The Short-billed Honeycreeper is confined to central and western Amazonia, north as far as southern Venezuela. For the unprepared, both sexes might easily be overlooked as being the much more widespread and familiar Purple Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes caeruleus). However, males have obviously shorter bills, dull red (not yellow) legs, and a much more extensive black throat patch, while females are most easily distinguished by the shorter bill and redder legs. The Short-billed Honeycreeper is most frequently encountered with mixed-species flocks, usually occurring in pairs, and feeding in the canopy of tall forest.
The genus Cyanerpes is derived from the Greek root kuanos meaning "dark blue", and herpes meaning "creeper" (Jobling 2010). The species of this genus are called honeycreepers because they often feed on nectar, and "creep" along branches and vines while searching for insects (Meyer de Schauensee 1964). The specific epithet nitidus means "shining" or "glittering" which describes their beautiful plumage (Jobling 2010). In Spanish the common is Mielerito Piquicorto (de Juana et al. 2012, Hilty 2011) or Mielero de Pico Corto (Alonso et al. 2012); in Portuguese it is Sai-de-bico-curto (Sick 1993, Cohn-Haft et al. 2007, CBRO 2010).