Doryfera Johannæ

Blue-fronted Lance-Bill

New Granada

In figuring this rare and truly curious species, I feel assured that I shall give pleasure to those who make the Humming-Birds their particular study, inasmuch as it is not only one of the rarest, but one of the most singular members of the entire group.

It is to the rich country of the Columbian and Peruvian Andes that we are indebted for this interesting bird. In its form it is precisely like the D. Ludoviciæ, but in its colouring it is widely different, the metallic forehead being rich violet-blue instead of green, and the under surface velvety black instead of bronzy green; besides which it also differs in being of a smaller size.

M. Bourcier has given this bird the specific appellation of Johannæ, in memory of a daughter of the late Mr. George Loddiges.

The specimen from which he took his description was sent by Mr. Mathews from Peru; the two in my own collection, which appear to be male and female, are from Santa Fé de Bogota; these latter differ from the former in having the whole of the under surface black, without any of the grey on the throat as described by M. Bourcier, which grey colouring may probably be only a mark of immaturity.

Forehead metallic violet; nape, back of the neck and upper part of the back bronzy green, passing into the purer green of the back and wing-coverts; rump and upper tail-coverts dull greyish blue; throat and abdomen black, with green reflexions; under tail-coverts deep violet-blue; wings purplish brown; tail black, slightly glossed with green, and with a trace of bronzy brown on the tips of the three lateral feathers; bill black; feet brown.

In the second specimen, which I believe to be a female, the bronzy tips of the lateral tail-feathers are larger and more conspicuous, especially on the under surface.

It will be seen, that, like M. Bourcier, I had recognized the specific value of this bird, and had characterized it as distinct under the name of violifrons; but his name having the priority, my own must sink into a synonym.

The figures are of the size of life.


  • Trochilus Johannæ, Bourc. in Proc. of Zool. Soc., Part xv. p. 45.—Ib. Rev. de Zool. 1847, p. 257.
  • Mellisuga Johannæ, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. i. p. 112, Mellisuga, sp. 20.
  • Trochilus (Doryfera) violifrons, Gould in Proc. of Zool. Soc., Part xv. p. 95.
  • Dorifera johannæ, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 68, Dorifera, sp. 2.

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