sword-billed hummingbird (bird)

Type Specimens


This sword-billed hummingbird is the Holotype specimen of the name Ensifera ensifera caerulescens. Although the subspecies is not recognised by modern authors the specimen remains the type of that name, which is available if the taxon were ever to be resurrected. Notes on RAMM’s database are as follows:

Cited in refs:
1. Lowe, W.P. 1939. The bird collections in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter. Ibis (14)3: 65-75 describes ‘This very distinct race of Sword-billed Hummingbird differs from the Docimastes ensiferus by its smaller dimensions and by having the sides of the neck and band across the chest, when held to the light, bright metallic blue . Male [symbol] Type , in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, no. 25/1938 (South America?), Luget Bros.’

2. Graves, G.R. 1991. Taxonomic status of the Sword-billed Hummingbird Ensifera ensifera caerulecens Bull. B.O.C. 1991 111(3) . Dr. Graves of the Dept. of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington examined the specimen as part of a comprehensive review of Sword-tailed Hummingbird systematics and presents evidence that casts doubt on the taxonomic validity of the new sub-species as described by W.P.Lowe. He maintains that plumage on the throat and breast is faded as evidenced by optical microscopic examination showing that ‘the bases of the violet feathers that are concealed by overlapping feathers are green as in the nominate E. ensifera . In other words, only portions of the pectoral feathers that are exposed to the light are violet’

It is the view of D. Bolton, Curator (now retired) that it is questionable that structural feather colouration is affected by exposure to light and suggests further examination using electron microscopy.

This object is not on display.

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