Helianthea Eos

Golden Star-frontlet

Paramos da los Conejos, near Merida in Columbia

The South American travellers Linden, Funck and Schlim will have their names handed down to posterity quite as much for having collected the first specimens of some of the finest species of the Trochilidæ, as for their discoveries of the beautiful Orchids and other Andean groups of plants, which they have from time to time transmitted to Europe.

The lovely Humming Bird here represented is one of the many novelties which rewarded the researches of those gentlemen during their rambles in New Grenada: it was transmitted to me direct in 1848, when I gave it the name of Eos, a specific appellation suggested by the transcendently rich golden hue which pervades the whole of the plumage. In size and structure this fine species very closely assimilates to the H. Bonaparti, but may be at once distinguished by the glittering golden hue of the under surface, extending on to the chest and neck; by the deep rufous colouring of the secondaries, and by the rufous colouring of the tail. In a letter received from Mr. Linden, that gentleman states, that Messrs. Funck and Schlim found this bird in the Paramos de los Conejos, near Merida, at an elevation of from 8000 to 10,000 feet; further than this, I regret to say, nothing is known respecting it. It doubtless represents, in the fine country above mentioned, the beautiful H. Bonaparti of Bogota.

The female differs considerably from the male, in not being adorned with half his brilliancy of colouring; in size and conformation, however, they differ much less than the sexes of many other species.

The male has a spot of luminous metallic green on the forehead; lores, crown of the head and occiput velvety black; fore part of the neck and chest lustrous golden green, blending on the chest into the rich shining flame-colour of the abdomen; on the centre of the throat a patch of rich deep purplish blue; back, wing- and upper tail-coverts bronzy orange; tail cinnamon-brown, the apical half of the two middle tailfeathers and the tips of the remainder with a bronzy lustre; primaries chocolate-brown; secondaries rufous, forming a conspicuous mark on the wing; bill black; feet light brown.

The female is similar in colour, but her hues are much less resplendent, and she is entirely destitute of the spot of green on the forehead and the patch of blue on the throat.

The figures represent two males and a female of the natural size. The plant is the Cantua bicolor.


  • Helianthea Eos, Gould in Proe. of Zool. Soc. 1848, p. 11, Aves, pl. 1.
  • Mellisuga eos, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. iii. App. p. 5, App. to p. 118.
  • Helianthea eos, Bonap. Consp. Gen- Av., p. 75, Helianthea, sp. 5.—Ib. Rev. et Mag. de Zool 1854, p. 251.
  • Hypochrysia Eos, Reichenb. Aufz. der Colibris, p. 9.

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