Birds Species

Scale-throated Hermit History and 5 Best Facts

scale-throated hermit

The scale-throated hermit (Phaethornis eurynome) is a species of bird hummingbird in the Trochilidae family. It is found in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.


The only large hermit hummingbird variety in its range, the dark feathers on the throat give it a small appearance. The bill is slightly curved. The back is olive green and has a strong mask. The tail is long and white-tipped. Similar to the dusky-throated hermit, the scale-throated hermit is larger with a longer tail. Found in humid and mountainous forests.


The scale-throated hermit is about 14 to 14.5 cm (5.5 to 5.7 in) long. Males weigh 4.5 to 6 grams (0.16 to 0.21 oz) and females weigh 4 to 5 grams (0.14 to 0.18 oz). This medium-sized hermit is olive green with a gray undertone. Its dark throat gives it a rugged appearance with light feather edges. The face has a black “mask” with a yellow supercilium and gular stripe. Its tail feathers have white tips, and the middle pair is longer than the others. The sexes are similar, but the female has shorter wings and a less strongly curved bill. Both subspecies have similar wings but P. e. paraguayensis is significantly smaller than the nominate.

Distribution and Habitat

The scale-throated hermit is widely distributed in Central and South America. Its range extends from southeastern Mexico south through Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador to Panama. In South America, it is found in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Guyana.

This species inhabits tropical lowland forests, forest edges, second growth, plantations, and orchards. It is found up to 1200 meters above sea level. Scale-throated hermits are not migratory but may move seasonally after food plants bloom.

Food and diet

Like all hummingbird Varieties, scale-throated hermits feed primarily on nectar taken from various colorful, tubular flowers. Some favorite food plants include Heliconia, Anga, Erythrina, Palicoria, and Pachystachis. The scale-throated hermit’s long, curved bill allows it to access nectar from flowers with various shapes and sizes of corollas.

The Scale-throated Hermit also eats small insects and spiders, which provide important protein. Aerial insects are captured in flight, while spiders and moths gather on leaves and bark as Forest birds approach plants.

Behavior and breeding

The scale-throated hermit is solitary and territorial. Males establish territories with feeding areas rich in flowers. They put on flight displays to deter intruders and attract females. In display, the male flies rapidly in a U-shaped or elliptical pattern, accompanied by a high-pitched sound produced by the wing feathers.

Courtship involves the male flying back and forth to the female. If she accepts, she will sit down and allow him to have intercourse with her. The female scale-throated hermit builds a small cup nest of plant fibers, lined with spider silk and lichen. It is built on the lower branch or fork of a tree 1-4 meters above the ground.

The female lays two small white eggs. She cooks them alone for 15-19 days. The chicks are fed regurgitated food by the female and fledge at about 20-26 days of age. Not much is known about the behavior and breeding habits of this cryptic species.

to give voice

The scale-throated hermit’s song is variable, “but usually consists of 2-4 notes, such as ‘tsi-tseee….tsi-tseee..’ or ‘tsi-tsu-tseeĆ©…tsi-tsu.’ ‘. ‘.’ -tseeĆ©.. etc. Its calls include “a plaintive ‘tsew’ and a more distressed ‘tsee.’


The IUCN has assessed the scale-throated hermit as Least Concern. Although its population size is unknown and believed to be declining, it is common throughout its range and occurs in several protected areas.

Cool facts about Scale-throated Hermit

1. The Scale-throated Hermit uses its long bill to steal nectar from flowers by piercing the base rather than entering the mouth, a behavior known as “robbing”.

2.  This allows it to access nectar from flowers such as Himelia and Mandevilla, which have complex flower structures.

3. The occasional scale-throated hermit looks more like a bug than a Forest bird, sitting motionless in front of flowers while feeding. This can help conceal it when hunting for nectar or insects.

4. Its throat scales are unique among hermit hummingbirds and may function in visual signaling during proximity.

5. This species Of Bird was originally described in 1827 by German naturalists Friedrich Boe and Heinrich Kohl. Its scientific name Phaethornis comes from a Greek word meaning “shine”, referring to its iridescent plumage.