Family Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)

Least Concern

Rainbow Starfrontlet (Coeligena iris)


French: Inca iris German: Grünroter Andenkolibri Spanish: Inca arcoiris

Helianthea Iris


, 1853,

eastern slope of the Andes


A problem exists regarding nomenclature of race aurora: name warszewizii [sic] clearly describes the same race as aurora, and description was published in same year but cannot be dated exactly to the month; in absence of clarification, aurora has become the accepted name. Proposed race hypocrita (Chachapoyas), based on immature plumage, is a synonym of fulgidiceps. Striking differences between subspecies suggest that several are very close to species status, notably aurora followed by hesperus and eva, although fulgidiceps and flagrans are not greatly distinct from iris; further gathering and analysis of evidence is needed, however, in order to produce coherent revision of species limits in this complex. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. i. hesperus (Gould, 1865) – Cuenca Rainbow Starfrontlet – SW Ecuador (S Chimborazo and Azuay).
  • C. i. iris (Gould, 1853) – Piura Rainbow Starfrontlet – S Ecuador (S from S Azuay) to N Peru (Piura).
  • C. i. aurora (Gould, 1853) – Cutervo Rainbow Starfrontlet – N Peru (Cutervo, Cerros de Amachonga, in E Cajamarca).
  • C. i. fulgidiceps (Simon, 1921) – Levanto Rainbow Starfrontlet – N Peru E of R Marañón in S Amazonas (Chachapoyas, Tamiapampa, Leimebamba, Levanto).
  • C. i. flagrans J. T. Zimmer, 1951 – Chugur Rainbow Starfrontlet – NW Peru (W slope of W Andes in W Cajamarca).
  • C. i. eva (Salvin, 1897) – Cajabamba Rainbow Starfrontlet – N Peru W of R Marañón on E slope of W Andes (SE Cajamarca, La Libertad, Ancash).
  • Descriptive notes

    12·5–15 cm; male 6·7–8·8 g, female 6–8·1 g. Male has long, straight, black bill; head black with fiery glittering yellowish-... read more


    A thin, wiry chatter, rising and falling, with rattles and squeaky notes, often emitted during high... read more


    Edges of humid and drier cloudforest, gardens and riparian scrub, at 1700–3300 m; recorded at... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on nectar at a great variety of flowers, including Embothrium, Fuchsia, Iochroma, Mutisia, ... read more


    Nov–Jan. Cup-shaped nest is constructed of moss, lichens and some small twigs, lined with soft plant material like fibres from... read more


    Presumably sedentary.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. CITES II. Restricted-range species: present in Southern Central Andes EBA. Locally common but may be vulnerable due to very restricted range. Natural... read more

    Recommended citation

    Züchner, T., de Juana, E., Boesman, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Rainbow Starfrontlet (Coeligena iris). 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 28 January 2020).