Eutoxeres Aquila

Sickle Bill

Costa Rica, New Granada, and Ecuador.

Two specimens are all that are known of this rare and singular Humming Bird; of these one is in the Loddigesian Collection, the other in my own.

I believe the former was sent to Mr. Loddiges direct from Bogota, and that in rather a singular manner:—the head was first sent, with a request to know if it belonged to a species of interest; upon his replying in the affirmative the body was forwarded, and the bird may now be seen, beautifully mounted and without a trace of the severe treatment to which it had been subjected. My own specimen was procured in a very different locality, having been sent from Veragua in Central America by the well-known botanical traveller M. Warszewiez, who, while crossing from Bocco del Toro on the Atlantic side of the Isthmus of Panama to David on that of the Pacific, was induced to deviate in search of novelties to the Rovalo peak, where his labours were rewarded by the discovery, among other interesting objects, of this very curious bird.

Mr. Loddiges’ specimen formed the subject of M. Bourcier’s description, and the figures in the accompanying Plate are taken from my own. Judging from the members of the genus Glaucis, to which the present form is nearly allied, but little difference will be found to exist in the colouring of the sexes. It is evident that its singularly-shaped bill is adapted for some special purpose, and we may readily infer that it has been expressly formed to enable the bird to obtain its food from the deep and remarkably-shaped flowers of the various Orchidaceous and other plants with curved tubular flowers so abundant in the country the bird inhabits, and for exploring which a bill of any other form would be useless.

At present nothing is known of its habits; we may reasonably hope that this desideratum will be obtained before the close of the present work, in which case the additional information will be found in the general résumé.

Crown of the head and a small occipital crest brownish black, with a faint spot of buff at the end of each feather; back of the neck, back, wing-coverts and upper tail-coverts dark shining buffy green; wings purple brown; on the tip of the secondary nearest the body a triangular spot of buffy white, and on the next on each side a still smaller spot; two central tail-feathers dark glossy green slightly tipped with white; the remaining tail-feathers dark glossy green on their outer webs, greenish brown on their inner webs, and largely tipped with white; under surface brownish black, striated with dark buff on the throat and breast, and with white on the abdomen and flanks; under tail-coverts brown fringed with buff, and with a line of buff down the shaft; bill black, with the exception of the basal two-thirds of the lower mandible which is yellow.

The figures represent the bird in two different positions on the Coryanthes speciosa.


  • Trochilus Aquila, Lodd. MSS. Boure. in Proe. of Zool. Soc., part xv. p. 42.
  • Polytmus Aquila, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. i. p. 108. pl. 36.
  • Glaucis Aquila, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 67.
  • Eutoxeres, Reich. Av. Syst. Nat., pl. 40.

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