Birds Species

Tapajos Hermit History and 5 Best Facts

Tapajos Hermit

The Tapajós hermit (Phaethornis aethopygus) is a species of bird hummingbird in the Trochilidae family. It is endemic to Brazil.


The Tapajós hermit is about 9 cm (3.5 in) tall. The male has a metallic olive-green crown with reddish edging on the back of the wings and a rich reddish plumage. The tail is round; The wings are dark brown with a reddish shaft and white at the base except the outermost. The face is black with pale supercilium and reddish melar. The chin is white and the throat is turning black, there is fluid in the neck, chest, and abdomen. The substance is uniform but lighter in color and olive-reddish on the underside.


Small rufous hummingbird varieties have a curved bill and yellow lower mandible. Note the prominent white bases of the outer tail feathers. Males have black cheeks and throat, a broad yellow eyebrow, a bright green back, and a rusty rump and underparts. Females have less black on the throat and sharper underparts. Found in humid forests, where it forages in the understory.

Distribution and Habitat

The Tapajos hermit hummingbird is endemic to Brazil, found only in the Amazon Basin region. It extends from the Tapajós and Tocantins river basins to the Zango river basin in the south of Pará state. The total area of its presence is about 260,000 square kilometers.

This species lives in humid lowlands up to an altitude of 800 meters. It prefers primary forest as well as mature secondary forest and clearings adjacent to forest edges. The Tapajos hermit hummingbird has been reported from terra firme forest, Varzia floodplain forests, palm swamps, and plantations near forested areas. It seems to avoid dense bamboo thickets.

Feeding the environment

Like other hermit hummingbirds, the Tapajos hermit uses its distinctive bill primarily to feed on nectar from flowers. It hovers over flowers and licks up the nectar with its forked tongue. Some favorite sources of nectar include plants of the genera Costus, Heliconia, and Erythrina.

The Tapajos Hermit Hummingbird’s long, curved bill allows it to access nectar from flowers with matching corollas, including Heliconia. This bill morphology reduces competition from other hummingbird species with short, straight bills. The wrinkled bill also helps the bird to obtain nectar from the flowers below.

In addition to nectar, the Tapajos hermit also eats small insects and spiders. Aerial insects are captured in flight, and other insects are collected from plants. The proportion of insects in the diet increases during the non-breeding season, when fewer flowers may be available.

Behavior and breeding

The Tapajos hermit hummingbird is somewhat solitary, found either singly or in pairs. Males are highly territorial, using wing calls and aggressive displays to defend food-rich territories. A flight display consists of a male flying in a wide U shape or circular pattern, making a buzzing, fluttering sound with his wings and tail.

To sound

The Tapajós hermit’s song is “a long high-pitched phrase repeated continuously without pause between phrases… like ‘tsi … tsi … tsi … tsi-tsi-tse-tsee -chup-chup’


The Tapajós Hermit is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. Its population size is unknown but is believed to be declining due to deforestation and development, as well as the paving of a major highway.

Cool Facts about Tapajos Hermit

1. The Tapajos hermit hummingbird is a rainforest-dwelling species endemic to the Amazon Basin of Brazil. 

2. With its brightly colored plumage and long, curved bill, this hermit species is exquisitely adapted for accessing nectar.

3. Although not currently threatened, the Tapajos hermit depends on the primary humid lowland forest habitat. 

4. Conservation of the species will require maintaining protected areas of rainforest as development pressures in the region continue to mount. 

5. Further studies on the ecology and population status of the Tapajo hermit hummingbird are needed to fully assess its conservation outlook.