Honduran emerald

Honduran emerald

Honduran emerald

2 languages
Amazilia luciae

The Honduran emerald (Amazilia luciae ) is a species of hummingbird in the family Trochilidae.

Show More

This bird is found only in Honduras.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forest and subtropical or tropical dry shrubland.

It is threatened by habitat loss, and deforestation. The species is locally common in arid thorn forest and scrub in the upper Rio Aguan valley, Department of Yoro. The Honduran Emerald is found in thorn forests near shrubs and cacti species because they are used for floral resources, feeding, and nesting. The species has also been observed to feed on vines, herbs, epiphytes, and parasites. Exploration of the less-accessible interior of Honduras has revealed a wider distribution than thought at the time of its "rediscovery," including frequent sightings in the Santa Barbara department. The species responds and joins mobs after hearing the calls of a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium brasilianum ). It was described by George Newbold Lawrence in 1867.

Show Less


Typically, a medium-sized Honduran Emerald averages 4 inches (10 cm) in length. They have streamlined bodies and long tails. Most of them have green heads and whitish bellies. The bill is black on top and bright red below, with a dark tip. From their throat to the upper chest presents a pretty hue of turquoise blue, sometimes mottled grey. Their upper tails are light bronze-green, and downer tail-coverts are dark brown. The plumages are bright orange on the peripheral and lighter orange as it gets closer to the bodies. Females and males overall look similar; although males usually have more eye-catching colors on the throats. The females usually have entirely blackish bills. Adults and youths are quite different: immature Honduran emeralds usually don’t have the turquoise blue hue on their throats. It is only spotted sparsely and it becomes larger and larger as they grow up.



Biogeographical realms

The habitat of Honduran Emerald is not yet comprehensively studied and requires research in the habitat quality and resource selection such as the species’ breeding ecology. The existing studies suggest a preference in thorn scrub and deciduous thorn forests within the tropical dry forest or tropical very dry forest life zones.The nest site of Honduran Emerald is found open to dense thorn scrublands. The height of the plants in the area has been shown to influence the site selection of Honduran Emerald. The structure of their nests is associated with a shorter height and thinner stem radius of plants in proximity. Inferences are made that shorter nest plant heights allow a higher rate of survival according to a study on Black-chinned Hummingbird. Contrarily, some reported finding in the area as an ecotone between dry forest and humid lowland forest with the presence of broad-leaved shrubs and trees.

Habits and Lifestyle

Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

The Honduran Emerald is known to feed on at least 14 species of plants, some parasites, and has been seen to embark on Insect-catching flights lasting up to 60 seconds or longer. These insects were found mainly near the trunks of organ pipe cacti. As such, it is a mix between a herbivore and an insectivore. The birds feed at heights ranging from 0.5 to 10m off the ground.

Show More

Specifically, the species of plants the hummingbird feeds on include the following:

  • Cacti (Cactaceae: Melocactus curvispinus, Nopalea hondurensis, Pilosocereus leucuocephalus, Stenocereus yunckeri)
  • Thorny shrubs or low trees (Fabaceae: Caesalpinia yucatanensis, Leucaena lempirana)
  • Vines (Combretaceae: Combretum fruticosum)
  • Herbs (Acanthaceae: Aphelandra scabra, Euphorbiaceae: Pedilanthus camporum, Sterculiaceae: Helicteres gauzaumifolia)
  • Epiphytes (Bromeliaceae: Aechmea bracteata, Tillandsia fasciculata, Bromelia plumieri)

However, the main sources of their food come from the nectar from Pedilanthus camporum, which flowers year-round, and Nopalea hondurensis, as well as Aphelandra scabra and Helicteres guazaumifolia.

These birds are also territorial, and have been seen to defend their feeding areas from invading birds, even of the same species.

About 90 percent of the emerald's original habitat has been lost to agriculture and degraded by cattle grazing. This habitat loss factors in directly with the Emerald’s food supply, especially considering they feed almost exclusively on plants and insects found in forests. The problem of deforestation and the use of insecticides has caused a steady decline in the population due to the decline in its food supply.

Show Less



1. Honduran emerald Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honduran_emerald
2. Honduran emerald on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22687529/179937732
3. Xeno-canto bird call - https://xeno-canto.org/486435

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About