Eutoxeres heterura

Ecuadorean Sickle-bill

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This species is not very different from the Colombian Eutoxeres aquila, which it replaces in Ecuador; but the stripes on the breast seem to be always of a bright fulvous colour, instead of whitish as in the abovementioned bird.

The following remarks are quoted from my original paper on these birds:—

I have for some time past had reason to believe that the Humming-birds of this highly singular form comprised more species than the two already described (Eutoxeres aquila and E. Condamini); but it is only of late that I have acquired sufficient materials to justify my arriving at any satisfactory conclusion on the subject. At this moment I have before me three specimens of the true E. aquila from New Granada, seven skins of a bird from the neighbourhood of Quito, which I consider to be distinct from that species, and three from Veragua, which differ slightly from both.

E. aquila is the largest species of the genus, and is distinguished by the snow-white shafts of its tailfeathers, which doubtless show very conspicuously when the bird is on the wing and the tail widely spread; this character is found in every specimen I have examined, and, I believe, will prove constant. The Quitan bird, like some of the Phaethornithes, is extremely variable in its markings; for instance, the tail, in some specimens, has the tips of the feathers white for nearly half an inch from the tip, in others for a quarter, in others, again, for an eighth; and I possess one in which the white tipping is absent, all the feathers being of a uniform olive-grey; but in no instance that I have seen does the white extend down the shaft as in E. aquila. On comparing the seven Quitan specimens with the Bogotan birds, I find that the stripe on the breast are black and white in the former, and black and buff in the latter. I shall designate the Quitan bird E. heterura, with the following description:—

Upper mandible wholly black, under mandible yellow for two thirds of its length from the base, the remainder olive-brown; crown of the head nearly black, each feather glossed with green at the tip;. upper surface dull grass-green; tail olive-grey, in some instances tipped with sullied white; wings deep purplish black; under surface, from the throat to the vent, striated with black and buff, the buff becoming lighter on the centre of the abdomen; under tail-coverts brown, varied with black. Total length 5 inches, bill 1, wing 2\(\frac{7}{8}\), tail 2\(\frac{1}{4}\), tarsi \(\frac{1}{4}\).”


  • Eutoxeres heterura, Gould, Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. (4) i. p. 455 (1868).—Elliot, Synopsis of the Humming-Birds, p. 3 (1878).—Eudes-Deslongchamps, Annuaire Mus. d’Hist. Nat. Caen, i. p. 73 (1881).
  • Grypus heterura, Gray, Hand-list of Birds, i. p. 123, no. 1548 (1869).

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