Amazilia Riefferia

Rieffer’s Amazili

Southern Mexico, Guatemala, and along the Andes to Ecuador

In a tray now before me I have twenty-five skins of Humming-Birds, all belonging, I believe, to one and the same species, the Amazilia Riefferi.

These twenty-five specimens are from various localities extending over many degrees of latitude—that is, from the southern parts of Mexico to the confines of Peru. I believe that every part of the high lands which occur between the limits mentioned is frequented by this bird, either as a migrant or a resident. To particularize the localities on the labels attached to my specimens, I may mention Cordova, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Veragua, Bogota, and Guayaquil. The specimens from some of these localities are found to differ slightly in colouring from those procured in others of them; the differences, however, are very trifling, and not greater than the local variations observable in a hundred other instances, and consequently are not of sufficient importance to justify their separation into distinct species.

My learned friend and coadjutor M. Bourcier considered the Honduras bird to differ from the others sufficiently to warrant its being regarded as another species, and fixed, I believe, upon the bronzy fringing of the tail-feathers as his principal character; but I can assure him that this will not hold good, for I have specimens of A. Riefferi, from Bogota and elsewhere, presenting precisely the same feature. I make this remark with the typical specimen from which he took his description before me, and which he has kindly sent to this country, with many others, for the promotion of this work; the name of Dudusi, then—the term applied by M. Bourcier to this supposed new bird—must sink into a synonym. Even if it were otherwise, the name of Dubusi must give place to that of fuscicaudatus of Fraser, whose description was taken from Honduras specimens; in truth, that name was proposed before that of Riefferi,—a fact with which I was unacquainted when my Plate of this species was printed.

There is one peculiarity in the colouring of the Amazilia Riefferi by which it may be at once distinguished from every other known Humming-Bird; this is, a little red mark on the lores, or the space between the bill and the eye. I need scarcely say that I find this in M. Bourcier’s A. Dubusi; it is not, however, so conspicuous as in some of my specimens, and for this reason,—the bird is, I think, a female, and the mark is not so apparent in that sex as in the male. Of its habits and economy but little has been recorded. Mr. Bridges found it feeding on a Malvaceous plant near the Boqueti, at an elevation of four thousand feet; Mr. Salvin met with it at Coban in November, and also near Yzabal, and remarked that it was far from common at Coban, and that all the specimens he procured appeared to be males; and Mr. Fraser noticed it feeding from the bark of a large tree in the forest of Babahoyo in Ecuador, and states that when he arrived in Esmeraldas in October it was by no means uncommon, feeding morning and evening round the eaves of the house; in November it was very scarce, and in December not to be seen.

Crown of the head, all the upper surface, and wing-coverts bronzy green, darkest on the crown; wings dark purplish brown; upper tail-coverts and tail deep reddish chestnut, narrowly fringed above, and more broadly beneath, with golden bronze, the golden fringing being much darker in some specimens than in others, particularly on the upper side of the tail; throat and breast luminous grass-green; abdomen and flanks bronzy green, passing into pale brown towards the vent; under tail-coverts rufous, with lighter edges; bill fleshy brown, with a blacker tip; irides dark hazel; feet brown.

The figures are of the natural size. The plant is the Odontoglossum hastilabium.


  • Trochilus Riefferi, Bourc. Rev. Zool. 1843, p. 103.—Ib. Ann. Sci. Phys. &c. de Lyon, 18438, p. 45.
  • Amazilius riefferi, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 78, Amazilius, sp. 10.—Ib. Rev. et Mag. de Zool. 1854, p. 254.—Sclat. in Proce. of Zool. Soc., part xxvii. p. 145.
  • Amazilia Riefferi, Reichenb. Auf. der Col., p. 10.—Sclat. in Proc. of Zool. Soc., part xxiv. p. 140, part xxv. p. 16, and part xxviii. pp. 283, 296.—Salv. in Ibis, vol. ii. p. 270.
  • Polytmus Riefferi, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. i. p. 108, Polytmus, sp. 72.
  • Trochilus Dubusii, Boure. Rev. Zool. 1852, p.
  • Amazilia Dubusii, Reichenb. Auf. der Col., p. 10.
  • Amazilius dubusi, Bonap. Rev. et Mag. de Zool. 1854, p. 254.—Sclat. in Proc. of Zool. Soc., part xxiv. p. 287.—Ib. Proc. of Zool. Soc., part xxvii. p. 386.
  • Trochilus fuscicaudatus, Fras. in Proc. of Zool. Soe., part vii. p. 17.
  • Hylocharis fuscicaudatus, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. i. p. 114, Hylocharis, sp. 26.

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