Phaëthornis Episcopus

Bishop Hermit

British Guiana

It will be seen that in this little section of the Phaëthorni the males of some of the species have their breasts crossed by a “distinct patch of lengthened purplish-black plumes, while in others no such mark occurs in either sex: in no instance have I seen this peculiar character carried to so great an extent as in the present bird, which I received direct from Demerara.

It differs from the P. pygmæus and the P. Eremita in the rich bronzy colouring of its upper surface and in the greater breadth of the black pectoral band, in the bronzy hue of its tail, and in the small size of its wings. There is a little bird figured and described in Edwards’s “Natural History,” vol. i. pl. 32, said to be from Surinam, which may or may not be the female of this species, and I merely refer to it to show that it had not escaped my attention; at the same time I must observe, that it is impossible to say which species of these little birds it is intended to represent. Besides the male, I possess an example which I consider to be a female of this species, also received from Demerara. They are the only examples I have seen; I would therefore call the attention of persons resident in the fine country of which the species is a native, to the desirability of their sending additional examples to Europe.

The male has the head, upper surface, and wing-coverts rich golden bronze; behind the eye a stripe of buff; wings purplish brown; tail deep bronzy brown at the base, changing into rich brown near the apex, and slightly tipped with grey; rump rufous; ear-coverts black; under surface deep sandy buff, crossed on the breast by a broad band of purplish-black, somewhat elongated plumes; upper mandible and apical third of the lower mandible black; basal two-thirds of the latter yellow.

The female has a cuneate tail, largely tipped with buffy white, and the under surface rufous.


  • Phaëthornis Episcopus, Gould in Proc. of Zool. Soc., part xxv. p. 14.
  • The Little Brown Humming-bird, Edw. Nat. Hist. of Birds, vol.i. p. pl. 32?

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