Petasophora iolata

Bolivian Violet-Ear

Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia

Although the colouring of this species is precisely similar to that of P. Anais, I have always regarded it as distinct, and in confirmation of this view, I may state that it is of much larger size, that it has a longer and more curved form of bill, and that it moreover inhabits a different country.

It is true that the two species inosculate in Peru, but the true habitat and breeding place of the present bird is Bolivia, whence it extends southward to the confines of Chili and eastward to Chuquesaca, from which latter district I have received numerous examples both of the bird and its nest. Mr. Bonelli informs me that it arrives there in September and October, and is then very common in the valleys among the fields of maize; after breeding and rearing its young, it migrates to the more congenial country of Peru, and there remains during the months of winter.

In the southern countries above mentioned the P. Iolata forms a beautiful representative of the P. Anais, of the comparatively northern provinces of Columbia and the Caraccas. Should it be considered that I have drawn too nice a distinction in describing this bird as distinct, it must be admitted, that it is a very well marked race, and well worthy of being figured.

The sexes exhibit the same difference of size, and the same similarity of colouring, that is observable in P. Anais; like that species, too, it is said to be of a most pugnacious disposition.

Head, all the upper surface, wing-coverts and flanks rich shining green, glossed in some specimens with gold; wings purplish brown; tail deep bluish green, crossed near the tip with a broad chalybeate band, the two central feathers tinged with golden, and the tips of all shining green; chin, line under the eye, earcoverts and centre of the abdomen, rich shining purplish blue; throat and breast luminous green, presenting a tessellated appearance, occasioned by the reflection from the webs throwing a darker hue on the centre of each feather; under tail-coverts grey, washed on the centre with green; bill black; feet blackish brown.

The Plate represents two males and a female of the natural size. The plant is the Vriesta glaucophylla.


  • Petasophora iolata, Gould in Proc. of Zool. Soc., Part xv. p. 9.
  • Polytmus iolatus, Gray and Mitch. Gen. of Birds, vol. i. p. 108, Polytmus, sp. 28.
  • Colibri jolata, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av., p. 69, Colibri, sp. 4.

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