Purple-throated mountain-gem

One of the living jewels found in the humid mountains of Central America


One of the living jewels found in the humid mountains of Central America

Population 500,000

The Purple-throated mountain gem is a dazzling jewel of the high-altitude cloud forests, captivating birdwatchers with its enchanting beauty and unique distribution across southwestern Nicaragua, northwestern Costa Rica, and central western Panama.

This striking hummingbird exhibits a distinctive appearance, with both males and females adorned with a dark, straight bill and iridescent green feathers that shimmer like emeralds in the dappled sunlight of their forest habitat. However, the males truly stand out, boasting a resplendent purple or violet throat that lends them their name, while the females display a more subtle palette of pale, rufous tones on their undersides.

While the Purple-throated mountain gem’s exquisite plumage may steal the show, its ecological role as a primary nectar feeder and pollinator is equally significant. These remarkable birds play a vital role in the reproductive cycles of numerous plant species, including many orchids and other flowering plants endemic to their cloud forest habitats. By sipping nectar from blossoms and transferring pollen from flower to flower as they forage, they facilitate the continuation of these delicate ecosystems.

Despite their primary reliance on nectar as a food source, Purple-throated mountain gems also supplement their diet with insects, which provide essential protein and nutrients, particularly during the breeding season when the energetic demands are high. Males, in particular, are known for their aggressive behavior when defending prime feeding territories, often engaging in fierce battles with rival males to secure access to the most abundant nectar sources. However, they display a softer side during courtship, graciously sharing their coveted flower patches with receptive females.

Speaking of courtship, the breeding season for Purple-throated mountain gems typically coincides with the rainy season, spanning from October to April. During this time, males engage in elaborate aerial displays and vocalizations to attract potential mates, showcasing their prowess and fitness as partners.


Population est.
Costa Rica

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No