Family Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)

Least Concern

Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula)


French: Colibri flammule German: Vulkanelfe Spanish: Colibrí volcanero

Selasphorus flammula


, 1865,

Volcán de Irazú, Costa Rica


Nominate and race torridus have often been considered colour morphs of a single, variable taxon; alternatively, each has been treated as a separate species, torridus showing one major difference in colour of frontal shield (amethyst-grey vs glowing pink or red); race simoni has been treated either as a separate species or as a race of S. ardens, but in reality its distinctness from nominate flammula is not great. On basis of morphology, behaviour and breeding distributions, the three forms are perhaps best considered races of a single species; variation in gorget colour complicated and at present still imperfectly known, some differences apparently being age-related. Described form S. underwoodii is a hybrid between nominate race and S. scintilla. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. f. simoni Carriker, 1910 – Cerise-throated Hummingbird – C Costa Rica (Volcanes Poás and Barba).
  • S. f. flammula Salvin, 1865 – Rose-throated Hummingbird – C Costa Rica (Volcanes Irazú and Turrialba).
  • S. f. torridus Salvin, 1870 – Heliotrope-throated Hummingbird – S Costa Rica (Cordillera de Talamanca) and extreme W Panama (Volcán Barú).
  • Descriptive notes

    7·5–8 cm; male 2·5 g, female 2·8 g. Adult has short, straight, black bill; male of all forms has similar emargination on inner webs of rectrices 1... read more


    Soft chip notes heard while birds are foraging. Male utters ‘descending’ call (a thin whistled “... read more


    Open brushy areas on high mountain slopes, including páramo and sub-pá... read more

    Food and feeding

    Visits a wide variety of mostly small, often insect-pollinated flowers of shrubs (Comarostaphylia, Fuchsia, Rubus... read more


    Late wet and most of dry season, Aug or Sept–Feb. As early as Jul male defends as mating stations conspicuous lookout perches,... read more


    Following breeding leaves upper elevations, some descending to as low as about 1350 m and moving to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. CITES II. Restricted-range species: present in Costa Rica and Panama Highlands EBA. Common over most of range, which includes protected areas for all... read more

    Recommended citation

    Stiles, F.G. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula). 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 9 April 2020).