Gouldia Langsdorffi

Langsdorff’s Thorn-tail

Brazil; and I have a single specimen from the Rio Napo

This beautiful species was discovered by M. Langsdorff, the Russian Consul at Rio de Janeiro, after whom it was named by Vieillot, as a compliment due to the zeal displayed by him in the pursuit of natural history while the companion of Krusenstern, in his celebrated voyage round the world, and during his residence in Brazil; subsequently, Dr. Spix, unaware of its having been already named, assigned to it the specific appellation of hirundinaceus.

Mr. Reeves, of Rio de Janeiro, informs me, that during some years it is very plentiful in that province, and equally scarce in others: “the young birds arrive in July, but the old ones do not make their appearance until September and October, and depart again in November. I have only seen two nests; one of which I gave to Prince William of Hesse, the other is in my own collection; they are both exactly alike, and both were found on old dry moss-covered trees.”

That this bird enjoys a most extensive range over the interior of the country is very probable, for in a collection of birds lately transmitted from Quejos by Don Manuel Villavicencio, I found a specimen agreeing in every particular with those received from the province of Rio.

The female of this species, like the females of the other members of the genus, differs very considerably from the male. The tail-feathers are short, broad, and rounded at the end; and the centre ones scarcely a quarter of an inch in length, while the outer ones are upwards of three-quarters. In all probability the young birds of the year assume a similar plumage to that of the female.

The male has the crown of the head, throat and breast glittering metallic green, bounded below by a band of fiery orange-red; upper surface golden green with a band of white across the rump, expanding into a large patch on each side, and overhanging the thighs; upper part of the abdomen black; lower part of the abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts clouded greyish white; wings purplish brown; six middle tail-feathers and the bases of the lateral ones deep steel-blue, the remaining length of the latter brownish grey, the under surface of the shafts of the whole white; thighs greyish white, blotched with brownish black; bill black.

In the female the crown of the head and upper surface is bronzy green with a white mark across the rump, as in the male; chin black; a streak of white on each side from the angle of the mouth; throat spangled with bronzy green; central tail-feathers steel-blue fringed with white at the tip; lateral feathers greyish brown at the base, passing into steel-blue towards the extremity, and tipped with white; legs and thighs as in the male.

The figures, which are of the natural size, are intended to represent both sexes.


  • Trochilus Langsdorffi, Viel. Eney. Méth. Orn., part ii. p. 574.—Temm. Pl. Col. 66. fig. 1. —Vieill. Ois. dor., tom. iii. ined. pl. 20.—Valenc. Dict. Sci. Nat., tom. xxxv. p. 493.—Less. Man. d’Orn., tom. ii. p. 77.—Ib. Ind. Gen. et Syn. du Gen. Trochilus, p. xxxii.
  • Ormsmya Langsdorffii, Less. Hist. Nat. des Ois. Mou., p. 102. pl. 26; Supp., p. 129. pl. 16. —Ib. Les Troch., p. 101. pl. 85.—Jard. Nat. Lib. Humming Birds, vol. 1. p. 69. pl. 10.
  • Colibri hirundinaceus, Spix, Av. Sp. Nov. Bras., tom. i. p. 80. tab. lxxxi. fig. 2.
  • Melhisuga Langsdorffi, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. i. p. 113, Mellisuga, sp. 68.
  • Gouldia langsdorffi, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 86, Gouldia, sp. 1.—Ib. Consp. Troch. in Rey. et Mag. de Zool. 1854, p. 257.

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