Rhamphomicron dorsale

Simons’s Thorn-bill

This beautiful species was discovered by Mr. Simons during his exploration in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, Colombia, and was described by Messrs. Salvin and Godman, to whom I am much indebted for the loan of the typical specimens.

The female was first procured by Mr. Simons, who found it flitting about a small stream in a wood at an altitude of 9200 feet, on the 17th of July 1879; and on the 23rd of the same month he fell in with the male, which was shot on the grassy slope of a hill at a height of 2000 feet above the sea, far from bushes and trees.

The present species cannot well be: mistaken, the colour of its back at once distinguishing it from Rhamphomicron microrhynchum. Messrs. Salvin and Godman have given an excellent description of both sexes, accompanied by an admirable plate of the species, drawn by Mr. Keulemans: I translate their account of the bird as follows:—

Adult male. Above black, slightly shaded with greenish, the rump narrowly bronzy purplish; wings dusky; the tail, which is deeply forked, purplish black; sides of the bead and neck deep black; throat very brilliant greenish golden; abdomen pale dusky brown, washed with greenish golden, especially on the flanks; vent dull whitish, each feather marked down the middle with a greenish spot; bill short, a little curved, black; feet black. Total length 4·2 inches, wing 2·3, tail 0·5, outer tail-feather 2·0, central one 1·19, bill from gape 0·5.

The iris is given by Mr. Simons as “dark brown.”

The female is green above, with the upper tail-coverts bronzy purplish, the tail purplish black, the outer feathers tipped with white; underneath whitish, the throat and flanks spotted with greenish gold; the middle of the throat marked with a few greenish-gold feathers; outer tail-feather 1·6 inch, centre tailfeather 1·1.

The figures in the Plate are those of two adult males and female, of the natural size, and they are drawn from the type specimens lent to me by Messrs. Salvin and Godman.


  • Rhamphomicron dorsale, O. Salvin & F. D. Godman, Ibis, 1880, p. 172, pl. v. figs. 1, 2.

More hummingbirds in the genus Avocettula

Poster preview

Get a poster

Featuring all 422 illustrated species from John Gould’s A Monograph of the Trochilidæ, or Family of Humming-Birds arranged by color.