Heliangelus micrastur

Ecuadorian Star-frontlet

I am inclined to agree with Mr. Elliot that it is better to place the present species in the genus Heliotrypha than in Heliangelus, to which I have assigned it in the present work, its strongly forked tail, and the absence of any white band on the breast, allying it more to the members of the former genus.

It has also been made the type of a distinct one, Helymus, by M. Mulsant; but, as Mr. Elliot well remarks, this was entirely unnecessary. I regret that my Plate was lettered before I could alter the generic name to Heliotrypha.

The genus Heliotrypha, therefore, as limited in Mr. Elliot’s Synopsis, consists of four species:—H. viola, from Ecuador, with the throat metallic purplish violet; H. exortis, from Ecuador and Colombia, with the throat metallic pinkish lilac; H. micrastur, from Ecuador, with the throat metallic flame-colour; and H. barrali, from Colombia, with a pale metallic olive-green throat.

The following is a copy of my original note on this species:—

I have in my collection two specimens of this new bird, one of which is much brighter and finer than the other. They were collected in the locality above mentioned, by one of Mr. Clarence Buckley’s hunters. In size this species is much smaller than any other member of this genus, even than Helangelus maxors. My specimens differ also from all of them in the absence of a white or buff band across the chest, in which respect they assimilate to H. Parzudaki [=exortes], but not in the forked tail and other respects. I think it probable they are somewhat immature, and that, beautiful as they are, fully adult examples will be still finer.

Bill black; on the forehead a band of glittering green; crown of the head, all the upper surface of the body, and the shoulders bronzy green; chest and flanks of the same hue, but rather brighter; centre of the abdomen mottled brown and green; on the throat an exceedingly lustrous spot of orange-scarlet, exceeding in brilliancy the colouring of the same part of any other member of this beautiful genus yet discovered; wings purplish brown; four central tail-feathers bronzy green, the remainder black; thighs brown; under tail-coverts white; feet dark brown, nearly black. Total length 3\(\frac{3}{4}\) inches, bill \(\frac{3}{4}\), wing 2\(\frac{1}{4}\), tail 2\(\frac{1}{8}\), tarsi \(\frac{1}{4}\).

Since the discovery of this bird by Mr. Buckley, it has been met with in the winter months by Mr. Stolzmann in Northern Peru, near Cutervo, at an elevation of from 9600 to 9800 feet above the sea-level.

Habitat. San Lucas, near Loxa, in Ecuador.

On the Plate are represented an adult and a young male, both of which were kindly lent me by Messrs. Salvin and Godman.


  • Heliangelus micraster, Gould, Ann. & Mag. Nat. Hist. (4) ix. p. 195 (1872).—Sel. & Salv. Nomenel. Av. Neotr. p. 89 (1873).
  • Helymus micrastur, Mulsant, Hist. Nat. Oiseaux-Mouches, ii. p. 93 (1876).
  • Heliotrypha micrastur, Elliot, Synopsis of the Humming-Birds, p. 88 (1878).—Taczanowski, Proc. Zool. Soe. 1880, p. 205.

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