Family Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)

Least Concern

Red-tailed Comet (Sappho sparganurus)


French: Colibri sapho German: Goldschwanzsylphe Spanish: Colibrí cometa

Trochilus sparganurus


, 1812,

Peru; error = Bolivia


Specific name sometimes modified erroneously to sparganura, but original name is invariable (noun phrase in apposition). Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. s. sparganurus (Shaw, 1812) – E slope of Andes in N Bolivia; possibly also extreme S Peru.
  • S. s. sapho (Lesson, 1829) – E slope from C Bolivia (Cochabamba) S to N & W Argentina (Jujuy and Salta S to Neuquén).
  • Descriptive notes

    Male 19–20 cm (including tail of 7–10 cm), female 12–14 cm; male 4·3–5·4 g, female 4·4–5 g. Male has short, slightly curved... read more


    Faint high-pitched warble (context unknown); song, given from exposed perch, comprises rather harsh... read more


    Arid to semi-arid open mountain slopes with scattered trees and bushy cover, semi-arid deciduous... read more

    Food and feeding

    Nectar of flowering Dunalia, Acnistus, Siphocampylus, Psittacanthus, Castilleja, Salvia... read more


    Apr–Jun in Bolivia, Oct–Dec in Argentina. Bulky cup-shaped nest of moss, lichen and animal hairs is built under rocks in steep... read more


    Mostly sedentary with seasonal altitudinal movements, e.g. in Cochabamba (Bolivia) recorded in high... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. CITES II. A fairly common hummingbird; local densities of at least 3–4 pairs/km² in Santa Barbara Mts, Argentina. Protected in nature... read more

    Recommended citation

    Schuchmann, K.L. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Red-tailed Comet (Sappho sparganurus). 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 7 December 2019).