Purple Honeycreeper Cyanerpes caeruleus

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The Purple Honeycreeper is the most common and widespread species of Cyanerpes. The South American counterpart of the Middle American Shining Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes lucidus), the Purple Honeycreeper’s main range is in Amazonia, but is also found along northern and western coasts of the continent. It is found in a wide variety of forest types, even extending to gardens, partially cleared areas, and plantations, but typically forages in the treetops, often in pairs and frequently joining other species either in roving flocks or at a flowering tree. Males are stunningly gorgeous, mainly deep violet-blue with a black throat patch and wings, and bright yellow legs, whilst females are principally green, becoming streaked below with a buffy throat and cheeks.

The combination of beauty and abundance makes the Purple Honeycreeper iconic among Neotropical birds. As such, they have many local common names. The subspecies endemic to Trinidad has been referred to as the Trinidad Honeycreeper (Street 1946). In Portuguese it is known as Saí-de-Perna-Amarela (Sick 1993, CBRO 2010), or Tem-tem do Espírito Santo (O'Neill and Pearson 1974). In Spanish speaking countries it is called Mielerito Cerúleo or Mielero Cerúleo (Colombia), which refers to its partially nectivorous diet, “miel” means honey or syrup, and Cerúleo refers to the blue feathers (Hilty 2011, de Juana et al. 2012, Collazos-González and Cortes-Herrera 2015). In Ecuador they are also called Mielero Púrpureo (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001, Freire et al. 2012). Their name in Aguaruna is Jémpekit (Dauphine 2008). They were originally name by Linnaeus (1758), the etymology of the generic name Cyanerpes is based on the Greek words kuanos meaning dark blue and herpēs meaning a creeping thing (Jobling 2010). The specific epithet caeruleus derives from the Latin word caerulea, which translates as blue (Jobling 2010).

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© Andrew Spencer

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Recommended Citation

Purple Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes caeruleus), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/purhon1