Campylopterus rufus

Fawn-breasted Sabre-wing


The first notice of this species of Campylopterus occurs in the “Revue Zoologique” for 1840, where it was described by M. Lesson, under the above appellation, from specimens contributed by MM. Longuemare and Parzudaki; neither of those gentlemen, however, have given any account of its habits, nor do they even mention the locality the bird frequents.

The fine examples of both sexes which grace my own collection were sent to me by Don Constancia, direct from Guatemala: we may infer, therefore, that that part of the continent is its true habitat.

In colour the two sexes are as similar as they can be; but the more rounded form of the wing and the great dilatation of its first three primaries at once distinguish the male.

The young males of the first, and probably of the second year, assimilate so closely to the opposite sex in the form of their wings, that they cannot be recognized with certainty.

As the insect food of Humming-Birds is sought for among the most varied plants, and not a flower of the forest is left unvisited, I have figured this species on one of the Guatemala Orchids, which is far too conspicuous to escape its notice, the Cyenoches barbatum.

Head and all the upper surface bronzy green; wings purple-brown; two centre tail-feathers bronzy green, the bronzy hue predominating towards the tip; the next on each side rufous at the base, then bronzy green, the bronzy hue predominating and deepening into brownish black near the extremity, where it is slightly tipped with buff; the next on each side rufous at the base, then bronze, to which succeeds a broad band of dull black, and finally it is tipped with buff; the two lateral feathers reddish buff, the outer one crossed on the inner web, and the second on both webs near the tip with an irregular bar of bluish black; all the under surface buff or fawn-colour; bill black, with the exception of the base of the lower mandible, which as well as the feet is fleshy brown.

The Plate represents a male and a female of the size of life.


  • Campylopterus rufus, Less. in Rey. Zool. 1840, p. 73.—Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 71, Campylopterus, sp. 4.
  • Polytmus rufus, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. 1. p. 107, Polytmus, sp. 5.

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