ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Sword-billed Hummingbird – A Tropical Rainforest Wonder

Updated on February 7, 2011
Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera)
Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) | Source

Thousands of people journey to Ecuador to marvel at the astonishing biodiversity of this tiny nation. With over 1,600 species of birds to observe, none fascinates the spectator more than the Sword-billed Hummingbird of the tropical rainforest. Its impressive snout draws attention to this unusual species making it an essential addition to the journals of adventurous travelers. One glimpse at this astounding creature and it is easily understood how it acquired its Latin name, Ensifera : sword-wielder.


Although rare, there are certain areas where the Sword-billed Hummingbird can be viewed on a regular basis. Ranging from western Venezuela to western Bolivia along the Andean slopes, these spectacular birds can be observed from altitudes of 2,500 to 3,500 (8,000 to 11,500 ft). Although scarcely seen in the Inter-Andean valley, reserves such as Pasachoa Wildlife Refuge near Quito Ecuador claim regular visits by this welcome guest. 

The Sword-billed Hummingbird is a regular visitant to the feeders at Yanacocha Reserve near Quito. Along with Golden-chested and Sapphire-vented Pufflegs, Great Sapphirewings, Buff-winged Starfrontlets and many more, this incomparable species can be observed vying for the nectar provided by the park. Seen both hovering and perching near the feeders, it is easily recorded by photographers hoping for an award-winning image.

Sword-billed Hummingbird
Sword-billed Hummingbird | Source


The Sword-billed Hummingbird is the only species where its bill exceeds the length of its body. From the base of the beak to the tip of the tail, this creature has a total length of 13- 13.5 cm (5 – 5 ¼ in). Its total body dimension minus the tail feathers makes it less than 9 cm (3.5 in). With a bill of 90 – 100 mm (3.5 – 4 in) one can see why this bird has such an astounding appearance. The beak is slightly upswept and exceptionally long. When perched, this little jewel will keep its head elevated as if to maintain its balance and reduce the strain on its neck.

The male of the species is a brilliant green in coloration with a slight bronzy tint to the head and neck. It exhibits a small white spot behind its eye. There is a definite blackish hue to the throat with the chest and sides of neck displaying a duller greenish gleam. The lower under-parts are a mixture of gray and glistening emerald. The Sword-bill has a bronze tinted tail which is long and forked. The female can be distinguished by having a more coppery bronze on the head and whitish under-parts that are thickly spotted with green. The tail is much shorter and less severely forked.


Most observers barely have a glimpse of this illusive little creature as it zips by at break-neck speeds. However, this bird is easily recognizable even if viewed for a second. Its distinctive bill betrays its identity as it scurries through the forest growth. While perched this hummingbird can look similar to a twig on a tree due to its habit of elevating its head while resting. Owing to its formidable bill, the Sword-billed Hummingbird can reach deep into flowers that other birds must attack from the base. Datura flowers are at the top of its menu. Although not exceptionally vocal, it is easily noticed by the audible hum of its wings while flying or hovering near delectable corollas.


The Sword-billed Hummingbird is an essential addition to any avid bird-watchers database. While rather scarce in most areas, visitors to Quito Ecuador have an occasion to observe this precious bird within a few minutes drive from the city. Yanacocha Reserve offers a window of opportunity for anyone who loves wildlife and wishes to see one of the wonders of nature.

In addition to Yanacocha Reserve, the Sword-billed Hummingbird can be observed at Guango Lodge & Reserve, Huashapamba Forest Reserve, Pasochoa Wildlife Refuge, Podocarpus-Cajanuma, and Papallacta Pass,


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)