Page images

for instance, is the character of the TUFTED-NECKED HUMMING-BIRD, Trochilus ornatus.) This beautiful little creature is a native of Cayenne, Guiana, and Brazil, preferring “dry arid plains, clothed with a scanty and bushy vegetation.” Its head is ornamented with a crest of red feathers, and from the sides of the neck proceeds a tuft composed of twelve or fourteen feathers of the same colour, ending each in a broad tip of clear shining green. The chest is clothed with scaly feathers of a bright emerald green, paler at its edges. parts are golden green, the lower greenish brown ; the tail is large, having the centre feathers green, the others red, with a purple gloss. The female wants both crest and throat plumes, but in the metallic richness of her tints is hardly inferior to her mate.

The upper

The DOUBLE-CRESTED HUMMING-BIRD (Trochilus cornutus) is also another example. This splendid species was discovered by Prince Maximilian de Wied-Neuwied: “it inhabits the exalted Campos-Geraes of Brazil, near the sources of the river Don Francisco.” In length it is nearly four inches; from each side of the forehead rises a flattened tuft composed of six feathers, and directed forwards. 66 The colours of these tufts or horns baffle description, and an idea can only be conveyed by likening them to some familiar object, such as the bright and changing hues of steel or other metals, or the sparkling tints of precious stones. The centre of the forehead between the tufts is covered with scaly feathers of brilliant green and blue reflections; a gorget of deep and rich purple composed of lengthened feathers reaches from behind the eyes upon the breast.” The chest and under surface are white; upper parts green, tail wedge-shaped, the two middle feathers being brown, the rest white. The female wants the head-dress of the male.

But of all these tufted beauties the palm of splendid elegance must be given to the Trochilus Gouldii, the account of which is as follows: “ The native district of this splendid species is unknown. In size it is similar to the tufted-necked Humming-Bird : the forehead, throat, and upper part of the breast are of the most brilliant green, the feathers of a scaly form ; from the crown

[graphic][merged small]

springs a crest of bright chestnut feathers, of a lengthened form, and capable of being raised at pleasure ; the back and upper parts are golden green, crossed



rump with a whitish band; the wings and tail are brownish purple, the latter having the centre feathers tinged with green. The neck tufts are of the most splendid kind, and have a chaste but brilliant effect; they are composed of narrow feathers of a snowy whiteness, the tips of each having a round spot of bright emerald green, surrounded with a dark border.” The general shape of these tufts is that of a butterfly's wing.

Some Humming-Birds, again, have the tail-feathers developed in a most extraordinary manner, and glowing with the richest hues; such, for example, is the BARTAILED HUMMING-BIRD, ( Trochilus sparganurus,) a native of Brazil, and a large species, distinguished at once by the shape of its tail, which is forked to the base, and thus consists of two diverging portions, each containing five feathers, graduating one beyond another at nearly equal distances. Their colour is of the richest flame, or bright orange red, with a dazzling metallic burnish, each having


a broad spot of black at the tip, so that when the tail is closed, it appears as if barred at regular intervals. The upper surface is fine golden green, except the rump, which is dull red. The under surface is bright emerald green.

Another remarkable species is the Rough-LEGGED RACKET-TAILED HUMMING-BIRD, distinguished like the former by a forked tail, though not to so great an extent. The most remarkable feature, however, consists in the two outer feathers, which not only extend far beyond the rest, but after narrowing to the shaft, expand suddenly, so as to suggest the figure of a racket, or trap-bat. Its colour is greenish black; the upper parts are of a golden green, a white band passing across the rump; a gorget of emerald green occupies the throat and chest; the under surface is dull green ; the tarsi are plumed, and of a pure white.


It has been already stated that some of the HummingBirds are remarkable for the developement of the wings, and for the strength and breadth of the shafts of the principal quill-feathers, thus

These birds have been known under the denomination of “ Sickle-winged,” or “ Sabre-winged," and form the genus Campylopterus of Swainson.

Of this group the Blue-THROATED SABRE-WING, (Trochilus latipennis, Lin. Campylopterus latipennis, Sw.) is a good example. It is a native of Tobago, frequenting woods along streams and on rivulets, and also low marshy grounds, where wild plantain bushes luxuriate in profusion. The evening is said to be the time in which it is most active, numbers being then observed on the wing, playing round their favourite blossoms, and exhibiting their rapid powers of flight. In length this species is five inches and a quarter. The general plumage is golden


green, the throat being clear violet blue, passing into steel blue; the wings are purplish black; the tail-feathers, which are very broad, are ten in number, the two middle pair being glossy black, the remainder white.

With the exception of the lovely “ Ruby-throated," every Humming-Bird we have yet noticed a native of the intertropical regions of America. We shall conclude our notice of these birds by introducing two or three to the attention of our readers, which display their dazzling tints beneath a more inclement sky, and in a climate where no one would suspect their presence, bring up their hardy brood. True it is, they are migratory, and leave the winter far behind them, fleeing at its approach on wings swift as the wind. Of these we first introduce the Noorka HUMMING-BIRD, (Trochilus rufus,) discovered by the celebrated navigator Captain Cook, who met with it on the coast of Nootka Sound, and observes, that they “ perhaps inhabit more to the southward, and

« PreviousContinue »