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Bee Hummingbird Mellisuga helenae
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species is classified as Near Threatened because it has a moderately small population that is declining moderately rapidly as a result of forest loss and degradation.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Calypte helenae Collar and Andrew (1988), Calypte helenae Stotz et al. (1996), Calypte helenae BirdLife International (2000), Calypte helenae Collar et al. (1994)

Distribution and population
Mellisuga helenae is endemic to Cuba, with a patchy distribution including Habana, Sierra de Anafe, Guanahacabibes Peninsula, Zapata Swamp, Jucaro, Moa, Cuchillas del Toa, Sierra Cristal, Mayarí and the coast of Guantánamo (Raffaele et al. 1998, Garrido and Kirkconnell 2000) and formerly Isla de la Juventud. Although previously common and widespread, it is now rare and localised (Raffaele et al. 1998).

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'uncommon' (Stotz et al. 1996).

Trend justification
There are no data on population trends; however, the species is suspected to be declining at a slow to moderate rate, as a result of forest degradation and destruction.

It is found primarily in dense forests and edge of woodlands with plenty of bushes (Raffaele et al. 1998, Garrido and Kirkconnell 2000). Nesting takes place between April and June (Garrido and Kirkconnell 2000).

The historic decline is principally the result of habitat modification and destruction (Raffaele et al. 1998). Much of Cuba's natural vegetation has been converted to cultivation and pasture for cattle, with only 15-20% of land remaining in its natural state (Perera and Rosabal 1986), and the recent expansion of cacao, coffee and tobacco production poses a further serious threat (Dinerstein et al. 1995).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. Conservation Actions Proposed
Enforce the protection afforded to the species by protected areas. Discourage further clearance of forest for agriculture, using the species as a figurehead. Monitor key populations.

Dinerstein, E.; Olson, D. M.; Graham, D. J.; Webster, A. L.; Primm, S. A.; Bookbinder, M. P.; Ledec, G. 1995. A conservation assesssment of the terrestrial ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean. World Bank, Washington, D.C.

Garrido, O. H.; Kirkconnell, A. 2000. Field guide to the birds of Cuba. Comstock / Cornell University Press, Ithaca.

Perera, A.; Rosabal, P. 1986. Las áreas protegidas en Cuba. Silvestres 2: 13-17.

Raffaele, H.; Wiley, J.; Garrido, O.; Keith, A.; Raffaele, J. 1998. Birds of the West Indies. Christopher Helm, London.

Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Capper, D., Mahood, S., Sharpe, C J

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Mellisuga helenae. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
Species name author (Lembeye, 1850)
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 109,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species