Elvira cupreiceps


This pretty little Humming-bird is a native of Costa Rica, where it would appear to have a restricted range, as only a limited number of specimens have reached us from that country.

When I finished my ‘Monograph,’ in 1860, only one species of the genus was known, the Elvira chionura of Veragua and Costa Rica, which I at that time placed in the genus Thaumatias; and to the latter genus the present bird has been referred by Messrs. Sclater and Salvin. The genus Elvira was instituted by MM. Mulsant and Verreaux for the reception of E. chionura; and the latter bird and E. cupreiceps are at present its sole tenants. As pointed out by Mr. Elliot, the last-named species has the middle tail-feathers coppery bronze instead of bronzy green; and the lateral ones are white tipped with bronze, instead of being white with the apical portions black.

Altogether this species is a very interesting one, as showing a representative of an otherwise unique form; and I have great pleasure in figuring it in my ‘Supplement.’ I have never wavered in my affection for the Humming-birds; and now that the number of novelties has reached a respectable total, I find myself in a position to issue a sister volume to the ‘Monograph,’ which I hope may not be unworthy of its predecessors. In such acase as the present it is eminently useful to have good figures, in order to assist in the identification of the species, although the birds may not be so striking as some which it has fallen to the lot of recent writers to describe.

As I have perfect specimens of this bird, I will give a description of the colouring of both sexes, which their fine condition enables me to do.

Male.—Bill rather curved and quite as long as the head; crown coppery, with greenish reflections; the hinder part of the head, the neck, shoulders, and the whole of the back are of a dull yellowish green, while all the underparts, from the neck to the vent, are light shining green, which looks soft and not glittering; the upper tail-coverts are golden bronze; the four middle tail-feathers are bronzy; the three outer on each side are white, except the extreme tips, which are stained with greyish brown; the wings are brown, tinged with red.

The female is a much plainer bird than the male; the bill is somewhat curved and even more lengthened; the crown, in colour, is of a redder cast than the back, which is dull golden green. The upper tail-coverts are very like those of the male, and the middle long tail-feathers nearly of the same colour, while the three outer feathers are white with a triangular mark of brown near the end; the throat and under surface are white, except the flanks, which are greenish.

Total length of the male 3\(\frac{1}{2}\) inches, wing 1\(\frac{3}{4}\), tail 1\(\frac{3}{4}\), bill \(\frac{5}{8}\).

Total length of female 3 inches, wing 1\(\frac{3}{4}\), tail 1\(\frac{3}{4}\), bill \(\frac{5}{8}\).

The Plate contains two males and a female, of the natural size.


  • Eupherusa cupreiceps, Lawr. Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. New York, viii. p. 848 (1867).
  • Thaumatias cupreiceps, Sclater & Salvin, Nomencl. Av. Neotr. p. 92.
  • Elvira cupreiceps, Mulsant, Hist. Nat. Oiseaux-Mouches, i. p. 268.—Elliot, Synops. Humming-birds, p. 210.
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