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Chronicles of the White-eared Hummingbird’s Remarkable Life

The White-eared Hummingbird (Hylocharis leucotis) is a captivating avian species renowned for its distinctive features and vibrant presence. 

Native to the mountainous regions of Central America and Mexico, this diminutive bird stands out with its iridescent green plumage, adorned with a striking white patch behind its eye that gives it its namesake. 

With a length of approximately 9 to 10 centimeters, the White-eared Hummingbird boasts remarkable agility in flight, its wings beating rapidly to sustain its hovering and feeding habits. 

Known for its affinity towards nectar-rich blooms, the bird plays a crucial role in pollination within its ecosystem. Ornithologists and bird enthusiasts are drawn to its unique characteristics and behavior, making it a subject of study and admiration. 

The White-eared Hummingbird’s presence adds a splash of color and vibrancy to the high-altitude landscapes it inhabits, making it a delightful and cherished species in the world of ornithology.

White-eared Hummingbird's

Identifying Characteristics of White-eared Hummingbird

Identifying the White-eared Hummingbird (Hylocharis leucotis) is an exciting endeavor for birdwatchers, as this species possesses distinctive characteristics that set it apart in the avian world. 

Here are eight key points to help in the accurate identification of this captivating hummingbird:

Iridescent Plumage

One of the most striking features of the White-eared Hummingbird is its vibrant iridescent green plumage. The feathers shimmer with varying hues in the sunlight, creating a mesmerizing visual spectacle. 

This characteristic is particularly noticeable on the upper parts of the bird, giving it an ethereal appearance.

White Patch Behind the Eye

White Patch Behind the Eye

A defining feature that contributes to its name is the conspicuous white patch located behind the eye. 

This distinctive mark contrasts sharply with the predominant green plumage and is a key identifier when observing the bird in flight or perched.

Size and Shape

The White-eared Hummingbird is a small-sized bird, measuring around 9 to 10 centimeters in length. Its slender and streamlined body, coupled with long wings and a slightly decurved bill, enhances its agility during flight. 

Observers can use these physical traits to differentiate it from other hummingbird species in its habitat.

Distinctive Vocalizations

Distinctive Vocalizations

The White-eared Hummingbird communicates through a series of high-pitched and rapid vocalizations. 

These distinctive calls, often described as sharp and metallic, serve as an audible clue to the bird’s presence in the vicinity. Familiarizing oneself with these vocalizations can be a valuable tool for identification.

Hovering Behavior

Like all hummingbirds, the White-eared exhibits remarkable hovering capabilities. Its ability to suspend itself mid-air while feeding on nectar distinguishes it from other bird species.

Observers should pay attention to this characteristic behavior, especially around blooming flowers.

Feeding Preferences

Feeding Preferences

The White-eared Hummingbird is known for its affinity towards nectar-rich blooms. 

Identifying the bird in its natural feeding habitat, characterized by an abundance of flowers, provides a contextual clue for birdwatchers. Additionally, it plays a vital role in pollination, making its presence integral to the ecosystem.

Territorial Displays

During the breeding season, male White-eared Hummingbirds engage in territorial displays to attract mates. These displays involve aerial acrobatics, rapid flight, and occasional vocalizations. 

Witnessing such behavior can confirm the identification of this species, especially when coupled with its distinctive visual features.

A combination of visual and auditory cues, knowledge of habitat preferences, and an understanding of the bird’s behavior are crucial for accurately identifying the White-eared Hummingbird. 

As with any birdwatching endeavor, patience and keen observation skills are essential to appreciate the nuances that make this species a remarkable and unique member of the avian world.

Taxonomy of White-eared Hummingbird

Taxonomy of White-eared Hummingbird

Here is a table outlining the taxonomy details of the White-eared Hummingbird (Basilinna leucotis):

Taxonomic Level Classification
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Clade Strisores
Order Apodiformes
Family Trochilidae
Genus Basilinna
Species B. leucotis

The White-eared Hummingbird belongs to the domain Eukaryota, indicating its classification as a eukaryotic organism. 

Within the animal kingdom (Animalia), it falls under the phylum Chordata, signifying the presence of a notochord at some stage in its development.

As a member of the class Aves, the White-eared Hummingbird is categorized within a diverse group of birds. Further classification places it in the clade Strisores, an avian group that includes swifts and hummingbirds. 

The order Apodiformes encompasses birds with swift and hummingbird-like characteristics, and within this order, the White-eared Hummingbird belongs to the family Trochilidae, commonly known as hummingbirds.

At the genus level, this species is identified as Basilinna, distinguishing it from other hummingbird genera. Finally, the specific epithet leucotis designates it as the White-eared Hummingbird within the Basilinna genus.

White-eared Hummingbird Life History

The White-eared Hummingbird (Basilinna leucotis) enchants observers with its iridescent plumage and agile flight. 

Understanding the life history of this captivating species provides insights into its ecological role and conservation needs. 

From foraging on nectar-rich blossoms to engaging in intricate nesting behaviors, the White-eared Hummingbird’s life history unfolds within the diverse tapestry of Central American and Mexican high-altitude landscapes.



As nectarivores, White-eared Hummingbirds rely on a specialized diet consisting primarily of floral nectar. 

Their long, specialized bills and extendable, tube-like tongues facilitate the extraction of nectar from flowers. To meet energy demands, they supplement their diet with small insects and spiders, providing essential proteins and nutrients. 

The bird’s rapid metabolism necessitates frequent feeding, and they play a crucial role in pollination as they move from bloom to bloom.


