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Galbula ruficauda

Rufous-tailed Jacamar

  • Order: Galbuliformes
  • Family: Galbulidae
  • Polytypic 6 Subspecies

Authors: Chaine, Noelle M.

Galbula ruficauda

La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica; 2 April 2009 © Matt Brady

The Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda Cuvier 1816) is a beautiful inhabitant of forest edges and clearings of Central and South America. It occurs in several disjunct populations: from eastern Mexico south to western Panama; from eastern Panama south to western Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela; in Guyana; and from Bolivia east to eastern Brazil. The six recognized subspecies of Rufous-tailed Jacamar vary slightly in the amounts of black on the chin and in the number of green central rectrices, but in general males are an iridescent coppery/golden green above with a white throat and cinnamon-rufous underparts. Females are a slightly duller green and have a cinnamon-buff throat. Rufous-tailed Jacamars feed almost exclusively on flying insects, especially dragonflies, butterflies and moths.  These birds forage from a perch on an exposed branch 1 to 3 meters from the ground, and sally out to catch insects on the wing.  After the jacamar has caught an insect it beats it several times against a branch to stun it and remove the insect's wings before it swallows. 

Recommended Citation

Chaine, Noelle M.. 2010. Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda), 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:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Tropical lowland evergreen forest edge
  • Foraging Strata:Aerial
  • Foraging Behavior:Sally
  • Diet:Terrestrial invertebrates
  • Sociality:Solitary
  • Mating System:---
  • Nest Form:Burrow
  • Clutch: 2 - 4
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern