Leaving the genus Lesbia, then, we proceed to that of Cynanthus, and here we arrive at some of the most remarkable and the most beautiful of the Trochilide. Strictly confined to the great Andean mountains and the spurs which jut out as far as eastern Venezuela, these blue-tailed birds enjoy a range of habitat extending from the lands washed by the Caribbean Sea to Peru.
Those inhabiting the neighbourhood of Bogota appear to be divided into two or three local varieties or races; for they are not, in my opinion, sufficiently different to warrant us in regarding them as species. On the other hand, the Ecuadorian bird possesses characters which induced me to consider it distinct.
The variation observable among the Bogotan birds is principally in the colouring of the tail—some having the whole of the feathers blue, while others have the eight central ones tipped with beautiful green.
Habitat: New GranadaPlate 172 Cynanthus cyanurus Blue-tailed Sylph
A somewhat smaller and more delicate bird than the Cynanthus cyanurus occurs in Venezuela, having the whole of the body green, with the exception of a patch of blue on the throat; and the crown brilliant metallic green, without the superciliary stripe of black seen in that species: I refrain, however, for the present from characterizing it as distinct.
Cynanthus cœlestis (Gould)
This new Humming-Bird is considerably larger than the C. cyanurus; it also presents a marked difference in the colouring of the under-surface, which is uniform coppery brown, instead of green; in other respects the colouring is very similar to the specimens from Bogota, with green and blue tails. In no instance have I seen a specimen from Ecuador with an entirely blue tail, whereas they frequently occur among those sent from Bogota.
Habitat: Peru and BoliviaPlate 173 Cynanthus smaragdicaudus Green-tailed Sylph
Specimens of this species, like those of the C. cyanurus, are found to differ considerably; but as it is a bird of comparative rarity, we have seen too few examples to come to any positive conclusion as to whether these are referable to one or two species. The C. Mocoa may be regarded as the southern representative of the C. cyanurus. It frequents the forests of Bolivia and Peru, particularly those clothing the eastern slopes of the great Andean range.
Featuring all 422 illustrated species from John Gould’s A Monograph of the Trochilidæ, or Family of Humming-Birds arranged by color.