Family Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)

Least Concern

Black-eared Fairy (Heliothryx auritus)


French: Colibri oreillard German: Schwarzohr-Schmuckkolibri Spanish: Colibrí hada oriental

Trochilus auritus

J. F. Gmelin

, 1788,



Closely related to H. barroti, with which sometimes regarded as conspecific. Indeed, extent of differentiation needs reviewing: it is commonly claimed (in both texts and illustrations, e.g. HBW#R#R) that female of present species differs in having grey-spotted breast, but this character is present in both species; reported minor differences in size and bill length#R#R not obvious in unmeasured material; thus all-green vs glittering purple crown of male (3) is only obvious distinction; detailed study required, including data for voice and display. Proposed race major probably a young male of H. barroti (which see). Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. a. auritus (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) – SE Colombia and E Ecuador through N Brazil (N of Amazon) to NE Venezuela (E Sucre) and the Guianas.
  • H. a. phainolaemus Gould, 1855 – NC Brazil (S of Amazon in Pará and Maranhão).
  • H. a. auriculatus (Nordmann, 1835) – E Peru and C Bolivia to C Brazil (Amazonia S of Amazon E through Mato Grosso to R Tapajós), and E Brazil (from Bahia S to Espírito Santo and S Minas Gerais and São Paulo, irregularly to Santa Catarina).
  • Descriptive notes

    10·1–13·7 cm; 4–6·3 g. Male has short straight bill, sharply pointed, black; crown glittering green, subocular band black, ear-coverts... read more


    Calls include a short high-pitched “tsit” and richer “tchip”, repeated at intervals.


    Wet lowland forest, forest edges and secondary growth up to 800 m, commonest below 400 m; forages... read more

    Food and feeding

    Nectar of flowering shrubs, vines, cacti, epiphytes and trees, including Rubiaceae, Rutaceae, Zingiberaceae, Passifloraceae and Leguminosae... read more


    Year-round, mainly Jul–Mar (e.g. nest-building in Jul and with nestlings in Aug–Sept near Manaus, N Brazil), but Oct–Mar... read more


    Generally sedentary, though reports of irregular occurrence in S Brazil might be related to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. CITES II. Fairly common in forested blackwater regions. Occurs in several protected areas such as Imataca Forest Reserve (Venezuela) and Pedra... read more

    Recommended citation

    Schuchmann, K.L., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Black-eared Fairy (Heliothryx auritus). 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 21 February 2020).