Glittering Starfrontlet Coeligena orina


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a slightly larger population size than previously assumed, and it has therefore been downlisted to Endangered. The population size is however very small and it is inferred to be undergoing a continued decline due to habitat loss and degradation. 

Population justification
The population was previously estimated to fall below 250 mature individuals. The species has also been described as rare (Carantón and Suárez 2014). In the Colibri del Sol ProAves Reserve in Antioquia, it has been observed on average at 3.8 individuals a day, with a maximum of 18 individuals recorded in a day in 2014 (Cortés et al. 2020). However, further information suggests that previous population estimates may have been a substantial underestimate (Renjifo et al. 2014). The population is thought to occur at low densities nevertheless, with a the most recent population density estimate thought to number 7.77 individuals/km2 (Fundación ProAves in litt. 2020). Assuming that the species occurs in only parts of the area of mapped range, the population may therefore number 1,554 individuals, converted to 1,036 mature individuals. Due to uncertainty in exact densities however, the population is thought to number fewer than 2,500 mature individuals in any case. It is thus tentatively placed in the band of 250-2,499 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The species is undergoing a decline, which is mainly caused by loss and degradation of its habitat and the adverse impacts of climate change. Forest loss has been low over the past ten years (<1%,  Global Forest Watch 2020). However, political unrest has resulted in a nationwide increase in deforestation, particularly since 2015, including forest loss in the high elevational forests of the Western Cordillera (Cortés et al. 2020, Fundación ProAves in litt. 2020). On the northern slope of the Paramo del Sol for example, 9.5% of forest cover had decreased since 2000, of which 35% has been since 2018 (Fundación ProAves in litt. 2020). Mining activities within the range may expand in the future (Cortés et al. 2020).The species is furthermore heavily impacted by climate change: Its habitat was found to be highly susceptible to severe droughts and forest fires, which can destroy large tracts of habitat within a short period and lead to a rapid contraction of its restricted range (Cortés et al. 2020, Fundación ProAves in litt. 2020). Population declines are therefore tentatively placed in the band 1-19% over ten years.

Distribution and population

This species has a very restricted range. Known for more than 50 years only from the 1951 type specimen, Coeligena orina was rediscovered in 2004 (Krabbe et al. 2005), and is now known from a dozen additional sites in four subpopulations: Páramo de Frontino (type locality here was considered threatened; Krabbe et al. 2005), Farallones de Citará, Jardín and Tatamá Natural National Park in north-west Colombia (Renjifo et al. 2014, del Hoyo et al. 2020).  The combined area of all potentially suitable sites is thought to be less than 25 km2. Most observations are additionally thought to originate from a single location at Colibri del Sol ProAves Reserve in Antioquia, where it was rediscovered in 2004 and subsequently granted full protection (Cortés et al. 2020). Colibri del Sol ProAves Reserve and Tatamá Natural National Park are thought to be key sites for the remaining viable populations (Fundación ProAves in litt. 2020). The species's global population is unlikely to exceed 2,500 mature individuals.


It is apparently tied to elfin forest-timberline-páramo habitats and adjacent tall humid forest. It is deemed rare in pasturelands and young secondary forests, although can be found feeding on primary forest edges and treefalls inside forests (Fundación ProAves in litt. 2020).  It breeds from 2,950 m to 3,450 m (Cortés et al. 2020). At 3,500 m it was seen feeding on insects in the Ericaceae-clad canopy of elfin forest. The species has also been recorded (albeit rarely) at elevations of 1,800 m but are considered to be non-breeding birds (Fundación ProAves in litt. 2020). Stomach content analysis has shown that it feeds on parasitic wasps, spiders and dipterans; presumably in addition to nectar. Very little is known about its habits and breeding ecology.


Páramo de Frontino contains rich deposits of gold, zinc and copper, which have attracted the attention of mining companies. However, political instability in the region has prevented exploitation of these resources to date. The future expansion of mining remains a serious potential threat. The area is currently wholly unprotected and is suffering from continuing deforestation for pasture and agriculture. In 2010 a fire consumed around 110 ha of vegetation in the area (Renjifo et al. 2014). Future colonisation by human settlers is likely to lead to habitat loss and degradation; a process ongoing in the nearby Las Orquídeas National Park. Further habitat loss by forest clearance is driven by large-scale agriculture and wood logging (O. Cortés in litt. 2020). The species's habitat was found to be highly susceptible to climate change impacts, including an increased frequency of droughts and subsequent forest fires, which may cause rapid contractions of the restricted range (Cortés et al. 2020, Fundación ProAves in litt. 2020).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Considered Endangered at the national level in Colombia (Renjifo et al. 2014). The species is found in Tatamá National Park. In the Antioquia region, the species occurs in three reserves that have been created to protect the hydrology in the Cordillera Occidental: Cuchilla Jardin-Tamesis, Farallones de Citara and Alto de San Jose-Cerro Plateado. In 2005, the Dusky Starfrontlet Bird Reserve (Colibri del Sol ProAves Reserve) was established by Fundacion ProAves, protecting over 5,000 acres of humid montane forest to páramo on the Páramo de Frontino (P. Salaman in litt. 2007). The Hummingbird Conservancy has established the Mesenia reserve in southwest Antioquia (Mazariegos 2008). There are proposals by National Parks Administration (UAESPNN) and Municipality of Urrao to extend Las Orquídeas National Park to encompass adjacent Páramo de Frontino. However, the benefit such a designation would have is questionable as the park is currently poorly protected and under great pressure from colonists.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue surveys to research the species's range, population size, ecology, and trends. Support the proposed expansion of Las Orquídeas National Park, and the Dusky Starfrontlet Reserve in the Páramo de Frontino. Establish a management plan for Páramo de Frontino and Dusky Starfrontlet Reserve. Lobby for the adequate protection of Las Orquídeas National Park. Mobilise funds to facilitate law enforcement within the National Park and extensions to it. Monitor further recordings of the species across the Western Andes (Fundación ProAves in litt. 2020). 


14 cm. Male is very dark, almost black, with a metallic green sheen. More golden on the rump. Small, bright metallic blue gular spot. Males have a glittering green frontlet on the forehead. Similar spp. Males and females lack the bronzy or cinnamon colour of its former conspecific C. bonapartei. Shows no violet or turquoise in its body plumage.


Text account compilers
Wheatley, H., Fernando, E.

Bird, J., Butchart, S., Cortés, O., Ekstrom, J., Fundación ProAves, Harding, M., Krabbe, N., Salaman, P.G.W., Sharpe, C.J. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Coeligena orina. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/10/2021.