Smaragdochrysis iridescens

Iridescent Humming-Bird

The virgin forests of the interior of Brazil

During the progress of the present monograph I have repeatedly had the pleasure of offering my thanks to Thomas Reeves, Esq., of Rio de Janeiro, for the liberal manner in which he placed at my disposal the novelties pertaining to this group of birds which have from time to time come into his possession.

This gentleman, who has resided in Rio for many years, has lost no opportunity of securing examples of every species that has been collected in that part of South America, which he has kindly forwarded to me for the furtherance of the present work. Of all these birds, none have been of greater interest to me than the one figured on the accompanying plate; and this interest has been much enhanced by the circumstance of the bird having been killed by Mr. Reeves himself during a visit to Novo Friburgo, a district skirting the virgin forests, about seventy miles from Rio. When he killed it, Mr. Reeves imagined it to be a curious variety of the Calliphlox amethystina; but this is not the case, for it differs so much from that species and all others, that I am even at a loss to know to what genus it is most nearly allied. For the present I have placed it near the Chlorostilbontes, as it more nearly resembles those birds in its style of colouring than any others; at the same time its delicate structure, diminutive wings, and deeply forked tail would lead to the conclusion that it is allied to the members of the genus Calliphlox. When additional examples have been procured and the female has become known to us, then, and then only, shall we be able to determine its proper situation.

The whole of the body, including the upper and under tail-coverts, iridescent pale green and light copperyred, most brilliant on the throat; the deeply forked tail steely dark brown, each feather tipped with a more bronzy or purplish hue, which is seen only in certain lights; upper mandible and the tip of the lower one black, the remainder of the latter apparently reddish flesh-colour.

Total length 3\(\frac{1}{4}\) inches; bill \(\frac{3}{4}\); wing 1\(\frac{9}{16}\), tail 1\(\frac{1}{4}\).

The figures are of the size of life. The plant is the Gesneria purpurea.


  • Calliphlox? iridescens, Gould in Proc. of Zool. Soc., part xxvii. p. 310.
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