Thriving in mountainous regions at elevations between 1,500 to 3,000 meters, White-eared Hummingbirds prefer habitats like pine-oak forests and cloud forests. 

Their choice of high-altitude ecosystems underscores their adaptability to specific environmental conditions, where a mosaic of flowering plants offers abundant nectar sources.

Range Map

The White-eared Hummingbird’s range extends across Central America and parts of Mexico. 

A detailed range map depicts their presence in specific geographical regions, illustrating their distribution in countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. 

Understanding their range aids conservation efforts by identifying critical areas for protection and habitat restoration.



Female White-eared Hummingbirds meticulously select sites for their tiny cup-shaped nests, often situated on horizontal branches. 

Constructed with plant fibers, moss, and spider silk, these nests provide a secure environment for the two eggs typically laid during each breeding cycle. 

The female incubates the eggs and cares for the chicks upon hatching, showcasing a remarkable display of maternal dedication.

Here’s a table outlining the nesting details of the White-eared Hummingbird (Basilinna leucotis):

Nesting Details Facts
Clutch Size Typically two eggs per clutch
Number of Broods Often raises multiple broods per breeding season
Egg Length Approximately 1.5 centimeters
Egg Width Approximately 0.8 centimeters
Incubation Period Around 15 to 18 days
Nestling Period Approximately 20 to 23 days
Egg Description Small and elliptical in shape, white in color
Nest Type Cup-shaped, constructed with plant fibers, moss, and spider silk
Nest Location Positioned on horizontal branches, often in trees or shrubs
Incubation and Care Female incubates eggs and cares for the nestlings, while the male may assist in defending the territory
Nest Maintenance Females may repair and reuse nests for subsequent broods


During the breeding season, males engage in territorial displays, showcasing aerial acrobatics and vocalizations to attract mates. The intricate courtship rituals culminate in successful mating, leading to the continuation of the species. 

Understanding the breeding behaviors contributes to efforts aimed at preserving breeding habitats and minimizing disturbances during crucial reproductive periods.


Like many avian species, White-eared Hummingbirds may face health challenges, including diseases such as avian pox and respiratory infections. 

Monitoring for signs of illness, such as lethargy or changes in feeding behavior, is crucial for early detection.


In cases of disease outbreaks, intervention may involve veterinary care or, in the wild, natural resistance mechanisms. 

Conservation initiatives often include monitoring the health of hummingbird populations and addressing environmental factors that contribute to disease transmission.



Conservation efforts for the White-eared Hummingbird focus on preserving its mountainous habitats, ensuring a sustainable supply of flowering plants, and raising awareness about the importance of these species in maintaining ecosystem balance. 

Sustainable practices, habitat restoration, and community involvement are integral components of conservation initiatives aimed at safeguarding this enchanting hummingbird and its unique high-altitude ecosystems.

10 Fun Facts About White-eared Hummingbirds

The White-eared Hummingbird (Basilinna leucotis) is a fascinating avian species, known for its vibrant presence and unique behaviors. Here are 10 fun facts about these captivating hummingbirds:

  1. Iridescent Elegance: The White-eared Hummingbird boasts iridescent green plumage that shimmers in the sunlight, giving it an ethereal and captivating appearance.
  2. Distinctive White Patch: As the name suggests, a distinctive white patch behind each eye sets this hummingbird apart. This contrasting mark adds to its visual allure.
  3. High-Altitude Residents: These hummingbirds thrive in mountainous regions, making their homes at elevations ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 meters. Their adaptability to such altitudes highlights their resilience.
  4. Nectar Specialists: White-eared Hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar from a variety of flowering plants, showcasing specialized bills and extendable tongues for efficient nectar extraction.
  5. Swift Flyers: Known for their agility, White-eared Hummingbirds can hover in mid-air, maneuvering with precision to access nectar-rich blooms. Their rapid wing beats contribute to their aerial prowess.
  6. Elaborate Courtship Rituals: During the breeding season, males engage in intricate courtship displays, involving aerial acrobatics and vocalizations to attract potential mates. These displays are a testament to their vibrant personalities.
  7. Tiny Nests: Females construct small cup-shaped nests using plant fibers, moss, and spider silk. Nesting sites are carefully chosen on horizontal branches, providing a secure environment for their offspring.
  8. Multiple Broods: White-eared Hummingbirds often raise multiple broods during the breeding season, showcasing their reproductive resilience and commitment to ensuring the survival of their species.
  9. Rapid Incubation: The incubation period for White-eared Hummingbird eggs is relatively short, lasting approximately 15 to 18 days. This rapid development is essential for the survival of the species.
  10. Vocal Communicators: While small in size, these hummingbirds are vocal communicators, emitting high-pitched and rapid vocalizations. These calls play a role in territorial communication and may vary in intensity and frequency.

The White-eared Hummingbird’s life is marked by vibrant colors, acrobatic displays, and specialized behaviors that contribute to the ecological tapestry of their high-altitude habitats. 

These fun facts offer a glimpse into the enchanting world of this remarkable hummingbird species.

Wrapping Up

The White-eared Hummingbird stands as a testament to the wonders of avian life. Its iridescent plumage, distinctive features, and unique behaviors make it a captivating species in the high-altitude landscapes of Central America and Mexico. 

From their agile flight and elaborate courtship rituals to their crucial role in pollination, these hummingbirds enrich the ecosystems they inhabit. 

Understanding their nesting habits, feeding preferences, and the challenges they face emphasizes the importance of conservation efforts. 

Preserving the habitats and raising awareness about the significance of these enchanting birds ensures their continued existence, contributing to the biodiversity of our natural world.

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