Oreopyra leucaspis

White-throated Oreopyra

Volcano of Chiriqui, 9000 to 10,000 feet (Warzewicz).

With what activity and perseverance the South American traveller, Warszewicz, scaled the sides of the volcano of Chiriqui, and how well his exertions were rewarded, the curious and interesting Humming-Bird represented on the accompanying Plate will testify.

I delayed describing this new bird for several years after it came into my possession, in the hope that additional examples might arrive; but up to the present month of March (1861) I have only seen the single individual from which my figure is taken, and which graces my own collection. This unique example is, I am sorry to say, in a very bad state of preservation; it is evidently a mature male, which, when shot, was in all the splendour of a fresh moult; but so woefully is it mutilated, that I am scarcely able to figure it with accuracy. Under these circumstances, it is much to be desired that some other traveller should procure us additional examples, and transmit at the same time an account of its habits, and not omit to inform us if the sexes offer any marked differences in their style of colouring. I am particularly desirous of information on this latter point, because I have for some years entertained a suspicion that the birds I have mentioned in my account of Adelomyia castaneoventris may be related to the present bird,—a point which further research alone can enable us to determine.

The Oreopyra leucaspis differs from every other member of the family in the beautiful silvery whiteness of its throat, relieved by the surrounding black and green of the body and the glittering grass-green of the crown; I have therefore made it the type of a new genus. It is as elegant in all its proportions as in its colouring it is chaste and harmonious; consequently, when better known, it will doubtless become a great favourite with collectors.

The volcano of Chiriqui is situated in Costa Rica, a region evidently teeming with objects of beauty and novelty: it was here, at an elevation of from nine to ten thousand feet, that M. Warszewicz shot the bird, and immediately transmitted to me a drawing of it in a letter; and I offer my best thanks to this gentleman for his kind attention.

Crown of the head exceedingly beautiful glittering grass-green; back of the neck and all the upper surface deep grass-green with bronzy reflexions; throat pure white, contrasting conspicuously with the glittering grass-green of the breast; flanks and abdomen greyish green with bronzy reflexions; wings purplish brown; tail forked and steel-black; thighs thickly clothed with hoary or greyish-brown feathers; behind the eye, and extending some distance down the sides of the neck, is a stripe of pure white; bill straight, and both mandibles of a uniform black.

The figures are of the natural size. The plant is the Pachyphytum bracteosum.


  • Oreopyra leucaspis, Gould in Proc. of Zool. Soc., part xxviii. p. 312.

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