Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis), the iconic bird of Peru

Colibrí cola de espátula

Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis) is without a doubt the most representative bird of Peru, due to its endemism and particular beauty, as well as the great interest of birdwatchers and nature lovers from all over the world in recording it.

Marvelous Spatuletail, a hidden hummingbird in northern Peru

The Marvelous Spatuletail is only found in the eastern Andes in areas near the Utcubamba valley in the department of Amazonas and was first recorded in 1835 (Birdlife, 1992 and Kern Audubon Society, n.d.).

According to eBird (n.d.), the main observation sites are located between Leymebamba, Chachapoyas and Pomacochas, being Huembo Lodge and surrounding areas the place with the highest observation rates and where conservation work is being carried out by the NGO Ecosistemas Andinos – ECOAN to protect the species and the ecosystem from which the bird depends.

Marvelous Spatuletail at Huembo Lodge

Why is Marvelous Spatuletail the iconic bird of Peru?

Peru is a megadiverse and bird country, being the second most important bird nation in the world (Birdlife, 2023) with a record of 1895 registered species, of which 117 are endemic (Plenge, 2023), meaning that they only exist in Peru.

Based on this natural potential linked to birds, Marvelous Spatuletail is positioned as one of the most important birds because it is endangered (IUCN, 2022), and it is an endemic bird located in a very restricted territory, and because of its particular physical appearance where its unique long tails stand out due to their length and shape in relation to the size of the hummingbird’s body (Zusi and Gil, 2009). In addition, it has also been identified that the species has a particular attraction for expert and enthusiastic birders; according to Puhakka, Salo and Sääksjärvi (2011), it is the most expected species to be seen and photographed and the favorite in Peru.

According to Promperu (2022), Marvelous Spatuletail is the most beautiful bird in the world; furthermore, between the years 2010 – 2016, the Central Reserve Bank of Peru – BCRP (Cerdán, 2018) issued coins with the intention of recognizing the “Wealth and Pride of Peru” and, Marvelous Spatuletail was one of the collection coins developed.

Observation and photography of Marvelous Spatuletail

The observation of the species is reasonably constant throughout the year, according to eBird, in the period 2018-2023 there were records all year round.

Also, according to the analysis of our visits and constant coordination with managers of observation sites such as Santos Montenegro, administrator of Huembo Lodge, the dry season is the period with less presence of the species and with a period where male hummingbirds molt their tails, so the period from November to June is the season with greater possibility of seeing the species, with the presence of more individuals and more observation time, including in some cases to observe courtship dances.

To schedule your next expedition you can contact us and check out our different expeditions where the main target species are Marvelous Spatuletail, Koepcke’s Hermit, Long-whiskered Owlet, Ochre-fronted Antpitta, Painted Manakin, Little Inca-finch, Mishana Tyrannulet, and other endemic species of limited distribution and high interest.

Tours where Marvelous Spatuletail can be observed


BirdLife International (1992) Threatened Birds of the Americas. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International. https://datazone.birdlife.org/userfiles/file/Species/AmRDBPDFs/Loddigesia_mirabilis_eng.pdf

Cerdán, M. (2018). Fauna Silvestre Amenazada del Perú. https://www.bcrp.gob.pe/docs/Publicaciones/Revista-Moneda/moneda-173/moneda-173-10.pdf

eBird (s.f.). Marvelous Spatuletail. https://ebird.org/species/marspa1

IUCN Red List (2022). Marvelous Spatuletail.  https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22688130/93183168#bibliography

PromPeru (2022). Colibrí cola de espátula, el ave más hermosa del mundo, endémica del Perú. https://www.peru.travel/es/masperu/colibri-cola-de-espatula-el-ave-mas-hermosa-del-mundo-endemica-del-peru

Puhakka L., Salo M., Sääksjärvi, IE. (2011) Bird Diversity, Birdwatching Tourism and Conservation in Peru: A Geographic Analysis. PLoS ONE 6(11): e26786. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0026786

Zusi, R., Gill, F. The Marvelous Tail of Loddigesia mirabilis (Trochilidae), The Auk, Volume 126, Issue 3, 1 July 2009, Pages 590–603, https://doi.org/10.1525/auk.2009.08216