As requested by William Jones, a PhD student at Uppsala University (@JacanaJones on Twitter): Oleaginous Hemispingus, which, yes, is an English bird name.
The Oleaginous Hemispingus, Sphenopsis frontalis. Image by Juan José Arango.
The Handbook of the Birds of the World begins its description of this species with “dingy, dull hemispingus with relatively slender bill”, which is not a promising start. A “hemispingus” is a genus of tanagers, found mostly in the Andes. The Oleaginous Hemispingus is found at medium altitudes (1400-2900 m) in dense forests of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, eats insects, and sings in quartets.
The word “spingus” comes from the Greek σπίνος (spinos) meaning “finch”; I’m also seeing references to a Greek word σπίγγος (spiggos) to mean “chaffinch”, but I can’t actually confirm this. The prefix “hemi”, of course, means “half” — think “hemisphere” — and actually comes from the same root as the more productive prefix “semi” (Greek ήμι, emi, versus Latin semi-, Sanskrit sami-, Old English sam-, etc). Hemispinguses are tanagers that look like finches, or half-finches. Hemi-finches. Hemi-spingus.
The word “oleaginous” means “having the nature or properties of oil”, according to the OED, from the French oléagineux, same meaning, or the Latin oleāginus meaning “relating to the olive tree”. I’m guessing this bird gets this name via the Latin meaning, because it’s olive-coloured? But, uh, if you’re reading this and have a better idea, let me know?
Olive trees, which produce olives, which are oily, and also yellow-green?
The genus name, Sphenopsis, means “wedge-appearing”, from the Greek σφήνα, spena, “wedge”, and όψις, opsis, “appearance, sight, vision”. The form “opsis” you’re probably familiar with, particularly if you’re a scientist: optical, opsin, Arabidopsis (“thing that looks like genus Arabis“). Anyway, genus Sphenopsis was first described as having a much more wedge-shaped beak than similar species.
Arabidopsis thaliana. Photo by M G Tuffen.
The species name frontalis is Latin for “forehead” and is typically given to species with something distinctive going on in the front bit of the skull. For example: the Wrybill (Anarhynchus frontalis) has a distinctive white forehead; the Blue-fronted Redstart (Phoenicurus frontalis) has a blue head contrasting with a red body; the Collared Treepie (Dendrocitta frontalis) has a black head contrasting with a white body. The Oleaginous Hemispingus has a bit of an eyebrow going on, so I guess that’s good enough.
This is, remarkably, our first tanager, so! The family name for tanagers, Thraupidae, comes from the Ancient Greek word θραυπίς, thraupis, which was a word used by Aristotle to mean a species of finch, possibly the Eurasian Siskin. The genus Thraupis has been largely replaced with Tangara, which is a Tupi* word meaning “dancer” and the source of the English word “tanager”. (Compare the tanager genus Saltator, which is Latin for “dancer”.)
* “Tupi” is actually a language family, comprising at least 70 different languages. That sentence that I wrote is the equivalent of saying “चिड़िया is the Indo-European word for ‘finch'” — it’s actually the Hindi word for “finch”, not a word that equally applies to all other Indo-European languages like English, Russian, or Kurdish. Unfortunately, I don’t know which Tupian language “tangara” comes from. The 1760 record just says that it’s a “Brazilian” word. The best I can do is tell you that the Wayampi word for “tanager” is tängala.
Brazilian performers of the samba de roda, an Afro-Brazilian dance. Image via Wikipedia.