Diphlogæna hesperus

Ecuadorian Rainbow

This species represents in Ecuador the Diphlogæna iris of Bolivia.

It is of the same size as that bird, but has the back and abdomen green instead of chestnut-red.

So far as is known, the present species is confined to the Andes of Ecuador. The original specimen came from the province of Cuenca; and Messrs. Von Berlepsch and Taczanowski have recorded a large series as having been procured by Messrs. Stolzmann and Siemiradski in Western Ecuador at Cechce and Alpachaca, at an altitude of 10,500 feet, in the months of April and May. They write as follows:—

The female differs from the male in a manner analogous to that of the allied species. The feathers of the crown are short, less glittering, and they form a scaly surface of a coloration similar to that of the male, but distinctly less brilliant and almost uniform from the forehead to the nape; that is to say, it is more rufous on the latter part than in the male. The median blue streak is clearer and not of a sapphire tint, being nearly as large as in the male and not passing beyond the posterior angle of the eye; it lacks therefore the broad portion on the neck which is peculiar to the other sex; under other lights the blue passes into violet. The green of the under surface of the body is distinctly clearer than in the male, but is quite as lustrous, and even more so on the abdomen; the bases of all the feathers are clearer in the male, and in consequence all the underparts appear to be more distinctly scaled; there is no trace of the spangle on the throat, and the bronze on the back is less uniform, passing into green on the sides: in other respects the female is like the male. The immature males are distinguished by the crown being entirely covered with as short feathers as those of the female, and of a dull coppery bronze with a feeble but not glittering metallic lustre, which is slightly developed in front of the eyes under occasional aspects of light; otherwise they are like the old males, some of them having the violet spangle as well developed as in the latter, while others do not show it at all. One male has the top of the head fully and brilliantly plumaged, but still lacks the jugular spangle, which is only represented by a single feather partly green and partly violet.

The following is the original description transcribed from the ‘Annals’ (l. c.):—

Male. Crown of the head brilliant, changeable, metallic blue and fiery red, the latter colour occupying the sides of the forebead, and the former running up the centre from the base of the bill to the crown, where it dilates into a broad patch; hinder part of the head and the nape changeable brown and bronze; back (as far as the rump, shoulders, abdomen, and flanks) green; throat and chest rich metallic golden green, with a small spot of violet in the centre of the former; primaries and secondaries rust-brown, with darker tips; upper and under tail-coverts and the forked tail deep cinnamon-red, the feathers of the latter tipped and edged near the extremities with bronzy green; thighs buff; bill straight, long, tubular, and black; feet brown. ‘Total length 5\(\frac{1}{4}\) inches, bill 1\(\frac{1}{2}\), wing 3\(\frac{1}{4}\), tail 2\(\frac{1}{2}\).

In the Plate are given representations of two adult males and a female, drawn from specimens lent to us by Messrs. Salvin and Godman.

[R. B. S.]


  • Diphlogena hesperus, Gould, Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. (3) xv. p. 129 (1865).—Scl. & Salv. Nomenel. Ay. Neotr. p. 90 (1873).—Mulsant, Hist. Nat. Oiseaux-Mouches, ii. p. 304, plate (1875).—Elliot, Synopsis of the Humming-Birds, p. 70 (1878).— Berlepsch & Tacz. Proc. Zool. Soc. 1884, p. 303.

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