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Streamertail Trochilus polytmus

  • Order: Caprimulgiformes
  • Family: Trochilidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors: Julia Brokaw

Sounds and Vocal Behavior


Vocalizations of Streamertail include "a loud metallic ting or teet and a prolonged twink-twink-twink dropping in pitch at the end" (Raffaele et al. 1998; see also Gosse 1847, Downer and Sutton 1990).

Additional audio recordings of vocalizations of Streamertail can be heard at Macaulay Library and xeno-canto.

Nonvocal Sounds

Males produce a distinctive whirring sound in flight. The sound is produced by primary feathers eight and nine. It is a pulsed tone with a mean frequency of 858 Hz. The sound can be modulated by varying the wingtip velocity and through preening (mechanically disconnecting the barbs of the tips). It was previously attributed to the scalloped tail streamers; however tail-less males also can produce the flight sound (Clark 2008).

Recommended Citation

Brokaw, J. (2013). Streamertail (Trochilus polytmus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.