Hummingbirds of the World

Cover Photo: Ruby Topaz, Trinidad, June 2015 from the Surfbirds galleries © Pete Morris/BIRDQUEST

By Brian J Small

There is something in the region of 320 species of hummingbird, occuring only in the New World and ranging from Alaska and Labrador in the north to Tierra del Fuego in the south; from Barbados in the east to the Juan Fernandes islands in the west.
Brian J Small

Hummingbirds are one of the avian wonders of the world.  From the diminutive Bee Hummingbird in Cuba (probably the smallest bird in the world) to the Giant Hummingbird of Chile.  Many exhibit wonderfully irridescent plumage that changes in varying light; some, like the Sword-billed Hummingbird, have remarkable adaptations for feeding.  An encounter, no matter how brief, leaves a lasting memory.

There is something in the region of 320 species of hummingbird, occuring only in the New World and ranging from Alaska and Labrador in the north to Tierra del Fuego in the south; from Barbados in the east to the Juan Fernandes islands in the west.  The great majority live between 10°N and 25°S, with Ecuador and Colombia having the greatest diversity.

At Surfbirds, we have been lucky enough to have had images of over 100 species posted, and in order to show them all in their glory we have put together this database of them,  We would very much like to expand on this, so if you can fill any of the gaps in the missing species, we would love to have more (please post your photos in one of our many galleries World Birding Gallery | World Rarities Gallery). Thank you in particular to those photographers who regularly update the world photo galleries: Nick Athanas; Sam Woods; Mark Gurney, Colin Bushell, Pete Morris, Mark Sutton, Julian Hough, Janos Olah jr, but there are many others.

I have also included one or two females, to illustrate the sexual dimorphism of most hummingbird species – for some species we only have female-type plumages.  Also included are one or two non-breeding males and juveniles.  The irridescence of male plumage in varying light is illustrated well by the Bee Hummingbird and Ecuadorian Hillstar.  There is one image of a hybrid – hummingbirds are thought to hybridize fairly frequently at times.

The images here illustrate the beauty of hummingbirds.  Look at the extravagance of the coquettes; the bill of the Sword-billed; the minuteness of the Bee Hummingbird; the sheer extravagance of the colours of many.  One thing the images cannot show is the precarious existence of many species – hummingbirds live on the very edge of survival.  With so much habitat destruction and disturbance in South America it is of no surprise that the status of many species is currently listed as being of concern by Birdlife International.  Two species are listed as recently extinct, Brace’s Emerald was seen only once in 1877.  Of more immediate concern are the 28 species currently listed as being Critically endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) or Vulnerable (VN) on their Red Data list – eight are Critically endangered.  A further 19 species are listed as Near Threatened (NT) – 15% of hummingbird species are threatened or near threatened.  We are fortunate here to have images of six from the first group and four from the latter.

Amethyst Hummingbird to Buffy Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird to Grey-tailed Mountain-gem

Hooded Visorbearer to Rufous Hummingbird

Sapphire-vented Puffleg to Xantus's Hummingbird

Species Image
Allen's Hummingbird (more images)  Allen's Hummingbird
Amethyst-throated Sunangel (more images)  Amethyst-throated Sunangel
Amethyst Woodstar (more images)         Amethyst Woodstar
Amazilia Hummingbird (more images) Amazilia Hummingbird
Andean Emerald (more images)  		 Andean Emerald
Andean Hillstar (more images)   		 Andean Hillstar
Anna's Hummingbird (more images)   Anna's Hummingbird
Antillean Crested Hummingbird (more images)   Antillean Crested Hummingbird
Bahama Woodstar (more images)   		 Bahama Woodstar
Bearded Helmetcrest (more images)    Bearded Helmetcrest
Bee Hummingbird (more images)    Bee Hummingbird
Berylline Hummingbird (more images)  Berylline Hummingbird
Black Jacobin (more images)  		Black Jacobin
Black-billed Streamertail (more images)  Black-billed Streamertail
Black-breasted Puffleg (more images)   Black-breasted Puffleg
Black-chinned Hummingbird (more images)    Black-chinned Hummingbird
Black-crested Coquette (more images)   Black-crested Coquette
Black-eared Fairy (more images) Black-eared Fairy
Black-tailed Trainbearer (more images) Black-tailed Trainbearer
Black-throated Mango (more images) Black-throated Mango
Blue-capped Hummingbird (more images)    Blue-capped Hummingbird
Blue-chested Hummingbird (more images) Blue-chested Hummingbird
Blue-headed Hummingbird (more images)    Blue-headed Hummingbird
Blue-mantled Thornbill (more images)   Blue-mantled Thornbill
Blue-tailed Emerald (more images)    Blue-tailed Emerald
Booted Racket-tail (more images)   Booted Racket-tail
Brazilian Ruby (more images)    Brazilian Ruby
Broad-billed Hummingbird (more images) Broad-billed Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird (more images) Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer (more images)    Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer
Bronze-tailed Thornbill (more images)    Bronze-tailed Thornbill
Brown Inca (more images)  		Brown Inca
Brown Violetear (more images)    Brown Violetear
Buff-bellied Hummingbird (more images) Buff-bellied Hummingbird
Buff-tailed Coronet (more images)    Buff-tailed Coronet
Buff-winged Starfrontlet (more images) Buff-winged Starfrontlet
Buffy Hummingbird (more images) Buffy Hummingbird