Topaza pellacrimson topaz

Geographic Range

Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds (Topaza pella) are found in northern Amazonia and the Guianan Shield in northeast South America. Recent sightings of these birds near rivers south of the Amazon jungle provide evidence that the birds have extended their range roughly 550 km southeast of originally discovered populations located in Tapajos National Forest and Rondonia in Brazil (Davis and Olmstead, 2010; Hu et. Al, 2000). For the breeding season (July to November) Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds do not migrate at all (Hu et. al, 2000). (Davis and Olmstead, 2010; Hu, et al., 2000)


Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds inhabit lowland rainforests up to 500 m in elevation, with a preference for the canopy and forest edges. They are found near blackwater streams and clear-water rivers because this is where they typically nest during breeding season (July to November) (Davis and Olmstead, 2010; Schuchmann et. al, 2015). (Davis and Olmstead, 2010; Schuchmann, et al., 2015)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 500 m
    0.00 to 1640.42 ft
  • Average elevation
    500 m
    1640.42 ft

Physical Description

Topaza pella is a larger species of hummingbird, which is distinguishable from others by their large feet. Like most hummingbirds, they can be recognized by their bright coloration. Male Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds have a long black beak with grey feet. The plumage of males goes from a shiny black on their heads to a shiny red on their backs, eventually becoming a bright gold near their long, black tail feathers (Schuchmann et. al, 2015). Females, on the other hand, have yellow feet with dark green coloration on the back and yellow-green and crimson-green coloration on the underside. There is little seasonal or geographic variation in color of T. pella (Schmitz-Ornez and Schuchmann, 2011). Young Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds have similar coloration to females, with loose grey feathers on their undersides and less intense body colors overall. Young males do not have the same shine in their black head feathers as mature males have. Subspecies T. p. pella, T. p. smaragdula, and T. p. microrhyncha can be distinguished based on differences in weight, throat coloration, and beak size, with T. p. microrhyncha being the smallest subspecies (Hu et. al, 2000).

Males have a body length of between 21 and 23 centimeters, weighing between 11 and 18 grams. Females have a body length of between 13 and 14 centimeters, weighing between 9 and 12.5 grams (Schuchmann et. al, 2015). (Hu, et al., 2000; Schmitz-Ornes and Schuchmann, 2011; Schuchmann, et al., 2015)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range mass
    9 to 18 g
    0.32 to 0.63 oz
  • Average mass
    14 g
    0.49 oz
  • Range length
    13 to 23 cm
    5.12 to 9.06 in


Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds build their mating routine around bright, shiny plumage. Males compete for the attention of females by quickly flying around the air in a zig-zag pattern, followed by a direct dive towards the female to capture her attention (Franca et. al, 2020). Once close to females, males ruffle the feathers of their underbellies, making them change colors and shimmer. Females select mates based on the best display of feathers and flight patterns (Franca et. al, 2020). (Franca, et al., 2020)

The nests of Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds are shallow, bowl-like structures made of Bombax (Bombax ceiba) seeds and cobwebs, suspended on branches between 40 and 50 cm above the surface of streams in their tropical forest habitat (Hu et. al, 2000). The entirety of the nests’ weight rests on the branch of the tree, and the nest is made structurally sound by the Bombax seeds. Crimson Topaz Hummingbird pairs typically breed once per year between the months of July and November, with no migratory behavior involved. Commonly, each nest contains two white eggs (Franca et. al, 2020). The eggs incubate in the nest for 21 to 23 days before hatching. After hatching, the chicks develop muscles and gain strength slowly for three weeks before developing feathers that allow them to fly. The young hummingbirds leave their nests and mothers promptly after fledging. At two years old, a Crimson Topaz Hummingbird is sexually mature and capable of breeding (Simon and Pacheco, 2005; Schuchmann et. al, 2015). (Franca, et al., 2020; Hu, et al., 2000; Schuchmann, et al., 2015; Simon and Pacheco, 2005)

  • Breeding interval
    Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds breed annually.
  • Breeding season
    July to November
  • Average eggs per season
  • Range time to hatching
    21 to 23 days
  • Average fledging age
    21 days
  • Range time to independence
    22 to 24 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 years

Before hatching, the eggs are incubated exclusively by their mother. A freshly hatched Crimson Topaz Hummingbird is fed exclusively by its mother. All nest maintenance is performed by the mother (Franca et. al, 2020). (Franca, et al., 2020)

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


No information could be found on the lifespan or longevity of Topaza pella. However, for other species of birds in the family Florisuginae, including all other hummingbird species, the average lifespan is 3-5 years (Schuchmann et. al, 2015). (Schuchmann, et al., 2015)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    3 to 5 (low) years


