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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



Observations by Wolf et al. (1976) in Cerro de la Muerte, Costa Rica provide the only complete time budget for this species. He describes males feeding at Cirsium thistles budget their time as follows: perch 86.4%, forage 7.3%, chase 2.1%, flight 0.8%, and out-of-sight 3.3%. Males feeding at Centropogon: perch 85.1%, forage 9.7%, chase 1.6%, flight 0.2%, and out-of-sight 3.4%. Compaired to other hummingbird species with which their ranges overlap males appear to spend more time perching (Fiery-throated Hummingbird [Panterpe insignis] perches 43–70% of the time) (Wolf et al. 1976).

Flight is the only means of locomotion for this species. Hovering flight is used for nectar foraging and forward flight is used for transportation and aggressive encounters. A combination of hovering and forward flight is used to capture arthropods. Uses feet to scratch and bill to groom feathers. Bill is cleaned by rubbing on branches.


Little quantitative information. Measured values for wing disc loading (0.038 to 0.055 g/cm2) are similar to those exhibited by strongly territorial species. However, male territoriality varies from highly territorial in some areas to non-territorial in others (Powers 1996).

Territorial behavior observed in Oaxaca, Mexico, where males are co-dominant with Blue-throated Hummingbirds (Lyon 1976). Males are most territorial during peak Penstemon bloom and will hold territories for 12 weeks averaging 722.6 ± 265.4 m2 where flowers are densely packeds. Near Mexico City and Distrito Federal, males actively defend flowers of Agave salmiana (Martinez del Rio and Eguiarte 1987). In Costa Rica, territories are defended primarily when Cirsium thistles are in bloom. As seen in Oaxaca, males in Costa Rica are only territorial during periods of flower abundance. In Volcán de Colima, Mexico, and se. Arizona, Magnificent Hummingbird not known to be territorial (Powers 1996).

Sexual Behavior

Copulation has been document once. The observation occured in May 1974 on Cerro de la Muerte, Costa Rica by F. G. Stiles. He described a 2-bird chase in which birds crashed into a Rubus vaccinium thicket about 1.0 m from where he was stationed. He stated, "The bird chased, a female, tried to fly but was forced down after a brief collision with her chaser, a male. She chattered and perched about 50 cm above ground inside the thicket. The male lit some 15–20 cm away and slightly above her, and sang the burbly [whisper] song for 15 s or more, leaning forward and with his nearly-closed bill pointing at the female; her bill was pointed directly at him. He had also been singing when he collided with the female and forced her down. The male then flew at the female and alighted on her back; she vibrated and dropped her wings and he buzzed his wings, probably for balance, as both twisted and vibrated their tails to achieve cloacal apposition. The male mounted for a total of about 7-8 s, of which perhaps half included actual cloacal contact. The female then flew abruptly out of the thicket, dislodging the male who chattered and followed her. I did not see the start of the chase, but it came from a direction in which a male held a territory at Cirsium about 50 m away" (Powers 1996).

Social and interspecific behavior

Like most species of hummingbird, Magnificent Hummingbirds typically are solitary.


Predators of adult hummingbirds generally are raptors, roadrunners (Geococcyx), flycatchers, orioles (Icterus), falcons (especially Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis), Tiny Hawk (Accipiter superciliosus), Merlin (Falco columbarius), Boat-billed Flycatchers (Megarhynchus pitangua), Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus coeruliceps), and oropendolas (Psarocolius) (Garcia and Zahawi 2006, Graves 1978, Miller and Gass 1985). In Rucker Canyon the productivity of Magnificent Hummingbird in one year was 1.16 young per female (n = 2 nests; Baltosser 1986).

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.