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Version 1.0

This is a historic version of this account.


Magnificent Hummingbird Eugenes fulgens

Ruth Partida-Lara and Paula L. Enríquez
Version: 1.0 — Published November 2, 2012


Distinguishing Characteristics

Magnificent Hummingbird is a large hummingbird with a long, straight bill. This species is sexually dimorphic. Males are very dark, with a small white spot behind the eye; the crown is iridescent purple crown, the upperparts dark green, the gorget is glittering green, and the rest of the underparts are blackish. The tail of the male is bronze and slightly notched. Female Magnificent Hummingbird lacks the iridescent gorget and crown; the upperparts are green, and the underparts are pale grayish. The outer rectrices have a broad blackish subterminal band and white tips.

Similar Species

Male Magnificent Hummingbird is distinctive. The female is similar to the female of Blue-throated Hummingbird (Lampornis clemenciaeColibrí Serrano Gorjiazul), but Magnificent Hummingbird has longer bill, has a long postocular streak, and much broader white tips to the outer rectrices. In Costa Rica and Panama, two other species of hummingbird, Green-crowned Brilliant (Heliodoxa jacula; Brillante coroniverde), and Violet Sabrewing (Campylopterus hemileucurus; Alasable violaceo) are similar in size. Among other differences, Magnificent Hummingbird can be distinguished from both of these species by its longer, straight bill.

Detailed Description

The following description is based on Ridgway (1911), and refers to nominate fulgens; see also Geographic Variation:

Adult male: Forecrown blackish, glossed with green or bluish green. Crown metallic violet or purple. Nape, sides of crown, and auriculars velvety black to bronze green. Postocular spot white. Rest of upperparts, including rectrices, bronze green or golden green; rectrices sometimes pale grayish at tip. Remiges dark brownish slate or dusky, faintly glossed with purple or purplish bronze. Chin and throat (gorget) brilliant emeral green, the gorget extending farther back along the sides of the throat than in the center of the throat. Breast velvety black, shading into bronze green on lower breast and to grayish brown or sooty grayish on belly and flanks. Tibial tufts white. Undertail coverts light brownish gray.

Adult female: Upperparts, including the two central pairs of rectrices, metallic or golden green; crown duller (forecrown sometimes dull grayish brown). Postocular streak white. Auriculars dusky. Basal half of the three outer pairs of rectrices bronze green, with a black subterminal band and a brownish gray or grayish brown tip, broadest on the outer pair. Remiges dark brownish slate or dusky, faintly glossed with purple or purplish bronze. Underparts brownish gray or buffy grayish, with a bronze green wash on the sides. Feathers of chin and throat with paler margins or margins of dull grayish white. Tibial tufts white. Undertail coverts brownish gray (sometimes glossed with bronze green).

Immature male: Shows a mix of characters of the plumages of the adult male and adult female. Crown partially violet, throat only partially green, and breast slightly intermixed with black.

Immature female: Similar to adult female, but feathers of upperparts narrolwy tipped with pale grayish buff; underparts slightly darker and more or less suffused with pale brownish buffy.


Molt has been recorded from April to July, with heavy molt on the head and body in April (unpublished data).

Bare Parts

Iris: dark brown

Bill: dull black

Toes: dusky

Bare parts color data from Ridgway (1911).


Total length: 12-13.5 cm (Howell and Webb 1995)

Linear measurements (from Ridgway 1911):

fulgens, male (n = 31)

wing length, mean 73 mm (range 69.5-76 mm)

tail length, mean 43.2 mm (range 40.5-48 mm)

culmen length, mean 27.4 mm (range 25.5-31 mm)

fulgens, female (n = 14)

wing length, mean 68.7 mm (range 66.5-70.5 mm)

tail length, mean 39.4 mm (range 37.5-41.5 mm)

culmen length, mean 29.1 mm (range 27-30.5 mm)

spectabilis, male (n = 10)

wing length, mean 77.8 mm (range 76-81 mm)

tail length, mean 46.8 mm (range 43.5-48.5 mm)

culmen length, mean 31 mm (range 29-33 mm)

spectabilis, female (n = 10)

wing length, mean 73.5 mm (range 68-74.5 mm)

tail length, mean 42.3 mm (range 36-43.5 mm)

culmen length, mean 36.3 mm (range 35-37.5 mm)

Mass: fulgens, male (n = 47), mean 7.90 ± 0.49 g (range 6.81-9.55 g; Powers 1996); spectabilis, male (n = 10) mean 9.91 ± 0.35 g (range 9.4-10.4 g; F.G. Stiles, in Powers 1996).

Recommended Citation

Partida-Lara, R. and P. L. Enríquez (2012). Magnificent Hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.