Topaza pella is a solitary species, known for its bright and flashy colors that it uses to mark and defend its territory (Johnson, 2020). The male birds establish feeding territories by flashing their feathers towards potential intruders and other males. While these feeding territories include their female mate and chicks, they do not include any other males or mating pairs of the same species (Johnson, 2020). These birds are stationary and do not migrate during breeding or winter seasons. In terms of specific breeding behaviors, Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds usually build nests approximately one meter above rivers, streams, and other small bodies of water (Johnson, 2020). (Johnson, 2020)

Communication and Perception

Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds communicate through very inconsistent patterns of high-pitched chip-like calls from their perches in the canopy level of the tropical forests they live in. In their habitat, the calls can be heard continuously throughout the day. Vocal calls are paired with ruffling of feathers to defend feeding territory (Franca et. al, 2020; Hu et. al, 2000).

When mating, the birds rely more on flight patterns (e.g., zigzag) and bright plumage to attract mates, rather than their distinct vocal communication, which can be heard at any time of year (Schuchmann et. al, 2015). (Franca, et al., 2020; Hu, et al., 2000; Schuchmann, et al., 2015)

Food Habits

Outside of the breeding season, Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds are herbivorous and feed on nectar from flowers found on trees, shrubs and vines. Typically, they feed off of flowers of the Bromeliaceae and Ericaceae groups because these contain higher sugar content (Johnson, 2020). Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds are also more likely to protect these flowers if they are in their feeding habitats (Johnson, 2020).

During the breeding season (and rarely, outside of the breeding season), Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds are omnivorous, adding spiders and insects to their diets. Insects supply the birds with a consistent source of protein, which is very important during breeding season when chicks are rapidly developing (Johnson, 2020). (Johnson, 2020)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • Plant Foods
  • nectar

Ecosystem Roles

Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds primarily feed on the nectar of flowers from the Bromeliaceae and Ericaceae groups. Like other nectarivores, they transfer pollen between the flowers, making them essential pollinators in their ecosystems (Johnson, 2020). Because they eat almost exclusively nectar, Crimson Topaz Hummingbirds are essential and effective pollinators (Johnson, 2020). (Johnson, 2020)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • pollinates

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Topaza pella is known for its bright and striking plumage, which could potentially become an incentive for ecotourism (Davis and Olmstead, 2010; Hofmann, 2015). (Davis and Olmstead, 2010; Hofmann, 2015)

Conservation Status

Topaza pella is listed as a least concern species, with a slowly declining population (IUCN, 2016; Johnson, 2020; Schuchmann et. al, 2015). (Johnson, 2020; Schuchmann, et al., 2015; "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species", 2016)


Madeleine Boyles (author), Colorado State University, Nathan Dorff (editor), Colorado State University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


an animal that mainly eats nectar from flowers


an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


2016. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Topaza Pella. Accessed March 26, 2021 at

Davis, B., S. Olmstead. 2010. Aves, Apodiformes, Trochilidae, Topaza pella (Linnaeus, 1758): A range reinforcement in Amazonian Brazil. Check List, 6: 397-399.

Franca, P., W. Santos, C. Costa-Campos, E. Lopes. 2020. Nestling development and data on nests and eggs of Topaza pella (Aves, Trochilidae) in Amapa state, northern Brazil. Acta Amazonica, 50(2): 138-141.

Hofmann, T. 2015. Misled by the mitochondrial genome: A phylogenetic study in Topaza hummingbirds. University of Gothenburg Faculty of Science, 0: 1-51.

Hu, D., L. Joseph, D. Agro. 2000. Distribution, Variation, and Taxonomy of Topaza Hummingbirds (Aves: Trochildidae). Ornitological Neotropical, 11: 123-142.

Johnson, S. 2020. "Beauty of Birds" (On-line). Crimson Topazes. Accessed March 26, 2021 at

Schmitz-Ornes, A., K. Schuchmann. 2011. Taxonomic Review and Phylogeny of the Hummingbird Genus Topaza Gray, 1840 Using Plumage Color Spectral Information. Ornitologia Neotropical, 22: 25-38.

Schuchmann, K., G. Kirwan, P. Boesman. 2015. "Crimson Topaz" (On-line). Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birds of the World. Accessed February 16, 2021 at

Simon, J., S. Pacheco. 2005. On the standardization of nest descriptions of neotropical birds. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia, 13 (2): 143-154.

Stotz, D., S. Lanyon, T. Schulenberg, D. Willard, A. Peterson, J. Fitzpatrick. 1997. An Avifaunal Survey of Two Tropical Forest Localities on the Middle Rio Jiparana, Rondonia, Brazil. American Ornithological Society, 48: 763-781.

Tilford, T. 2009. The Complete Book of Hummingbirds. United States of America: Thunder Bay Press.