Oxypogon Guerini

Guerin’s Helmet-crest

New Granada; plentiful around Bogot

This fine species of Humming Bird is a native of the higher regions of the Columbian Andes, where, judging from the abundance in all the collections of specimens that are sent from Bogota, it must be very common: although it is not adorned, like many of the Humming Birds, with bright metallic colours, the beautiful lengthened crest and throat feathers render it a showy and conspicuous species.

Dissection alone can determine whether the crestless birds represented in the Plate are adult females or youthful birds; I think it likely that they will prove to be the latter. The middle figure on the upper part of the Plate represents I believe a young male of the year, but I should not be surprised if we hereafter learn that fully adult females possess a similar style of plumage; in all probability, however, the black feathers of the crest are always wanting in that sex.

The adult male may be thus described:—Head and chest brownish black, with a narrow line of white down the centre, joined on the forehead to two narrow lines of white, which proceed thence along either side of the base of the bill; on the centre of the throat is a similar lengthened tuft of white feathers, down the middle of which is a line of rich shining green; black of the head bounded on the sides and in front by a broad mark of buffy white; upper surface, wing-coverts and two central tail-feathers bronzy green, the latter with the basal two-thirds of their shafts white; lateral tail-feathers coppery bronze, with a stripe of white down the centre, which increases in extent as the feathers recede from the centre, until on the outer feather it becomes of a broad spatulate and incurved form; wings purplish brown; under surface light olive-brown, with bronzy reflexions on the flanks; under tail-coverts light olive-brown; bill and feet blackish brown.

Total length, 4\(\frac{1}{2}\) inches; bill, \(\frac{1}{2}\); wing, 2\(\frac{3}{4}\); tail, 2\(\frac{1}{4}\); tarsus, \(\frac{1}{4}\).

The birds which I consider to be females resemble the male in colour, but are altogether less brilliant, are much smaller in size, have the throat and crest feathers much less developed, and moreover have no black feathers in the crest.

Total length, 4 inches; bill, \(\frac{1}{2}\); wing, 2\(\frac{5}{8}\); tail, 2\(\frac{1}{8}\), tarsus, \(\frac{1}{4}\).

The young are similar, but smaller and less brilliant; they are also entirely devoid of the lengthened feathers of the head and throat, and have on the sides of the throat numerous spots of olive-brown, which nearly meet in the centre.

The figures are of the natural size; the two in the fore-ground engaged in one of those conflicts which so frequently occur with all the species of this family.


  • Ornismia Guerinii, Boiss. Rev. Zool. 1840, p. 7.
  • Trochilus parvirostris, Fras. Proc. of Zool. Soc., Part VIII. p. 18.
  • Ornismya Guerinii, Lodd. in Proc. of Zool. Soc., Part XI. p. 122.
  • Oxypogon Guerinii, Gould in Proc. of Zool. Soc., Part XVI. p. 14.
  • Mellisuga Guerinii, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, Mellisuga, sp. 30.
  • Warrior, of the dealers in specimens of natural history.

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