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Five subspecies are recognized:
The last of these is sometimes considered a full species Escudo Hummingbird (Amazilia handleyi); this is larger and darker than mainland birds.
Tropical dry and rain forest, degraded subtropical montane forest up to 1850 m, open country, river banks, woodland, scrub, forest edge, coffee plantations and gardens .
Sometimes engages in extreme fights.
The female builds a compact cup nest from plant-fibre and dead leaves 1-6 m high on a thin horizontal twig. The 2 white eggs are incubated solely by the female for 15-19 days, and fledging after 20-26.
The diet includes nectar, taken from a variety of flowers, and it also takes small insects.