Bourcieria insectivora

Tschudi’s Inca

This species was originally discovered by Dr. von Tschudi in Peru, between Huari and Chagacancha; but the original specimen having been a female, it was difficult to determine the exact position of the species, nor was it till the year 1876 that this question was solved by Mr. D. G. Elliot.

In that year Mr. Elliot, who had received a specimen of an adult male from Dr. Taczanowski, sent to the Neuchâtel Museum for the type of Tschudi’s species, which was courteously forwarded by Dr. Coulon, the Director of that Museum, and thus he was enabled to compare the two specimens, and to settle that the Hamming-bird forwarded by Dr. Taczanowski was the hitherto unknown male of Tschudi’s Trochilus insectivorus.

The nearest ally of the present species, according to Mr. Elliot, is B. fudgidigula, from which it differs in its metallic grass-green crown, this being bluish green in the last-named species.

The species was re-discovered in Peru by the well-known Polish travellers, Jelski and Stolzmann. The former met with it in Central Peru, in the valley of Vitoc, above Chilpes and at Puniamarca; the latter in Northern Peru at Huambo (8000 ft.), at Ray-Urmana (7500 ft.), and on the road from Omia to Sorritor.

Mr. Stolzmann writes:—

We met with this Humming-bird on the flowers of the Justicia and on those of a species of Gerania, which climbed the trees to a great height. It appeared to be rare everywhere. At Huambo I killed it on the flowers of the Aicon, and at Tamiapampa I met with it on one occasion on the flowers of the Jochromia.

The following description of the sexes is given by Mr. Elliot in ‘The Ibis’:—

Head and back of neck jet-black; centre of the crown brilliant metallic golden green, very bright and conspicuous. Throat metallic green, this colour extending over the sides of the neck, but much less brilliant, being a kind of metallic gloss ou the black of that part. Back and upper tail-coverts metallic grass-green. Wings like the back, primaries purplish brown. Upper part of breast, extending to the green of the throat, pure white; rest of underparts and under tail-coverts shining grass-green. Median tail-feathers shining grass-green; remainder pure white tipped with green, this last becoming more extensive as it proceeds towards the outermost rectrices, which are nearly one third green from the tip, and running much further towards the base on the outer web than on the inner. The bill is long, straight, and pointed, black throughout. The feet flesh-colour.

The female (Tschudi’s type) differs in having the head, throat, and upper parts shining green, with none of the black observable in the male. Median rectrices green; rest white, tipped with black glossed with green. The white is much more extensive upon the tail-feathers than on those of the male; but this appears to be characteristic of the females of all the various species of the genus Bourcieria.

The Plate represents a male and a female of the natural size, the figures being drawn from specimens lent by Mr. Elliot.

[R. B. S.]


  • Trochilus insectivorus, Tschudi, in Wiegm. Arch. 1844, p. 298.—Id. Faun. Peruan., Aves, p. 248, Taf. xxii. fig. 1 (1844-46).—Gray, Hand-l. Birds, i. p. 189, no. 1784 (1869).
  • Bourcieria insectivora, Gould, Intr. Monogr. Trochil. p. 135 (1861).—Elliot, Ibis, 1876, p.5.—Id. Synopsis of the Humming-Birds, p. 76 (1878).—Taczan. Proc. Zool. Soc. 1874, p. 543, 1882, p. 38.—Id. Orn. Pérou, p. 389 (1884).
  • Homophania insectivora, Mulsant, Hist. Nat. Ois.-Mouches, ii. p. 320 (1876).

More hummingbirds in the genus Bourciera

Poster preview

Get a poster

Featuring all 422 illustrated species from John Gould’s A Monograph of the Trochilidæ, or Family of Humming-Birds arranged by color.