Birds Species

Long-tailed Hermit History and 5 Best Facts

Long-tailed Hermit

The long-tailed hermit (Phaethornis superciliosus) is a large hummingbird native to Venezuela, the Guianas, and northeastern Brazil. This species of bird was formerly called the Eastern Long-tailed Hermit.


A common, medium-sized mostly brown hummingbird Varieties of the rainforest understory. Also found in secondary forests. Moves steadily between widely separated patches of flowers, stopping along the way to investigate brightly colored objects, including clothing. The typical call is a high-pitched, single chirp as birds move between feeding areas. Males shown occupy the bottom and give long hisses while pumping their tails. Similar to many other Hermes in general appearance and behavior; note the lack of white points on the outer tail feathers, the curved bill, and the generally gray coloration without strong facial markings.


The adult long-tailed hermit is primarily a dull brown-green with a buff tinge. It has a dark eye mask, with white stripes above and below. The underparts are pale gray. The sexes are similar, although the female is slightly smaller. The hermit is the largest of the hummingbirds, with a length of about 15 cm (5.9 in) and a body weight of 6.3 g (0.22 oz).

During the breeding season, male long-tailed hermits sing and lick in groups of several dozen birds and wave their long tails on display. Competitive lek singing can occupy half an hour of daylight, attracting females. The female chooses the best leech singer for harmony. The song consists of sharp tussock sounds.

The long-tailed female is solely responsible for building the nest, incubating and feeding the young. She lays two white eggs in a conical nest of fibers and one in webs bent under large heliconia or banana leaves.

Accommodation and distribution

The long-tailed hermit is found from Mexico south to Bolivia and Brazil. Its habitats include tropical and subtropical forests, woodlands, plantations, and orchards. This Birds Species occurs mainly at low altitudes up to 1200 m but has been recorded in some areas at altitudes up to 2500 m.

Distribution and accommodation

The long-tailed hermit lives in forest growth, usually near water and its favorite food plants. It is 13.5 cm long and weighs 4-6 g. The bill is very long and curved (3.6-4.3 cm), with a red-tipped black lower mandible, and the slender tail feathers are long (6.3-6.8 cm) and white-tipped.


This species feeds on nectar, which is consumed by large flowers, such as heliconia, ginger, and passionflower, and by small insects and spiders as an essential source of protein. Larvae feed on regurgitated invertebrates.

Long-tailed hermits are trapline feeders. They do not defend territory but visit seasonal flowers on 1km of forest trails.

Cool Facts of Long-tailed Hermit

1. The extremely long central tail feathers are probably developed to facilitate the sudden aerial maneuvers required while feeding on flowers and capturing small prey. Males can better display long feathers during courtship.

2. A thin, curved bill allows the bird to examine curved flowers that are inaccessible to other hummingbird species. This reduces competition for certain nectar sources.

3.  A rapid wing speed of over 80 beats per second powers the hermit’s special flight abilities, including hummingbird aerial dogfights!

4. Hermits enter a state of torpor at night, lowering their metabolic rate and body temperature to conserve energy. This adaptation allows survival on limited resources.

5. Highly territorial behavior and distinctive vocalizations help males defend primary habitat and attract mates.

Conservation status

The long-tailed hermit is assessed as a species of least concern by the IUCN. It has a relatively large range and a stable population trend. No major threats to the species as a whole have been identified. Although some native habitats are lost to deforestation, the hermit’s ability to use disturbed areas allows it to adapt better than other hummingbirds. As long as there are enough flowers and nesting sites left, this unique hummingbird should continue to dazzle the Neotropical forests with its magnificent plumage.