Living Bird Magazine
Rivoli's HummingbirdEugenes fulgens
- ORDER: Caprimulgiformes
- FAMILY: Trochilidae
A flash of purple crown and emerald throat makes for a magnificent hummingbird—and that happens to be a former name for Rivoli’s Hummingbird. These large, dark hummingbirds live in mountainous pine-oak forests and shady canyons between Nicaragua and the extreme southwestern United States. Despite its size, this species normally does not push around other hummingbirds at flowers or feeders. Instead, it “traplines,” traveling along a steady route between widely spaced patches of flowers, where it uses its very long bill to sip nectar.More ID Info
Find This Bird
The best way to find Rivoli’s Hummingbirds is to visit feeders within their range—most birding lodges and B&Bs in southeastern Arizona have hummingbird gardens that attract this species in spring and summer. If you’re keen to find one away from feeders, visit the mountains in August and September and look for patches of flowering plants (especially ones with long, narrow flowers). Because this species travels widely during the day, it may take some time before one appears.
- Colibrí Magnífico (Spanish)
- Colibri de Rivoli (French)
- Cool Facts
- In 1983, ornithologists changed Rivoli’s Hummingbird’s name to Magnificent Hummingbird. But in 2017, when they split Magnificent into two species, they brought back the name Rivoli’s for the species that occurs between the U.S. and Nicaragua. The second species they named Talamanca Hummingbird, which has a blue gorget as opposed to Rivoli’s purple gorget.
- In 1829, natural historian and surgeon René-Primevère Lesson named Rivoli’s Hummingbird in honor of the second Duke of Rivoli, an amateur ornithologist. Lesson also named Anna’s Hummingbird in honor of the duke’s wife. Rivoli refers to a region of what is now Italy and was not the surname of the duke or duchess. So, the name of the species in English could just as well be Rivoli Hummingbird, in the same manner as California Gull and Canada Goose.
- The Rivoli's Hummingbird is the second-largest hummingbird north of Mexico. Only the Blue-throated Mountain-gem is larger.
- The Rivoli's Hummingbird has been known to hybridize with Blue-throated Mountain-gem, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Violet-crowned Hummingbird, and Berylline Hummingbird. Such hybrids are rare, and can look very confusing!
- Rivoli's Hummingbirds have one of the highest recorded heart rates of any vertebrate, ranging from 420–1,200 beats per minute.
- A hummingbird flower mite uses the Rivoli's Hummingbird for transport: hiding in the birds’ nasal passages until they can jump off at a subsequent flower patch.
- The oldest recorded Rivoli's Hummingbird was a male, and at least 11 years, 2 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Arizona.