Birds Species

Great-billed Hermit History and 5 Best Facts

Great-billed Hermit

The Great-billed Hermit (Phaethornis malaria) is a species of bird hummingbird in the family Trochilidae. It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.


Large hermit with an extremely long, curved bill. Note the dark cheeks surrounded by yellow eyebrows and whiskers and the long white central tail feathers. Overall, quite dull, with a bronze back and buffy or gray belly. It occurs in most of the lowlands of northern South America, usually below 1,000 m. It is fairly common in terra firma forest where it stays low, zipping quickly around flower patches in the understory.


The great-billed hermit is 13 to 17.5 cm (5.1 to 6.9 in) long. Males weigh 4.5 to 10 grams (0.16 to 0.35 oz), and females weigh 4 to 8 grams (0.14 to 0.28 oz). The nominate subspecies is the largest. Its upper parts are greenish-brown and the underparts are brown to brown. It has dark and light gyrus bands on its upper side, and the central tail arm is long with a white tip.

It has a long, curved bill, with the female part shorter but more curved than the male. PM insolitus is shorter than nominate but otherwise identical. PM Mori has lighter, grayer underparts than the nominate. PM bolivianus and PM Margarete are the smallest subspecies. The forewing throat and breast are dark brown, and the belly is orange. Very similar to PM Margarete Bolivianos but has lighter underparts. PM ochraceiventris has a bright orange breast and abdomen.

Distribution and Habitat

The great-billed hermit has a wide distribution in Central and South America. It ranges from southern Mexico through Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras to Panama and south to Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, and central Argentina. It occupies a variety of forest and woodland habitats, including rainforests, cloud forests, tropical dry forests, and plantations. It is up to 2500 meters above sea level.

Behavior and breeding

Great-billed Hermit
Great-billed Hermit

The great-billed hermit is territorial and solitary. Males defend flower territories against intruders and exhibit extensive courtship to attract females. Courtship includes aerial flights and diving, bill clamming, vocalizations with buzzing twittering, and poop feathers.

Nesting occurs from March to June in Central America and from August to November in South America. A small cup-shaped nest is built on a tree branch, made of plant fibers and moss woven from spider silk, lichens, and bud scales. It is decorated externally with epiphytes for camouflage. The female lays two white eggs, which she lays alone for 15 to 19 days. The chicks fledge after 22-26 days and the female rears alone.

Food and feeding

Like other hermit hummingbirds Varieties, the great-billed hermit has a specialized diet consisting primarily of nectar taken from flowers with long, tubular corollas. Its long, curved bill allows it to access deep nectar that smaller bills cannot reach. It has a specially adapted tongue with fringed tips that soak up liquid.

to give voice

The great-billed hermit’s song is typically “a continuous series of bisyllabic rising, falling ‘sleep-up’ notes” that vary somewhat among subspecies. It also usually says “a quick ‘scoop!'” in flight.

Cool  facts of Great-billed Hermit

1. The Great-billed hermit to an alternative common name – the large-beaked hermit. Costa Ricans call it Chuparosa gigante, which means giant hummingbird variety.

2. Its feet are dull brownish-black, an unusual coloration among hummingbirds that usually have gray feet.

3.  Its tongue can protrude more than 5 cm from the tip of the bill to reach the nectar.

4. It produces a high-speed rotating sound that can be heard from a distance, which can be used for communication or territorial defense.

5. This species of bird was first scientifically described in 1788 by the German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gamelin.