About the Velvet-purple Coronet
Even among a colorful cadre of birds such as the Royal Sunangel and Glittering Starfrontlet, the Velvet-purple Coronet is a stunning standout. Easy to miss in shady conditions, where it looks black, this hummingbird's plumage explodes into a shimmering symphony of purples, blues, and greens when seen in just the right light. Females and juveniles are similar but a bit less vivid. Both sexes have a short, straight, black bill and flashy white outer tail feathers.
A distinctive behavior also makes this medium-sized hummingbird stand out, even in less-than-ideal light.
Like the closely-related Chestnut-breasted and Buff-tailed Coronets, the Velvet-purple Coronet has the distinctive habit of holding its wings aloft for a few seconds just after it lands, exposing rich rufous underwings. These contrasting wing feathers are also noticeable as the Velvet-purple Coronet flies.
Songs and Sounds
During courtship, the male Velvet-purple Coronet sings a series of alternating harsh and soft whistles, described as “si, siii, si, siii, si, siii.” Its call is a faster series of trills.
Listen to the song here:
Breeding and Feeding
A male Velvet-purple Coronet displays by flying circles around a female with fanned tail, vocalizing all the while. After mating, the female leaves his territory to complete the breeding cycle alone. She builds a cup-shaped nest, well-camouflaged with moss and lichen on the outside, on a horizontal branch or in a tree fork. The clutch size is usually two eggs, which she incubates alone. More details remain to be discovered about other facets of the Velvet-purple Coronet's breeding biology.
The Velvet-purple Coronet, typical of its family, feeds mainly on nectar. It's usually seen foraging at flowers from low in the forest all the way to the treetops. It feeds while hovering or clinging to a flower, briefly holding its wings open after landing in its characteristic fashion. This hummingbird also readily visits feeders.
Region and Range
Like the Gray-bellied Comet and Gorgeted Puffleg, the Velvet-purple Coronet has a highly restricted range. This stunner can only be spotted along the western (Pacific) slope of the Andes, in an area stretching from southwestern Colombia's Chocó Department to southwestern Ecuador's El Oro Province. Although non-migratory, it may make seasonal altitudinal movements to following its food sources.
Help support ABC's conservation mission!
Despite its restricted range, the Velvet-purple Coronet can be spotted at several ABC-supported reserves, including Buenaventura in Ecuador, which also protects the Endangered El Oro Parakeet and the Vulnerable Long-wattled Umbrellabird. In Colombia, birders can find the Velvet-purple Coronet at the Mirabilis Swarovski Nature Reserve, which protects another, Critically Endangered hummingbird, the Colorful Puffleg.
Many of the rarest bird species in the Western Hemisphere remain relatively unknown. You can learn more about these birds and the threats they face by signing up for ABC's Bird of the Week email series, which frequently highlights these fascinating birds.
American Bird Conservancy and our partners throughout Latin America and the Caribbean have created and expanded more than 100 bird reserves, which protect upward of 1.1 million acres of vital habitat. Together, we've planted more than 6.8 million trees, helping to restore degraded and damaged habitat. You can help us continue to protect endangered birds by making a gift today.