Sporadinus elegans

St. Domingo Humming-Bird

The Island of St. Domingo

This species was first described and well figured in the “Oiseaux Dorés” of MM. Audebert and Vieillot as long back as 1802, yet, strange to say, although its true habitat, and a brief account of its habits are there given, M. Lesson states in his “Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux Mouches” that the bird is found in Brazil,—a statement as unfounded as it is unlikely.

“This bird,” says Vieillot, “inhabits St. Domingo; it is rarely found near habitations, but is often met with on the borders of the great woods, where it perches in preference on the tops of the trees, and gives forth a song resembling that of the little Humming-bird. This beautiful species is rare; and I only procured two males, while flying round a cotton tree and examining its flowers.”

The late exploration of St. Domingo, by M. Sallé, has furnished us with positive proofs of its being a denizen of that island, to which, without doubt, it is strictly confined, since from thence alone have specimens been received. M. Salle’s collection contained numerous examples of both sexes, shot in the interior of the island, in the neighbourhood of La Vega, and at Rancho Abajo, where he killed them while searching for their food on the flowers of the Inga feculifera?

This bird differs in form sufficiently from every other known (except perhaps Riccordi), to warrant its separation into a new genus; and two names have accordingly been proposed for it, that of Riccordia by Dr. Reichenbach, and that of Sporadinus by the late Prince Charles L. Bonaparte: as will be seen, the latter appellation is the one I have adopted.

The Sporadinus elegans, as its specific name expresses, is a very gracefully formed bird, all the various parts of its structure being alike elegant in contour, and harmonious with each other.

It will be seen that more than the usual difference occurs in the colouring of the sexes: a more sombre garb than that in which the female is clothed can scarcely be imagined.

The male has the head, neck, all the upper and under surface of the body and the wing-coverts dark bronzy green; wings purplish brown; upper tail-coverts and tail purplish black; throat and sides of the neck shining golden-green, beneath which is a conspicuous spot of black; upper mandible black; under mandible black at the tip, the basal two-thirds being fleshy white.

The female has all the upper surface dull bronzy green; central tail-feathers dark bronzy green deepening into black towards the extremity, the lateral feathers grey at the base and at the tip, the intermediate portion being blackish brown glossed with green; under surface ashy brown, washed with green on the flanks.

The figures represent both sexes of the size of life. The plant is the Pharbitis cathartica.


  • Trochilus elegans, Aud. et Vieill. Ois. Dor., vol. i. p. 32. pl. 14.
  • Ornismya Swainsonii, Less. Hist. Nat. des Ois. Mou., pp. xvii. 197. pl. 70.—Ib. Ind. Gen. et Syn. des Ois. du Gen. Trochilus, p. xxiii.
  • Hylocharis elegans, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. civ., Hylocharis, sp. 18.
  • Lampornis elegans, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 72, Lampornis, sp. 4.
  • Riccordia elegans, Reich. Auf. der Col., p. 8.
  • Sporadinus elegans, Bonap. Rey. Zool. 1854, p. 255.

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