial species and exhibits agonistic behavior towards other birds, particularly those of the same sex. Male individuals engage in aerial displays of aggressive behavior, such as wing-whirring, chasing, and vocalizations, to establish and defend their territory.

Sexual Behavior

The Violet-bellied Hummingbird’s courtship and sexual behavior are elaborate and include aerial displays of acrobatic flights, courtship dances, and vocalizations. The male performs a pendulum flight, where he flies in a zigzag pattern, making noises with his wings, and displays his bright plumage.

If the female is receptive, she may also perform aerial displays, including flights in circles and U-shapes, as a sign of acceptance.


The Violet-bellied Hummingbird’s breeding season is closely linked with rainfall patterns and flowering events in its habitat. The species is polygynous, meaning that males may mate with more than one female during a breeding season.

Additionally, the female is solely responsible for nest construction and incubation of eggs, while the male provides resources for successful raising of offspring. The Violet-bellied Hummingbird’s nests are usually built in trees, shrubs, or bushes, often incorporating lichen and spider webs for camouflage.

The female lays one or two eggs, which are typical for hummingbird species, and incubates them for around 15-16 days. The chicks hatch naked and with closed eyes and are fed a diet of nutritious nectar and insects by both male and female parents.

Young birds fledge around 20-21 days after hatching and are independent shortly after.

Demography and Populations

The Violet-bellied Hummingbird is a relatively common species throughout its range, but its populations may be declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the species as Least Concern, but some subspecies may have smaller distributions and may be at greater risk.

More research is needed on the species’ demography and populations to adequately assess its status across its range.


The Violet-bellied Hummingbird’s behavior is complex and fascinating, with adaptations that enable it to thrive in a variety of habitats. Its mating and breeding behavior are elaborate and include aerial displays and vocalizations.

Additionally, the bird is highly maneuverable and maintains a high degree of personal hygiene to sustain its flight and foraging habits. While the bird’s status is currently assessed as Least Concern, more research is needed to better understand the species’ populations and potential threats to its survival.

In conclusion, the Violet-bellied Hummingbird is a stunning bird species that has fascinated ornithologists and bird enthusiasts for years. This article covered various aspects of the bird, including its identification, plumages, molts, habitat, movements, diet, vocalization, behavior, breeding, and demography, all of which provide an understanding of the bird’s ecology and behavior.

The Violet-bellied Hummingbird’s unique adaptations, such as its high metabolic rate and maneuverability, provide insight into its successful survival and ability to thrive in various habitats. However, the bird’s populations may face challenges due to habitat loss and fragmentation, highlighting the need for continued research and conservation efforts to ensure the Violet-bellied Hummingbird’s continued existence in the wild.

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