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Sappho sparganura (*)

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Superordo: Caprimulgimorphae
Ordo: Apodiformes

Familia: Trochilidae
Subfamilia: Trochilinae
Genus: Sappho
Species: Sappho sparganurus
Subspecies: S. s. sapho – S. s. sparganurus

Sappho sparganurus (Shaw, 1812)

Type locality: Peru, corrected to Bolivia.


Sappho sparganura (orth. err.)


Shaw, G.K. 1812. General zoology, or Systematic natural history. With Plates from the first Authorities and most select specimens. London. Vol.8 Aves, pt.1: i–x; 1–358; pl. 1–45 BHL; pt.2: i–vi; 359–557; pl. 46–84 BHL. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.1593 Reference page. pt.1 p. 291 BHL; pl. 39 BHL

Vernacular names
English: Red-tailed Comet
español: Colibrí cometa

The red-tailed comet (Sappho sparganurus) is a medium-sized hummingbird belonging to the family Trochilidae. It is the only species placed in the genus Sappho.


The red-tailed comet was formally described in 1812 by the English naturalist George Shaw under the binomial name Trochilus sparganurus.[3] The type locality is Bolivia.[4] The red-tailed comet is now the only species placed in the genus Sappho that was introduced in 1849 by the German naturalist Ludwig Reichenbach.[5][6] The genus name refers to Sappho, an ancient Greek poet of Lesbos. The species name sparganurus combines the Ancient Greek σπαργανόω/spargaō meaning 'to wrap' and ουρά/oura meaning 'tail'.

Two subspecies are recognised:[6]

S. s. sparganurus (Shaw, 1812) – north, central Bolivia
S. s. sapho (Lesson, R, 1828) – south Bolivia, north, west Argentina and east-central Chile

In at least part of its range it is known in the local Quechua language as Q'ori Kenti (lit. 'golden hummingbird'). It is called the picaflor cometa in Spanish.

The red-tailed comet is one of the largest hummingbirds, and males reaching a length of 22 cm, females up to 15 cm. The plumage of males is largely green, with a shining gorget. The head is green, while the back and rump are reddish violet. The male has a deeply forked, spectacular, long, iridescent, golden-reddish tail, longer than the length of the body, while the female has a shorter reddish-bronze tail.[7][3][8] The species has a hoarse chattery call.[9]
Distribution and habitat

This species can be found in the central Andes of Bolivia and Argentina, in Chile and in Peru.[1][10]

Common to frequent in the woodlands and scrub typical of the dry Interandean valles extended up into Polylepis forests, and into the shrubby transition zones to high elevation puna or the moister cloud forests. These hummingbirds live in arid scrub with cacti and Prosopis trees and in deciduous forests with Alnus and Podocarpus.[9] It is frequently found around human habitation in agricultural areas, cities and towns.


BirdLife International (2016). "Sappho sparganurus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22687977A93177874. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22687977A93177874.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
"Appendices | CITES". Retrieved 2022-01-14.
Shaw, George (1812). General Zoology, or Systematic Natural History. Vol. 8, Part 1. London: Kearsley et al. p. 291, Plate 39.
Peters, James Lee, ed. (1945). Check-List of Birds of the World. Vol. 5. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 116.
Reichenbach, Ludwig (1849). Avium Systema Naturale (in German). Dresden and Leipzig: Friedrich Hofmeister. Plate XL.
Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (July 2020). "Hummingbirds". IOC World Bird List Version 10.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
The Penny Cyclopædia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Vol. 25. London: Charles Knight and Co. 1863. p. 281. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
Schulenberg, Thomas S.; Jaramillo, Alvaro (2015). Schulenberg, T. S. (ed.). "Red-tailed Comet (Sappho sparganurus)". Neotropical Birds Online. Ithaca: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
"Red-tailed Comet Sappho sparganurus (Shaw, 1812)". Xeno-canto. Retrieved 8 November 2016.

Bird Life International (2016). "Red-tailed Comet Sappho sparganurus". Archived from the original on 2016-10-29. Retrieved 10 November 2016.

Further reading

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.
Javier González Zapata: Sobre la presencia en Chile de Sappho sparganura sappho (Lesson) (Aves: Trochilidae). In: Boletín Ornitológico. Bd. 9, Nr. 1/2, 1977, S. 10–11
Jon Fjeldså, Niels Krabbe: Birds of the High Andes: A Manual to the Birds of the Temperate Zone of the Andes and Patagonia, South America. Apollo Books, Stenstrup 1990, ISBN 87-88757-16-1.

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