Threnetes leucurus

White-tailed Barbed-throat

Surinam and British Guiana

That the present species was known to Linnzus, and to most of the writers on Natural History who lived prior to that great Naturalist, is quite certain; yet at the present day how few are the examples of it to be met with in the collections of Europe!

It is undoubtedly a native of Surinam and the neighbouring continental states; and it is very surprising that so ornamental and well-marked a species should not have more frequently attracted the collector’s notice, and been sent home in abundance. Judging from the specimens I have had opportunities of examining, there would appear to be little difference in the colouring of the sexes. In its form and structure, this species offers, in my opinion, considerable affinity to the members of the genus Glaucis, which also tenant the same regions, and display very similar habits.

M. Bourcier tells me that it has also been sent from British Guiana, but that it rarely occurs in collections from Cayenne.

Head, all the upper surface, upper wing-coverts, two central tail-feathers, sides of the neck, breast and flanks, shining olive-green; wings purplish brown; lateral tail-feathers white, stained on the apical half of the outer margin and the tip of the outer feather with dark brown; a crescent of the same, but of a much paler hue at the tip of the next; a still fainter mark of the same colour near the tip of the external web of the third, and a nearly obsolete mark of a similar tint in the same situation on the fourth; lores and earcoverts brown; on the chin and throat a lengthened triangular mark of black, bounded on either side by a narrow line of greyish white, and below by a broad band of deep sandy buff crossing the throat; centre of the abdomen greyish buff; under tail-coverts olive, narrowly edged with greyish buff; bill black, with the cutting of the upper mandible and the basal three-fourths of the under one pearly white; feet yellow.

The figures are of the natural size.


  • Trochilus leucurus, Linn. Syst. Nat., vol. i. p. 190.—Ib. Gmel. Edit., vol. i. p. 487.—Lath. Ind. Orn., vol. i. p. 8307.—Less. Hist. Nat. des Col., p. 83. pl. 22.—Vieill. Ency. Méth. Orn., part 11. p. 553. pl. 129. fig. 5.—Dumont, Dict. des Sci. Nat., tom. x. p. 52.—Drapiez, Dict. Class. d’Hist. Nat., tom. iv. p. 317.
  • Polytmus Surinamensis, Briss. Orn., vol. ii. p. 674.—Id. 8vo, vol. ii. p. 22.
  • Colibri à Colher rouge, Buff. Hist. des Ois., tom. vi. p. 59.—Ib. Pl. Enl. 600. fig. 4.—Vieill. Ois. dor., tom. 1. p. 128.
  • White-tailed Humming-Bird, Lath. Gen. Syn., vol. ii. p. 757.—Edw., pl. 256. fig. 2.—Shaw, Gen. Zool., vol. viii. p. 293.—Lath. Gen. Hist., vol. iv. p. 308.
  • Rufous-throated Humming-Bird, Lath. Gen. Hist., vol. iv. p. 308.
  • Polytmus leucurus, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. 1. p. 108, Polytmus, sp. 21.
  • Glaucis leucurus, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 67, Glaucis, sp. 2.

More hummingbirds in the genus Threnetes

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.