Backyard Birds

Tooth-billed Hummingbirds

The Tooth-billed Hummingbirds (Androdon aequatorialis) is a species of bird from the family Trochilidae. It is monotypic within the genus Androdon.

It is found in humid forests in western Colombia, north-western Ecuador (south to Pichincha Province), and far eastern Panama (Darién Province). While generally scarce, localized, and associated with the highly threatened humid sections of the Chocó, its range remains relatively large, and it is therefore considered to be of least concern by BirdLife International.


The Tooth-billed Hummingbirds have a total length of c. 14 cm (5½ in), which includes a long, essentially straight bill of c. 4 cm (1½ in).

Its common name refers to the small tooth-like serrations on the inner part of the distal half of the bill. It is shiny green above with a coppery crown. The underparts are whitish-streaked dusky. The rounded tail is greyish with a broad black subterminal band and white tips. There is a conspicuous white band on the rump. In males, the bill has a small hook at the tip and more prominent tooth-like spikes; their plumage color averages brighter overall than females. While the green upper parts of this species are iridescent, its plumage is duller than that of most hummingbirds.

Within its range, it is essentially unmistakable by the combination of the long, almost straight bill and the dark-streaked whitish underparts.


The Tooth-billed Hummingbirds are restricted to humid primary forests and nearby second growth. It occurs up to an altitude of c. 1560 m (5200 ft). In Ecuador, it is most frequent between 400-800 m (1300-2600 ft), while it mainly occurs between 600-1560 m (2000-5200 ft) in Panama, and up to 1050 m (3400 ft) in Colombia.


Rather inconspicuous and generally poorly known. It is a swift flier. It forages from low levels to sub-canopy, where it feeds on nectar from flowers of plant families such as Ericaceae and Gesneriaceae.

Its main feeding strategy involves trap-lining. The serrated bill is also well adapted for catching small spiders and insects, while the hooked tip of the males’ bill is further suited for extracting prey from within rolled leaves and cavities. It has sometimes been seen rapidly gleaning below large leaves while flicking its tail.

Little is known about its breeding behavior, but individuals captured in Colombia in January-March have had enlarged gonads, indicating that they were in breeding condition. In Ecuador, it has been reported that males gather in leks in February-May, which is unusual among members of the subfamily Trochilinae, but frequent among the members of Phaethornithinae. Its calls include a high-pitched tsit-tseé-tsu and penetrating cheet notes.


The Tooth-billed Hummingbirds taxonomic position has been controversial, with some arguing that it should be placed in the subfamily Phaethornithinae, and others that it, together with the two lance-bills, should be placed in its small subfamily, Doryferinae. Today most authorities place it at the beginning of Trochilinae.

Hummingbird Resources


  • BirdLife International 2004. Androdon aequatorialis. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 10 July 2007.
  • Hilty, S., and W. Brown. 1986. A Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 0-691-08372-X
  • Restall, R., C. Rodner, and M. Lentin. 2006. Birds of Northern South America. Vol. 1 and 2. Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-7242-0 (vol. 1); ISBN 0-7136-7243-9 (vol. 2)
  • Ridgely, R., and J. Gwynne, Jr. 1989. A Guide to the Birds of Panama with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. 2nd edition. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 0-691-02512-6
  • Ridgely, R., and P. Greenfield. 2001. The Birds of Ecuador – Field Guide. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-8721-8
  • Schuchmann, K. 1999. Androdon aequatorialis (Tooth-billed Hummingbird). Pp. 549 in: del Hoyo, J, A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal. eds. 1999. Handbook of Birds of the World. Vol. 5. Barn-owls to Hummingbirds. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-25-3
  • Skutch, Alexander F. The Life of the Hummingbird. New York: Crown, 1973



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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