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Purple-crowned Fairy - BirdForum Opus

Heliothryx barroti
Photo © by HelenB
La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Costa Rica, March 2007


Length: 10cm (4") Weight: 5.6g
Upper parts are a bright metallic green, underparts pure white, bill is black.
Male has a violet crown and forehead, a black mask terminating in a violet spot, with a bright green malar stripe below. The long tail is blue-black in the center, with white outer tail feathers.
Female similar, with longer tail which has a black basal band, and lacking the violet crown and green malar stripe below the eye.

Similar Species

Virtually unmistakable in range.
The male of the very similar Black-eared Fairy lacks the purple crown, and females of the two species are identical, but there is no overlap in distribution.


Central and South America: found in south-eastern Mexico, through Central America and western Colombia, to south-western Ecuador (El Oro).


This is a monotypic species, which has been considered conspecific with Black-eared Fairy.


Mid-levels and sub-canopy of humid forest and woodland; also lower levels in more open second growth, and shady gardens. Lowlands.


The bird catches small insects in the air, as well as gleaning them from foliage. When feeding on nectar, it pierces a small hole at the base of large flowers, giving access to nectar that otherwise only is accessible to hummingbirds with longer bills (e.g. Long-billed Hermit). Its flight is light and graceful.


  1. Clements, JF. 2009. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2009. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.

Recommended Citation

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