Metallura Primolinus

Primoli’s Humming-Bird


I have been obliged to figure this bird from imperfect materials, the only specimen known being in a very indifferent state of preservation.

It is contained in the collection of M. Bourcier, of Paris, and, I feel assured, is a female, and perhaps an immature one; but if so, I am confident that it is the female of a species quite distinct from any other that has yet been discovered. This is one of the reasons which have induced me to attempt its illustration, as by this means collectors may be incited to seek for more perfect specimens. Another reason for my so doing is, that I wish to comply with the desire of my late, highly esteemed friend Prince Charles Lucien Bonaparte, that the species should be named after his grandson, the infant son of Count Primoli, and that it should be figured in my work. I have deferred to the wishes of the Prince, and impatiently await the arrival of additional examples.

The Metalluræ are a group of Humming-Birds which has always interested me; and their richly luminous and ample tails cannot fail to elicit feelings of admiration in every one. The species are somewhat numerous, and they are all closely allied; yet each possesses certain prominent characters by which the ornithologist may readily discriminate the one from the other. They inhabit the great Andean range of mountains from the northernmost parts of New Granada to Bolivia and Peru; those inhabiting the last-mentioned countries are the largest and the most gorgeously attired.

The M. Primolinus is about the same size as the M. Williami, but differs from that species in the greater length of its bill and in the more luminous green colouring of the under side of the tail. It is said to be a native of Peru.

Crown of the head and upper surface dull bronzy green; under surface mottled bronzy green and buffy grey, the latter colour occupying the basal portion of the feathers; wings purplish brown; tail extremely luminous, shining green on the under surface and bronzy green and purplish blue on the upper, the three lateral feathers on each side slightly tipped with brownish grey; bill blackish brown, paler on the under than on the upper mandible; feet dark brown.

The figures are of the natural size. The plant is the Thibaudia Pichinchensis.


  • Metallura primolina, Bourc. in Rey. et. Mag. de Zool. 1853, p. 295; Reichenb. Aufz. der Col., p. 8.
  • Metallura primolinus, Bonap. in Rev. et Mag. de Zool. 1854, p. 253.
  • Metallura primulina, Reichenb. 'Troch. Enum., p. 5.
  • Urolampra primolina, Cab. et Hein. Mus. Hein., p. 68, note.

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