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Great Sapphirewing - BirdForum Opus

Male of subspecies peruvianus
Photo © by Roy Halpin
Andean East Slope, Ecuador, 12/8/2004
Pterophanes cyanopterus


A very large (15-20 cm., 6-8 in.) hummingbird. Long (30mm) bill with slight upturn.
Male is irridescent green above; blue-green below. Wings long, blue to purple. Tail long and forked, with a bronze wash. Small white post-ocular spot.
Female has browner crown, less intense coloration in general, and rufous breast, on flanks with green speckles.

Similar Species

Female, subspecies peruvianus
Photo © by Ecuadorrebel
Yanacocha Reserve, north-western Ecuador, July 2010

This is the largest hummingbird in its habitat (the Giant Hummingbird does not come to such humid areas). Shares slow wing beats with the Giant Hummingbird.


South America: found in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia between 2000 and 3600m in elevation.



Three subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • P.c. cyanopterus:
  • P.c. caeruleus:
  • Central Andes to extreme south-western Andes of Colombia
  • P.c. peruvianus:


Shrubby borders of high-altitude temperate forests areas.


Male in flight
Photo © by Glenn Bartley
Colombia, 2017


Fast, direct flight.


Feeds at flowers either from hover or perch. Is attracted to feeders.


Female of subspecies cyanopterus
Photo © by COLOMBIA Birding
Eastern Andes, Colombia, August 2009
  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Ridgely, R.S., & P.J. Greenfield (2001). "The Birds of Ecuador - Field Guide". Comstock/Cornell Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-8014-8721-7
  3. Heynen, I., P. F. D. Boesman, and G. M. Kirwan (2020). Great Sapphirewing (Pterophanes cyanopterus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.gresap1.01

Recommended Citation

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