Hummingbird Taxonomy of the Trochilidae Subfamily Polytminae

Polytminae is a subfamily of the Trochilidae family, and it comprises 12 genera and 29 species of hummingbirds. They are also informally called "mangoes." These hummingbirds are noted for their distinctive bills that has serrations that look like little teeth. 

Ludwig Reichenbach introduced the name Polytminae for the “mango” clade in 1849. Most species in this clade have one thing in common: the presence of serrations on their bills, the hummingbird with the most pronounced serrations is the tooth-billed hummingbird. These birds were not categorized under Polytminae sub-family from their genetic markers but from the appearance of their bills.

Cladogram of Taxonomic Distribution of Polytminae Subspecies

As defined by Dickinson & Remsen according to the phylogenetic studies done by Jimmy McGuire

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Taxononimc relationship of Polytminae subfamily of Hummingbirds – Source:

Genus and Subspecies of Polytminae

Doryfera (Lancebills)

Blue-fronted lancebills (Doryfera johannae)

Blue-fronted lancebills (Doryfera johannae) inhabit tropical and subtropical forests in Colombia, Brazil, Guyana, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela – mostly rivers and streams. These hummingbirds have a longer bill than most and a green iridescent forehead. Males have bluish-purple forecrowns and black underparts.

Green-fronted lancebill (Doryfera ludovicae)

Green-fronted lancebill (Doryfera ludovicae) inhabits tropical and subtropical moist montane forests with streams in Colombia, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Panama. These are large, straight-billed hummingbirds. Males are greenish with iridescent foreheads and bronzy napes. Females resemble males but have browner undersides.

Schistes (daggerbills)

Geoffroy’s daggerbill (Schistes geoffroyi) is a small hummingbird found in cloudforests in Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela. Both sexes have short, straight bills. Males have green gorgets and blue neck patches. Females have a greenish neck and white eyeline.

White-throated daggerbill (Schistes albogularis) is a Small Andean hummingbird found inhabiting cloudforests and streams in Colombia and Ecuador. Both sexes have short, straight bills. Males have a green throat and crown and purple neck patches. Females are duller and have white throats.


The Hooded visorbearer (Augastes lumachella) hovers at higher altitudes in Brazil (in the Chapada Diamantina of Bahia). Both sexes have a straight beak, rusty tails, and white breast bands. Males have a black forehead and cheeks, a golden neck patch, and a green bill. Females have gray faces and brown sides.

The Hyacinth visorbearer (Augastes scutatus) is a Brazilian native that loves gallery forests, ravines, and bushy areas. Both sexes have a short, straight beak. Males have a white breast band, a greenback, and blue undersides. Females have grey faces and gray, blue, and green bellies.

Colibri (violetears)

Most species of violetears have green feathers (the exception being the brown violetear). Male violetears have a violet-blue patch from the eye and some iridescence on the throat. Female violetears look similar, but the patches are less noticeable. Violetears are very territorial, and you often spot one chasing other hummingbirds.

Brown violetear (Colibri delphinae) has a duller plumage than another hummingbird from this list and can be seen in Mexico and South America. Their habitats include middle elevation, rainforests, second growth, plantations, clearings, and edges.

Lesser violetear (Colibri cyanotus) are green gems that enjoy secondary woodlands, subtropical forests, scrubs, gardens and clearings, cloudforests in the Andes, Costa Rica, and Panama.

The Mexican violetear (Colibri thalassinus) stays mostly in northwestern Nicaragua and Mexico, and they love habitats like secondary woodlands, subtropical forests, scrubs, gardens and clearings, and cloud forests.

The sparkling violetear (Colibri coruscans) is another green-colored gem that lives in the Andes and hovers through open landscapes, forest edges, subtropical forests, woodlands, páramo, and gardens.


The Tooth-billed hummingbird (Androdon aequatorialis) primarily inhabits humid forests in northwest Ecuador, west of Colombia, and eastern Panama. There were only a few sightings of these species, but it’s not considered to be threatened. The tooth-billed hummingbird is a big, long-billed hummingbird with a streaky neck and breast, green upperparts, and coppery crown. The tail is gray with a black band and white tips. The Female’s bill lacks toothlike serrations.


Horned sungems (Heliactin bilophus) inhabit woodlands, grasslands, savannas, and gallery forests in Brazil, Bolivia, and Suriname. Both sexes have a short, straight bill while males have tufted red, blue, and gold “horns” on their sides, blue crowns, black throats, metallic upper-sides, and white undersides. Females are green-capped and hornless.

Heliothryx (fairies)

The Ancient Greek word hēlios means “sun,” and thrix means “hair.” These two species have their plumage in common: white bellies and bright green backs and heads.

The Black-eared fairy (Heliothryx auritus) can be spotted in most South American countries and inhabits wet primary and secondary forests. Both sexes have short straight beaks and black eye streaks. It has green upper parts, white underparts, and a long white and black tail. It Can have a white or green throat – depending on the subspecies.

The Purple-crowned fairy (Heliothryx barroti) can be found in Mexico (southeast) and Peru (north), mainly in secondary forests, humid lowland forests, and plantations. Both sexes have a black and pointed beak. The male has white underparts, emerald-green upper parts, white tail feathers, and a purple crown. Females have longer tails and no colored crowns.

Polytmus (goldenthroat)

The Ancient Greek word polutimos means “expensive” and “valuable.”

