Family Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)

Near Threatened

Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae)


French: Colibri d’Elena German: Bienenelfe Spanish: Colibrí zunzuncito

Orthorhynchus helenæ


, 1850,

Cárdenas, Cuba


Often placed in genus Calypte. Monotypic.


Cuba and I of Pines.

Descriptive notes

5–6 cm; 1·6–2·6 g. Male is the smallest of all birds. Bill is straight and dull black; male has head and throat fiery red, and iridescent gorget... read more


Song a mixture of high-pitched warbling phrases and a very high-pitched, drawn-out, sizzling buzzy... read more


Woodland, swampland, shrubbery and gardens; occasionally in fairly open country, but generally... read more

Food and feeding

Nectar of Aloe, Laguncularia, Goethea, Hibiscus, Malvaviscus, Leucaena, Hamelia... read more


Mar–Jun. Nest is generally situated c. 3·5 m (3–5) above the ground on a thin twig, typically of Bucida buceras... read more


No reliable information available. Presumably sedentary as a rule, though reported as vagrant (Feb... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. CITES II. Population clearly in decline, presumably as a result of habitat loss, as species seems heavily... read more

Recommended citation

Chai, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 10 December 2019).