Pufflegs – Hummingbirds

The pufflegs are small to medium-sized South American hummingbirds that were named for their distinctive dense feathering around their legs known as “leg puffs” – which are unique among the pufflegs.

It comprises the members of the genera Haplophaedia and Eriocnemis.


The pufflegs occur naturally in Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela – at elevations between 3,300 – 15,700 ft (1000 – 4800 m).

Their natural habitats are the humid forests, woodlands and shrubs in the Andes.

The Genus Haplophaedia favor the forest interior; while the genus Eriocnemis are mostly found along the f forest edges, in elfin forests (forests with stunted trees growing at high altitude), and adjacent humid shrub zone.

Most of the pufflegs are fairly common within their range; however a few species are at risk of becoming extinct (critically endangered) or are possibly extinct:

Critically endangered:

Possibly extinct:

Male Emerald-bellied Puffleg (Eriocnemis alinae) - Valle del Sibundoy, Putumayo - Southeast Colombia
Emerald-bellied Puffleg (Eriocnemis aline) - Peru

Puffleg species / index

Hummingbird Resources

Golden-breasted Puffleg (Eriocnemis mosquera)


The adult males have a glossy green, coppery or steel-blue plumage. The female plumage is generally duller. Pufflegs have straight black bill and a slightly to deeply forked tail.

This species was named for the dense feathering around the legs known as “leg puffs,” which have been described as resembling “woolly panties” or “little cotton balls” above the legs.

These dense feather tufts are snow-white in most species, but are black in the Black-thighed Puffleg and lightly buff-tinged in the Buff-thighed Puffleg. Both males and females have this distinctive leg plumage, but it is not always visible

The members of the genus Haplophaedia are generally duller than the members of Eriocnemis.

Calls / Vocalizations

Like most hummingbirds, they are mostly silent. Their occasional calls (often given after taking flight) are described as a monotonous repeated metallic “tseet tseet tseet“.

Coppery-naped Puffleg (Eriocnemis sapphiropygia)
Golden-breasted Puffleg (Eriocnemis mosquera)
Hoary Puffleg (Haplophaedia lugens)
Photo of author

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.

We love to hear from our readers. If you have any questions or if you want to get in touch with us, you can find our contact details on our About Us page.

Leave a Comment