Ionolæma whitleyana

Whitely’s Humming-bird

Four species of the genus Ionolæma are now known, two of them having a brilliant metallic spot on the forehead, viz. I. frontalis and I. whitelyana, and two which have no bright spot, I. luminosa and I. schreibersi.

The present bird differs from I. frontalis in having the breast green instead of black: it was discovered by Mr. Henry Whitely at Cosnipata in the province of Cuzco, Peru, in August 1871, at an elevation of 2300 feet above the level of the sea.

Mr. Whitely states that he found the bird very rare, having only met with a male in August, and a female on the 21st of May, 1871. He states that it “frequents flowering plants at the tops of the loftiest trees in the depths of the forest, at nearly all times out of range of gun-shot. Very powerful in flight, and darts from flower to flower with extraordinary rapidity.”

The following description was given by me in the volume of the ‘Annals’ mentioned above:—

Male. Crown, all the upper surface and flanks deep grass-green; an obscure glittering mark on the forehead; chin, chest, and centre of the abdomen jet-black with a broad gorget of beautiful violet on the throat; the bill, which is stout and straight, is black, as are also the legs and toes; the tail and under tailcoverts steel-black; primaries and secondaries purplish brown, the external edge of the outer primary reddish brown. Total length 5\(\frac{1}{4}\) inches, bill 1\(\frac{1}{8}\), wing 3, tail 2\(\frac{1}{4}\).

Mr. Whitely gives the soft parts as follows: “Bill black; eye dark hazel; legs, toes, and claws black.”

The specimens figured in the Plate are the original ones procured by Mr. Whitely, and now in my collection.


  • Iolæma whiteleyana, Gould, Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. (4) x. p. 452 (1872).—Sclater & Salvin, Nomencl. Av. Neotrop. p. 82 (1872).—Whitely, Proc. Zool. Soc. 18738, p. 188. —Muls. Hist. Nat. Oiseaux-Mouches, ii. p. 141 (1876).
  • Ionolæma whitelyana, Elliot, Synopsis of the Humming-Birds, p. 59 (1878).
  • Ionolaima whitelyana, Eudes-Deslongchamps, Annuaire Mus. d’Hist. Nat. Caen, i. p. 276 (1880).
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