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Black-eared Fairy - BirdForum Opus

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Photo by Luiz
Serrinha do Alambari, Resende, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Heliothryx auritus

Heliothryx aurita


A medium-sized tropical hummingbird. It has bright green upperparts, white underparts and a black mask. The relatively short, straight bill is black. The graduated tail is blue-black in the centre, with white outer tail feathers (i.e. typically appear blue-black from above, white from below).

Depending on subspecies, the male has a green malar or throat.
The female is similar, but with a longer tail and no green malar/throat.

Similar Species

Virtually unmistakable in range. Male of the very similar Purple-crowned Fairy has a purple crown, and females of the two species are identical, but no overlap in distribution.


Photo by Luiz
Serrinha do Alambari, Resende, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Found throughout the Amazon with a disjunct population in eastern Brazil.


Previously lumped with the Purple-crowned Fairy, which is found from south-eastern Mexico to south-western Ecuador.


There are 3 subspecies[1]:

  • H. a. auritus:
  • H. a. phainolaemus:
  • Amazonian Brazil south of the Amazon (Pará and Maranhão)
  • H. a. auriculatus:


In or near humid lowland forest.


Quite active. Its flight is light and graceful.


This hummingbird hawks small insects in the air, as well as gleaning them from foliage. When feeding on nectar, it sometimes 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. Scale-throated Hermit).


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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