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Diglossa baritula

Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Emberizidae
  • Polytypic 3 Subspecies

Authors: Lauck, Cat, M. F. Ramos-Ordoñez, C. Rodríguez-Flores, C. Soberanes-González, and M. C. Arizmendi



Flowerpiercers (Diglossa) are small passerines with a distinctive shape to the bill: the bill is relatively long and slender bill with a distinct hook at tip, and, in most species, also with a sharply upturned tip to the mandible. Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer is one of the smallest members of the genus. The upperparts of the male are slate gray-blue, and the underparts are bright cinnamon. Female Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer is olive green above, with dusky cinnamon underparts.

Similar Species

Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer does not overlap geographically with any other species of Diglossa. The male, with a well defined, two toned plumage pattern, is very distinctive. Females, with duller and less patterned plumage, are less distinctive, but note the characteristic hooked flowerpiercer bill. The most similar species is the (highly) allopatric Rusty Flowerpiercer (Diglossa sittoides) of the Andes. Male Rusty Flowerpiercer is paler cinnamon below than Cinnamon-bellied, and has a cinnamon, not gray, throat and upper breast. Females of the two species are very similar, although female Rusty Flowerpiercer usually is paler and yellower, especially on the underparts.


The song of Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer is described as "a rapid, somewhat squeaky sweez sweez sweez sweez SWIT-swee-see-see-see; starts High-pitched, then drops to a Moderate Pitch; ... 2-3 sec. long and repeated after 3-4 sec." (Isler and Isler 1987) and as "a high, thin, slightly squeaky twittering warble, increasing in intensity then fading, ss-ssi-ssi-ssiiu-i-siin-i-siin-i, and variations" (Howell and Webb 1995). Both sexes sing, although the song of the female is weaker (Skutch 1954).

Calls of Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer include a weak lisping tsip tsip (Skutch 1954) and "a quiet mellow trill triiiir" (Howell and Webb 1995).

Additional audio recordings of Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer can be heard at Macaulay Library and at xeno-canto.

Nonvocal Sounds

This species is not known to make nonvocal sounds.

Detailed Description (appearance)

The following description refers to nominate baritula, and is based on Ridgway (1902); see also Geographic Variation:

Adult male: Head and upper throat blackish slate or slate-blackish, darker (nearly black) on forecrown and lores. Back, scapulars, rump, and uppertail coverts slate gray. Rectrices dusky with slate gray edgings. Lesser wing coverts slate gray. Median wing coverts and remiges dusky with slate gray edgings. Lower throat, breast, and belly cinnamon-rufous.

Adult female: Upperparts plain olive, paler on lower rump and uppertail coverts. Underparts brownish buffy; breast, sides and flanks tinged with pale olive. Remiges and rectrices dusky with pale olive edgings, these edgings paler (almost dull white) on tertials.

Bare Parts

Iris: dark brown

Bill: maxilla black; basally pink or pale gray, tip black

Tarsi and toes: pinkish brown or pinkish gray

Bare parts color data from Guallar et al. (2009) and Hilty (2011).


Total length: 10.5-12 cm (Howell and Webb 1995), 11 cm (Isler and Isler 1987m Hilty 2011) 

Linear measurements (mm) from study specimens (Ridgway 1902):

               measurement    sex  n     mean    range
   wing length    male   8     57.2   55.1-58.7
   female   4     55.1   54.9-55.1
   tail length    male   8     45   42.2-46.7
   female   4     45   43.2-47.5
   bill length (exposed culmen)    male   8     9.9    9.4-10.7
   female   4     9.9    9.7-10.2
  tarsus length    male   8    17.3    16-18
   female   4    16.8    16.5-17.8

Linear measurements (mm) from live specimens (Guallar et al. 2010):

    measurement   sex     n   mean, standard deviation     range 
  wing length    male   369    55.01 ± 1.54   50-59.5
   female   384    52.70 ± 1.58   46.57.5
  tail length    male    26    45.62 ± 1.72   41.5-49
   female    36    43.53 ± 1.36   40.5-46.5
  bill length (from base)   male    23    12.24 ±0.70   10.3-13.5
   female    31    12.00 ±0.49   11.1-13.2
  tarsus length    male   15    17.18 ± 0.39   16.2-17.7
   female   23    17.12 ± 0.44   15.8-17.8

Mass: mean 8 g (range 6-9.4 g, n = 11; Isler and Isler 1987); male, mean 7.85 g ± 0.52 g (range 6.3-12.0 g, n = 550; Guallar et al. 2010); female, mean 7.75 g ± 0.54 (range 6.4-10.3, n = 545; Guallar et al. 2010).


Most adult females molt once per year during the rainy season (July-October). However, about 90% of males (those that breed twice a year) molt twice a year, once during the rainy season (complete) and once again (incomplete) during the dry season (January-April) (Schondube et al. 2003).

Geographic Variation

Three subspecies recognized:

baritula Wagler 1832; type locality Mexico

Occurs in Mexico north of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

See Detailed Description.

montana Dearborn 1907; type locality Sierra Santa Elena, 9500 feet, near Tecpam, Guatemala

Occurs from Mexico, south of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, south to El Salvador.

Male differs from baritula by deeper rufous color on the underparts, and by the gray extending farther down the throat towards the breast (Hellmayr 1935, Hilty 2011). Female not distinguishable from female baritula (Hellmayr 1935).

parva Griscom 1932; type localit Rancho Quemado, Achaga, Honduras

Occurs in Honduras; records from Nicaragua also presumably this subspecies.

Similar to montana, but smaller, with shorter and more slender bill. Adult male also darker below, with duller cinnamon; female more cinnamon, less olive below (Hellmayr 1935).


For many years Diglossa baritula also included the taxa now recognized as Diglossa plumbea (Slaty Flowerpiercer) and Diglossa sittoides (Rusty Flowerpiercer) (e.g. Hellmayr 1935, Storer 1970), but these now are classified as three separate species. Genetic evidence, from both protein electrophoresis and from phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequence data, indicates that baritula and plumbea are sister species, and that sittoides is basal to the baritula/plumbea clade (Hackett 1995, Mauck and Burns 2009). 

The phylogenetic relationships of the genus Diglossa long have puzzled ornithologists. For many years Diglossa was one of a disparate group of genera classified in the family Coerebidae (e.g., Hellmayr 1935, Meyer de Schauensee 1966). Coerebidae no longer is recognized, the genera formerly included in this family now being dispersed among Emberizidae and Thraupidae. Phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequence data confirms that Diglossa is embedded within Thraupidae, and that it is closely related to genera such as Catamenia, Xenodacnis, Haplospiza, and Acanthidops (Burns et al. 2002, 2003).

Recommended Citation

Lauck, Cat, M. F. Ramos-Ordoñez, C. Rodríguez-Flores, C. Soberanes-González, and M. C. Arizmendi. 2012. Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer (Diglossa baritula), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: