Family Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)

Least Concern

Purple-throated Mountain-gem (Lampornis calolaemus)


French: Colibri à gorge pourprée German: Purpurkehlnymphe Spanish: Colibrí gorjipúrpura

Oreopyra calolæma


, 1865,

Volcán de Irazú, Costa Rica


Classification unstable; commonly treated as conspecific with L. cinereicauda and L. castaneoventris, but, while females of all taxa are very similar, combination of highly distinctive male plumages and parapatric distributions, along with observations that where white-throated and purple-throated forms occur on the same slopes they tend to segregate altitudinally (white-throated higher), suggests species status more appropriate; hybridization is very limited, and many previous reports of hybrids may refer to young birds. Thus, calolaemus (with pectoralis and homogenes; evidently occurring S of castaneoventris in W Panama) achieves species status, distinct from cinereicauda by its purple vs white throat (3), blue vs grey tail (3) and parapatry (3), and from castaneoventris by its blue vs green forecrown (3), purple vs white throat (3) and parapatry (3). Racial allocation of purple-throated birds of the Pacific coastal range of S Costa Rica (calolaemus or homogenes) is uncertain at present. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. c. pectoralis (Salvin, 1891) – extreme S Nicaragua to NW Costa Rica (Cordillera de Guanacaste).
  • L. c. calolaemus (Salvin, 1865) – Cordillera Central and extreme N Cordillera de Talamanca (C Costa Rica).
  • L. c. homogenes Wetmore, 1967 – Pacific slope of S Costa Rica (probably) and W Panama (from C Chiriquí to Coclé).
  • Descriptive notes

    10–11·5 cm; male 5·7–6·2 g, female 4·7–5·1 g. Previously considered conspecific with L. cinericauda and L. castaneoventris. Bill mid-length, straight and... read more


    Song a complex medley of high, thin and dry sputtering and warbling notes. Calls include a buzzy “... read more


    Wet subtropical forest. Race pectoralis occurs at 800–2000 m; other races mostly... read more

    Food and feeding

    Foraging and food probably largely identical to L. castaneoventris: males, in particular, defend territories around flowers of... read more


    Mostly in rainy season, Oct–Apr (or Jun, notably pectoralis). Nest is deep, compact cup of pale or brownish plant down, fine... read more


    Descends to lower elevations following breeding, down to 300–500 m (calolaemus).

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. CITES II. Over most parts of range one of the commonest mountain hummingbirds, and protected areas exist in the ranges of all races, but ... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Purple-throated Mountain-gem (Lampornis calolaemus). 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 26 January 2020).