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©Marvelous Spatuletail - Anthony Lujan

Marvelous Spatuletail Project with American Bird Conservancy


April 1, 2024 Update:
American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is very grateful for the International Hummingbird Society’s support for the conservation of the iconic Marvelous Spatuletail hummingbird, found in Peru. The main threat to this hummingbird is habitat destruction, caused by burning for agriculture and illegal wood-cutting. ABC is working closely with our Peruvian partner Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) to protect habitat for the Marvelous Spatuletail through two projects –  the creation of the Cuispes Private Conservation Area (PCA) and improvements to and ongoing management of the Huembo Reserve Cuispes Private Conservation Area.

In 2023, ABC began working with Asociación de Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) and local communities to create the Cuispes PCA in Amazonas, Peru. This 3-year project will protect 1,112 acres (450 ha) of montane forests, meadows, and scrub at 1,200 – 2,500m elevation, and the Yumbilla waterfall (5th tallest in the world at 895 m high).  Cuispes lies in a transition zone between the moist eastern slope of the Andes and the drier Marañon Valley and contains habitat important for Speckle-chested Piculet and Lulu’s Tody-Flycatcher (both Endangered), and Marvelous Spatuletail and Royal Sunangel (both Vulnerable). 

At this stage of the project, ECOAN is working closely with the community, conducting outreach and providing education about the PCA creation process and the benefits it will provide to the community. Involving the community in every step of the PCA creation process is essential. In 2012 and 2014 attempts were made by the regional government and another NGO to create a PCA in Cuispes without consulting the community. Both attempts resulted in mistrust and the community’s rejection of the PCA proposals. Thus, it is a significant accomplishment that ECOAN and the community are successfully working together on the current initiative. 

To date, ECOAN has held many meetings with community members to discuss the PCA process, PCA benefits, roles and responsibilities, plans for ecotourism, and plans for collecting biological data. During a recent Extraordinary General Assembly of the community, all 81 community members in attendance formally signed an Act in support of the PCA and its existence for 10 years (at which point it will be renewed) and formalized its name, Bosques de Cataratas de Cuispes (Forest of Waterfalls, Cuispes)

At an Extraordinary General Assembly in February 2024, all Cuispes community members in attendance voted and signed in favor of the PCA.

Huembo Reserve

ABC and ECOAN established the Huembo Reserve in 2007 as a refuge for the Marvelous Spatuletail. Huembo is located near the town of Pomacochas in northern Peru and is home to the Marvelous Spatuletail, perhaps the most spectacular hummingbird in the world. Spatuletails breed, forage, and display at Huembo, and can easily be viewed at hummingbird feeding stations year-round within the reserve. Huembo Reserve is located near Cuispes, also at the transition zone. It is also an excellent example of community-based conservation—it is land owned by the community and managed for conservation in partnership with ECOAN. The Reserve is formally protected through an ecological easement and all ecotourism profits are evenly distributed amongst all community members. ABC and ECOAN continue to implement improvements to the reserve and support its ongoing management, including maintaining and enhancing hummingbird feeders, shade-grown coffee processing, trails, signs, and other infrastructure. This work is critical to ensuring a quality ecotourism experience for visitors and supporting the sustainability of Huembo Reserve.

Your contributions to our Conservation Fund help make this project and others possible.  Click the button to donate to our Conservation Fund!


©Marvelous Spatuletail - Anthony Lujan

The Marvelous Spatuletail Passage

written by Carole Turek, Hummingbird Spot


The first time I ever heard about the Marvelous Spatuletail hummingbird was when I saw a BBC video narrated by David Attenborough featuring this bird. I must have watched this little clip a hundred times and I became almost obsessed with knowing everything I could about this hummingbird. How I rooted for the little male expending so much energy to impress the female and hoped the female would be as captivated by him as I was.

MS by Carole Turek.jpg

The Marvelous Spatuletail is found within a rather small area in the Andean cloud forest in northern Peru. The male is green and white with a purple crown, blue gorget and a black stripe down its chest. But the tail of the mature male is unique and unmatched in any other hummingbird species. It has only four tail feathers which he can move at will: two long straight ones and two longer ones with large discs on the ends.

I have now traveled four times to the Huembo Reserve to see the Marvelous Spatuletail and it has become a yearly tradition, missed only the year of the pandemic.

The last thing Santos Montenegro (the manager of the reserve) said to me was "See you next year." This wonderful hummingbird is my totem, my spirit animal. I can't stay away. 

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