Hummingbird Emeralds from the Trochilini Family

Trochilini is part of the subfamily Trochilinae, descendant of the umbrella hummingbird family known entirely as the Trochilidae. Alongside, the Trochilini (emeralds) tribe, are the Lampornithini (mountain gems) and the Mellisugini (the bees) tribes. This tribe contains over 114 subspecies of hummingbirds categorized into 36 different genera. 

Trochilini is a hummingbird clade, and the birds in this category are also called emeralds. These emerald hummingbirds were categorized by ornithologists using molecular phylogenetic characteristics. This means that the hummingbirds that share the most genetics are categorized into the same group.

Cladogram of the Trochilini Tribe of Hummingbird

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

Alongside, the Trochilini (emeralds) tribe is the the Lampornithini (mountain gems) and the Mellisugini (the bees) them are two other subfamilies

Species and genera in the Trochilini family

Hummingbird taxonomy and phylogeny can be complicated. The generic nomenclature Trochilini classification was revised to conform to recent genetic (DNA sequencing) studies by McGuire et al. (2014) – respecting the International Code for Zoological Nomenclature.

So this tribe has been significantly revised:

  • 11 genera came back to life
  • One new genus (Elliotomyia) was added
  • Some genera turned out to be synonyms (AphantochroaElviraGoethalsiaCyanophaiaJuliamyia, and Lepidopyga)

Trochilini Family Clads – Categorization and Characteristics.

The Trochilini tribe has 36 genera and no less than 114 species, so it may be possible that you find your favorite hummer on the list. The Trochilini tribe are accompanied by another two tribes known as Mellisugini and the Lampornithini tribes. Hummingbirds in the Trochilini family are found in the United States to South America.


The dusky hummingbird (Phaeoptila sordida) can be found in Mexico in arid scrubs and elevations of 900-2200m. Both sexes are bronzy green above and grey below, with no iridescence. The male has a redder beak and white tail corners. Female Broad-billed Hummingbird similar, but greener above.


This genus is spread in the Caribbean and has two extinct species: Riccordia bracei and Riccordia elegant. The Brace’s emerald (Riccordia bracei) is an extinct species that used to live in the Bahamas (New Providence). Gould’s emerald (Riccordia elegant) is an extinct species of emerald. His whereabouts were unknown (probably in Jamaica or the Bahamas). The following are the current species in this clad that are alive and actively propagating.

stunning Cuban emerald hummingbird, Riccordia ricordii
The Cuban emerald hummingbird

Cuban emerald, Riccordia ricordii can be found mainly in the Bahamas and Cuba. The male is iridescent green and has a red bill base, a white patch below the abdomen, and a white point behind the eye. The female has a long, forked tail and is metallic green above and white below.

The Hispaniolan emerald (Riccordia swainsonii) hummingbird lives on the island of Dominican republic
The Hispaniolan emerald hummingbird

The Hispaniolan emerald (Riccordia swainsonii) is a Hispaniola native. The males have an iridescent green tail and a red bill base. The female has a long, forked tail and is metallic green above and white below.

The Puerto Rican emerald (Riccordia maugaeus) is, as the name says, a Puerto Rico native. Males are entirely iridescent green or blue under certain circumstances. Females have a long, forked tail and are metallic green above and white below, with a black face.

Blue-headed hummingbirds (Riccordia bicolor) inhabit forest openings and edges in the Lesser Antilles (Dominica and Martinique). The male has iridescent blue and green plumage all over. The female is dingy white below and sparkling green above, while her crown and tail are blue-iridescent.


Broad-billed hummingbird

Broad-billed hummingbirds (Cynanthus latirostris) usually reside in Mexico & southwestern US. In the appropriate light, the male’s body has gorgeous iridescent blues and greens. Females are duller, grey below, with a white line below the eye.

Doubleday’s hummingbird, Cynanthus doubledayi – Mexico native

Golden-crowned emerald, Cynanthus auriceps – western Mexico native

Cozumel emerald, Cynanthus forficatus – Native in Cozumel (Mexico)

Canivet’s emerald, Cynanthus canivetii – El Salvador, Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Mexico.


The males in the Chlorostilbon clade have iridescent green plumage and they may also have variations of golden, green, or blue. Females are duller and have white and grey bellies and tail corners.


Garden emerald, Chlorostilbon assimilis – Costa Rica and Panama

Western emerald, Chlorostilbon melanorhynchus – Colombia and Ecuador

Red-billed emerald, Chlorostilbon gibsoni – Colombia and Venezuela

Blue-tailed emerald, Chlorostilbon mellisugus – Colombia, Guianas, Trinidad, Bolivia, and Brazil.

