Oreotrochilus melanogaster

Black-breasted Hill-star

The high lands of Peru; precise locality unknown

No species of this well-defined group of Humming-birds is so rare in the collections of Europe as the Oreotrochilus melanogaster: a circumstance which is due to the fact of the country of which it is a native being more unfrequently visited than those inhabited by the other species.

Ecuador, as is well known, is the true habitat of the O. Pichincha and O. Chimborazo, both of which species are named after the volcanic mountains they respectively frequent; O. Estellæ and O. Adelæ are found in Bolivia; O. leucopleurus in Chili, and the present species in Peru. All these species inhabit countries of great elevation, and are’ mostly confined to very limited areas. The Oreotrochili may truly be considered to constitute one of the best defined genera of the great family of the Trochilidæ, and to rank among the finest of the Hummingbirds. A splendid specimen of the O. melanogaster graces the collection of the late Mr. George Loddiges, and two are contained in my own: all of these were procured in Peru, but in what precise locality is unknown. The whole of them are males, and, so far as I am aware, no female has yet reached Europe.

All the upper surface olive-brown with a golden lustre, and washed with green on the upper tail-coverts; wings greyish brown with purple reflexions; throat rich lustrous grass-green; breast and abdomen rich deep bluish black; flanks rusty brown; tail green, with bronze reflexions; bill black; feet olive-black.

The figures are of the size of life. The plant is the Fuchsia spectabilis.


  • Oreotrochilus melanogaster, Gould in Proce. of Zool. Soc., part xv. p. 10.—Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. i. p. 104, Oreotrochilus, sp. 5.—Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 76, Oreotrochilus, sp. 6.—Reich. Aufz. der Col., p. 15.—Bonap. Rey. Zool. 1854, p. 250.

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