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Violet-throated Metaltail Metallura baroni
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This species has a very small range with records from very few locations. Remaining habitat is fragmented and declining. It consequently qualifies as Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at:
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

10-11 cm. Medium-sized, largely green hummingbird, with striking violet throat in male. Both sexes have uniformly dark olive-green upperparts and straight black bill. Male also has underparts concolorous with back, except purple-violet throat and sky-blue tail with yellow-green underside. Female has whitish-grey underparts, with incomplete throat patch and densely spotted olive-green. Outer tail feathers have whitish tips to underside. Similar spp. None in range. Voice A short rapid trill followed by a series of 6 high pitch descending peep's with a higher tippit-trree to finish.

Distribution and population
Metallura baroni occurs in the Western Cordillera of the Andes in Azuay and Cañar provinces, south Ecuador, from the Cañar river south to the Jubones river. Although it has been recorded on both slopes of the inter-Andean plateau west of Cuenca, there appear to be only three records from the Eastern Cordillera, and it should be considered irregular there (Tinoco et al. 2009). Its population was estimated at over 2,000 in 1992, when it was considered to be declining. Conservation measures have been implemented within one key area, Río Mazán, where the population was thought to be stable, at 50-100 birds, in 1986.

Population justification
The total population is placed in the band 1,000-2,499 individuals. This equates to 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A slow and on-going population decline is suspected owing to widespread burning of páramo grassland, lowering the treelike and causing habitat loss and fragmentation.

It is confined to Polylepis woodland, shrubby páramo and the upper edge of montane forest at 3,100-4,000 m (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001, Tinoco et al. 2009). These habitats are usually intermixed with open páramo and severely disturbed areas which have been converted to livestock pasture or pine plantation , where the species is not found (Tinoco et al. 2009). Its main nectar resources are Brachyotum spp. (Melastomataceae), Berberis spp. (Berberidaceae), and Barnadesia arborea (Asteraceae), but Draba sp. (Brassicaceae), Gentianella sp. (Gentianaceae), Ribes lehmannii (Grossulariaceae), Salvia sp. (Lamiaceae) and Saracha quitensis (Solanaceae) are also visited (Tinoco et al. 2009). Nectar is supplemented with arthropods taken in flight or from plant substrates (Tinoco et al. 2009). It prefers to forage within a couple of metres of the ground. Courtship displays were observed in June and July (Tinoco et al. 2009). A nest with one egg was found in April (T. Zuchner in litt. 1999).

Timberline habitats in the Andes have been diminishing since the arrival of humans thousands of years ago, primarily through the use of fire (Kessler and Herzog 1998). Sustainable land-use systems established by Pre-Columbian cultures were largely replaced by unsustainable agricultural techniques, including widespread burning of high-Andean habitats, during the colonial period (Kessler and Herzog 1998). Regular burning of páramo grassland, adjacent to elfin forest, to promote growth of fresh shoots for livestock, has lowered the treeline by several hundred metres, and destroyed large areas of this species' habitat, and is ongoing (Kessler and Herzog 1998). For the same reasons, Polylepis forest is one of the most threatened habitats in South America, having been reduced to isolated fragments within its historical range throughout the Andes (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Other threats include firewood-gathering, road construction and potato cultivation (Stattersfield et al. 1998, Tinoco et al. 2009).

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It occurs in two protected areas, Las Cajas National Park and the Río Mazán reserve (N. Krabbe in litt. 1999, Tinoco et al. 2009). Conservation Actions Proposed
Research its ecology, particularly breeding and movements (B. Tinoco in litt. 2012). Assess the status of known populations and connectivity amongst them (B. Tinoco in litt. 2012). Ensure effective protection of habitat in Las Cajas National Park (T. Zuchner in litt. 1999). Improve land-use management by segregating agricultural, grazing and forest areas (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996, Tinoco et al. 2009). Regulate the use of fire (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Reintroduce old, high-yield agricultural techniques (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996, Tinoco et al. 2009). Educate and encourage local people to take the lead in land-use management and restoration schemes (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996).

Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Fjeldså, J.; Kessler, M. 1996. Conserving the biological diversity of Polylepis woodlands of the highland of Peru and Bolivia. NORDECO, Copenhagen.

Fjeldså, J.; Krabbe, N. 1990. Birds of the high Andes. Apollo Books, Copenhagen.

Kessler, M.; Herzog, S. K. 1998. Conservation status in Bolivia of timberline habitats, elfin forest and their birds. Cotinga 10: 50-54.

Stattersfield, A. J.; Crosby, M. J.; Long, A. J.; Wege, D. C. 1998. Endemic bird areas of the world: priorities for bird conservation. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Tinoco, B. A.; Astudillo, P. X.; Latta, S. C.; Graham, C. H. 2009. Distribution, ecology and conservation of an endangered Andean hummingbird: the Violet-throated Metaltail (Metallura baroni). Bird Conservation International 19(1): 63-76.

Tinoco, B. A.; Astudillo, P. X.; Latta, S. C.; Graham, C. H. 2009. Distribution, ecology and conservation of an endangered Andean hummingbird: the Violet-throated Metaltail (Metallura baroni). Bird Conservation International 19(1): 63-76.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomo

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

Krabbe, N., Tinoco, B., Züchner, T.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Metallura baroni. Downloaded from on 13/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 13/07/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Violet-throated metaltail (Metallura baroni) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
Species name author Salvin, 1893
Population size 600-1700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 440 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species