Grey-bellied Comet Taphrolesbia griseiventris


Justification of Red List Category
This species is considered Endangered because it has a very small range, being currently known from only five sites and appears to have been lost from parts of its former range, suggesting that the population and possibly the area of occupancy are declining. In this context, the species's rarity indicates that the population may well be very small and comprised of extremely small, fragmented subpopulations.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
This species appears to have been lost from parts of its former range and is suspected to be declining slowly, owing to habitat alteration and fragmentation.

Distribution and population

Taphrolesbia griseiventris occurs in the Andes of north-central Peru, where it is known from nine localities, on the Pacific slope in Cajamarca, and in the río Marañón drainage in Cajamarca and Huánuco. There have been very few records since 1950: in Cajamarca, two males where the main road from Cajamarca to the coast crosses to the Pacific slope, in the early 1990s (B. P. Walker in litt. 1997); a female feeding nestlings in February 1999, near the río Chonta, south-east of Cajamarca (Garrigues 2001); a female nest-building above Sucre, south-west of Celendín in February 1999 (Garrigues 2001); in Huánuco, near Cullcui in 1983 (where it was also recorded in 1922) (T. S. Schulenberg in litt. 1994); three or more seen at the bridge where the Huánuco-La Unión road crosses the río Marañón, in 1975 (but not subsequently, despite several searches) (J. P. O'Neill in litt. 1997, W-P. Vellinga in litt. 1997) and three nests near Cajamarca in February 2001, two again occupied in December 2001 (J. Flanagan in litt. 2002). It was been reported in 2006 from Marcabalito, La Libertad (R. Zeppilli per F. Angulo in litt. 2012), and has been seen close to Llanganuco lake, Ancash (Angulo in litt. 2012). Two collecting localities near Cajamarca and one near Cajabamba have produced the greatest number of specimens, but the species has not been seen at any of these sites recently.


It occurs in semi-arid country, rocky areas and deep canyons mainly at elevations of 2,750-3,850 m (Schulenberg et al. 2007, F. Angulo in litt. 2012). In less disturbed areas, it apparently inhabits steep, dry slopes with cacti, agaves, bromeliads, shrubs and other xerophytic plants (Garrigues 2001). It has been observed in areas described as partly cultivated, through to heavily cultivated land with many Eucalyptus trees (B. P. Walker in litt. 1997), and it appears to be dominant over all other hummingbirds at flowering woody shrubs and trees (H. Lloyd in litt. 2007). Two nests (one in construction) were found in February 1999, each concealed in the overhang of road cuttings (Garrigues 2001). Of three nests found in February 2001, two were used twice within the same year: in December 2001 one had two young, and the other had a female apparently incubating eggs (J. Flanagan in litt. 2002).


It is threatened by deforestation, burning of its habitat (especially shrubby areas to stimulate regeneration of pastures), agriculture and livestock raising (F. Angulo in litt. 2012). It has apparently disappeared from the most heavily populated areas within its range. It seems to tolerate some degree of habitat alteration, but whether it can complete its life-cycle or occur at normal densities in heavily cultivated areas is not known. There are plans to construct a damn at rio Chonta, which would probably destroy the species's habitat there (F. Angulo in litt. 2012)

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II, but no other measures are known. It occurs in Huascarán National Park (F. Angulo in litt. 2012). It is considered Critically Endangered at the national level (F. Angulo in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey suitable habitat between known sites (T. Züchner in litt. 1999 F. Angulo in litt. 2012). Assess the population status at known sites (T. Züchner in litt. 1999). Research the biology and habitat preferences of the species (T. Züchner in litt. 1999). Protect known sites (T. Züchner in litt. 1999). A new protected area for the species has been proposed (Angulo et al. 2008). Develop a land management strategy (possibly introducing a rotational grazing regime fencing off some breeding and foraging areas) for the Rio Chonta area (near Otuzco village) (H. Lloyd in litt. 2007). Identify preferred food sources and encourage the planting of these by farmers and local communities (H. Lloyd in litt. 2007). Implement an educational campaign on the species in schools and colleges in Cajamarca (H. Lloyd in litt. 2007). Survey the Sunchubamba Hunting reserve to determine whether the species is found there (F. Angulo in litt. 2012). 


14-17 cm. Large, fork-tailed hummingbird. Bronzy-green upperparts with white postocular spot. Deeply forked, long green tail has golden-orange tips. Underparts entirely grey, with blue throat (lacking in female, which also has shorter, less forked tail). Similar spp. Unmistakable within range.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Isherwood, I., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A.

Züchner, T., Walker, B., Vellinga, W., O'Neill, J., Flanagan, J., Schulenberg, T., Angulo Pratolongo, F., Lloyd, H.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Taphrolesbia griseiventris. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 07/08/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 07/08/2020.