The white-necked jacobin (Florisuga mellivora) is a large and attractive hummingbird that ranges from Mexico, south to Peru, Bolivia and south Brazil. It is also found on Tobago (sub-species F. m. flabellifera) and in Trinidad (sub-species F. m. mellivora)
The white-necked jacobin is approximately 12 cm long and is a widespread inhabitant of forest, usually being seen at a high perch or just above the canopy. It is less common at lower levels, except near hummingbird feeders.
The white-necked jacobin is remarkable for its dazzling plumage and unique wing structure, which makes it extremely adept at maneuvering with incredible agility through the forest. The male of this species has a shimmering blue head and chest, and bright iridescent green upperparts. This contrasts starkly with the snow-white plumage of the belly, the broad white crescent on the back of the neck, and the white tail, which is tipped with black. The plumage of female white-necked jacobins is highly variable; a female may have the same plumage as a male, and only be distinguished by its longer bill and shorter wings and tail, or it may differ from the male by having blue-green on the breast, a dull white belly, and a mostly green tail with a dark blue tip. Both the male and female have black feet and a straight black bill
These birds usually visit flowers of tall trees and epiphytes for nectar, and also hawk for insects.
During the breeding season, the fantastic plumage of the male white-necked jacobin is most prominent, as it performs an attractive territorial display. A male will shoot up into the air, suddenly fan out its white tail, and then slowly descend as it steadily turns, displaying the tail in its full glory to a watching female. Such displays often take place at considerable heights, up in the forest canopy. The white-necked jacobin nests in the forest understorey, one to three metres above the ground, where it constructs a shallow nest of soft vegetation and cobwebs on the surface of a broad leaf, which is sheltered from above by another large leaf.
White necked Jacobin photographed by Rachel Lee Young at Yerette Hummingbird Sanctuary, Maracas St Joseph.