Family Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)

Least Concern

Red-billed Emerald (Chlorostilbon gibsoni)


French: Émeraude de Gibson German: Gibsonsmaragdkolibri Spanish: Esmeralda piquirroja

Trochilus Gibsoni


, 1840,

no locality = Chicoral, upper Magdalena Valley, Colombia


Formerly treated as one of many races of C. mellisugus (which see); an alternative was, on basis of bill colour, to split the complex into four species, of which present species (including chrysogaster and nitens) was one, although this arrangement has at times been varied with the transfer of melanorhynchus and pumilus to present species. A more radical evaluation of the complex#R is largely followed here but, owing to both the sheer number of taxa in the original complex and the diaspora of specimen material, comparisons between taxa and decisions on their taxonomic status are limited mainly to geographical neighbours. Thus, present form is specifically distinct from geographically adjacent members of the scaled-down C. mellisugus (which see) on account of (fide published information#R) its use of hotter, drier habitats (1); male tail very deeply forked (morphometric character; at least 1); lower mandible largely red (2); male outer rectrices attenuate (uncertain score; none given); breast green (tinged blue in chrysogaster; ns[1]); crown dull (but forecrown glittering in chrysogaster; 3); female outer rectrices with extensive grey bases, whitish tips (2). C. g. gibsoni and C. m. pumilus have been found sympatrically at two localities on W edge of Magdalena Valley, in Colombia#R. Three subspecies currently recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. g. nitens Lawrence, 1861 – extreme N Colombia (Guajira Peninsula) and NW Venezuela (W & N of Andes).
  • C. g. chrysogaster (Bourcier, 1843) – N Colombia from E Córdoba E to Cesar and Norte de Santander.
  • C. g. gibsoni (Fraser, 1840) – upper Magdalena Valley, in C Colombia.
  • Descriptive notes

    7·6–9 cm; 2·8 g. Bill straight, with mandible mostly red (in male) or red at base (female), c. 1·3 cm long. Adult male is dark bronze-green above, without any glitter on... read more


    Song a continuous series of wiry trilled notes, “wirrr...wirrr...wirrr...” at rate of c. 3 notes/... read more


    Inhabits dry and arid regions, including desert scrub, drier woodland, cultivated areas, scrubby... read more

    Food and feeding

    Few data. Forages at patches of small, mostly insect-pollinated flowers with low nectar rewards and which are consequently largely ignored... read more


    Very little published information: birds in breeding condition in N Colombia in Mar–Aug, while in W Cundinamarca (C Colombia) a nest... read more


    None definitely known, but populations are considered to be highly mobile and in N Colombia the... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. CITES II. Considered to be uncommon, local and erratic in N Venezuela and uncommon in Colombia, but the species cannot be thought to be threatened... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Red-billed Emerald (Chlorostilbon gibsoni). 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 22 January 2020).