Helianthea dichroura

Jelski’s Star-frontlet

This fine Humming-bird was discovered by Mr. Jelski, who has recently distinguished himself by his zoological discoveries in Peru, near Maraynioc in that country; and he proposed the name of dichroura for it, which was adopted by Dr. Taczanowski in his original description of the bird.

Mr. Elliot, who examined the types sent over by Dr. Taczanowski when they were in England, has published the following note on the species:—

Its principal difference from H. osculans is in the tail, where the bronze tips of that species are extended in the present bird for one third the length of the tailfeathers, forming a very conspicuous apical band; otherwise the birds are very much alike. Whether this mark is sufficient to constitute a specific difference, with my present knowledge of the bird (having only seen the three specimens sent over), I am unable to determine; but many species of the Trochilidæ have been established on much slighter grounds. It looks as if it might prove to be a geographical variety of H. osculans.

The following is a translation of Dr. Taczanowski’s original description of the species:—

The adult male has the head, throat, and breast of a shining green; the back coppery, darker and more intense on the wing-coverts; the belly and under tail-coverts are of a nankeen-yellow without any metallic reflection; the sides only are slightly tinged with metallic green; the anal region is pure white. At the lower part of the throat is found a fine oval spot of blue changing into glittering violet; the forehead is occupied by a triangular emerald spot, much more brilliant than the surrounding parts. The quills are brown with a violet reflection, the outer one being bordered by a fine edging of rufous; the tailfeathers are of a nankeen-yellow for their basal half, and coppery green for the terminal half, excepting the tivo centre feathers, which are of the latter colour throughout their entire length. Under wing-coverts coppery, the edge of the wing reddish.

The young bird differs from the adult in the complete absence of the brilliant spots on the throat and forehead; the coppery gloss on the back and wing-coverts is less strongly pronounced and less brilliant; the tips even of the lateral tail-feathers are of a greyish yellow.

The birds in change, which have already the jugular spot in all its brilliancy, do not possess a trace of a frontal spot, but the latter part is of the same colour as the head.

The figures in the Plate represent two males and a female, and are drawn from specimens sent to England for description by Dr. Taczanowski to Dr. Sclater, who very kindly allowed me to figure them in the present work.


  • Helianthea dichroura, Taczanowski, P. Z. S. 1874, p. 1388 (ex Jelski, MSS.).—Elliot, Ibis, 1874, p. 334.—Idem, Synopsis Trochil. p. 74.
  • Calligenia dichroura, Mulsant, Hist. Nat. Oiseaux-Mouches, tom. ii. p. 309.

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