Oreotrochilus leucopleurus

White-sided Hill-star

The Chilian Andes

Hitherto this species has only been found in Chili, where it inhabits the sheltered valleys among the Andes, just below the line of perpetual congelation, and where it takes the place in those more southern regions of the Oreotrochilus Estellæ of Bolivia.

Mr. Bridges, from whom I have received numerous specimens, procured on the Andes of Aconcagua, states that the bird was not uncommon near the Ojos de Agua, on the road towards Mendoza, at an elevation of 10,000 feet.

It is a smaller bird in all its admeasurements than Oreotrochilus Estellæ, and may be distinguished from that species by the bluish black mark down the centre of the abdomen; the outer tail-feathers also differ in being narrower, more rigid, and of a more incurved form; in other respects the two birds are very similar. I have some specimens with the feathers of the throat of a dull brown tipped with blue, and the abdomen clouded with dull greyish brown, while the black mark on the centre of the abdomen is as conspicuous as in the adult; in all probability these are young males of the year. In the Loddigesian collection there are fine examples of this bird, as well as a beautiful nest, brought direct from Chili by the late Dr. Miller: I have been kindly permitted to figure this nest, which appears to have been attached by means of cobwebs to the side of a rock or a large stone; it is larger in proportion to the size of. the bird than is usually the case among the Trochilidæ, and is a dense and warm structure composed of moss, fine vegetable substances and feathers.

The male has the head, all the upper surface and wings greyish olive-brown, passing into dull coppery green on the upper tail-coverts; two centre tail-feathers and the outer one on each side, which has an inward curvature, green with bronze reflexions, the remainder narrowly edged on the external webs with brown; throat rich luminous grass-green, bounded below with a crescentic band of deep velvety black with blue reflexions; flanks olive-brown; breast and sides of the abdomen white; down the centre of the abdomen a mark of black with steel-blue reflexions; under tail-coverts olive; tarsi clothed with brown feathers; bill and feet brownish black; irides blackish brown.

Total length, 5 inches; bill, 1\(\frac{1}{16}\); wing, 2\(\frac{3}{4}\); tail, 2\(\frac{1}{8}\); tarsus, \(\frac{5}{16}\).

The female has the upper surface the same as the male, the two centre tail-feathers brownish green, the remainder white, with a band of green across the centre; the outer feather on each side, which is much shorter than the rest, and not so pointed nor so inwardly curved as in the male, is of a browner hue; throat white, spangled with spots of brown obscurely tinted with blue; chest and abdomen white, the brown predominating on the flanks.

Total length, 4\(\frac{1}{2}\) inches; bill, \(\frac{7}{8}\); wing, 2\(\frac{3}{8}\); tail, 2; tarsus, \(\frac{5}{16}\).

The figures represent two adult males, a young male, a female, and a nest, all of the natural size.


  • Oreotrochilus leucopleurus, Gould in Proc. of Zool. Soc., Part XV. 1847, p. 10.—Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, Oreotrochilus, sp. 2.

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