Phæochroa Roberti

Owen’s Sabre-wing

Vera Paz Mountains in Guatemala

I wave great pleasure in figuring a bird which, I am certain, is quite new to science. It was collected in the Vera Paz mountains of Central America by Mr. Robert Owen, after whom it has been named by Mr. Salvin.

In point of affinity it is more nearly allied to the bird known to ornithologists as the Campylopterus Cuvieri than to any other; but it differs from it in many particulars, all purely specific, for in point of form the two birds are precisely similar. In size it is rather the smallest; both its mandibles are black instead of being lighter beneath; and the plumage of the body is more lustrous; but the greatest difference occurs in the colouring of the middle portion of the two outer tail-feathers, that part being black instead of dark green; there is also a less amount of white on the tips of those feathers. The shaft of the first primary is slightly dilated,—a circumstance which shows that this species, as well as the C. Cuvteri, for which I have proposed the generic name of Phæochroa in the ‘Introduction,’ are closely allied to the Campylopteri.

Head and all the upper surface bronzy green; throat, chest, and flanks bronzy green; centre of the abdomen mottled bronzy green and greyish white; under tail-coverts olive-green fringed with greyish white; two centre tail-feathers bronzy green slightly tipped with bluish black; the two next on each side bronzy, more largely tipped with bluish black; the extreme base of the two lateral feathers bronzy green, to which succeeds a broad zone of black, and the tips white; wings purplish brown; bill and feet black.

The figures are of the natural size, or, if anything, rather less. The plant is the Echeveria canaliculata.


  • Alphantochroa Roberti, Saly. in Proc. of Zool. Soc., part xxix. p. 203.

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