Atacama hummingbird

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Atacama hummingbird
Atacama Hummingbird at John Gould painted by Henry Constantine Richter

Atacama Hummingbird at John Gould painted by Henry Constantine Richter

Class : Birds (aves)
Order : Sailor birds (Apodiformes)
Family : Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)
Genre : Rhodopis
Type : Atacama hummingbird
Scientific name of the  genus
Reichenbach , 1854
Scientific name of the  species
Rhodopis vesper
( Lesson , 1829)

The atacama hummingbird ( Rhodopis vesper ) is a species of bird in the hummingbird family (Trochilidae). The distribution area of ​​this species includes the countries Peru and Chile . The IUCN assesses the population as Least Concern .


The atacama hummingbird reaches a body length of about 13 cm, with the arched beak being 33 mm. The subspecies are a bit smaller. The top is gray-brown, with the back shining light green to golden bronze. The rump is colored red-brown. The light underside is whitish gray. The male's throat is purple, but the color changes laterally to bluish. This is in stark contrast to the white breast. The outer, black, 4 cm long control feathers of the forked tail appear very thin. In the plain dress, the male's throat is scaled brown. In females and young animals, the underside is light gray throughout, with the color in the area of ​​the cloaca being white. The short, bilobed tail is bronze-green and has a black band towards the end. The ends of the three outer tail feathers are adorned with distinct white spots.

Male juveniles have a slightly mottled throat, which are occasionally crossed by glittering round spots. The half-length tail is patterned more clearly than is the case with the females.


You can often see them sitting on the upper branches or electrical lines. The males fly in a U-shaped trajectory in front of the females during courtship. Usually they fly to legume trees, agaves , tobacco plants and cacti to eat . Occasionally you can also see them on flowers or ripe fruits, which are also visited by ants or other birds.

distribution and habitat

They occur irregularly to frequently west of the Andes from sea level to altitudes of 3800 meters. Here you can see them in the bushes, on the edges of forests, in agricultural landscapes and in gardens. They prefer the vegetation of the foggy areas and the humid Loma zone on the Peruvian coast.


They breed all year round, but most often between August and December. They build their pocket-shaped nests, for example, in the overhanging branches of the Inga feuilleei species belonging to the genus Inga .


Her call sounds like a fast, liquid chatter, interspersed with powerful chew sounds. The chatter sounds melodic like tzee-tzee-dee-dee , which first increases and then subsides.


Distribution area of ​​the Atacama Hummingbird

Three subspecies have been described, which differ in their coloration, their size and their range:

Occasionally the subspecies Rhodopis vesper tertia Hellmayr , 1932, is found in the literature , but is now considered a synonym for the nominate form.

Etymology and history of research

René Primevère Lesson had no type copy available for the first description . Instead, he relied on a drawing by Jean-Gabriel Prêtre , (1768–1849). The protonym is Ornismya vesper . It was not until 1854 that Heinrich Gottlieb Ludwig Reichenbach assigned the species to the genus Rhodopis . This name refers to the courtesan Rhodopis Greek  'Ροδωπις meaning of rosy appearance . The specific epithet »vesper« is of Latin origin and means something like »evening«. This in turn is derived from the planet Venus , the brightest star in the evening sky. A subspecies was named after Maria Koepcke , who collected a few specimens in northern Peru. »Atacamensis« stands for the Región de Atacama . Leybold received the type copy from Copiapó from an Adolfo Paulsen.


  • Jon Fjeldså , Niels Krabbe : Birds of the High Andes: A Manual to the Birds of the Temperate Zone of the Andes and Patagonia, South America . Apollo Books, Stenstrup 1990, ISBN 87-88757-16-1 .
  • Sharon Rose Chester: A Wildlife Guide to Chile: Continental Chile, Chilean Antarctica, Easter Island, Juan Fernandez Archipelago . Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey 2008, ISBN 978-0-691-12976-1 .
  • Thomas Scott Schulenberg, Douglas Forrester Stotz, Daniel Franklin Lane, John Patton O'Neill, Theodore Albert Parker III : Birds of Peru . Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey 2007, ISBN 978-0-7136-8673-9 .
  • James A. Jobling: Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names . Christopher Helm, London 2010, ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4 .
  • René Primevère Lesson : Histoire naturelle des Oiseaux-Mouches . Arthus-Bertrand, paris 1829 ( [accessed on May 17, 2012]).
  • Jacques Berlioz: Notes critiques sur quelques trochilidés . In: L'Oiseau et la revue française d'ornithologie . tape 44 , no. 4 , 1974, p. 281-290 .
  • Friedrich Leybold: Descripción de una nueva especie de Picaflor (Trochilus Atacamensis) Vol. In: Anales de la Universidad de Chile . tape 36 , 1869, pp. 43–44 ( [accessed on May 8, 2012]).
  • Carl Eduard Hellmayr: The birds of Chile . In: Field Museum of Natural History. Zoological series . tape 19 , 1931, pp. 1-477 ( [accessed May 18, 2012]).
  • Heinrich Gottlieb Ludwig Reichenbach: Enumeration of the hummingbirds or trochilids in their true natural relationship, including the key to their systematics . In: Journal of Ornithology . tape 2 (separate issue), 1854, p. 1-24 ( [accessed June 16, 2014]).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i Jon Fjeldså u. a., p. 293.
  2. a b Thomas Scott Schulenberg u. a., p. 250.
  3. a b Sharon Rose Chester, p. 240
  4. Carl Eduard Hellmayr, p. 240.
  5. René Primevère Lesson, p. 87.
  6. René Primevère Lesson, p. 85
  7. Heinrich Gottlieb Ludwig Reichenbach, p. 12.
  8. a b James A. Jobling, p. 335.
  9. Jacques Berlioz, p. 288.
  10. Friedrich Leybold, p. 44.