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Red-tailed Comet - BirdForum Opus

Male, subspecies sapho
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Tafi del Valle, Tucumán, Argentina, October 2019
Sappho sparganurus


Male 19–20 cm (7½-8 in), including tail of 7–10 cm: female 12–14 cm (4¾-5½ in) Male

  • Long, iridescent, golden-reddish tail with prominent black bands at the end of each feather

Female: has red at base of shorter tail.


South America: found in Bolivia and Argentina; accidental to Peru.


Photo © by Stanley Jones
Córdoba Province, Argentina, October, 2019


There are 2 subspecies[1]:

  • S. s. sparganurus:
  • Andes of northern and central Bolivia; accidental southern Peru (Puno)
  • S. s. sapho:


Forests, woodland and scrub.



Their main diet consists of nectar from a variety of plants, including Dunalia.


They construct a substantial cup-shaped nest formed from moss, lichen and animal hair. It is placed under rocks on steep hillsides.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Schuchmann, K.L. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Red-tailed Comet (Sappho sparganurus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/55604 on 3 January 2020).

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