Colorful Puffleg Eriocnemis mirabilis


Justification of Red List Category
Now known from four locations, this species still has a very small range in which habitat fragmentation is severe owing to small-scale logging and cultivation. A re-evaluation of its range size using a Minimum Convex Polygon means that the species now qualifies as Endangered.

Population justification
After extensive searches this species has now been recorded away from the type locality. However, it has a small occupied range in montane forest fragments that are threatened with clearance and it occurs at low densities at these sites. Therefore a very small population size of 250-999 mature individuals is tentatively suspected, although the Colombian Red Data Book (Renjifo et al. 2014) does place it at a far higher level. This equates to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
Logging has been a threat to its tiny known range and is thought to have induced past declines in this species. Although trends are poorly known, it is hoped that the creation of a new reserve around its only known locality will safeguard the remaining population.

Distribution and population

This species was until recently only known from the vicinity of the type-locality, Cerro Charguayaco, north-east of Cerro Munchique on the Pacific slope of the west Andes in Cauca, south-west Colombia. It was known from four specimens (collected in 1967) and two observations (one doubtful), before being rediscovered at the type-locality in 1997. It appears to be uncommon and incredibly localised, and perhaps difficult to detect; despite not being found further than 300 m from the type-locality during extensive searches within a c.3 km radius at various altitudes (Mazariegos and Salaman 1999), it has now been found elsewhere in Munchique National Park (L. Mazariegos in litt. 2007, T. Donegan in litt. 2008) and at Cerro Charguayaco, Munchique (O. Cortes in litt. 2012). It has now also been discovered in the Serrania del Pinche (2,800-3,000 m, with c. 500 ha of suitable habitat), c. 30 km south of the type locality (L. Marzariegos in litt. 2007, Cortés-Diago et al. 2007), and at El Planchón in the Cordillera Occidental, Cauca Department (López-Ordóñez et al. 2008). Males have been observed in April, June-August and November, and females in February-April, July and November (Mazariegos and Salaman 1999, J. Penhallurick in litt. 1999). Other areas of suitable habitat do exist in less accessible areas of the west Andes (Mazariegos and Salaman 1999). Tracewski et al. (2016) estimated the maximum Area of Occupancy (calculated as the remaining tree area within the species’s range) to be 13.8 km2, rounded here to 14 km2, although the Colombian Red Data Book (Renjifo et al. 2014) estimates the AOO to be much larger, at 274 km2.


It prefers undisturbed cloud forest but has been observed in forest edge habitat and clearings. Plants typical of the habitat are Billia colombiana, Clusia, Persea, Hyeronima colombiana, Quercus humboldtii and Weinmannia pubescens (Heynen et al. 2015). Breeding information unknown.


In the 1960s and 1970s, the local economy was based on the fruit crop lulo, which was grown under the forest canopy, and hence deterred logging. However, a fungal disease and lepidopteran pest destroyed the crop in the 1980s, and logging recommenced. An old mule-track below the type-locality has recently been cleared and widened, and small-scale logging has begun in the immediate vicinity (Mazariegos and Salaman 1999). The Serranía del Pinche and Munchique National Park are threatened by habitat clearance for illegal coca cultivation; fires lit to clear forest at lower elevations spread to higher areas destroying sensitive habitats (L. Mazariegos in litt. 2007, P. Salaman in litt. 2008). Other areas of forest which potentially hold the species are threatened with clearance by slash and burn (L. Mazariegos in litt. 2007).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. The type-locality is in Munchique National Park, but logging occurs within the park boundaries. The replanting of lulo fruits is being encouraged, with workshops targeting local communities located in impact zones. These are designed to involve communities in conservation efforts and enable technology transfers in integrated pest-management practices (Mazariegos and Salaman 1999). Funding from Swarovski Optik allowed the purchase of 5,000 acres of forest which could potentially hold the species. There are plans to extend the reserve by planting key tree species. The Hummingbird Conservancy is supporting research on the ecology and population dynamics of this species both in Munchique and Serranía del Pinche (L. Mazariegos in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey other areas of suitable habitat in Cauca. Research its status and annual ecological requirements at the type-locality (Mazariegos and Salaman 1999). Continue to support the establishment and expansion of the newly formed reserve. Designate additional areas of suitable habitat as reserves. Improve the protection of Munchique National Park. Carry out habitat restoration in Munchique National Park.


8 cm. Spectacular, multi-coloured hummingbird. Fairly short, black bill. Pink feet. Male has glittering green frontlet and gorget, otherwise dark shining green. Glittering blue belly and glittering red and coppery-gold undertail-coverts. Enormous white leg-puffs fringed cinnamon. Dark, bronzy, forked uppertail, coppery-gold undertail. Female very different. Dark shining green above and sides. White median throat and underparts, spotted green with indistinct glittering reddish, golden, and bluish spots on belly, flanks and undertail. Bronze-green tail tipped blackish. Small white leg-puffs. Similar spp. Female very similar to many small female hummingbirds in range. Best separated by reddish belly spots. Voice Repetitive tsip, tsip, tsip.


Text account compilers
Sharpe, C.J., Isherwood, I., Ashpole, J, Symes, A., Butchart, S., Mahood, S., Benstead, P., Bird, J., Capper, D., Westrip, J.

Salaman, P., Penhallurick, J., Ordonez, J., Mazariegos, L., Donegan, T., Cortés, O.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Eriocnemis mirabilis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/10/2021.