Finely engraved Hummingbird print, with sublime hand-finishing from an important publication which is considered the first and most comprehensive works on hummingbirds until Gould's great monograph started appearing twenty years later.
Published in Paris around the year 1830, these copperplate engraved prints with hand-coloured finishing are based on the work by René Primevère Lesson (1794-1849), a naturalist and explorer who joined the 'La Coquille' expedition.
La Coquille, under the command of Louis Isidore Duperrey, circumnavigated the earth between 1822 and 1825. Lesson studied these birds in their natural habitat during this famous expedition and brought back to France an extensive collection of animals and plants collected on the Falkland Islands, on the coasts of Chile and Peru, in the archipelagos of the Pacific and New Zealand, New Guinea and Australia.
The well-executed plates from this publication were done by Prêtre and Bévalet, the best French natural history artists of the period.
Published by Arthus Bertrand, a Paris publisher who was active in the early 19th-century. Publication entitled: HISTOIRE NATURELLE DES COLIBRIS(our translation: NATURAL HISTORY OF THE HUMMINGBIRDS) Print title: Oiseau - Mouche Vieillot, Male Adulte.
A great find for those interested in early publications on these wonderful small birds. Very suitable for framing.
The Hummingbird Family
Hummingbirds comprise the family Trochilidae, among the smallest of birds, with most species measuring in the 7.5–13 cm range, with some weighing only 2,5 gram. They have long slender needlelike bills adapted for reaching deep into tubular flowers to extract nectar. The beat of their wings is so rapid, up to 55 times a second, that a "humming" sound is produced. They are the only bird species that can hover, fly backwards, or even upside down. The ability to hover allows the hummingbirds to sip the nectar of plants and flowers.
A hummingbird can't walk or hop, but can shuffle with its extremely short legs, which are not very strong. Hummingbirds have a variety of calls, chips, chatters and squeals to communicate with each other. Each species has its own "language" to alert other hummers or to challenge "invaders" of their feeding territories. Hummingbirds migrate in the spring, and again in the fall. The average life span is estimated by experts to be 3 - 5 years. Most deaths occur in the first year of life. The record age of a banded Ruby-Throated hummingbird is 6 years, 11 months.
Migration is always a challenge for hummingbirds, who must fly huge distances to live in an environment that is warm and has a plentiful food supply. Hummingbirds do not "pair up" as do many birds, but instead the male and female go their own way after mating is complete. The male will move on to other females. The female is left with the job of building the nest, incubating the eggs and raising the young birds.