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Version 1.0

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Rufous-webbed Brilliant Heliodoxa branickii

Thomas S. Schulenberg and Carolyn W. Sedgwick
Version: 1.0 — Published June 27, 2014


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Distinguishing Characteristics

Heliodoxa are medium large, heavy bodied hummingbirds with stout, straight black bills. The feathers of the forecrown extend onto the base of the maxilla, giving a somewhat tapered shape to the head. Most species are montane, and are sexually dimorphic. Most species of brilliant also are primarily glittering green. Rufous-webbed Brilliant is a small bodied Heliodoxa, but otherwise is typical of the genus. The plumage of this brilliant is mostly green, variably speckled with white on the underparts in females. Males also have a small pink gorget, reduced or absent on the female. The tail is blue, with contrasting bright white undertail coverts. The inner remiges are rufous; this color often is concealed when the brilliant is at rest, but the rufous is conspicuous in flight.

Similar Species

Rufous-webbed Brilliant is distinctive within its range, and is unlikely to be confused with any other species: no other species in its geographic range has the conspicuous rufous inner remiges. Violet-fronted Brilliant (Heliodoxa leadbeateri) is larger, lacks the rufous wing panel and has darker undertail coverts, and the male lacks the pink gorget. The most similar species is Pink-throated Brilliant (Heliodoxa gularis), which is similar in size to Rufous-webbed Brilliant. Rufous-webbed and Pink-throated brilliants do not overlap geographically, however. Pink-throated Brilliant lacks the rufous inner remiges, and has a bronzy green (not blue) tail.

Detailed Description

The following description is based on Heynen (1999) and Schulenberg et al. (1984):

Adult male: Primarily shining dark green. Forecrown brighter, glittering green. Tail slightly forked; central pair of rectrices green, outer rectrices dark blue. Remiges dusky, the inner remiges basally cinnamon rufous. Underparts shining dark green, with a glittering iridescent rosy gorget on lower throat. Undertail coverts bright white.

Adult female: Upperparts and wings as in male. Flanks and sides of throat and breast shining green. Short white streak from the corner of the bill to below the eye, bordered below by the green sides to the throat. Center of throat and breast white, feathers tipped with shining green. Gorget often lacking, but moderately well developed on some individuals; gorget when present is paler and yellower, less red or pink, than in male. The belly is white or slightly buffy. Undertail coverts bright white. Tail similar to male, but outer rectrices (all but the central pair) tipped with white, and the tail is less forked, almost square.



Bare Parts

Iris: dark brown

Bill: black, base of mandible paler (brown, pink, reddish, or orange)

Toes: gray, dark gray, blackish

Bare parts color data from Schulenberg et al. (1984) and from specimens in the Field Museum of Natural History.


Total length: 11–11.5 cm (Schulenberg et al. 2010)


male, mean 5.8 g (range 5.0-6.6 g, n = 9; Schulenberg et al. 1984);

female, mean 5.4 g (range 4.7-6.2 g, n = 6; Schulenberg et al. 1984)

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, T. S. and C. W. Sedgwick (2014). Rufous-webbed Brilliant (Heliodoxa branickii), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.ruwbri1.01