Fr: Percefleur à gorge noire
Ang: Black-throated Flowerpiercer
All: Schwarzkehl-Hakenschnabel
Esp: Pinchaflor Gorjinegro
Ita: Bucafiori golanera
Nd: Zwartkeelberghoningkruiper
Sd: svartstrupig blomstickare


Roger Ahlman
Pbase Galleries Peru and Ecuador

Didier Buysse
Vision d’Oiseaux

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 16 by Josep del Hoyo- Andrew Elliot-David Christie – Lynx Edicions – ISBN: 9788496553781

A GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF COLOMBIA by Steven L. Hilty and William L. Brown - Princeton University Press – ISBN 069108372X

L’ENCYCLOPEDIE MONDIALE DES OISEAUX - Dr Christopher M. Perrins -  BORDAS - ISBN: 2040185607

Avibase (Lepage Denis)
BirdLife International (BirdLife International)

Neotropical Birds – Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Pollination of Tristerix mistletoe (Loranthaceae) by Diglossa (Aves Thraupidae) By Gary R. Graves

The nest and eggs of Black-throated Flowerpiercer (Diglossa brunneiventris) – Tomas Grim and Harold Greeney

HBW Alive


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Summary cards


Black-throated Flowerpiercer
Diglossa brunneiventris

Passeriformes Order – Thraupidae Family

The Black-throated Flowerpiercer is included in the genus Diglossa, within the huge family Thraupidae. Diglossa species have upturned and hooked bills, well-adapted to their foraging behaviour. Within the genus, the bill hook varies in size, and the diversity in bill size and length has allowed several species to live together at some Andean sites.
As bill and hook sizes differ markedly, each species feeds on different food items, involving also different micro-habitats.
The Black-throated Flowerpiercer occurs in montane woodland and scrub in the Andes, usually at high elevation. The species is common and widespread throughout the range.

Length: 14 cm
Weight: 10-15 gr

The adult of the nominate race has mostly black upperparts including crown and head sides, back, most of wings and entire tail, but rump and uppertail-coverts are pale grey. There is a small triangular pale bluish-grey patch on shoulder, sometimes concealed by scapulars. However, scapulars may vary with variable number of pale grey feathers.

On the underparts, centre of throat is black, whereas the submoustachial stripe is rufous. Rest of underparts is deep rufous, but flanks and body sides are light blue-grey and partially concealed by the wings.

The black, upturned and hooked bill shows pale grey basal half of lower mandible. The eyes are dark reddish-brown. Legs and feet are dark grey.

Male and female are similar.
The juvenile is dark olive-brown on the upperparts with some indistinct streaks. On the upperwing, we can see two cinnamon narrow wingbars. Throat and underparts are buff. The moustachial stripe is narrower, buff to greyish.
The immature has dull greyish wing-coverts and dusky streaks on the underparts.
The subadult has cinnamon-rufous underparts with dark streaking and spotting.

The Black-throated Flowerpiercer has two subspecies.
D.b. vuilleumieri is found in Antioquia in Colombia. This race resembles nominate, but it is slightly larger. The black throat patch is larger too.

D.b. brunneiventris (described above and displayed on this page) occurs in N Peru, S on W Andean slope to extreme N Chile, and S on E slope to W Bolivia.


The Black-throated Flowerpiercer usually frequents slopes with flowering shrubs, and occurs in Polylepis woodland, forest borders and Eucalyptus groves depending on the flowering. It is almost ubiquitous at forest edges and treeline, and in many intermontane valleys.
This species is common in scrub, gardens and montane woodlands in the Andes of Peru. It frequents more arid areas than other flowerpiercers. It can be seen between 2400 and 4200 metres of elevation.

The Black-throated Flowerpiercer sings from perch at dawn. It typically perches at top of vegetation in open.
The song is a high-pitched warbling, a rapid and complex series of notes uttered during 1,5/4 seconds.
The call is a tiny “zit” and other wheezy notes.

However, the race “vuilleumieri” has different song in three parts, a low-pitched rattle followed by a rising complex phrase, ending into longer higher-pitched rattle.

Like most tanagers, the Black-throated Flowerpiercer feeds on mixed diet of nectar and insects, but nectar is an important part of its diet.
Thanks to the highly modified bill, the Black-throated Flowerpiercer is able to obtain the nectar from a wide variety of flower species.
The feeding technique consists of hooking the upper mandible over, or into a corolla to hold it while the base of the corolla is punctured. Then, the bird extracts rapidly the nectar with the brush-tipped tongue.

The Black-throated Flowerpiercer forages from the ground or even on the ground to top of vegetation, generally shrubs and small trees.
The bird is always moving, flicking the wings, twisting and turning, foraging in dense vegetation. It reaches the flowers by clinging and often hangs downwards.
It punctures the tubular corollas of numerous flower species by rapid movements from one to the next. It regularly returns to the pierced flowers for nectar.

Insects are caught on foliage and in flowers, and flying preys by short sallies. Feeding territories are strongly defended against other small nectar-feeders such as hummingbirds of the family Trochilidae.

But the Black-throated Flowerpiercer is also a pollinator of the Tristerix mistletoe in Peru, as it probes directly the flowers front of corollas and without piercing.
In N Peru, both Black-throated Flowerpiercer and Black Flowerpiercer (Diglossa humeralis) are legitimate pollinators of Tristerix longibracteatus. They pierce the bases of the proximal flowers and then, they thrust the head from above into the flower cluster, in order to reach the bases of the flowers located in the centre of the plant. While being parasitized, both proximal and central flowers are pollinated.
At the end, the birds are dusted with the greenish-yellow Tristerix pollen.  

The Black-throated Flowerpiercer forages alone or in pairs, and sometimes in small mixed-species flocks with other tanagers, but also Parulidae and Tyrannidae species.

Information on breeding behaviour is currently lacking.
The Black-throated Flowerpiercer is probably resident, but local movements may occur according to nectar resources.
Most Thraupidae are good fliers.

From an observation of one nest in Peru, two eggs were laid around late November.
The nest is an open cup made with grass stems and moss. The inner cup is lined with lichens. This structure is built among the vegetation, about 50 centimetres above the ground.
The eggs are pale blue with small dark spots.
Fledglings can be seen between December and June. Juveniles and immature birds can be seen all year round in Peru.

The Black-throated Flowerpiercer of nominate race is common and widespread in most parts of the range. It occurs in National Parks and some protected areas.
The status of the race “vuilleumieri” is poorly known. This race frequents unprotected areas, but with suitable habitat.
The global population appears stable and currently, the Black-throated Flowerpiercer is evaluated as Least Concern.