Metallura cupreicauda



This large and extremely fine bird is distinguished from all the other members of its genus by its greater size, the dark colouring of its breast, and the lustrous coppery hue of the under surface of its tail.

Mr. Bridges is almost the only person who has brought specimens of this bird to Europe. With one exception, all the examples in my collection were procured by him. These were part of the acquisitions he secured during an expedition into Bolivia, which, although not, perhaps, remunerative in a commercial point of view, increased his reputation as the discoverer of the many new and interesting objects, both in zoology and botany, he brought with him on his return to Europe. Mr. Bridges states that he found this fine bird engaged in extracting its insect food from the flowers of a graceful species of the genus Loranthus.

But few species of the Trochilidæ are so scarce in our collections as the present bird; and it would doubtless well repay any naturalist who would devote a series of years to the exploration of the rich country of Bolivia for the acquisition of fine examples of this and the many other interesting birds which there abound. Mr. Bridges mentions that he found this species in the Valley of Palea, near Tacna. It is, I believe, strictly a mountainous species, but is never found so high as the line of perpetual congelation.

Not possessing any examples of the female of this species, I am unable to give a description of that sex.

Throat lustrous bluish green; behind the eye a small spot of greyish white; crown of the head, neck, back, and all the upper surface dark lustrous purplish brown; wings the same, but lighter; under surface of the tail rich fiery and very luminous copper colour; its upper surface, in one light, rich purplish copper colour, and in another greenish; bill black.

The figures are of the natural size. The plant is the Catasetum naso, var.


  • Trochilus (—?) eupricauda, Gould in Proc. of Zool. Soc., part xiv. p. 87.
  • Mellisuga cupreocauda, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. i. p. 113, Mellisuga, sp. 438.
  • Metallura cupreicaudus, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p: 75, Metallura, sp. 1.
  • Metallura cupreicauda, Reich. Auf. der Col., p. 8.
  • Agleactis cupreicauda, Bonap. Rev. Zool. 1854, p. 253.

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