Lucifer Sheartail (Calothorax lucifer)

Lucifer Sheartail

[order] APODIFORMES | [family] Trochilidae | [latin] Calothorax lucifer | [UK] Lucifer Sheartail | [FR] Colibri lucifer | [DE] Luziferkolibri | [ES] Colibri Lucifer | [NL] Luciferkolibrie


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Note the decurved bill. Male has a purple throat, rusty or buffy sides. No purple on crown (as in Costa’s); tail deeply forked, often folded. Female:
Decurved bill, uniform buff breast.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 9 cm size max.: 10 cm
incubation min.: 15 days incubation max.: 16 days
fledging min.: 19 days fledging max.: 24 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


North America : Southwest USA to Central Mexico


Arid slopes, desert canyons, agaves. In southwestern United States, mostly on very dry hillsides w
ith scattered ocotillos, agaves, cacti, and thorny shrubs. Also moves into some less arid areas, including dry grassland with scattered oaks.


Male has the unique habit of performing courtship display to female while she is at her nest, during nest-building or egg-laying stage. In display, male shuttles back and forth several times in short flight, with loud rustling noise of wings, then flies h
igh and dives steeply past nest.
Nest: Site is in open cholla cactus or on stalk of ocotillo or agave, 2-
10′ above ground. Nest (built by female) a compact cup of plant fibers, pieces of flowers, leaves, fine stems, spider webs, the outside decorated with leaves or lichens.
Eggs: 2. White. Incubation by female only, about 15 days.
Young: Fed by female only. Age of young at first flight about 19-24 days; female may continue to feed young for another 2-3 weeks. Sometimes raises 2 broods, and may build nest and begin incubating second clutch while
still feeding fledglings from first nest.

Feeding habits

Mostly nectar and small insects.
Feeds on nectar from flowers, especially tubular flowers such as agave, penstemon, and paintbrush. Will also take artificial substitutes such as sugar-water mixtures. Eats many small insects and spiders.
Behavior: Feeds on nectar mostly while hovering at flowers; will also feed while perched on clusters of flowers. Flie
s out from a perch to catch flying insects, and will also take insects and spiders from foliage or from spider webs. Will visit hummingbird feeders for sugar-water.


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Lucifer Sheartail status Least Concern


Western Texas to southern Mexico. Breeds in western Texas (Chisos Mountains), rarely southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico. Migration:
Birds from southwestern United States and northern Mexico apparently move to south-central Mexico for the winter.

Distribution map

Lucifer Sheartail distribution range map

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