Great Sapphirewing, Pterophanes cyanopterus

2010 January 31
by David J. Ringer

VICKSBURG, MISS. — Today’s Ecuador feature highlights the Great Sapphirewings we encountered at Yanacocha Reserve near Quito.

Great Sapphirewing, Pterophanes cyanopterus 2

At 6 inches long (or more than seven if you include its bill), the Great Sapphirewing (Pterophanes cyanopterus) is one of the largest hummingbirds in the world. It is larger than all of the other hummingbirds in its habitat and many other species as well, including flowerpiercers, conebills, and chat-tyrants.

Great Sapphirewing, Pterophanes cyanopterus 4

The sapphirewing’s scientific name, Pterophanes cyanopterus, is derived from Greek words combined to mean “bright wing” and “blue wing.”

Great Sapphirewing, Pterophanes cyanopterus 5

Pinkish-brown underparts identify this bird as a female. When sapphirewings hover, their wingbeats are so slow that they look like large moths fluttering.

Great Sapphirewing, Pterophanes cyanopterus 3

Great Sapphirewing, Pterophanes cyanopterus 1

This post is part of a series on Ecuador and was included in Bird Photography Weekly #75.

Related posts:

  1. Sword-billed Hummingbird, Ensifera ensifera
  2. Northern (Great Grey) Shrike in southwest Missouri
  3. Ecuador will blow your mind
  4. ¡Voy a Ecuador!
  5. Big river birds make for great CBC
14 Responses
  1. January 31, 2010

    Wonderful photos of the sapphirewings. They are very colorful and pretty birds.

  2. January 31, 2010

    Lovely shots! Thank you for taking us to a place we can only dream about. :-)

  3. January 31, 2010

    Beautiful birds and lovely photos.

  4. January 31, 2010

    …what a gorgeous hummingbird. He really is exquisite. We get Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and I fall in love with them every time I see one. I can only imagine what I’d do if I would get to see these fellows on a regular basis. Just beautiful…

  5. February 1, 2010

    Great pics!! I’ve never seen those, but hopefully will someday :)

  6. February 1, 2010

    Not easy to captured this fast moving bird. The 1st is my pick.

  7. February 1, 2010

    What a magnificent beauty! Your photos really do them justice.

  8. February 1, 2010

    This was one of the few species I saw on a quick stop off in Quito a few years back. A truly great bird.

  9. February 1, 2010

    What an excellent hummer, they’re so hard to get photos of. you got some great shots of this guy!

  10. February 2, 2010

    Wow David, I can’t imagine what one of those Great Sapphirewing Hummers sounds like when it hovers. What a beauty he is. And the female, I think, even more beautiful with the pinkish-brown to set off the blue and green. Very impressive.

  11. February 2, 2010

    Oh wow, she really is a little jewel! Just beautiful, great shots!

  12. February 3, 2010

    Nice photos, once again I think I need to get to Ecuador!

  13. Carol permalink
    February 11, 2010

    Your photos sufficiently intrigued me to look up my list from EC. I can’t believe I didn’t remember if I saw one. In 2007 I saw one at Yanacocha. I’m going back for my 3rd trip to EC in April. This time focusing on just the southern part of the country. Ecuador=Tons of birds+easy to get around.

  14. Steve permalink
    March 1, 2010

    Great pictures! I wish I had these guys in my backyard instead of the usual ruby throats. Should I be using different feeders to attract more species. I have two smaller feeders right now, but was thinking of getting this hummingbird feeder. Any suggestions?

Comments are closed.