Hummingbirds, so named for the sound of their wings, are one of the most adorable bird species with their long beaks and extraordinary ability to feed while floating in the air. Distributed throughout much of America, there are currently about 360 species with a wide range of vibrant colors and spectacular tail shapes. While hummingbirds are not the largest birds you might encounter, here are the 10 largest hummingbirds in the world, ranked by length.
# 10 Biggest hummingbird: shiny green-crowned hummingbird
The first on the list is the brilliant green-crowned hummingbird, which can reach about 5.1 inches in length for males and slightly smaller females. These hummingbirds, found mainly in the forests in the mountainous regions of the Caribbean, are emerald green in color with a blue spot on the neck and a black and blue tail. Females are slightly different as they have a white stripe near their eyes and green spots on their belly. Green shiny hummingbirds usually nest on branches that descend, and only the female builds the nest, incubates the eggs and rears the chicks when the male leaves shortly after mating.
# 9 Biggest Hummingbird: Rivoli Hummingbird.
Rivoli hummingbirds live in mountain forests and canyons in the American Southwest, Honduras and Nicaragua. They can reach a length of 5.25 inches and have a wingspan of about 7 inches, although females are slightly smaller than males. Rivoli hummingbirds have a unique appearance with a green-blue throat, a purple crown, and purple-green wings. The female is responsible for building the nest – which is usually found in trees overhanging streams – and for incubating the eggs, although males are known to be extremely protective and territorial. They feed mainly on nectar from flowers, as well as small insects and spiders.
# 8 Biggest hummingbird: tooth-billed hummingbird
Tooth-billed hummingbirds live in the humid forested regions of Colombia, Ecuador and Panama and grow to 5.5 inches in length. Their name comes from their long and straight beak with small jagged structures on it. Toothed hummingbirds are green with a reddish brown crown and a pale yellow belly with white stripes, and their tail is gray with black and white markings. It is one of the lesser known hummingbird species and little is known about them, but their serrated beak is ideal for catching small spiders and other insects.
# 7 Biggest hummingbird: the sword-billed hummingbird
The sword-beaked hummingbird is one of the most unusual species, as they have a very long beak, hence their name. Although their total length is 5.5 inches, their beak actually makes up most of that length as they have a small body. What makes them even more unusual is that young sword-billed hummingbirds are born with a small beak, which then grows faster than their body, and they also have a very long tongue to match their long beak. These adorable birds prefer rainforests in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, and they do not migrate. Both males and females are bright green with a reddish-brown head, although females have white spots on their throats.
# 6 Biggest hummingbird: long-billed hermit
Long-billed hermits are another hummingbird species that has an unusually long beak, although not as long as the sword-beaked hummingbird. The species is dark green with blue-green wings and a brown muzzle. They are found in Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela and generally prefer undergrowth near water sources in forested regions. Long-billed hermits can reach a length of about 5.9 inches and feed on insects, spiders, and the nectar of passionflower flowers. The males sing in groups to attract the female, who then chooses the best singer to mate, although after mating, the female is left to build a nest and hatch chicks without any help from the male.
# 5 Biggest Hummingbird: Violet Sabrewing
The purple hummingbird is a stunning bird whose males have purple bodies and green backs and wings. Females have green back and wings and gray belly and chest, although they have a purple spot on their throats. Found in Central America and Mexico, they usually live on the outskirts of mountain forests or near streams. Although they reach about 5.9 inches in length, these large hummingbirds are not particularly territorial or aggressive towards others. Females lay two eggs a year and nest on a low branch that usually hangs over a stream.
# 4 The Biggest Hummingbird: The Wonderful Shoveltail
The Miraculous Spatula hummingbird really lives up to its name as it is one of the most unique and adorable hummingbirds in the world. At about 5.9 inches in length, these hummingbirds are endemic to the Utcubamba Valley in northern Peru, where they can be found at the edges of forests. The marvelous shoulder blades are a mix of green, white and turquoise blue, but what makes these birds so unique is that they have only four tail feathers.
Although they are not the largest hummingbirds in body size, their tail makes them some of the longest, as it consists of two long, wiry outer feathers and two inner feathers, and the outer feathers intersect with each other and end in large turquoise discs. These very long feathers can often be three or four times the length of a bird, and males can move each tail feather independently during extravagant courtship rituals. It is estimated that fewer than 1,000 of these hummingbirds remain and they are classified as an endangered species.
# 3 Biggest Hummingbird: Swallow-Tailed Hummingbird
The swallow-tailed hummingbird is another species best known for its unique forked tail, which has the same shape as a swallow’s tail. These hummingbirds are found mainly near the rivers of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. At about 6.7 inches long, they are large birds and are usually green with a blue head, chest, and tail. Their unusual tail is about half their length and makes them easily recognizable. Swallow-tailed hummingbirds build their nests from plants, moss and lichens, and they are held together by sticky cobwebs.
# 2 The largest hummingbird: long-tailed sylph
At 7.5 inches long, the long-tailed sylph hummingbird comes in second. This stunning emerald green bird with a blue throat and tail is found in the rainforests of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Male long-tailed sylphs have very long tail feathers, and their tails are so long and heavy that it is difficult for them to fly. Females choose the males with the longest tail feathers as helpers because they consider this a sign that they are the fittest and healthiest, as they have managed to survive the winter while carrying the extra weight of their long tails. Males are territorial, while females take full responsibility for nesting and incubation.
# 1 largest hummingbird: giant hummingbird
The largest hummingbird in the world is the giant hummingbird, which can reach 9.1 inches in length. Preferring to live in forests and shrubs, they are widespread in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru. Unlike many other species, giant hummingbirds are not particularly brightly colored and mostly come in various shades of brown. Nectar is their main food source and they play an important role in pollination of flowers. Giant hummingbirds lay two eggs during the summer months, and their nest is usually found near a stream or river. Giant hummingbirds migrate and travel north to warmer areas in winter.