Brown Violetear (Colibri delphinae)

Brown Violetear

[order] Apodiformes | [family] Trochilidae | [latin] Colibri delphinae | [UK] Brown Violetear | [FR] Colibri de Delphine | [DE] Brauner Veilchenohrkolibri | [ES] Colibri Pardo | [IT] Colibri orecchieviola bruno | [NL] Bruine Violetoorkolibrie


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

The 11.5 cm long, 6.5-7 g weight Brown Violet-ear is unmistakable; it is mainly dull brown, with a rufous rump and greyer underparts. There is a violet patch running back and down from the eye, a hermit-like malar stripe, and a glittering green central throat. The bill is short and straight.

The female is similar to the male, but has a smaller throat patch. Immature bird have rufous fringes to the upperpart plumage, and little or no violet behind the eyes. The song is a vigorous repetition of the chit call, and is delivered by up to several dozen breeding males in loose leks.

No sound available

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 11 cm size max.: 12 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


The Brown Violetear is a large hummingbird that breeds at middle elevations in the hills from Guatemala south to Bolivia and eastern Brazil, and on Trinidad. In Suriname presumably common along creeks in the interior.


The breeding habitat is forest at altitudes between 400-1600m, but the Brown Violet-ear will spread widely into the lowlands when not nesting. It is replaced at higher altitudes by its relative, the Green Violet-ear C. thalassimus. It is typically found high in the canopy of the rainforest, tall second growth and coffee plantations, but it will feed at lower levels at edges and clearings.


The nest is a small cup of plant down saddled on a twig 1-3m high in a bush, into which two white eggs are laid.

Feeding habits

The Brown Violet-ear feeds on nectar from small flowers of trees and epiphytes. It also takes insects, often caught in flight, as an essential source of protein. Although not particularly territorial, this species is highly aggressive, and at feeders seems to spend far more time attacking other hummingbirds than actually feeding.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 1,200,000 km2. The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population size criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., less than 10,000 mature individuals in conjunction with appropriate decline rates and subpopulation qualifiers), even though the species is described as ‘uncommon’ in at least parts of its range (Stotz et al. 1996). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Brown Violetear status Least Concern


Sedentary throughout range

Distribution map

Brown Violetear range map


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