Birds Species

Needle-billed Hermit History and 5 Best Facts


The Needle-billed hermit (Phaethornis philippii) is a species of hummingbird in the Trochilidae family. It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru.

Taxonomy and systematics

The Needle-billed hermit is monotypic. It and the straight-billed hermit (P. borsieri) were at one time placed in the genus Ametrornis, which was later merged into Phaethornis. The needle-wielding hermit and Kopec’s hermit are sister species and may form a superspecies.


The Needle-billed hermit is 12 to 13 cm (4.7 to 5.1 in) long. Males weigh 4 to 6 grams (0.14 to 0.21 oz), and females weigh 4 to 5.5 grams (0.14 to 0.19 oz). It is one of the few hermit hummingbirds with an almost straight bill. Its upperparts are dark bronze-green with a dull rufous rump. The tail is mostly dark green. The innermost pair of tail feathers is longer than the others and has long white tips. Others have broad buffy rufous tips. The face has a black “mask” with narrow yellow lines. The underparts are orange.

Also Read: Bronzy hermit


Large, yellow-orange. It gets its name from its almost straight bill, which is usually very slightly tapered. Pale orange below, greenish-brown above, with dark brown mask and long white tail tips. Prefer higher altitudes than other hermits, usually away from water and especially around bamboo and terra firma forests.


The Needle-billed hermit, like other hermit hummingbirds, is a “trapline” feeder, visiting a circuit of a variety of flowering plants for nectar. It also eats small arthropods.


The breeding season or seasons of the Needle-billed hermit have not been determined but appear to extend from at least June to September. A nest hung from under the tip of the leaf.

Read More: Buff-bellied hermit

To sound

The song of the Needle-billed hermit is “a continuous series of single, high-pitched ‘tsee’ notes.

Fun facts about Needle-billed Hermit

1. Its scientific name Schistes geoffroyi honors the French zoologist Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire who first described the genus.

2. The feather beat of the Needle-billed hermit is about 70 beats per second. This allows the bird to hover in one place.

3. The needle-nosed hermit’s wings make a loud buzzing or rustling sound in flight. This is due to its high wing beat frequency.

4. This species has a long tongue that helps collect nectar. The tongue runs in and out of the bill up to 13 times per second.

5. The Needle-billed hermit got its common name from 18th-century naturalists who believed it resembled a hermit or recluse in its forest home.