- Purple-throated Carib
 - Purple-throated Carib
 - Purple-throated Carib
 - Purple-throated Carib

Purple-throated Carib Eulampis jugularis Scientific name definitions

Ethan J. Temeles and Peter Pyle
Version: 2.0 — Published January 5, 2024
Revision Notes

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The Purple-throated Carib is a charismatic hummingbird endemic to the mountainous islands of the Lesser Antilles, from Saba in the north to St. Vincent in the south, although it has been recorded as a vagrant in Barbados, Barbuda, Grenada, and the Virgin Islands. The species is found primarily in rainforest and cloud forests on these islands but can occur in dry forest down to sea level, especially if nectar-rich introduced plants or hummingbird feeders are present. In body mass and overall size, the Purple-throated Carib is the largest hummingbird in the Caribbean and one of the largest hummingbirds in the world. The sexes are alike in plumage but can be distinguished by pronounced sexual dimorphism in body size and bill morphology. Males are larger than females; however, females have longer, more curved bills.

The sexual dimorphism and evolution of this species is closely tied to the two heliconias native to the Lesser Antilles: Heliconia bihai and Heliconia caribaea. Male Purple-throated Caribs exclude females from Heliconia caribaea through territoriality, but are prevented from feeding at all but the shortest-flowered Heliconia bihai plants due to their shorter bills. This renders males inferior in exploitative competition with the longer-billed females, leading to sexual partitioning of these two plant species driven by intraspecific competition. The two heliconias do not occur in equal abundance on many islands within the Lesser Antilles, and whichever heliconia is more common develops a second color morph with flowers and energy rewards corresponding to the sex of its primary pollinator.

The fascinating relationship between the Purple-throated Carib and heliconias has been extensively studied on Dominica and St. Lucia; however, many questions remain about the species' ecology on other islands.

Distribution of the Purple-throated Carib - Range Map
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Purple-throated Carib

Recommended Citation

Temeles, E. J. and P. Pyle (2024). Purple-throated Carib (Eulampis jugularis), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (C. Pott, Z. E. A. Buckmire, and S. M. Billerman, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.putcar1.02
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