Eupetomena hirundinacea


Brazil, Cayenne, and the neighbouring countries.

This species being the most swallow-like member of the entire family of Trochilidæ, I have in this instance departed from the rule of priority and adopted the appropriate name of hirundinacea assigned to it by M. Lesson, instead of retaining the indefinite one of macrourus originally bestowed by Gmelin.

From the little we know of its habits, it seems to be a lowland and fluviatile species rather than a denizen of the mountain districts; its principal habitat, so far as we are at present aware, being the low country of Cayenne and the delta of the Lower Amazon; it is true we do receive specimens from Bahia, and Mr. Reeves informs me that it is also found in Minas Geraes; but it is much less numerous there than in the former locality. Mr. Wallace tells me that it flies very high, and chiefly resorts to the topmost branches of the loftiest trees; is more frequently to be seen in the early morn than at any other period of the day, and that at that hour it may often be observed perched on the smaller dead branches of the trees skirting the forest.

The sexes are precisely alike in colour; but at the same time present a great disparity in size, the female being very much smaller than the male, and having a much shorter tail.

The nestling birds do not differ materially from the adult, being very similar in colour, but of course of a less brilliant hue.

I find considerable variety in the tint of the head and neck of this species; some specimens having those parts clothed in a rich glittering prussian blue, while in others they are glossed with green.

Head, neck and breast rich glittering prussian blue; upper surface, upper and under wing-coverts, flanks and abdomen dark green; across the rump an indistinct band of rufous; wings purplish brown glossed with steel-blue; upper and under tail-coverts and tail rich deep steel-blue; a tuft on each side of the body and the vent white; bill and feet black.

The Plate represents two males and a female of the natural size on a beautiful species of Datura, copied from a drawing obligingly sent to me by T. Reeves, Esq., of Rio de Janeiro.


  • Trochilus macrourus, Gmel. Edit. Linn. Syst. Nat., tom. i. p.487.—Licht. Verz. der Doubl., p.13.
  • Trochilus forcipatus, Lath. Ind. Orn., tom. 1. p. 304.
  • Mellisuga Cayanensis caudâ bifurcâ, Raii, 83. 3.—Id. 187. 41.—Willoughby, 166.—Briss. Orn., tom. iii. p. 726. pl. xxxvi. fig. 9.
  • Oiseau-mouche à queue d’acier bruni, Buff. Hist. des Ois., tom. vi. p. 36.
  • Oiseau-mouche a queue fourchue de Cayenne, Vieill. Ois. dor., tom. i. p. 113.
  • Cayenne Fork-tailed Humning Bird, Lath. Gen. Syn., tom. i. p. 751.—Shaw, Gen. Hist., vol. vii. p. 310.—Lath. Gen. Hist., vol. iv. p. 299.—Shaw, Nat. Misc., pl. 222.
  • Ornismya hirundinacea, Less. Hist. Nat. des Ois. Mou., p. 98. pl. 25.—Ib. Supp., p. 179. pl. 39.—Ib. Traité d’Orn., p. 272.
  • Polytmus macrourus, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. 1. p. 107, Polytmus, sp. 9.

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