Zoological Illustrations/VolII-Pl105

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Zoological Illustrations
by William Swainson
Vol II. Pl. 105. Trochilus recurvirostris. Recurved-bill Humming Bird.
Zoological Illustrations Volume II Plate 105.jpg

TROCHILUS recurvirostris,

Recurved-bill Humming Bird.

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Generic Character.—See Pl. 82.


Specific Character.

T. aureo-viridis, jugulo smaragdino; pectore medio corporeque nigris; rectricibus lateralibus subtùs topazinis; rostro recurvo.
Golden green; throat shining emerald green; middle of the breast and body black; lateral tail feathers beneath topazine; bill recurved.
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The extraordinary formation in the bill of this beautiful little creature, is without parallel in any land bird yet discovered, and presents in miniature a striking resemblance to that of the Avoset. It is almost impossible to conjecture rightly the use of this singular formation; but it appears to me not very improbable, that the principal sustenance of the bird may be drawn from the pendent Bignoniæ, and other similar plants, so common in South America, whose corollæ are long, and generally bent in their tube; the nectar, being at the bottom, could not be reached either by a straight or incurved bill, though very easily by one corresponding to the shape of the flower.

The figure is the size of life. Bill black, depressed along the whole length, but more especially at the tip, which is rounded, thin, obtuse, and recurved in both mandibles; the under of which, towards the middle, has a convex swelling, which gives the recurvature a stronger appearance. All the upper plumage and body beneath golden-green; the throat, to the breast, shining with scale-like feathers of a vivid emerald-green. From the breast to the vent is a stripe of black down the middle; thighs white; tail even, the two middle feathers dull greenish-blue, the rest above obscure coppery-brown, but beneath of a rich shining topaz colour.

I believe this bird is unique; I purchased it at Mr. Bullock's sale, and that gentleman received it from Peru. It presents so much of the genuine habit of the Trochili, that I have retained it under that genus; for, though the bill is differently formed, that exception does not point out any important difference from the general economy of those birds.