Phaëthornis obscura

Obscure Hermit


It can scarcely be supposed but that the great country of Brazil will, from time to time, present us with new species of this group of birds; the great and almost interminable forests, particularly those toward the western frontier, having been but partially traversed, and by no means closely investigated. By the way of Rio de Janeiro, several examples of this new Phaëthornis have reached Europe, and at this moment four specimens are before me, two of which belong to my own collection, the other two to that of M. Bourcier of Paris, by whom they have been kindly lent to me for the purposes of the present work: the whole of them were collected in the interior of Brazil.

The Phaëthornis obscura differs from all its congeners in its dark, clouded style of colouring, and in the absence of buff on the rump. It belongs to that division of the Hermits to which the name of Pygmornis has been given, and which, although I have not adopted this generic appellation, appears to me to constitute a very natural section of the group. If we may judge from what we know of some other members of the genus, the males of this species will have shorter and more rounded tails than the females; but this must be verified by actual dissection before it can be positively affirmed.

Head, upper surface and wing-coverts dark bronzy green; stripe behind the eye buff; wings purplish brown; tail dark bronzy brown, each feather narrowly margined externally and slightly tipped with white; throat smoky black, between which and the eye is a stripe of light buff; chest clouded chestnut or coffeecolour, passing into dark grey on the abdomen, and fading into white on the vent; under tail-coverts greyish white; upper mandible and tip of the lower black; basal three-fourths of the latter yellow.

The figures are of the natural size. The plant is the Echites Franciscea.


  • Phaëthorms obscura, Gould in Proc. of Zool. Soc., part xxv. p. 14.

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