Backyard Birds

Ecuadorian Hillstars – Hummingbirds

The Ecuadorian Hillstars (Oreotrochilus chimborazo) – also known as Chimborazo Hillstar or Violet-hooded Hillstar – is a South American hummingbird.

Alternate (Global) Names

Spanish: Colibrí del Chimborazo … Italian: Orostella dell’Ecuador, Stella del Monte Chimborazo … French: Colibri des montagnes à calotte noire, Colibri du Chimborazo … German: Ecuador Kolibri, Ecuador-Andenkolibri … Latin: Oreotrochilus chimborazo, Oreotrochilus estella chimborazo … Czech: kolib?ík ?imborazský … Danish: Chimborazo-kolibri … Finnish: ecuadorinandienkolibri … Japanese: ekuadoruyamahachidori … Dutch: Ecuadoriaanse Bergnimf … Norwegian: Vulkanoreade … Polish: górzak fioletowoglowy, górzak fioletowog?owy … Russian: ??????????? ?????? ?????? … Slovak: vrchárik vysokohorský … Swedish: Ecuadorbergsstjärna

Distribution / Range

The Ecuadorian Hillstars occurs naturally in the Andes of Ecuador and far southern Colombia.

They inhabit grassland, scrub and stunted woodland areas at altitudes of 3,500 to 5,200 meters (11,500 to 17,100 ft).

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • Oreotrochilus chimborazo chimborazo – Nominate Race (DeLattre and Bourcier, 1846)
    • Range: Central Ecuador – Mount Chimborazo, possibly also Azuay
    • Oreotrochilus chimborazo jamesonii (Jardine, 1849)
      • Range: Found in the mountains of extreme south Colombia and north Ecuador (Cotacachi, Pichincha, Iliniza, Antisana, Cotopaxi)
    • Oreotrochilus chimborazo soederstroemi (Lönnberg and Rendahl, 1922)
      • Range: Central Ecuador (Mount Quilotoa)
Ecuadorian Hillstar (Oreotrochilus chimborazo)


The Ecuadorian Hillstars is a truly spectacular hummingbird – very unlike most hummingbirds.

The male’s head is a striking violet-purple, iridescent color contrasting sharply against his white under plumage which has copper spotting on the sides. He has a black color around the neck, although it is dissipating in the back. His back is a mix of intertwined green and cooper. The outer wing feathers are very dark – nearly black.

Hummingbird Resources

Nesting / Breeding

The female is responsible for building the cup-shaped nest out of plant fibers woven together and green moss on the outside for camouflage in a protected location in a shrub, bush or tree. She lines the nest with soft plant fibers, animal hair and feather down, and strengthens the structure with spider webbing and other sticky material, giving it an elastic quality to allow it to stretch to double its size as the chicks grow and need more room. The nest is typically found on a low, thin horizontal branch.

The average clutch consists of one white egg, which she incubates alone, while the male defends his territory and the flowers he feeds on. The young are born blind, immobile and without any down.

The female alone protects and feeds the chicks with regurgitated food (mostly partially-digested insects since nectar is an insufficient source of protein for the growing chicks). The female pushes the food down the chicks’ throats with her long bill directly into their stomachs.

As is the case with other hummingbird species, the chicks are brooded only the first week or two, and left alone even on cooler nights after about 12 days – probably due to the small nest size. The chicks leave the nest when they are about 20 days old.

Diet / Feeding

The Ecuadorian Hillstar Hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, scented small flowers of trees, herbs, shrubs and epiphytes; but they favor the flowers of the orange-flowered Chuquiragua shrub above all and it is its major food source.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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