Glittering Starfrontlet Coeligena orina


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely small and declining population. For this reason it qualifies as Critically Endangered.

Population justification
The population is estimated to fall within the band 50-249 mature individuals, equating to 75-374 individuals in total, rounded here to 70-400 individuals.

Trend justification
An ongoing decline of 1-19% over ten years is suspected based on continuing habitat loss within the species's restricted range.

Distribution and population

This species has a very restricted range. Known for more than 50 years only from the 1951 type specimen, C. orina was rediscovered in 2004 and is now known from a dozen additional sites in four subpopulations: Páramo de Frontino, Farallones de Citará, Jardín and Tatamá Natural National Park in north-west Colombia (Renjifo et al. 2014, del Hoyo et al. 2015).  The combined area of all potentially suitable sites is thought to be less than 25 km2. Therefore, the species's global population is unlikely to exceed 250 individuals.


It is apparently tied to elfin forest-timberline-páramo habitats and adjacent tall humid forest. At 3500 m it was seen feeding on insects in the Ericaceae-clad canopy of elfin forest. 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. Future colonisation by human settlers is likely to lead to habitat loss and degradation; a process ongoing in the nearby Las Orquídeas National Park.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Considered Endangered at the national level in Colombia (Renjifo et al. 2014). In 2005, the Dusky Starfrontlet Bird 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). A research and visitor station was established in 2007 with research ongoing on the Dusky Starfrontlet (assessing population and ecological requirements) (P. Salaman in litt. 2007). 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 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.


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
Butchart, S., Sharpe, C.J., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A., Harding, M., Wheatley, H., Bird, J.

Salaman, P., Krabbe, N.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Coeligena orina. Downloaded from on 21/07/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/07/2019.