Genus Aglæactis Gould

Generic characters.

Male.Bill rather short, depressed at the base, and straight; wings long and powerful; primaries, particularly the outer one, sickle-shaped; tail moderately large, and slightly forked when closed; tarsi partially clothed; feet strong and powerful; hind toe and nail longer than the middle toe and nail; breast ornamented with a tuft of lengthened plumes; back luminous when viewed from behind.

The birds for which I instituted the above genus have always greatly interested me. They are of large size, have very ample wings, and are distinguished from all other Humming-Birds by their luminous backs, of which the rich and glittering hues are only perceptible when viewed from behind, or reversely to the direction of the feathers— contrary to the law which regulates the disposition of the colouring in all the other genera, except in Celigena, where it is slightly apparent. All the species are natives of the Andes, over which they roam from the northern part of New Granada to Bolivia. The latter country is the cradle of the Aglæactis Castelnaudi and the richly coloured A. Pamela. These extraordinary birds, to which I have given the trivial name of Sunbeams, are among the most wonderful of the Trochilidæ.


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Featuring all 422 illustrated species from John Gould’s A Monograph of the Trochilidæ, or Family of Humming-Birds arranged by color.