Calothorax Mulsanti

Mulsant’s Wood Star

The temperate regions of the Andes, from Bogota to Quito

The paucity of web on the outer tail-feathers, which forms so striking a peculiarity in the members of the genus Calothorax, beg carried in this species to its maximum, it is rendered conspicuously distinct from the whole of its congeners.

Although it is one of the more recently discovered of the Trochilidæ, it is now very common in all collections, but at the same time is rarely seen in the very perfect state represented in the accompanying Plate from specimens in my possession. As far as my own knowledge of its habitat extends, I believe it to be confined to the temperate regions of Columbia; M. Bourcier states that it is also found in the Yungas of Bolivia, but I apprehend he must have been misinformed on this point, for I have never yet seen examples from that country, and do not think it likely that it will be found there. The greater portion of the collections sent from Sta Fé de Bogota comprise numerous examples of this species in one or other of its various states of plumage; which indeed are so varied as to prove that much remains yet to be learnt respecting the changes which this bird and its allies undergo from youth to maturity.

M. Bourcier, the original describer of the species, states that he has named it Mulsanti, in honour of his friend M. Mulsant, so well known for his many excellent works on Entomology.

The male has the head, upper surface, wing-coverts and flanks dark shining green; wings purple-brown; tail purplish black; chin, line below the eye, under surface, and a tuft behind the insertion of the thigh white; on the throat a large inverted heart-shaped mark of rich lustrous violet-red; bill and feet black.

The female has the upper surface and wings similar to those of the male; the tail sandy buff, crossed about the centre by a broad band of deep black; throat and chest white, with a patch of dark olive-green on the sides of the neck; upper part of the flanks shining green; lower part of the flanks and under tailcoverts reddish buff; tufts above and behind the insertion of the thigh white; feathers of the thigh brown.

I have figured this beautiful bird on one of the commonest plants of the country it inhabits, the Brugmansia arborea, the flowers of which it doubtless explores during its erratic wanderings in search of its insect and saccharine food; but the flowers of the various species of Mimosa appear to be those which it principally frequents.

The figures are of the natural size.


  • Ornsmya Mulsanti, Boure. Ann. Sci. Phys. &c. de Lyon, tom. v. 1842, p. 342. tab. xx.
  • Mellisuga Mulsanti, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. i. p. 1138, Mellisuga, sp. 63.
  • Calothorax Mulsanti, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 85.

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