Green Hermit Hummingbirds

The Green Hermit Hummingbirds  (Phaethornis guy) – also known as Guy’s Hermit – is a large hummingbird that is a resident breeder from Panama and Costa Rica south to eastern Peru, northeastern Venezuela and Trinidad.

This hermit inhabits forest undergrowth, is usually seen near water, and prefers hilly areas.

Several subspecies are recognized:

  • Phaethornis guy guy – Nominate species (Lesson, 1832)
    • Range: Island of Trinidad and northeast Venezuela
      • Phaethornis guy emiliae (Bourcier and Mulsant, 1846)
        • Range: in major river valleys in Colombia
      • Phaethornis guy apicalis (Tschudi, 1844)
        • Range: On the east Andean slopes from north Colombia and northwest Venezuela to southeast PeruID: Slightly smaller than the nominate
      • Phaethornis guy coruscus (Bangs, 1902)
        • Range: Costa Rica to northwest Colombia

Alternate (Global) Names

Spanish: Ermitaño Verde … French: Ermite de Guy, Ermite vert … Italian: Colibrì del sole verde, Eremita verde … Czech: Kolibrík šedobrichý, kolib?ík šedob?ichý … Danish: Grøn Eremit … German: Graubrusteremit, Graubrust-Eremit, Grüner Schattenkolibri … Finnish: Vihererakkokolibri … Japanese: midoriyumihachidori … Dutch: Groene Heremietkolibrie … Norwegian: Grønneremitt … Polish: pustelnik zielony … Russian: ????? ????????? ??????? … Slovak: slnecnícek zelený … Swedish: Grön eremit

Hummingbird Resources


The Green Hermit Hummingbirds  averages 13.5 cm in length and weighs 6.3 g. Their reddish beak is long and decurved.

The male Green Hermit’s plumage is mainly dark green with a blue-green rump. He has a dark mask through the eye, with buff stripes above and below and down the center of the throat. The central feathers of the tail are long and white-tipped, and are wiggled in display at the communal leks (= gathering of males for the purposes of competitive mating displays).

The female’s plumage is generally duller and sootier grey below. She has a longer beak and tail.

Breeding / Nesting

Hummingbirds are solitary in all aspects of life other than breeding; and the male’s only involvement in the reproductive process is the actual mating with the female. They neither live nor migrate in flocks; and there is no pair bond for this species. Males court females by flying in a u-shaped pattern in front of them. He will separate from the female immediately after copulation. One male may mate with several females. In all likelihood, the female will also mate with several males. The males do not participate in choosing the nest location, building the nest or raising the chicks.

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 usually suspended under a large leaf, usually over water.

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, skinny horizontal perch.

The average clutch usually only consists of one white egg, which she incubates alone for about 17 to 18 days, 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 21 – 23 days old.

Green Hermit

Diet / Feeding

The Green Hermit Hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar taken from a variety of brightly colored, scented small flowers of trees, herbs, shrubs and epiphytes. They favor flowers with the highest sugar content (often red-colored and tubular-shaped) and seek out, and aggressively protect, those areas containing flowers with high energy nectar.They use their long, extendible, straw-like tongues to retrieve the nectar while hovering with their tails cocked upward as they are licking at the nectar up to 13 times per second. Sometimes they may be seen hanging on the flower while feeding.

Many native and cultivated plants on whose flowers these birds feed heavily rely on them for pollination. The mostly tubular-shaped flowers actually exclude most bees and butterflies from feeding on them and, subsequently, from pollinating the plants.

They may also visit local hummingbird feeders for some sugar water, or drink out of bird baths or water fountains where they will either hover and sip water as it runs over the edge; or they will perch on the edge and drink – like all the other birds; however, they only remain still for a short moment.

They also take some small spiders and insects – important sources of protein particularly needed during the breeding season to ensure the proper development of their young. Insects are often caught in flight (hawking); snatched off leaves or branches, or are taken from spider webs. A nesting female can capture up to 2,000 insects a day.

Males establish feeding territories, where they aggressively chase away other males as well as large insects – such as bumblebees and hawk moths – that want to feed in their territory. They use aerial flights and intimidating displays to defend their territories.

Metabolism and Survival and Flight Adaptions – Amazing Facts

Call / Song:

The Green Hermit’s call is a loud zurk, and the display is a repeated swark.


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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