The Brown Violet-ear (Colibri delphinae) is a large hummingbird that breeds at middle elevations in the hills from Guatemala to south to Bolivia and eastern Brazil, and on Trinidad.
The breeding habitat is forest at altitudes between 400-1600m, but the Brown Violet-ear will spread widely into the lowlands when not nesting. It is replaced at higher altitudes by its relative, the Green Violet-ear C. thalassimus.
The Brown Violet-ear is typically found high in the forest canopy, tall second growth and coffee plantations, but it will feed at lower levels at edges and clearings. The nest is a small cup of plant down saddled on a twig 1-3m high in a bush, into which two white eggs are laid.
The 11.5 cm long, 6.5-7 g weight Brown Violet-ear is unmistakable; it is mainly dull brown, with a rufous rump and greyer underparts. There is a violet patch running back and down from the eye, a hermit-like malar stripe, and a glittering green central throat. The bill is short and straight.
The female is similar to the male, but has a smaller throat patch. Immature bird have rufous fringes to the upper part plumage, and little or no violet behind the eyes. The song is a vigorous repetition of the chit call, and is delivered by up to several dozen breeding males in loose leks.
The Brown Violet-ear feeds on nectar from small flowers of trees and epiphytes. It also takes insects, often caught in flight, as an essential source of protein. Although not particulary territorial, this species is highly aggressive, and at feeders seems to spend far more time attacking other hummingbirds than actually feeding.
Conservation status: Least concern