Humming Birds at the Brasils, with the nest on the Orange Tree
Artist: Forbes, James
Plate one from the first volume of James Forbes' 'Oriental Memoirs'. In 1765 Forbes(1749-1819)embarked on a journey to India when still a youth. The journey took him through Brazil with the ship being anchored at Rio de Janeiro for three months. He was struck by the grandeur of the mountains, the mildness of the climate and the 'variety of trees and plants, the profusion of fruits and flowers, and the brilliancy of the birds and insects. Forbes wrote: 'it afforded an ample scope for my earliest attempts of natural history...The beauty and variety of birds on the coast of Brazil are astonishing...The humming-bird, the smallest and most lovely of the feathered race, buzzed like the bee, while sipping the nectarious dew from the blossoms and flowers. Nothing can exceed the delicacy of these little beauties, especially of that, which from its minuteness, is called the Fly-bird; its bill and legs are not thicker than a pin; its head tufted with glossy jet, varies with every motion into shades of green and purple; the breast is of a bright flame colour; every feather, when viewed through a microscope, appears as if fringed with silver and spotted with gold.'