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Philippe and Aline Wolfer

Text by Nicole Bouglouan

Sources :

HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD Vol 5 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliott-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334253

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

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

BirdLife International (BirdLife International)

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia


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Page Family Trochilidae

Summary cards


Blue-tufted Starthroat
Heliomaster furcifer

Apodiforme Order – Trochilidae Family

Length: 12,5 – 13 cm
Weight: 5 - 6,5 gr

The Blue-tufted Starthroat is a long-billed hummingbird of South America.

Adult male has emerald-green crown, nape and upper mantle, whereas the rest of the upperparts are shiny coppery-green. The forked tail is dark green above.

On the underparts, the throat is glittering violet. The sides of the neck show elongated lateral feathers. These feathers and the underparts are iridescent ultramarine. On the underwing, the coverts are glossy green and the flight feathers are brownish. The undertail is blue-green. 

The long bill (30 mm) is black and slightly decurved. The eyes are dark brown with a white spot on the rear eye. Legs and feet are blackish.
After the breeding season, the male adopts an eclipse plumage with greyish underparts. This plumage occurs from July to October.

The female has coppery-green upperparts. On the grey underparts, the throat is mottled darker grey. We can see a white line down centre of belly, and several small glossy green disks on the body sides.
The tail is less forked than in male. Uppertail is bronze-green with black central tail feathers. Undertail is shiny blue-green with outer tipped-white rectrices.

The immature is similar to the female.

The Blue-tufted Starthroat utters series of monosyllabic “triii” or “trrr” with little variations.

The Blue-tufted Starthroat frequents forest edges, lowland grasslands, scrub and “cerrado” (vast tropical savannah of Brazil).   

The Blue-tufted Starthroat is found in N Argentina, C and S Brazil, C and E Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay. There are some records in SE Colombia and NE Ecuador.

The Blue-tufted Starthroat feeds primarily on nectar from several plants’ species such as Leguminoseae, Bromeliaceae, Liliaceae and Cactaceae. It gets the nectar by piercing the base of the corolla with its long bill. It forages between 2 and 8 metres above the ground. It also catches insects by hawking while flying.   

As numerous hummingbirds, the male defends the feeding territory when the nectar’s sources are rich. It sings and exposes the throat feathers towards the intruders.

At the beginning of the breeding season, the male performs some displays. It drops, and then, it raises in short steps in front of the female. During this movement, it sings and displays the neck tufts by expanding them.

The Blue-tufted Starthroat’s movements are poorly known. It probably performs some migrations or at least dispersions according to the nectar resources and the flowering plants. Birds can be seen far from their usual range such as Colombia and Ecuador.

The Blue-tufted Starthroat feeds while hovering at flowers from nectar. The wings draw flattened 8-shaped rapid wing-beats, allowing the bird to feed almost motionless. It can also hover backwards and forwards. 

The breeding season occurs from November to March.
The cup-shaped nest is built by the female. The cup is made with soft plant fibres, and the outside is decorated with lichens. It is placed between 3 and 6 metres above the ground.
The polygamous male does not take part in nesting duties.

The female lays 2 eggs and incubates alone during about two weeks. At hatching, the chicks are covered in black down with some greyish tufts on the back. They fledge about 20-25 days after hatching.
They can breed in the second year.


Pale throat mottled dark, still some grey on the underparts, but the colours of the adult male start to appear.

The Blue-tufted Starthroat feeds on nectar from several plants’ species. But it “steals” the nectar by piercing the flower at the base of the corolla with its long bill, and does not play its role in pollinisation. It also hawks insects in the air.

The Blue-tufted Starthroat can be rare to fairly common according to the range.
Formerly, this hummingbird was trapped for pet-trade, but this activity is terminated today.
This species is not currently threatened.