Eriocnemis nigrivestis

Black-bested Puff-leg

Ecuador, environs of Tumbaro (Bourcier).

One of the greatest enjoyments experienced by the naturalist is doubtless that of exploring countries hitherto untrodden by the scientific man, where, ever and anon, an object is presented to his notice which has never before been seen; under such circumstances time passes quickly—the mind is at ease, or merely tempered with sufficient excitement to favour good health and an exuberance of spirits; and second only to this pleasure is that of receiving communications and collections from correspondents in far distant countries.

In one of the numerous letters received from my friend Professor Jameson, of Quito, a gentleman who has so largely contributed to our knowledge of the natural productions of the primeval forests of Ecuador, occurs the following passage:—“There is one species of Humming-bird which I am particularly desirous of procuring for you. It is an inhabitant of the upper boundary of the forest, and is as black as charcoal, with white boots. Should I have the good luck to obtain a specimen, it shall be immediately sent off to your address.” Feeling assured that such a bird was new to science, I replied immediately, urgently pressing my friend to procure and forward it; and at length the subject of the present Plate was transmitted to me. On examination it did not quite agree with Professor Jameson’s description, but it is doubtless the bird he referred to, as it would appear coal-black when flying at a distance. M. Bourcier of Paris, however, had the gratification of first receiving the species through another channel, and from another part of the country, the environs of Tumbaro. By this gentleman it was named nigrrivestis, ‘dressed in black.” It is in every respect a typical member of the genus, and is most nearly allied to E. vestita.

The general plumage of the male is black, with green reflexions, relieved on the throat by a patch of deep blue, bordered in some instances with minute glittering green feathers; lower part of the back inclining to deep grass-green; wings blackish purple; upper tail-coverts dull indigo-blue; tail deep bluish black; under tail-coverts lazuline blue; legs clothed with white down-like feathers; bill black.

The general plumage of the female is greenish bronze, becoming of a purer and more shining green on the upper tail-coverts and lower part of the abdomen; wings, tail and under tail-coverts as in the male; breast coppery green, with a patch of greenish blue on the throat; from the angle of the bill a small moustache of buffy white.

Through the kindness of Professor Jameson, I am enabled to figure both sexes, of the natural size, on one of the fine Orchids of the country, the Anguloa uniflora.


  • Trochilus nigrivestis, Bourc. et Muls. Ann. de la Soc. Sci. de Lyon, 1852, p.
  • Eriocnemys nigrivestis, Bonap. Rey. et Mag. de Zool. 1854, p. 252.
  • Eriocnems nigriventris, Reichenb. Aufz. der Col., p. 9.
  • ? vestinigra, Verr. MS. ?

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