Snowcap Microchera albocoronata

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Trochilidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors: Ethan Kistler and Thomas S. Schulenberg


Distinguishing Characteristics

The petite Snowcap is the only species in the genus Microchera. Adult males are unmistakably deep purple overall with a white cap and white outer tail feathers. Females are metallic green above, dull white below, with dull white outer tail feathers.

Similar Species

Male Snowcap is a highly distinctive hummingbird, and is unlikely to be confused with any other species. Female Snowcap is less distinctive, but is readily identifiable by its small size, the extensive white in the tail, and the relatively unmarked white underparts; other superficially similar hummingbirds, such as female White-tailed Emerald (Elvira chionura), are white below but with green flanks and green speckling on the throat.

Detailed Description

The following description is based on Wetmore (1968; see also Ridgway 1911), and refers to nominate albocoronata; see also Geographic Variation:

Adult male: Crown white. Nape purplish black, shading to metallic reddish purple on the back and the wing coverts; brighter on rump and uppertail coverts. Central rectrices metallic bronze, remaining rectrices white at base, and with terminal third black. Remiges dull black with a purplish sheen. Side of head and underparts black, glossed with reddish purple. Undertail coverts white.

Adult female: Back metallic green changing to bronze on uppertail coverts and central rectrices. Outertail feathers white at base, broadly black at end, tipped with white. Pale grayish white underparts.

Immature male: Like female, but with narrow line of white above the eye and undersurface changing early to purplish black as the bird matures.

Bare Parts


Bill: black

Tarsi and toes: black

Bare parts color data from Stiles and Skutch (1989).


Total length: 6.5 cm (Stiles and Skutch 1989), 6.5-7 cm (Howell and Webb 1995)

Linear measurements (from Wetmore 1968):

Male (n = 10):

Wing length (chord), mean 41.1 mm (range 39.5-42.5 mm)

Tail length, mean 19.3 mm (range 18.2-21.0 mm)

Bill length (culmen from base), mean 12.6 mm (range 11.7-13.6 mm, n = 2)

Female (n = 3):

Wing length (chord), mean 40.2 mm (range 39.7-40.5mm)

Tail length, mean 18.9 mm (range 17.6-19.7 mm)

Bill length (culmen from base), mean 12.3 mm (range 12.1-12.5 mm, n = 2)

Mass: mean 2.7 g ± 0.2 g (n = 8, sexes combined?, range?; Brown and Bowers 1985)

Recommended Citation

Kistler, E. and T. S. Schulenberg (2013). Snowcap (Microchera albocoronata), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.