Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Purple Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes caeruleus)


French: Guit-guit céruléen German: Kobaltnaschvogel Spanish: Mielerito cerúleo

Certhia cærulea


, 1758,



In the past sometimes treated as conspecific with C. lucidus, but the two are sympatric in extreme E Panama and adjacent NW Colombia; recent molecular work reveals that present species belongs in a clade with C. cyaneus rather than with lucidus (which shares a clade with C. nitidus)#R. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. chocoanus Hellmayr, 1920 – extreme E Panama (Darién) and Pacific coast of Colombia (from Chocó) S to W Ecuador (S to El Oro).
  • C. c. caeruleus (Linnaeus, 1758) – Colombia (on E slope of E Andes in Boyacá), Venezuela (mountains of Falcón, coastal range from Carabobo E to Sucre, N Monagas, Delta Amacuro, also W Amazonas and Bolívar), Suriname, French Guiana (probably also lowlands of Guyana), and NC Brazil (S to R Tapajós and NW Maranhão).
  • C. c. longirostris (Cabanis, 1851) – Trinidad.
  • C. c. hellmayri Gyldenstolpe, 1945 – Potaro Highlands, in Guyana.
  • C. c. microrhynchus (Berlepsch, 1884) – Venezuela (W & S Zulia, W base of Andes in Táchira and Mérida, E base S from SE Lara, and N & W Amazonas S of R Orinoco), and Colombia (N base of W Andes in R Sinú drainage and E to middle Magdalena Valley, also E of Andes from Meta and Caquetá) S to E Ecuador, E Peru, N Bolivia (S to Santa Cruz), and Amazonian Brazil (E to mouth of R Amazon and WC Mato Grosso).
  • Descriptive notes

    10 cm; 7·8–14 g. Small honeycreeper with long (14–23 mm), slender and usually distinctly decurved bill. Male nominate race is mainly bright purplish-blue, including scapulars... read more


    High-pitched vocalizations much like others of genus; gives high, buzzy or lisping “zree” or “zhree... read more


    Canopy of tall humid terra firme and várzea forest, wooded borders, second growth... read more

    Food and feeding

    Fruits and arthropods. Of six stomachs examined, four contained only vegetable matter and one only animal matter, and one contained both;... read more


    Breeding reported in Apr and Jun in Trinidad and Oct and Dec in Brazil (Pará); begging juvenile in Nov in C Peru (Pasco). Nest in Trinidad... read more


    Some local or seasonal movements, apparently in response to varying fruit and nectar resources, but... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common over most of range; locally distributed W & N of Andes. Occurs in many protected areas and, E of Andes, its range... read more

    Recommended citation

    Hilty, S. (2020). Purple Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes caeruleus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 February 2020).