Heliodoxa jacula

Green-crowned Brilliant

New Granada

In vain have I laboured to represent in the accompanying illustration the gorgeous metallic lustre pervading nearly the whole of the plumage of this wonderful bird, which, when flying, must present the appearance of a moving mass of brilliant light, almost too dazzling for the eye to dwell upon; so resplendent, indeed, is it, that no art can depict or description convey its true portraiture.

The entire crown and all the under surface are alike luminous, but the green colouring of those parts is relieved by a throat-mark of equally luminous blue; while the dull green, tinged with rust-red, of the remainder of the plumage serves as a contrast, and to show off those parts which are metallic. In form this bird is as graceful as its colouring is brilliant; its bill is moderately long, and well proportioned when compared with the body; the wing is rather ample, and the tail long and forked.

The native country of this fine bird is the Columbian Andes, specimens having been received from Santa Fé de Bogota and Popayan; in all probability its range extends to Ecuador. It is by no means a common species, and its discovery is of very recent occurrence.

The upper figure in the accompanying Plate represents a bird which I believe to be a female of this species; this, however, is somewhat uncertain; but I am confident that the females of H. jacula and H. Leadbeateri are very similar, and that the bird I have figured is the female of one or the other.

The male has the crown of the head, breast and abdomen resplendent metallic green; in the centre of the throat a crescentic mark of metallic blue; the metallic green of the crown running to a point towards the occiput; back of the neck, back, and upper wing-coverts bronzy green; under wing-coverts and flanks grass-green; wings purplish brown; upper tail-coverts purplish brown with green reflexions; under tailcoverts dark brown with green reflexions; tail considerably forked and of a bluish black; thighs and tarsi white; feet blackish brown; bill black.

The female has the crown of the head and upper surface green; throat shining metallic green, the white bases of the feathers showing through and giving the throat a speckled appearance; tail bluish black, tipped with white; in some specimens the lores are buff, and a line of the same hue extends beneath the eye; thighs white; under tail-coverts dull green; bill black.

The figures are of the natural size. The beautiful Orchid is the Cattleya maxima, partly taken from Curtis’s “Botanical Magazine,” a work replete with interest, both for the accuracy of the drawings and the scientific character of the letterpress.


  • Heliodoxa jacula, Gould in Proce. of Zool. Soc., part xvi. 1849, p. 96.
  • Leadbeatera jacula, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 70, Leadbeatera, sp. 1.—Ib. Rev. et Mag. de Zool. 1854, p. 251.—Reichenb. Aufz. der Col., p. 7.

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