Metallura æneicauda

Brassy Tail


The Metallura æneicauda is next in size, and also in rarity, to the Coppery-tailed species, of which latter quality the best evidence consists in the circumstance that neither of these species has received a second specific name.

It was first brought to this country by Mr. Bridges, who obtained it at Unduave in the Yungas of La Paz in Bolivia. I believe I may say that of this species I have both males and females in my Collection, and that they are accurately depicted on the accompanying Plate. In this fine bird we have additional evidence of the riches of the Yungas: pestilential woods, however, I fear they are; otherwise they certainly would be more often visited. It cannot be supposed that during so hurried a visit and so short a stay as that made by Mr. Bridges, he could have obtained more than a tithe of the birds of these thickly-wooded regions. There are, doubtless, Humming-birds, Toucans, Trogons, and additional species of every other Andean group flying therein, examples of which have never yet been sent to Europe; what a field therefore is open for Mr. Wallace or Mr. Bates, should they determine to continue their explorations!

The entire under surface of the tail of the male of this species is of the richest metallic brassy green, while on the upper side it is washed with blue or purple in different lights. The same general colour pervades the tail in the female; but the three outer feathers on each side are tipped with grey, the outer one rather largely, the next less so, and the third very faintly. The female also wants the green on the throat; and her under surface is mottled with green and buff in lieu of the richer and purer green of the male.

The male has the throat luminous metallic green, under surface mingled green and brown; behind the eye a small spot of greyish white; upper surface green, wings purplish brown; under surface of the tail luminous brassy green; upper surface of the tail metallic brown, changing in some lights to deep blue or purple; bill black.

The figures are of the natural size. The plant is the Callania Andinamarcana.


  • Trochilus (—?) æneocauda, Gould in Proc. of Zool. Soc., part xiv. p. 87.
  • Mellisuga æneocauda, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. i. p. 113, Mellisuga, sp. 44.
  • Metallura æneicaudus, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 75, Metallura, sp. 2.
  • Metallura ænecauda, Reich. Auf. der Col., p. 8.
  • Aglæactis æneicauda, Bonap. Rey. Zool. 1854, p. 253.

More hummingbirds in the genus Metallura

Poster preview

Get a poster

Featuring all 422 illustrated species from John Gould’s A Monograph of the Trochilidæ, or Family of Humming-Birds arranged by color.