Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird Lepidopyga lilliae


Justification of Red List Category
The very small range and rarity of this species suggest that its population is extremely small and that the population size at each of the known locations is tiny. Its habitat, and by inference the population, have undergone a considerable decline that may be continuing. This combination of factors leads to classification as Critically Endangered.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 50-249 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 75-374 individuals in total, rounded here to 70-400 individuals.

Trend justification
Trends are poorly known, but it is suspected to be declining rapidly owing to pollution and mangrove cutting/die-back.

Distribution and population

Lepidopyga lilliae is known locally on the Caribbean coast of Colombia (Atlántico, Magdalena and La Guajira; Renjifo et al. 2002), most records originating in Isla de Salamanca National Park or Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999). It appears to be either rare or sporadic at the few known localities. The population size is low and it appears to move locally according to season (J. C. de las Casas in litt. 2008). It is likely to have declined since the mid-1970s owing to habitat loss. In 2013 a male was apparently photographed at Bocas del Atrato, Antioquia, c. 400 km SW of the known range (Surfbirds 2013).


The species shows a preference for forests of Erythrina fusca while they are flowering. At other times it frequents mangroves where it feeds, at least in part, on insects (J. C. De Las Casas in litt. 2008).


Construction of a pipeline and road through the wetlands of the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta and Isla de Salamanca in the mid-1970s obstructed tidal flow and caused very extensive mangrove die-back, continuing until at least 1992 (Wege and Long 1995), although mangroves are now regenerating in some areas (Salaman and Giles 1995). Domestic and industrial pollution, sewage, urbanisation and particularly mangrove and forest cutting are further problems. Land is being sold to build a large-scale port in the future, representing a potentially severe threat to the species's remaining habitat (J. C. De Las Casas in litt. 2007).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It occurs in two protected areas: Isla de Salamanca (21,000 ha) and Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta Flora and Fauna Sanctuary (26,810 ha) (Schuchmann et al. 2015). Isla de Salamanca National Park, Magdalena, receives little effective protection and habitat loss has been considerable. Despite a number of searches, there have been very few records within the national park during the 1990s and 2000s (P. G. W. Salaman in litt. 1999, R. Strewe in litt. 1999, J. C. De Las Casas in litt. 2008). The Corporación Sentido Natural and the Fundación Colibri are researching its taxonomic status and ecological requirements.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct field surveys to clarify its distribution and population. Research its taxonomic status. Study its ecological requirements (Renjifo et al. 2002). Improve active protection of Isla de Salamanca National Park. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status. Restore damaged mangrove ecosystems (Renjifo et al. 2002). Clarify status at Bocas del Atrato, Antioquia.


9 cm. Glittering, blue-bellied hummingbird. Medium-length, nearly-straight bill, black above and tip, with reddish lower. Male is shining green above. Entire underparts glittering blue. Blue-black forked tail. Female has not been formally described. Similar spp. Male Sapphire-throated Hummingbird L. coeruleogularis lacks glittering blue lower breast and belly, but can appear very similar to L. lilliae according to light conditions. Female L. coeruleogularis all white below with green sides. Greyish-white tail tips. Voice Only known vocalization a short, slightly nasal ‘lisping’ rattle, c. 0·3 seconds in length, rapidly repeated 5–10 times, “klrr..klrr..klrr..klrr..klrr...” (Schuchmann et al. 2015).


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

Salaman, P., Stiles, F., Strewe, R. & de las Casas, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Lepidopyga lilliae. Downloaded from on 05/12/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 05/12/2019.