Chestnut-bellied flower-piercer -- 栗腹刺花鸟 (Diglossa gloriosissima)

Chestnut-bellied flower-piercer
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Chestnut-bellied flower-piercer fact file

Chestnut-bellied flower-piercer description

GenusDiglossa (1)

After 40 years of no sightings, the elusive chestnut-bellied flower-piercer has recently been rediscovered (3). The rich, glossy black plumage contrasts with the bright chestnut breast and belly, for which this species is named. Eye-catching blue-grey patches adorn the shoulders (2), and the rump may be faintly tinged dark bluish-grey. The upturned bill, sharply hooked at the tip, is black and the eyes are also dark (4).

Length: 14.5 cm (2)

Chestnut-bellied flower-piercer biology

With little fieldwork being undertaken within the chestnut-bellied flower-piercer’s range, not much is known about the biology and ecology of this rarely seen bird, although it is presumed to be similar to the glossy flower-piercer (Diglossa lafresnayii), (which some have believed it to be a subspecies of) (4). Thus, it is likely to occur singly, or in pairs (2), and hop furtively through dense vegetation. Sometimes it may sing from the tops of shrubs, or be seen actively catching flies (4). As well as insects such as flies, the chestnut-bellied flower-piercer feeds on nectar, puncturing or tearing apart the base of a flower to gain access to this rich food source. However, by obtaining the nectar in this manner, the chestnut-bellied flower-piercer plays no part in the pollination of the plant (5).


Chestnut-bellied flower-piercer range

Occurs in the West Andes in Colombia, in the Departments of Antioquia and Cauca (2) (4).


Chestnut-bellied flower-piercer habitat

The chestnut-bellied flower-piercer inhabits shrubbery and elfin forest near the treeline, between elevations of 3,000 and 3,750 metres (4).


Chestnut-bellied flower-piercer status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Chestnut-bellied flower-piercer threats

There are a number of threats to the habitat in the very small range of the chestnut-bellied flower-piercer, including the expansion of human settlements, extensive deforestation, livestock grazing, and intentional and accidental fires (6). However, the chestnut-bellied flower-piercer is apparently able to tolerate some habitat degradation (6).


Chestnut-bellied flower-piercer conservation

After a worrying 40 years of no records, sightings of the chestnut-bellied flower-piercer since 2004 have given hope for the conservation of this endangered bird (3). The chestnut-bellied flower-piercer has been recorded from two protected areas, Paramillo and Munchique National Parks (6), although the level of protection this actually offers is not clear. Increased support and enforcement of these two national parks has been recommended by BirdLife International, in addition to further surveys to determine the population size and exact distribution of this species (6).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on the chestnut-bellied flower-piercer see:



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Elfin forest
Type of tropical high altitude forest, growing on exposed sites in which the trees are dwarfed or gnarled.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (July, 2007)
  2. Ridgely, R.S. and Tudor, G. (1989) The Birds of South Africa. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  3. Pulgarín-R, P.C. and Múnera-P., W.A. (2006) New bird records from Farallones del Citará, Colombian Western Cordillera. Boletin SAO, 16(1): 44 - 53.
  4. Hilty, S.L. (1986) A Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
  5. Naturalist Newsletter (March, 2008)
  6. BirdLife International (March, 2008)

Image credit

Chestnut-bellied flower-piercer  
Chestnut-bellied flower-piercer

© Fundación ProAves /

Alonso Quevedo
Projects Coordinator
Threatened Parrots of Colombia
Central Andes
Blue-billed Curassow
Tel: +57 (1) 2455134


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