Glaucis hirsutus

Hairy Hermit

Eastern Brazil, Venezuela, and the Island of Trinidad

It is very generally admitted by Trochilidists that there are two most nearly allied species of Glaucis, which have been respectively named hirsutus and Mazeppa; the former name having been given by Gmelin to a Brazilian bird, and the latter by Lesson to a species inhabiting Guiana; but it yet remains to be seen whether they are really distinct.

On examining again for the twentieth time the very numerous series of birds of this form from various parts of South America contained in my collection, I have not been able satisfactorily to determine if they are all referable to one and the same, or if they constitute two or three species. I have looked for assistance in vain to the plates and descriptions published by Vieillot, Lesson, and others; they tend rather to confuse than to afford any clue to a just discrimination. The colouring of the examples | possess, favours the opinion that there are three distinct species, or if not species, well-marked local varieties. Of these, one, inhabiting the eastern parts of Brazil generally, from Rio de Janeiro to the Amazon, and even extending its range to Guiana and Trinidad, may, if it should ultimately prove that there are more than one species, bear the name of hirsutus, the specimen to which Gmelin applied that term being from the Brazils. A somewhat smaller bird, with a greater amount of white on the tips of the tailfeathers, and with the rufous colouring of the under surface extending farther on to the sides of the neck and flanks, and which is rather widely diffused over Cayenne, British and Dutch Guiana, Tobago, and perhaps some other of the West India Islands, if distinct, may have the name of Mazeppa retained for it. The third, which is more nearly allied to the Brazilian than to the Guiana bird, is from Bogota: this, which has the throat and abdomen much suffused with green, has not yet, I believe, received a specific appellation, and for the present I do not venture upon proposing one; trusting that time and research will throw more light upon the subject, and enable us to clear up the confusion at present existing. What course then am I to take, with regard to the numerous synonyms referring to these birds? Perhaps it would be better to omit them altogether, since it is almost impossible to determine with certainty to which of the birds they apply; but as this might not be considered satisfactory, I have quoted above all that appear to me to refer to the bird here represented; the others will be found under Mazeppa, should it prove to be distinct.

M. Lesson questions whether his Mazeppa may not be the female of a species unknown to us, but to this opinion I cannot assent, as no material difference occurs in the colouring of the birds of this genus; the females, however, are a trifle smaller in size. It is true that in some individuals a more pointed form of tailfeather is observable, and that these pointed feathers are generally most strongly tipped with white; but this difference I consider to be solely attributable to age, as the younger the bird the greater the extent of the white on the tips of the tail, and although this character is never wholly wanting, in some instances it is quite obscure. I trust it will be understood that the above remarks have no reference whatever to the Glaucis Dohrni, which is a very distinct species. Mr. Reeves of Rio de Janeiro informs me that the Glaucis hirsutus is common both in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia.

M. Bourcier states, that the G. hirsutus inhabits Brazil as far south as St. Catharine; that it is different from the G. Mazeppa, which is a native of Cayenne; and that both these birds live in gloomy and humid woods, and obtain their food from the flowers of orchidaceous plants.

All the upper surface, sides of the neck, wing- and upper tail-coverts green, suffused with brown on the head; tail-coverts fringed with grey; wings purplish brown; two central tail-feathers green, merging into blackish brown near the extremity, and tipped with white; lateral tail-feathers dark chestnut-red, margined on their apical half with brown, and with a crescentic mark of the same colour at the extremity; those nearest the middle feathers are also slightly tipped with white; throat, all the under surface, and the under tail-coverts dark chestnut-red; upper mandible and point of the under mandible black, basal threefourths of the under mandible yellow; feet yellowish.

The Plate represents a male of the natural size. The plant is the Bifrenaria Hadwenii.


  • Trochilus hirsutus, Gmel. Edit. Linn. Syst. Nat., tom. i. p. 490.—Vieill. Nouv. Dict. d’Hist. Nat., 2nde Edit. tom. vii. p. 352.—Ib. Ency. Méth. Orn., part u. p. 556.—Dumont, Dict. des Sci. Nat., tom. x. p. 47.—Temm. PI. Col. 120. fig. 2.—Less. Hist. Nat. des Col., p. 80. pl. 21.—Jard. Nat. Lib. Humming Birds, vol. ii. p. 129. pl. 29.—Less. Traité d’Orn., p. 290.
  • Phethornus hirsutus, Jard. & Selb. Ill. Orn., vol. iii. pl. 143.
  • Polytmus Brasilianus, Briss. Orn., tom. iii. p. 670.
  • Trochilus Brasiliensis, Lath. Ind. Orn., vol. i. p. 308.
  • Colibris à ventre roussatre, Buff. Hist. Nat. des Ois., tom. vi. p. 63.
  • Le Colibri a pieds vêtus, Vieill. Ois. Dor., tom. i. p. 40. pl. 20. & p. 122. pl. 68.
  • Polytmus hirsutus, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. i. p. 108, Polytmus, sp. 33.
  • Glaucis hirsutus, Boie in Oken’s Isis, 1831.—Bonap. Consp. Gen. Ayv., p. 67, Glaucis, sp. 1.—Ib. Rev. et Mag. de Zool. 1854, p. 249.
  • Rufous-bellied Humming Bird, Lath. Gen. Syn., vol. ii. p. 760.—Ib. Gen. Hist., vol. iv. p. 315.—Shaw, Gen. Zool., vol. viii. p. 302.
  • Glaucis hirsuta, Reichenb. Aufz. der Colibris, p: 15.—Ib. Troch. enumer., p. 12.

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