Heliothrix pahaïnolæma

Green-throated Fairy

The banks of the Upper Rio Negro

This is one of the most beautiful, and certainly the rarest species of the genus Heliothrix, a group distinguished by the wedge-shaped form of their bill, their lengthened wings, small feet, and delicate style of colouring.

Its nearest ally is the H. auriculatus, from which, however, it is distinguished by the whole of the throat being of a resplendent metallic green. The localities inhabited by the two birds are widely different, the H. auriculatus being found in Southern Brazil, while the H. phaïnolæma frequents the distant country of the Upper Rio Negro, the district in which the splendid Topaza pyra is also found, together with many other fine species of which at present but little is known, owing to the difficulty of access to this terra incognita.

The male has the head, upper surface, upper tail-coverts, upper and under wing-coverts rich golden green, very brilliant on the head; wings purplish black; four central tail-feathers bluish black; lateral tailfeathers snowy white; below and behind the eye a lengthened mark of black, terminating in a violet-blue tuft; chin, throat, and sides of the neck rich luminous green; breast and under surface pure white; bill black; feet flesh-colour.

The female is very similar, but wants the blue ear-tufts and green neck-stripe, the absence of which causes the black ear-coverts to show very conspicuously; a purplish band crosses the lateral tail-feathers near their base.

The figures are of the natural size. The plant is a variety of the Tillandsia bulbosa.


  • Heliothrix phaïnolema, Gould in Proc. of Zool. Soc., part xxiii. p. 87.

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