Lampornis calosoma

Elliot’s Topaz

It is now ten years ago since this beautiful species was described by my friend Mr. Elliot; and the specimen still remains unique in the collection of the latter gentleman.

As he observes, I gave him my opinion at the time that the species ought to be placed in the genus Chrysolampis; and although in deference to the judgment of Mr. Salvin and Mr. Elliot I go so far as to follow them in the present work and place it in the genus Lampornis, I believe in my innermost heart that they are mistaken, and that the bird is a true Chrysolamps—if, indeed, it should not be placed in a genus by itself. I would ask any body to compare the figures which I have drawn in order to show both the back and front views of the bird, and to say which form the present species most resembles, Lampornis or Chrysolampis. It has not the long bill nor the forked tail of the former genus, characters in my opinion quite sufficient to separate it from that; but, on the other hand, let it be compared with Chrysolampis moschitus, in how many characters they agree ! First, there is the small bill, the metallic crown, the darker back, and the rounded tail, with the copperybrown central tail-feathers, though it is true that in L. calosoma the remainder of the rectrices are purple; still the general character of the plumage is like that of C. moschitus; and, again, on the under surface the metallic throat, the dark belly, the chestnut under tail-coverts, and the under surface of the tail all remind us of the last-named species. If, therefore, as I anticipate, the bird should be one day replaced in the genus Chrysolampis, the specific name of chlorolæmus will have to be restored as well.

Mr. Elliot writes:—

The habitat of this species is unknown; but it is not unlikely that it may be a native of the West-Indian Islands, of whose ornithology we at present know nothing. If this supposition should prove to be correct, a fine field still remains unexplored for some enterprising naturalist; for among the members of the genus Lampornis the present species is one of the very handsomest, and doubtless many equally fine birds in this and other families are still unknown to science to reward the researches of the explorer.

The following description is given by Mr. Elliot in his ‘Synopsis:’—

Male. Top of head and neck pale metallic silvery green, in some lights purplish; a black band across the back; rest of upper parts dark green; tail fiery copper-colour, the feathers margined with blackish purple; throat brilliant emerald-green; underparts purplish black; spot of white on the flanks; under tailcoverts chestnut; bill black.

Total length 4 inches, wing 2\(\frac{1}{2}\), tail 1\(\frac{5}{8}\), culmen \(\frac{5}{8}\).

The Plate contains two figures of the unique type, and shows both back and front views of the bird, for reasons specified above. Iam indebted to Mr. Elliot for the loan of the specimen from which the figures are drawn.


  • Chrysolampis chlorolemus, Elliot, Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. (4) vi. p. 846 (1870).
  • Lampornis calosoma, Sclater & Salvin, Ibis, 1871, p. 429.—Elliot, Ibis, 1872, p. 351.— Mulsant, Hist. Nat. Ois.-Mouches, i. p. 177.—Elliot, Synops. Humming-birds, p. 41.

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