Family Hummingbirds (Trochilidae)

Least Concern

Viridian Metaltail (Metallura williami)


French: Métallure verte German: Grünes Glanzschwänzchen Spanish: Metalura verde

Trochilus Williami

DeLattre and Bourcier

, 1846,

vicinity of Popayán, Colombia


Thought to be closely related to M. baroni, M. odomae, M. theresiae, M. eupogon and M. aeneocauda; recently recorded as occurring sympatrically with M. odomae in Podocarpus National Park (S Ecuador); also recently found to be sympatric with M. baroni at R Mazán in Azuay (S Ecuador), although altitudinally segregated, occurring at lower elevations. Some authors have considered the races to constitute four distinct species; evaluation against the criteria used herein does not, however, result in new revision of species limits on present evidence. Races primolina and atrigularis said to form a zone of intergradation in C Ecuador (Chimborazo), yet atrigularis was suggested as a possible full species precisely because it approaches primolina closely without intergradation#R; genetic data suggest primolina is closer to M. odomae or M. phoebe than to atrigularisR. Subspecies name primolina sometimes misspelt as primolinus, but author’s original spelling as primolinus (and not “primolius”) indicates use of an adjectival word (it is based on name of Prince Primoli, grandson of C. L. Bonaparte)#R. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. w. recisa Wetmore, 1970 – Colombian Metaltail – Páramo de Frontino (Antioquia), in W Andes of N Colombia.
  • M. w. williami (DeLattre & Bourcier, 1846) – Viridian Metaltail – both slopes of C Andes in Colombia.
  • M. w. primolina Bourcier, 1853 – Ecuadorian Metaltail – E Andes of S Colombia (Nariño) and Ecuador (S to N Azuay).
  • M. w. atrigularis Salvin, 1893 – Black-throated Metaltail – Andes of S Ecuador from W Morona-Santiago S to El Oro, Loja and Zamora-Chinchipe.
  • Descriptive notes

    11–12 cm; 4·1–5·3 g. Male has medium-sized, straight, black bill; upper­parts and underparts bottle-green with broad glittering throat patch of... read more


    Song or chasing call is a descending series of 3–5 squeaky notes, often followed by several jumbled... read more


    In páramo grassland with scattered bushes, and in shrubby stunted borders of humid... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds while hovering on nectar of mainly Ericaceae and Melastomataceae shrubs. Male establishes feeding territories.


    Individuals in breeding condition Feb and late Mar in C Andes of Colombia, and in Aug at N end of W Andes, Colombia; in Ecuador specimens... read more


    No information, but presumably sedentary. Males may disperse to particularly high altitude outside... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. CITES II. Occurs in suitable habitats only in low numbers. Regular burning of the páramo slopes to support extensive cattle-grazing... read more

    Recommended citation

    Heindl, M., Boesman, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Viridian Metaltail (Metallura williami). 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 30 March 2020).