Not less beautiful in the colouring of their gorgets are the members of the genus Doricha. The D. Elizæ, the Guatemalan bird known as enicura, and the less-known Bahama species D. Evelynæ are all associated by me in this genus; and if the plates on which they are respectively figured be referred to, it will be seen how beautiful are the throat-markings of the males.
Habitat: Southern MexicoPlate 155 Thaumastura Elizæ Mexican Shear-tail
“This,” says M. Montes de Oca, “is one of the rarest of the Mexican Humming-Birds. It is small, very beautiful, and flies with wonderful rapidity, moving its wings with such velocity that it is almost impossible to see them; and it might easily be mistaken for a large bee, from the buzzing sound produced by their incessant motion. In the vicinity of Jalapa it is called Mirto de Colo de tisera, or the spear-tailed Myrtle-sucker. It is very shy, and differs in its habits and manners from all other species. It is onthe wing very early in the morning; and I have never seen any of the few specimens that have come under my observation between the hours of seven or eight o’clock a.m. and five p.m., when they are again to be met with until dusk. When it has once been detected feeding at any particular spot, it is almost sure to be found there at the same hour for several days in succession. It feeds on the Masapan and Tobaco flowers, preferring, I think, the latter. It is also found and breeds at the Barrancas de Jico (or the Precipices of Jico), about twenty miles from Jalapa. The nest, which is very small, round, flat at the bottom, and neither so deep nor so thick at the base as those of most Humming-Birds, is covered on the outside with moss from stones, and lined with éule, or cat-tail silky floss.”
Habitat: Bahama IslandsPlate 156 Thaumastura Evelynæ / Calothorax Evelynæ Bahama Wood-star
Habitat: GuatemalaPlate 157 Thaumastura enicura Slender Shear-tail
“On no occasion,” says Mr. Salvin, “ were the males of this species observed about Duefias during the months of February and March; indeed it was not until the month of May that both males and females were seen together, at which time the Nopal of the cochineal plantations being in full flower, great numbers of Fiano nade especially of this species, were in the habit of feeding from the blossoms of that cactus. The females during the winter months are common enough, and frequent the same places, and feed principally on the same trees as the Cyanomyia cyanocephala.’’—Ibis, vol. i. p. 129.
“Occasionally, when flying, the elongated tail-feathers are stretched to a considerable angle,”—Ibis, vol. ii. p. 40.
Speaking of three nests of this species Mr. Salvin says:—“One of these was in a coffee-tree, and had two eggs. The other was most curiously placed in the cup-shaped top of a fruit of the Nopal (Cactus cochinellifer): the fastenings being dexterously wound round the clustering prickles, and thus retaining the whole structure most firmly in its place. This nest was remarkably shallow; so much so that, if it had not contained its two eggs, I should have pronounced it far from complete. It may be that, being based on a firm foundation (one not nearly so liable to oscillation by the wind), the bird had found that a greater depth was not necessary to keep the eggs from falling out. Had she placed her nest on a slender twig, as seems to be usual, the case might have been different. The third nest had young. It was placed in the upper shoots of a Dahlia at the further end of the courtyard. The hen seemed to have the entire duty of rearing the young; for I never once saw the male near the place; in fact, I never saw a male inside the courtyard. When sitting she would sometimes allow me to go close to her, and even hold the branch still when it was swaying to and fro by the wind, without evincing the slightest alarm. But it was only when a hot sun was shining that she would allow me to do this; when it was dull or raining, four or five yards was the nearest I could approach. Frequently when I had disturbed her, I would sit down close at hand and wait for her return, and I always noticed that, after flyig past once or twice overhead, she would bring a small piece of lichen, which, after she had settled herself comfortably in her nest, she would attach to the outside. All this was done with such a confident and fearless air, that she seemed to intimate, ‘I left my nest purely to seek for this piece of lichen, and not because I was afraid of you.’ When sitting upon her nest, the whole cavity was quite filled by her puffed-out feathers, the wings, with the exception of their tips, being entirely concealed by the feathers of the back. When the young were first hatched, they looked little, black, shapeless things, with long necks and hardly any beak. They soon, however, grew, and entirely filled the nest. I never saw the old bird sitting after the young had emerged from the eggs: she seemed to leave them alike in sun and rain. When feeding them she would stand upon the edge of the nest with her body very upright. The first of these young ones flew on October 15. It was standing on the side of the nest as I happened to approach, when it immediately flew off, but fell among the flowers below. I placed it in the nest, but a moment after it was off again, nothing daunted by its first failure—this second time with better success, for it flew over a wall close by and settled on a tree on the other side. In the evening I saw the old one feeding it, and went up to the tree; but it started off with increased vigour to an orange-tree, and tried at first to rest on one of the fruit, but failing, found a more appropriate perch on the edge of a leaf. I never saw it afterwards. The other young one flew two days later.
“The seeds of the willow and bulrush are favourite materials for the interior structure of the nest, while lichen is freely used outside.”—Ibis, vol. ii. p. 264.
Featuring all 422 illustrated species from John Gould’s A Monograph of the Trochilidæ, or Family of Humming-Birds arranged by color.