Mexican Violetear Colibri thalassinus

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Trochilidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Mo Hobbs



Forages from near the ground to the canopy. Often perches high in trees, overlooking flowers (Stiles 1999). Can be territorial at flowers, but is displaced by larger, more aggressive species such as Fiery-throated Hummingbird (Panterpe insignis) and mountain-gems (Lampornis spp.) (Stiles and Skutch 1989).


Males set up small territories containing a food source and tall trees in which they perch, and from which they sing (Wagner 1945, Colwell et al. 1974). Males defend their food source against other violetears, as well as from members from other species of hummingbirds (Colwell et al. 1974). These territories may be used from one year to the next by the same individual (Wagner 1945). During the breeding season, several males will share a territory to call from in effort to attract females (Wagner 1945).

Females set up a territory surrounding their nest, in which no other females of the same species are tolerated (Wagner 1945); but female violetears tolerate the presence of other species of hummingbirds breeding near their nests (Wagner 1945).

Sexual Behavior

Little information, apart from observations by Wagner (1945). When a female visits a loose congregation of singing males, multiple males pursue the female in flight; once  one male reaches the female’s side, the other males quit following and return to their song perches. The pair then flies side-by-side in a wavy flight path, passing over the same stretch repeatedly. Upon completion of a series of repeated passes over a stretch, the two birds separate; the female descends, with a fluctuating, wavering flight, from the canopy to near the ground, repeating this procedure until the male reappears, after which they make one another flight together. It is assumed that after this flight the male and the female copulate.

Social and interspecific behavior

Mainly solitary. Sometimes sings in loose leks (Hilty and Brown 1986).

Recommended Citation

Hobbs, M. (2011). Mexican Violetear (Colibri thalassinus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.