Eriocnemis squamata

Scaly Puff-leg


It is a question which can only be determined by time and the acquisition of a greater number of specimens than I now possess, whether the bird here represented be or be not identical with the Eriocnemis lugens.

At present this appears to be somewhat uncertain; but my own opinion is that it will ultimately prove to be a distinct species. Of both these birds my collection contains all the examples I have ever seen; these comprise at least four specimens of the E. lugens, and two of E. squamata. They were all received from Ecuador, but were collected in very different localities; I have therefore very little doubt of their being distinct; and if so, they, together with a third species (E. Aureliæ), will constitute a small subdivision among the Eriocnemides. All three birds are clothed in a very sombre-coloured livery; two of them (namely, E. squamata and E. Aureliæ) have parti-coloured boots, while the E. lugens has its legs clothed with white. A glance at the Plates representing these three species will give a better idea of the differences they present than the most minute description.

Many years have now elapsed since I received, direct from Professor Jameson of Quito, the examples I possess of E. lugens; but it was not until very lately (just previous to the close of the present work) that the E. squamata came to hand. Independently of its parti-coloured boots, the latter bird differs from both its congeners in its far greater size; it is, in fact, a more robust bird than either of them.

Crown of the head, back of the neck, upper surface, sides of the neck and flanks coppery bronze, inclining to green on the back and to rust-colour on the upper tail-coverts; throat, chest, and centre of the abdomen hoary grey with green and coppery reflexions; in certain lights the feathers of the throat and chest appear to be edged with grey, giving those parts a scaled appearance—hence the specific name; under tail-coverts smoky grey; anterior portion of the feathers clothing the tarsi white, the posterior portion buff; tail dull steel-black; wings purplish brown; bill black.

The figures are of the natural size.


  • Eriocnems squamata, Gould in Proce. of Zool. Soc., part xxviii. p. 311.

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