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Elvira cupreiceps

Coppery-headed Emerald

  • Order: Apodiformes
  • Family: Trochilidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Caroln W. Sedgwick

Coppery-headed Emerald

Mirador de Catarata, Cinchona, Costa Rica, June 24, 2007, © Christopher Wood.

Endemic to Costa Rica, this small hummingbird is found in the highlands of the Caribbean slope or at higher elevations along the Pacific slope. Coppery-headed Emeralds prefer cool, wet, highland forests and their edges, but also occupy pastures with trees, second growth, and shaded coffee plantations. Within the forest interior, males spend the majority of their time in the canopy and females remain in the understory. However, around edges and gaps in the forest, both sexes forage at all heights on small flowers. During the breeding season, a handful of small males sing together and chase after each other at lek sites. Following the breeding season, most males and females descend to elevations of 300-600 m.

Coppery-headed Emeralds have a decurved bill and white outer tail feathers with black near the tip. The crown, upper tail, and central tail feathers of the male are copper. Interestingly, males found in the Cordillera de Guanacaste boast a purple spot in the center of the chest, while birds found elsewhere in the country do not.

Recommended Citation

Schulenberg, Thomas S., and Caroln W. Sedgwick. 2013. Coppery-headed Emerald (Elvira cupreiceps), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Elevational Migrant
  • Primary Habitat:Montane evergreen forest
  • Foraging Strata:Understory/Canopy
  • Foraging Behavior:---
  • Diet:Nectar
  • Sociality:Solitary
  • Mating System:Unknown
  • Nest Form:Cup
  • Clutch: 2 - 2
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern