Augastes scutatus

Natterer’s Vizor-bearer


Although Vieillot’s appellation of swperbus is undoubtedly the first that was applied to this species, I have been induced to give the preference to the far more appropriate one of scutatus, given to it by M. Natterer.

I am aware that in so doing I am departing from the rule of priority, but I conceive that this departure is far preferable to continuing the use of a term which is equally descriptive of many other members of the family, and which would be more applicable to the far lovelier Augastes Lumachellus than to the present species.

The Augastes scutatus is a native of the interior of Brazil, where the fine specimens contained in the Collection of the Jardin du Roi at Paris were obtained by that justly celebrated botanist M. Auguste de Saint-Hilaire; there also were procured the specimens described by the late Mr. John Natterer of Vienna, and figured by M. Temminck in his “Planches Coloriées” above-quoted.

No information as to its habits and economy has yet been obtained.

The male has the face and throat clothed with small scale-like feathers of the richest and most luminous emerald green, the feathers lengthened into a pendent point on the chest; band across the crown and earcoverts deep velvety black; immediately behind the eye a small oblong spot of white; on each side of the neck a lengthened tuft of feathers of a rich indigo blue, separated from the equally rich indigo blue of the abdomen by two crescent-shaped marks of deep buff, one on either side of the chest; all the upper surface, upper and under wing-coverts rich bronzy green; wings purplish brown; vent white; under tail-coverts white spotted with shining green; tail shining metallic green; tarsi clothed with brown feathers; bill black; feet brown.

Total length, 4 inches; bill, \(\frac{3}{4}\); wing, 2\(\frac{1}{4}\); tail, 1\(\frac{1}{2}\); tarsus, \(\frac{3}{16}\).

In general colouring the female is very similar to the male, but the face is much less brilliant; the blue tufts on the sides of the neck are much less developed; the crescent-shaped marks on the chest are white instead of buff; the abdomen is green, with only a tinge of the rich blue; the under tail-coverts are pure white; and the outer tail-feather on each side is tipped with white.

Total length, 3\(\frac{3}{4}\) inches; bill, \(\frac{5}{8}\); wing, 2\(\frac{1}{8}\); tail, 1\(\frac{3}{8}\); tarsus, \(\frac{3}{14}\).

The Plate represents two males and a female of the natural size. Thebeautiful Orchideous plant is the Myanthus cernuus.


  • Trochilus superbus, Vieill. Ency. Méth. Orn., part ii. p. 561.
  • Trochilus scutatus, Natterer—Temm. PI. Col. 299. fig. 3—Jard. Nat. Lib. Humming-birds, vol. 1. p. 110. pl. 14.
  • Ornismya Nattereri, Less. Ois. Mouch., p. 75. pl. 16.
  • Hylocharis superba, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, Hylocharis, sp. 29.

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