Notice for readers: On March 31, Neotropical Birds will be integrated into the new Birds of the World, a powerful research database offering species accounts for every species on earth. Learn more at While Birds of the World is a subscription service, we remain committed to offering this content to Neotropical Birds contributors and to those unable to pay for it through our scholarship program. Stay tuned.

Green-crowned Brilliant Heliodoxa jacula

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Trochilidae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors: Joseph Taylor


  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Green-crowned Brilliant
eBird range map for Green-crowned Brilliant

Generated from eBird observations (Year-Round, 1900-present)

Distribution in the Americas

The Green-crowned Brilliant has the most northerly range of the Heliodoxa species (del Hoyo et al. 1999). It occurs from northern Costa Rica to western Ecuador, with intervening populations in Panama and Colombia.

In Costa Rica, it is found in the Cordillera de Guanacaste, Cordillera de Tilarán, Cordillera Central and Cordillera de Talamanca, mainly on the Caribbean slope, but also locally on the Pacific slope (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

In Panama, the species has been recorded in the provinces of Chiriquí (where it is rather scarce on the slopes of Volcán Barú), Bocas del Toro, Veraguas, western Coclé, eastern Panama province, western San Blas, and eastern Darién (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989).

In Colombia, the species is known from Cerro Tacarcuna, the extreme northern ends of the Western Andes and Central Andes, the eastern slope of the Central Andes in Caldas department, and both slopes of the Eastern Andes in Cundinamarca department (Hilty and Brown 1986). It is also a rare inhabitant of the foothills of Nariño department in the southwest of the country (Salaman and Mazariegos H. 1998). The presence of an apparent hybrid of the Green-crowned Brilliant and Fawn-breasted Brilliant at Reserva Natural Tambito in the lower montane zone of Cauca department, also in the southwest, suggests that H. jacula jamesoni occurs in the vicinity (Donegan and Dávalos 1999).

In Ecuador, it occurs on the western slope of the Andes, from Esmeraldas province in the north to the very south of El Oro province at least, and locally on the slopes of the coastal cordilleras of Chindul, Mache and Colonche (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001).

Distribution outside the Americas

Like all extant hummingbirds, this species is endemic to the Americas.


The Green-crowned Brilliant inhabits humid montane and sub-montane forest, including clearings, edges, mature secondary growth and nearby gardens (Stiles and Skutch 1989, Ridgely and Greenfield 2001).

It occurs mostly from the foothills to the subtropical zone, generally at 700-2200 m in Costa Rica (Garrigues and Dean 2007), 500-2100 m in Panama (Ridgely and Gwynne 1989), 300-1700 m in Colombia (Stiles 1999, McMullan et al. 2010), and 500-1550 m in Ecuador (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001). In some areas it can be found below its usual elevation range, down to 100 m in Costa Rica (Garrigues and Dean 2007) and 300 m in Ecuador (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001), perhaps owing to seasonal movements. This species tends to forage in the middle and upper strata of forest (e.g. Ridgely and Gwynne 1989, Stiles and Skutch 1989, Borgella et al. 2001).

Historical changes

There are apparently no details documented on changes in this species' range, although the results of phylogenetic studies (Gerwin and Zink 1989, McGuire et al. 2007) imply that it originally colonized Central America from the Andes of northern South America.

Fossil history

Apparently not documented.

Recommended Citation

Taylor, J. (2011). Green-crowned Brilliant (Heliodoxa jacula), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.