Green-tailed goldenthroat (Polytmus theresiae) has an entirely green plumage (including the tail) inhabits white forest edges and savannas in Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, French Guiana, Peru, Venezuela, Suriname, and Ecuador.

Tepui goldenthroat (Polytmus milleri) is a medium-sized green hummingbird with a rounded, white-tipped tail and a decurved black beak that inhabits scrublands and cloudforest edges in Brazil, Venezuela, and Guyana. The Female has spotted green underparts.

White-tailed goldenthroats (Polytmus guainumbi) typically inhabit shrubby savannas, swamps, and wet grasslands but also try habitats in Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Guyana, Peru, Paraguay, French Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, Trinidad & Tobago. Both sexes have a long bill. Males are green with white bellies and under tails. Females are duller and have green-spotted breasts. 


Fiery-tailed awlbill (Avocettula recurvirostris) is typically found in low to medium elevation in Brazil, French Guiana, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, and Venezuela; habitats include savannas, shrubby, arid hillsides, and human-made landscapes. This is a rare hummingbird with an odd beak – slightly turned upwards toward the tip. Females have green upper parts, white undersides, and a black stripe along the breast.


Ruby-topaz hummingbird (Chrysolampis mosquitos) dwell amongst shrubby hillsides, arid landscapes, and open savanna landscapes. This is a small hummingbird found in northern South America and eastern Panama. The male has a golden neck, a ruby-red crown, and a dark-tipped orange tail. Females have light gray underparts, grayish green upper-parts, white tail tips, and short and decurved bills.

Anthracothorax (Mangoes)

Friedrich Boie introduced this genus in 1831. The meaning comes from the words anthrax + thōrax; anthras means “coal” and thōrax means “chest” = black chested

Antillean mango (Anthracothorax Dominicus) male is green above and black below. It inhabits secondary forests, plantations, gardens, and coastal shrublands in Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, the British Virgin Islands, and the US Virgin Islands.

Black-throated mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis) is a rare hummingbird found in cultivation areas, open landscapes, and gardens in southern Brazil, northern Argentina, and south Panama to northeastern Bolivia. This is a big, dark hummingbird with a decurved beak and purple tail. Males have a green body, black throat, and belly. Females have a black stripe along their white underparts.

The Green-breasted mango (Anthracothorax prevostii) inhabits open landscapes, gardens, orchards, and tropical deciduous forests in southern Mexico to Central America. Males are dark green with black necks and purple tails. Females and juveniles have a black stripe along the neck, breast, and white tail corners.

Green mango (Anthracothorax viridis) hummingbirds are found in most forests and plantations in Puerto Rico. Its appearance is black but has dark wings and green underparts and upper parts.

Green-throated mangos (Anthracothorax viridigula) are hovering over swampy and moist landscapes in Venezuela, Trinidad, The Guianas, and Brazil. Males have green plumage and a purple tail with brownish central feathers. Females have white bellies with a black stripe.

Jamaican mangos (Anthracothorax mango) inhabit arid landscapes, forest edges, plantations, and gardens in Jamaica. The male stands out through its black underparts, scarlet cheeks, and red-purple tail. Females and immatures aren’t as colorful.

The Veraguan mango (Anthracothorax veraguensis) is like the lowlands in Panama and Costa Rica. Both sexes have a decurved-bill hummingbird. Males have green plumage, a dark purple tail, and a blue streak down the neck and breast. Females have white underparts with a greenish central line. Juveniles have white bellies and orange sides.

The Puerto Rican mango (Anthracothorax aurulentus) hummingbird inhabits forest edges and gardens in Puerto Rico, the British & American Virgin Islands. Males have bronze-green upper parts, a gray belly, green flanks, and a green tail. Females have bronze-green upper parts and grey and white underparts.

Eulampis (Caribs)

This genus has weak sexual dimorphism, meaning there is not much difference between males and females. The word: eulampēs means “bright shining” in Ancient Greek.

Green-throated carib (Eulampis holosericeus) is a huge hummingbird with a down-curved bill. In bad light, it’s iridescent green looks black. This hummingbird is a Caribbean Islands native and hovers around most of the Lesser Antilles locations. Its main habitats include semi-deciduous forests, wet forests, dry habitats, gardens, and parks.

The Purple-throated carib (Eulampis jugularis) is a Caribbean Islands native and can also be found in most of the Lesser Antilles. The main habitats are primary and secondary forests. It has a markedly downcurved bill and looks predominantly black in most lighting conditions. However, the shimmering green wings and curved bill stand out evidently!


McGuire, Jimmy A., Christopher C. Witt, J. V. Remsen, R. Dudley, and Douglas L. Altshuler. “A higher-level taxonomy for hummingbirds.” Journal of Ornithology 150, no. 1 (2009): 155-165.

Remsen Jr, J. V., F. GARY Stiles, and Jimmy A. Mcguire. “Classification of the Polytminae (Aves: Trochilidae).” Zootaxa 3957, no. 1 (2015): 143-150.

Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. Vol. 1: Non-passerines (4th ed.). Eastbourne, UK: Aves Press. ISBN 978-0-9568611-0-8 .

Stiles, F. Gary. “Ecomorphology and phylogeny of hummingbirds: divergence and convergence in adaptations to high elevations.” Ornitologia Neotropical 19 (2008): 511-519.


Alexandra has a deep love for the natural world. She likes to experience it fully but also loves learning about the science behind it. She has a special relationship with hummingbirds and enjoys witnessing their beauty and grace whenever she’s out.

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