Metallura jelskii / heterocerca

Jelski’s Copper-tail

This species was discovered in Peru by the celebrated Polish traveller whose name it bears, and by whom it was met with in the high mountains near Lake Junin, between Cucas and Paleamayo.

Mr. Elliot places the species in the section of the genus Metallura with bluish-green throats and blackishpurple general coloration. It is allied to M. opaca and M. chloropogon, but is distinguished by the colour of the tail, which, according to Mr. Elliot, is luminous vinous purple. Nothing bas been recorded of its habits.

The following description is translated from Dr. Taczanowski’s work on the Birds of Peru:—

Adult male. The entire plumage is black of a dull silky texture, presenting under certain lights, especially when seen frontways from behind, a slight lustre of bluish or reddish violet, according to the direction of the light; tail-coverts brownish black, glossed with bronzy or reddish copper; fore part of the throat ornamented with scaly plumes of a dark and brilliant emerald-green; anal region downy and white; under tail-coverts bronzy, with a violet reflection and bordered with pale reddish; wing-coverts dull coppery bronze, taking under certain lights a lustre of reddish yiolet similar to that of the general plumage; quills brown, glossed with bronzy olive and violet in their terminal parts; tail slightly emarginate, the tail-feathers broad, the middle ones slightly rounded, the others rather pointed at the extremity, of a dark coppery bronze, taking a lustre of more reddish or violet colour according to the direction of the light, and changing to a fine greenish-blue but very brilliant lustre when looked at from behind forwards; lower part of the tail coppery red or violet, more brilliant than the upper surface. Bill straight, black, much longer than the head, a little less than half the body; feet black, with the tarsus almost entirely bare.

Adult female. Dusky black above, brownish below, with the same violet lustre as the male; forehead pale brownish grey, gradually passing into a darker shade on the hind neck; feathers of the breast and abdomen narrowly fringed with buff, more distinctly in the middle of the belly; tail-coverts dull bronze; fore neck ornamented with scaly feathers, of a blue colour broadly edged with violet, the lustre less strongly developed than in the male; tail not so long, somewhat truncated, similar in colour to the male, but in general less red and more coppery, with the greenish blue not so brilliant.

[R. B. S.]


  • Metallura jelskii, Cab. Journ. fiir Orn. 1874, p. 99.—Mulsant, Hist. Nat. Oiseaux-Mouches, ui. p. 109 cum fig. (1877).—Elliot, Synopsis of the Humming-Birds, p. 164 (1878).—Tacz. Orn. du Pérou, i. p. 354 (1884).
  • Metallura cupreicauda, Tacz. Proc. Zool. Soc. 1874, p. 544 (nec Gould).

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