Family Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)

Least Concern

Great-billed Hermit (Phaethornis malaris)


French: Ermite à long bec German: Dunkler Schattenkolibri Spanish: Ermitaño picogrande

Trochilus malaris


, 1835,



Often considered monotypic, but most races hitherto regarded as belonging to P. superciliosus apparently have closer affinities with present species. Race ochraceiventris may prove to merit treatment as a separate species, but this would probably not include all S Amazonian taxa of this species-group (including P. superciliosus muelleri), as has been suggested. Race margarettae has been considered a full species, and was recently treated as such#R, but fuller evidence of differentiation from malaris is needed (this is to be supplied in near future#R). Races moorei and bolivianus intergrade in E Andes of Peru, and offspring of these described as ucayalii. Birds occurring between lower reaches of R Madeira and R Tapajós were separated as race insignis, but indistinguishable from bolivianus. Proposed race camargoi (E Brazil) normally considered inseparable from margarettae, as in HBW, but likely to be accorded species status in forthcoming review of Brazilian Phaethornis#R. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. m. insolitus J. T. Zimmer, 1950 – E Colombia, S Venezuela and adjacent N Brazil (NW Amazonas).
  • P. m. malaris (Nordmann, 1835) – Great-billed Hermit – Suriname and French Guiana to CN Brazil (Amapá).
  • P. m. moorei Lawrence, 1858 – E & S Colombia, E Ecuador and NE Peru (N of R Marañón).
  • P. m. ochraceiventris Hellmayr, 1907 – NE Peru (S of R Marañón) and W Brazil (S of Amazon, E to lower R Madeira).
  • P. m. bolivianus Gould, 1861 – SE Peru to C Bolivia (to W Santa Cruz) and W Brazil S of Amazon (R Madeira E to W bank of R Tapajós).
  • P. m. margarettae Ruschi, 1972 – Margaretta's Hermit – coastal E Brazil (Pernambuco S to Espírito Santo).
  • Descriptive notes

    13–17·5 cm; male 4·5–10 g, female 4–8 g. Medium-sized to large hermit similar to P. superciliosus, but with gular stripe faint or... read more


    Song a continuous series of single, bisyllablic rising, falling “slee-up” notes, given at rate of c... read more


    Understorey of uninundated lowland rainforest of the terra firme, pre-montane and humid... read more

    Food and feeding

    Nectar of Heliconia, Pitcairnia, etc. and small arthropods. Feeds by trap-lining.


    Occupied nests Aug–Dec, French Guiana; gonadal activity Jun–Sept in Bolivia, Jun–Nov in Peru. Nest generally as in P... read more


    No information available.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. CITES II. Race margarettae, limited to forest remnants in E Brazil, could be threatened by further habitat destruction.

    Recommended citation

    Hinkelmann, C., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Great-billed Hermit (Phaethornis malaris). 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 24 January 2020).