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Viridian Metaltail - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Colombian Metaltail (recisa); Ecuadorian Metaltail (primolina); Black-throated Metaltail (atrigularis)

Subspecies williami
Photo by max1
Los Nevados, Central Andes, Colombia, February 2016
Metallura williami


11-12 cm (4¼-

  • Medium-sized, straight, black bill
  • Bottle green plumage with broad glittering throat patch (same colour as body but more vivid)
  • Glittering purplish-blue upperparts of tail, silky purplish-blue below, slightly forked
  • recisa has a shorter bill and a more forked tail, shining green below
  • primolinus with reddish-black tail above, shining green below, only narrowly forked
  • atrigularis with a black blotch in the centre of throat patch, shining green underparts of tail, only narrowly forked

Females are mottled below and have an incomplete throat patch.
Immatures are similar to females.


South America: found in the Andes of Colombia and Ecuador.
Common to uncommon in suitable habitat.



Four subspecies recognized[1].:

  • M. w. recisa in the Andes of north-central Colombia (Páramo de Frontino in Antioquia)
  • M. w. williami in the central Andes of Colombia
  • M. w. primolina in the eastern Andes of southern Colombia (Nariño) and northern Ecuador
  • M. w. atrigularis in the Andes of southern Ecuador (Cordillera de Chilla in Azuay and Loja)


Found in paramo grassland with some bushes and shrubby stunted borders of humid montane dwarf forest and elfin forest.
Occurs at 2700-4000 m, occasionally lower. Usually lower than Violet-throated Metaltail in southern Ecuador.



Feeds on nectar, mainly on Ericaceae and Melastomataceae shrubs. Hovers when foraging.


Breeding recorded at different times of year. The nest is placed on the ground on roots and in rocky niches clad with mosses and lichens. Lays 2 eggs.


Presumably a sedentary species.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 1999. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 5: Barn-Owls to Hummingbirds. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334252

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