Cynanthus bolivianus

Bolivian Sylph

All the species of this genus inhabit the high lands of tropical districts, such as the temperate regions of Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.

These flying gems neither ascend to the summit of the mountains nor descend to the hot plains below, but keep to the hills and secluded valleys. In such situations vegetation reigns supreme, and insect life, both in genera and species, is lavishly bestowed.

The present species, according to Mr. Buckley, goes further south than any other of the Sylphs. It is a bird (delicate as it may appear) which braves the cold of the mountains—so severe, in fact, that it was with difficulty he succeeded in procuring specimens. He obtained, however, examples of both sexes in fine condition, these birds having just completed their moult. Mr. Buckley, about five years ago, offered me the green-tailed Sylphs which he had collected in Bolivia, and I was pleased to find in them a species I had not met with before.

I described the bird, therefore, in the ‘Annals of Natural History’ for June 1880, and I have no doubt that the species will be found to be a perfectly distinct one. The following is the description which I contributed to the ‘Annals’:—

Mr. Clarence Buckley, who has distinguished himself by his zoological researches in South America, passed, as is well known, some considerable time in Bolivia some few years ago. On his return to this country I became the fortunate possessor of many of his specimens of Humming-birds; but, owing to the illness which has afflicted me for a considerable time, I have not been able, till lately, to incorporate Mr. Buckley’s specimens in my collection of Trochilidæ. Having now been able to examine my series more closely, I have come to the conclusion that two species, at least, are new to science.

Cynanthus bolivianus, sp. n.—Similar to C. mocoa from Ecuador, but much smaller and of a brighter metallic green, and with the tail more of a brilliant steel-blue than a vivid green. Total length 6·3 inches, culmen 0·7, wing 2·6, tail 4·1, tarsus 0·2.

I possess several males of this new species, as well as of the allied C. mocoa; so that it is not without ample material before me that I describe the Bolivian bird as new to science.

The Plate represents two males and one female.


  • Cynanthus bolivianus, Gould, Annals of Nat. Hist., vol. v., June 1880.

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