Heliangelus amethysticollis

Amethystine Sun Angel


This beautiful Humming Bird was first made known to science by M. D’Orbigny, who procured a single example of it during his journey into Bolivia.

It was subsequently found by Mr. Bridges in the same country, and it is from that source that the specimens in my own collection were obtained; I also’received a single example from M. Warszewicz, who killed it in Northern Peru. Peru and Bolivia, then, evidently constitute the true habitat of this species, which may be regarded as the southern representative of the well-defined genus to which the appellation of Heliangelus has been given. In size and in the semi-rounded form of its tail it assimilates to H. Clarissæ; but it differs from that, as well as from every other member of the genus, in the buff colouring of its gorget, in the central line of the abdomen being’ buff, and in the under tail-coverts being of a darker hue; a marked difference from all its congeners is also presented in the greater size of the glittering green spot on the forehead, which, instead of being confined to the front, extends towards the crown. The female offers the usual difference in the colouring of the plumage, but preserves the buff band across the breast so characteristic of the male.

The specimen of this bird procured by M. D’Orbigny was obtained on the eastern slope of the Cordilleras in the country of the Yuracares near Cochabamba, at the upper limit of the woody vegetation. Its stomach contained numerous grubs and the larve of hemipterous insects.

The male has a large mark of luminous green on the forehead; chin black; throat rich luminous violetred or puce colour, the blue or violaceous hue prevailing on the upper and lateral margins; below this a wide gorget of buff, succeeded by a series of green feathers, very narrow in the centre, broad on the sides, and blending with the bronzy green of the flanks; head, upper surface and wing-coverts bronzy green; the head, however, when viewed in front, appears black; lores and sides of the neck velvety black, separating the colours of the upper and under surface of the head and neck; immediately behind the eye a very small spot of buffy white; wings chocolate-brown; two central tail-feathers bronzy green; lateral tailfeathers dull black, the three outermost on each side tipped with brownish grey; abdomen mottled buff and bronzy green; under tail-coverts greyish white; bill black; feet brown.

The female has a faint indication of the luminous green on the forehead; head, upper surface and central tail-feathers bronzy green; lateral tail-feathers black; throat mottled buff and black; the buff gorget not so decided, and the luminous green feathers*below far less conspicuous than in the male.

The figures are of the natural size.


  • Orthorhynchus amethysticollis, D’Orb. et LaFres. Syn. Av., p. 31.—D’Orb. Voy. dans l’Amér. Mér., tom. iv. p. 576, tom. viii. pl. 60. fig. 2.
  • Mellisuga amethysticollis, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. i. p. 112, Mellisuga, sp. 40.
  • Trochilus amethysticollis, Tschudi, Consp. Av., no. 207.
  • Lampornis amethysticollis, Tschudi, Faun. Per., p. 246.
  • Heliangelus amethysticollis, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 76, Heliangelus, sp. 6.—Ib. Rey. et Mag. de Zool. 1854, p. 252.
  • Anactoria amethysticollis, Reichenb. Aufz. der Colibris, p. 12.

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