From scarlet to dusty gold,
to yellow flames,
to the rare
to the orange and black velvet
of our girdle gilded by sunflowers,
to the sketch
little supreme being,
you are a miracle,
Pablo Neruda - Ode to a Hummingbird [w]
French physician and naturalist René Primevère Lesson (1794-1849) enlisted and served in the navy during the Napoleonic wars. In the 1820s he sailed around the world aboard La Coquille with a scientific expedition headed by Louis-Isadore Duperrey.
Chief among Lesson's duties during the voyage was collecting zoological specimens that served as the basis for a number of well regarded monographs. He is best remembered for the books he released on some of the most beautiful birds in the world: hummingbirds from the Americas and birds of paradise from New Guinea.
Notes on the Trochilidae family from the Internet Bird Collection:
- Small to tiny fast-flying birds, with extensively iridescent plumage, many with strikingly coloured gorget or crest; thin bill extremely variable, from short to extremely long, from straight to sharply curved; feet tiny.
- New World, mainly Neotropical.
- Wide variety of habitats, wherever suitable food plants occur, from sea-level up to c. 5000 m, with greatest diversity in submontane zone.
- 102 genera, 329 species, 684 taxa.
- 29 species threatened; 1 definitely extinct since 1600.