Chiribiquete emerald, Chlorostilbon olivaresi – Colombia native

Glittering-bellied emerald, Chlorostilbon lucidus – Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Coppery emerald, Chlorostilbon russatus – Colombia and Venezuela

Narrow-tailed emerald, Chlorostilbon stenurus – Colombia and Venezuela

Green-tailed emerald, Chlorostilbon alice – Venezuela native

Short-tailed emerald, Chlorostilbon poortmani – Colombia and Venezuela


Species distribution:

White-eared hummingbird, Basilinna leucotis – southern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona, and western Texas 

Xantus’s hummingbird, Basilinna xantusii – southern Baja Peninsula of Mexico


These species are typically native to northern Middle America and are a polyphyletic group.

Curve-winged sabrewing, Pampa curvipennis – Mexico

Wedge-tailed sabrewing, Pampa pampa – Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras.

Long-tailed sabrewing, Pampa excellent – Mexico native

Rufous sabrewing, Pampa rufa – Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala


Emerald-chinned hummingbird, Abeillia abeillei

Distribution: Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua


Violet-headed hummingbird, Klais guimeti

Distribution: Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Venezuela, and Nicaragua

Habitat: tropical and subtropical lowlands, montane forest


Antillean crested hummingbird, Orthorhyncus cristatus

Distribution: Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Anguilla, Dominica, Montserrat, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Kills and Nevis, Saba, Saint-Barthelemy, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint MAetin, The British & US Virgin Islands, Florida & Lesser Antilles


Species distribution:

Santa Marta blossomcrown, Anthocephala floriceps – Colombia native (Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta)

Tolima blossomcrown, Anthocephala berlepschi – Colombia native


Species distribution:

Green-crowned plovercrest, Stephanoxis lalandi – Brazil

Purple-crowned plovercrest, Stephanoxis loddigesii – Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil


Campylopterus (Sabrewing)

These are the larger hummingbirds (12-15cm) in the family. The distribution for the Campylopterus hummingbird family is in Brazil, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, southern Mexico, Central America, Peru. Their typical habitats are found in mountains, forests, and streams.


Grey-breasted sabrewing, Campylopterus largipennis

Outcrop sabrewing, Campylopterus calcirupicola

Diamantina sabrewing, Campylopterus diamantinensis

Rufous-breasted sabrewing, Campylopterus hyperythrus

White-tailed sabrewing, Campylopterus ensipennis

Lazuline sabrewing, Campylopterus falcatus

Santa Marta sabrewing, Campylopterus phainopeplus

Violet sabrewing, Campylopterus hemileucurus

Buff-breasted sabrewing, Campylopterus duidae

Napo sabrewing, Campylopterus villaviscensio

Chalybura (Plumeleteer)


Bronze-tailed plumeleteer, Chalybura urochrysia – eastern Honduras and northwestern Ecuador.

White-vented plumeleteer, Chalybura buffonii – Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Panama, and Venezuela

Thalurania (Woodnymph)

The distribution of these woodnymph hummingbirds are anywhere in the Neotropical realm which include southern Mexico, the southern tip of Florida, the Caribbean, and most of South America. You can find these hummingbirds in humid forest, and tall second growth habitats.

Crowned woodnymph, Thalurania colombica

Fork-tailed woodnymph, Thalurania furcata

Long-tailed woodnymph, Thalurania watertonii

Violet-capped woodnymph, Thalurania glaucopis


Species distribution:

Snowcap, Microchera albocoronata – Costa Rica, Hinduras, Nicaragua, and west Panama

Coppery-headed emerald, Microchera cupreiceps – Costa Rica native

White-tailed emerald, Microchera chionura – Talamancan montane forests.


Species distribution:

Violet-capped hummingbird, Goldmania violiceps – Panama and northwestern Colombia.

Pirre hummingbird, Goldmania bella – Panama, and northwestern Colombia



Eupherusa poliocerca – Guerrero and western Oaxaca

Mexican woodnymph, Eupherusa ridgwayi – west Mexico

White-tailed hummingbird, Eupherusa poliocerca – Guerrero and western Oaxaca

Oaxaca hummingbird, Eupherusa cyanophrys – Oaxaca

Stripe-tailed hummingbird, Eupherusa eximia – southeastern Mexico and Panama.

Black-bellied hummingbird, Eupherusa nigriventris – Costa Rica & Panama


Species distribution:

Scaly-breasted hummingbird, Phaeochroa cuvierii

Distribution: Colombia, Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama & Nicaragua

Habitat: tropical and subtropical lowland forests


Buffy hummingbird, Leucippus fallax

Distribution: Colombia, Venezuela, and French Guiana

Habitat: arid areas, desert shrubland; elevation up to 500 meters


Distribution: Ecuador and Peru

Habitat: subtropical or tropical dry forests and shrublands


Tumbes hummingbird, Thaumasius baeri

Spot-throated hummingbird, Thaumasius taczanowskii


Many-spotted hummingbird, Taphrospilus hypostictus

Distribution: Andean Foothills, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and northwestern Argentina.

