Birds Species

Straight-billed Hermit History and 5 Best Facts

Straight-billed Hermit

The Straight-billed Hermit (Phaethornis bourcieri) is a species of bird in the family Trochilidae, hummingbirds. It is found in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

Taxonomy and systematics

The Straight-billed Hermit and the needle-billed hermit (P. philippii) were at one time placed in the genus Ametrornis, which was later merged into Phaethornis.

The South American Classification Committee (SACC) of the American Ornithological Society, the International Ornithological Committee (IOC), and Clement’s classification recognize two subspecies, designated P. b. Borsari and PB, a distinct species of large, ash-bellied hermit. A third subspecies, Pb. white, has been proposed, but its characteristics are within the range of variation seen in the rest of the names.


The Straight-billed Hermit is 12 to 14 cm (4.7 to 5.5 in) long and weighs 3.5 to 5 g (0.12 to 0.18 oz). It is one of the few hermit hummingbirds with a straight bill. Its upper parts are olive green and brown to gray in color. The innermost pair of tail feathers is longer than the others and has long white tips. Others also have white tips. PB major is significantly larger than the nominate but has similar plumage.


Large, gray, with a long, straight bill. There is no strong facial pattern. Also, note the long white central tail feathers. It occurs in most of the lowlands of northern South America, usually below 700 m. Terra firma is found within the forest, staying low and zipping quickly around flower patches in the understory.


Breeding seasons for straight-billed hermits vary across their large range, from March to May in Brazil and from July to November in Peru. It builds a long, cone-shaped nest of plant fibers and spider silk that bends under the tip of a long, drooping leaf. The clutch size is two eggs.

To sound

The straight-billed hermit‘s song is “a high-pitched phrase repeated over and over, short dull notes, ‘tsii’ti’ti’tsii…tip…tip…tsii’ti’ti’tsii ..tip…tip…tip…'”, and is very different from the songs of other Phaethornis hermits. Its calls are usually given in flight and consist of a “rather monotonous ‘tseet’ and a dull ‘. Chap.

Cool Facts of Straight-billed Hermit

1. Straight-billed hermit hummingbirds are usually seen singly or in pairs, either roaming or flying rapidly between nectar sources.

2. Males are highly territorial and use aerial displays to advertise and defend feeding territories.

3. In the display, the male soars up to 100 feet in the air, then dives down, making humming or crackling sounds with its tail feathers.

4. These displays are also used in companionship. This species can be aggressive to other hummingbirds.

5. It plays an important role as a pollinator in Andean forests in South America. Although currently stable, some populations are threatened by deforestation.