Family Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)

Least Concern

Tyrian Metaltail (Metallura tyrianthina)


French: Métallure émeraude German: Smaragdkehl-Glanzschwänzchen Spanish: Metalura tiria

Trochilus tyrianthinus


, 1832,

Popayán, Colombia


Geographical variation complex, reflecting a southern origin and progressive morphological change in respect of female throat and breast coloration towards north; variation in tail colour often striking, but other diagnostic characters usually minor; research into vocalizations and other behaviour desirable. Race districta in N Colombia forms “leapfrog” pattern with race smaragdinicollis in Peru and Bolivia. Proposed race peruviana synonymous with smaragdinicollis. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. t. districta Bangs, 1899 – Santa Marta Metaltail – Santa Marta Mts and Sierra de Perijá (N Colombia–NW Venezuela border).
  • M. t. chloropogon (Cabanis & Heine, 1860) – Costa Metaltail – Coastal Range of N Venezuela (Aragua E to Miranda).
  • M. t. oreopola Todd, 1913 – Merida Metaltail – Andes of Venezuela (SW Lara, Trujillo, Mérida, N Táchira).
  • M. t. tyrianthina (Loddiges, 1832) – Tyrian Metaltail – NW Venezuela (SW Táchira) through all Andean chains of Colombia and E & S Ecuador to extreme N Peru (Piura).
  • M. t. quitensis Gould, 1861 – NW Ecuador.
  • M. t. septentrionalis E. J. O. Hartert, 1899 – Cajamarca Metaltail – W slope of Andes of Peru (W of R Marañón, from Cajamarca to Lima).
  • M. t. smaragdinicollis (d’Orbigny & Lafresnaye, 1838) – Puno Metaltail – E slope of Andes from Peru (S from Amazonas) to C Bolivia (Santa Cruz).
  • Descriptive notes

    9–10 cm; 2·7–5·1 g. Male has short, straight, black bill; upperparts bottle-green, underparts green with whitish-grey feather fringes; throat patch... read more


    Seldom-heard song is a repeated series of weak, high-pitched, lispy notes “ read more


    Occurs in the interior of rather open humid forest, including second growth, cloudforest and moss-... read more

    Food and feeding

    Recorded at open flowers of Berberis, Escallonia, Eucalyptus, Eugenia, Hesperomelas, ... read more


    Birds in breeding condition Apr–Aug in Perijá Mts and in E & C Andes of Colombia. Specimens with enlarged gonads found Oct... read more


    Seasonal altitudinal movements; casually down to 600 m in Venezuela.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). CITES II. Common throughout its extensive range, locally very abundant. Presently not at risk due to its wide distribution and its... read more

    Recommended citation

    Heindl, M., Boesman, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Tyrian Metaltail (Metallura tyrianthina). 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 May 2019).