Habitat: subtropical or tropical moist forests and shrublands



Swallow-tailed hummingbird, Eupetomena macrourus – east-central South America 

Sombre hummingbird, Eupetomena cirrochloris – Brazil


Olive-spotted hummingbird, Talaphorus chlorocercus

Distribution: western Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, southeastern Colombia.

Habitat: tropical and subtropical moist shrublands

Trochilus (streamertails)


Red-billed streamertail, Trochilus polytmus – Jamaica

Black-billed streamertail, Trochilus scitulus – eastern Jamaica


Distribution: southeastern Arizona, Mexico, and western Guatemala, Pacific coast, Oaxaca (depending on species). Habitats include tropical and subtropical dry forests, moist lowland forests, and shrub lands.


Violet-crowned hummingbird, Leucolia violiceps

Green-fronted hummingbird, Leucolia viridifrons

Cinnamon-sided hummingbird, Leucolia wagneri


Species distribution:

Azure-crowned hummingbird, Saucerottia cyanocephala – tropical and subtropical montane forests of El Salvador, Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, and Nicaragua

Blue-vented hummingbird, Saucerottia hoffmanni – west of Nicaragua to Costa Rica.

Berylline hummingbird, Saucerottia beryllina – western Mexico, Honduras, Central America, southeastern Arizona.

Blue-tailed hummingbird, Saucerottia cyanura – tropical and subtropical dry forests and moist lowlands in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

Snowy-bellied hummingbird, Saucerottia edward – tropical or subtropical moist forests/montane forests in Panama, Costa Rica, and northwestern Colombia. 

Steely-vented hummingbird, Saucerottia saucerrottei – evergreen forests and open woodlands – from Colombia to northwestern Venezuela. 

Indigo-capped hummingbird, Saucerottia cyanifrons – Colombia

Chestnut-bellied hummingbird, Saucerottia castaneiventris – mostly dry habitats in Colombia (Magdalena Valley)

Green-bellied hummingbird, Saucerottia viridigaster – tropical and subtropical dry forests/moist lowland forests/montane forests in Brazil, Guyana, Colombia, and Venezuela.

Copper-rumped hummingbird, Saucerottia tobaci – Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, and Venezuela.


Distribution: tropical Central & South America. Species:

Cinnamon hummingbird, Amazilia rutila = from Mexico to Costa Rica

Buff-bellied hummingbird, Amazilia yucatanensis – Texas, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala.

Rufous-tailed hummingbird, Amazilia tzacatl – Mexico, Central America, and Colombia, to Ecuador and Venezuela.

Honduran emerald, Amazilia luciae – Honduras

Mangrove hummingbird, Amazilia boucardi – Costa Rica


Amazilia hummingbird, Amazilis amazilia

Distribution: common in western Peru and southwestern Ecuador.

Habitat: prefers arid or semi-arid climate, thorn forests, scrubs, deserts, and steppes


Andean emerald, Uranomitra franciae

Distribution: Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru

Habitat: woodlands, forest edges, scrubs


Distribution: Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Paraguay, Argentina, and Guyana (depending on species). Species:

Shining-green hummingbird, Chrysuronia goudoti

Golden-tailed sapphire, Chrysuronia oenone

Versicolored emerald, Chrysuronia versicolor

Sapphire-throated hummingbird, Chrysuronia coeruleogularis

Sapphire-bellied hummingbird, Chrysuronia lilliae

Humboldt’s sapphire, Chrysuronia humboldtii

Blue-headed sapphire, Chrysuronia grayi

White-chested emerald, Chrysuronia brevirostris

Plain-bellied emerald, Chrysuronia leucogaster


White-throated hummingbird, Leucochloris albicollis

Distribution: South-east of Brazil, north-east of Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay

Habitat: woodlands, forests, and gardens. 


Species distribution:

Glittering-throated emerald, Chionomesa fimbriata – Amazon Basin, Brazil, Guianas, Venezuela, and Trinidad.

Sapphire-spangled emerald, Chionomesa lactea – Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, and sometimes Ecuador


Species distribution:

Rufous-throated sapphire, Hylocharis sapphirina – northern and central South America.

Gilded sapphire, Hylocharis chrysura – Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina (north), Paraguay, and Uruguay


Species distribution:

White-bellied hummingbird, Elliotomyia chionogaster – northern Peru, Bolivia, northwestern Argentina.

Green-and-white hummingbird, Elliotomyia viridicauda – East Andean slope in Peru


Distribution: Colombia, Costa Rica,anama, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.


Blue-chested hummingbird, Polyerata amabilis

Charming hummingbird, Polyerata decora

Purple-chested hummingbird, Polyerata rosenbergi


Distribution: Belize, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil.


White-bellied emerald, Chlorestes candida

Blue-throated sapphire, Chlorestes eliciae

White-chinned sapphire, Chlorestes cyanus

Violet-bellied hummingbird, Chlorestes julie

Blue-chinned sapphire, Chlorestes notata


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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