Eutoxeres salvini

Salvin’s Sickle-bill

Illustration not included in supplement volume

The present bird I consider to constitute at least a distinct race of Eutoxeres, although Mr. Elliot, in his recent synopsis of the group, has not thought it necessary to separate it from E. aquila.

I am content to notice the bird without figuring it, and must leave to future ornithologists the task of determining the value of E. salvini as a species.

The following is a transcript of the remarks which I published when originally writing on this bird:—

The Veraguan bird is much more nearly allied to the Ecuadorean than the New-Granadian species, but possesses characters differing from both, which, though slight, appear to be constant, none of the specimens I possess having the pure white shafts of the New-Granadian E. aquila, or the uniformly coloured tail of the Ecuadorian E. heterura, but having all the tail-feathers tipped with white; it moreover assimilates to this bird in size, as it also does in the buff colouring of the striz of the throat and breast. For this Veraguan bird I propose the name of Eutoxeres Salvini, in compliment to a gentleman who assuredly deserves that a finer bird should bear his name; but as this species lives on that side of the Isthmus of Panama his labours whereon have been rewarded with such fruitful results, I embrace the first opportunity afforded me of testifying to the benefit he has conferred upon the branch of science to which we are both attached. It may be asked, and with some show of reason, if characterizing birds as distinct which present such trifling differences is not like splitting straws; to which I would answer, such differences not only exist, but are as constant as the seasons which run their courses without variation, and it is well known to all who have studied the natural productions of the two Americas that their faunas, with but few exceptions, differ in toto. How these differences have been brought about is beyond our comprehension; but when we do find them, they ought assuredly to be made known.


  • Eutoxeres salvini, Gould, Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. (4) i. p. 455 (1868).—Eudes-Deslongchamps, Annuaire Mus. d’Hist. Nat. Caen, 1. p. 72 (1881).
  • Grypus salvini, Gray, Hand-l. Birds, i. p. 123, no. 1547 (1869).
  • Eutoxeres aquila, pt., Eliot, Synopsis of Humming-Birds, p. 3 (1878).

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