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Bee Hummingbird

From Opus

Photo by Richard SternPhoto taken at Maria la Gorda, Pinar del Rio Pro., Cuba, February 2009Click on photo for larger image
Photo by Richard Stern
Photo taken at Maria la Gorda, Pinar del Rio Pro., Cuba, February 2009
Click on photo for larger image
Mellisuga helenae


[edit] Identification

At 5cm, the Bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world

  • Green crown
  • Red throat
  • Iridescent gorget, with elongated lateral plumes
  • Bluish upper-parts
  • Greyish white underparts
  • Slender pointed bill

Breeding males have red-pink head, chin and throat
Non breeding males have blue spots to their wingtips

FemalePhoto by dragnilZapata, Cuba, February 2012
Photo by dragnil
Zapata, Cuba, February 2012


  • Green above
  • Pale grey below
  • White tips to the outer tail feathers<brc/>

While more apt to be mistaken for a bee than a bird because of the size, the bird is not a mimic.

[edit] Distribution

The Bee Hummingbird is endemic to Cuba and Isle of Pines

[edit] Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species; no subspecies are known.[1]

[edit] Habitat

Woodland, shrubbery, and gardens.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Eclipse plumagePhoto by opfisterZapata National Park, Cuba, November 2004
Eclipse plumage
Photo by opfister
Zapata National Park, Cuba, November 2004

Nectar is an important part of the diet. Bee hummingbird seems to be a nectar generalist, one that uses flowers also utilized by bees and other insects as well as the Cuban Emerald.

[edit] Breeding

The female builds a cupshaped nest from cobwebs, bark,and lichen, lined with soft plant fibres. The 2 bright orange eggs with pink spots are incubated by the female, who also raises the young.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2013. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.8., with updates to August 2013. Downloaded from
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Arthur Grosset
  4. Dalsgaard et al. 2012. Ornithologia Neotropical 23:143-149

[edit] Recommended Citation

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