Heliangelus Mavors


The Paramos of Portachuela and Zumbador in New Granada

Of all the species of the Andean Humming Birds belonging to the genus Heliangelus, I regard this as by far the most beautiful and interesting; it has all the charms of novelty to recommend it; and it stands alone, too, among its congeners, no other member of the genus similarly coloured having been discovered up to the present time.

The throat vies with the richest topaz, while the band on the forehead rivals in brilliancy the frontlet of every other species; the colouring of the throat, however, like that of H. Spencei, has not the transcendent glitter of H. Clarissæ and its near allies, consequently no metallic agent I could use would assist in truly representing the richness of its colouring: all that could be done has been; but I regret much when I observe how far inferior the representation is to the original.

The country in which this rare bird flies is the elevated region of Northern Columbia, particularly the flat Paramos of Portachuela and Zumbador, where Messrs. Funck and Schlim found it, at an elevation of from 7000 to 9000 feet; they also met with it on the Paramos of Los Conejos at a similar elevation. In those districts there doubtless exist other fine species at present unknown to us, for we can scarcely imagine that those travellers procured examples of all the species of the genus which dwell therein, and which we may reasonably expect to be as rich in the feathered tribes as it is in another department of Nature’s wonderful works, Botany, in which, I am told, numerous were the discoveries they made in this almost terra incognita. Would that time and circumstances would admit of my visiting so rich a region, feeling assured, as I do, that my labours would be amply rewarded by discoveries, not only in this group of birds, but in every other branch of Zoology! Will not this remark induce some young and enthusiastic naturalist to make a journey thither for the purpose of investigating its productions? If the field be considered too limited, the eastern slope of the great Cordillera, and thence to Bolivia, will prove equally rich in beautiful objects; a lifetime, in fact, may be spent in thoroughly exploring this New-World paradise.

The male has a narrow mark of deep fiery red on the forehead; crown and all the upper surface bronzy green; behind the eye a very small spot of white; lores and sides of the neck black; throat deep fiery red, bounded below by a broad crescent of buff, which colour, but of a somewhat deeper tint, pervades the centre of the abdomen; flanks washed with green; under tail-coverts greyish buff; wings purplish brown; two middle tail-feathers bronzy green, the remainder bronzy brown, the two outer ones on each side obscurely tipped with white; bill blackish brown; tarsi dark brown.

The female is very similar to the male, but, in lieu of the fiery throat, has that part mottled with brown and black.

The figures are of the natural size. The plant is the Stachytarpheta aristana.


  • Heliangelus mavors, Gould in Proc. of Zool. Soc. 1848, p. 12, Aves; pl. ii.
  • Mellisuga mavors, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. iti. App. p. 5, App. to p. 113.
  • Heliangelus mavors, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 76, Heliangelus, sp. 3.—Ib. Rev. et Mag. de Zool. 1854, p. 252.
  • Trochilus Mavors, Reichenb. Aufz. der Colibris, p. 12.

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