Oilbird / Steatornis caripensis

Oilbird / Steatornis caripensis


SCI Name:  Steatornis caripensis
Protonym:  Steatornis caripensis Bull.Sci.Soc.Philom. 4 p.52
Category:  Caprimulgiformes / Steatornithidae /
Taxonomy Code:  oilbir1
Type Locality:  Caverns of Caripe, Cumand, Venezuela.
Publish Year:  1817
IUCN Status:  


(Steatornithidae; Ϯ Oilbird S. caripensis) Specific name Caprimulgus steatornis von Humboldt, 1800 (= syn. Steatornis caripensis); "Sur le Steatornis, nouveau genre d'Oiseau nocturne; par M. DE HUMBOLDT.  ...  Le Steatornis habite les cavernes de Caripe dans la partie montueuse de la province de Cumana. Il porte dans le pays le nom de Guacharos.  ...  Le plumage de l'espèce que décrit M. de Humboldt, la seule qui soit encore connue dans ce genre, et que l'auteur nomme Steatornis caripensis (Guacharo de Caripe), a le plumage d'une couleur sombre, gris brunâtre, mélangé de petits stries et de points noirs" (von Humboldt 1817); "Steatornis Humboldt, in Humboldt and Bonpland, Voy. Intér. Am., 1, 1814, p. 416.Type, by monotypy, "Guacharo" = Steatornis caripensis Humboldt, 1817.   ...   4 Hartert cites this name as of Bull. Soc. Philom., Paris (3), 17, 1810, p. 295, but the earliest reference given by Sherborn and in the Preussischen Akademie Nomenclator animalium is the one cited here." (Peters 1940, IV, 174).

Gr. στεαρ stear, στεατος steatos  fat; ορνις ornis, ορνιθος ornithos  bird. "The Indians, every year about Midsummer, descend into the cave, furnished with poles for the purpose of destroying the nests. At this time many thousands of birds are killed, and the old ones, as if to protect their broods, hover over the heads of the Indians, uttering the most dreadful shrieks. The young that fall to the ground are immediately ripped open, to procure a sort of unctuous or fatty substance with which they are then loaded. At this period, which is commonly termed the oil-harvest, the Indians construct little habitations of palm-leaves, close to the opening, and even in the mouth of the cavern. Here the grease of the young birds just killed is melted over a fire of dry sticks, and run into pots of white clay. This grease, known by the name of Guacharo butter or oil, is semi-liquid, transparent, and without smell, and so pure that it may be kept a twelvemonth without becoming rancid. At a neighbouring convent, visited by these travellers, no oil but that of the cavern was used in the monks' kitchen, and it was never found to give to any dish a disagreeable taste or smell" (Stanley 1835) (syn. Steatornis caripensis).

Caripe Caverns, Cumaná (= Monagas), Venezuela.