Monday, December 26, 2016


I found this copy of H.G.Adams Humming Birds Described and Illustrated in an antiquarian bookshop many years ago. One of its hand-coloured steel engravings is missing but those that remain are exquisite. It was first published in 1856.

Henry Gardiner Adams (1811-1881) wrote several natural history books but not much seems to be known about him, other than that he was a chemist who eventually went bankrupt. 

The text describes the species illustrated but the best part of the book is a chapter written by C.W.Webber, who caught and bred hummingbirds in an effort to study their behaviour and diet. 

At that time there was a great deal of debate about whether these little birds could survive on nectar alone. Webber and his sister fed spiders to ruby-throated hummingbirds as well as nectar, demonstrating that their diet could be more varied than had been supposed.

You can download the whole book in a variety of formats by clicking here

Azure-crowned and White-eared

Double-crested and Violet-eared 

Tufted-necked and Delalande's 

Blue-throated and Amethyste 

Dupont's and Racket-tailed

Pigmy and Gigantic

Ruff-necked and Mango


  1. Replies
    1. It's a shame that so many of these books have been broken up and their prints used for framing, because the text is so interesting too

  2. Thank you for this, Phil. I've now got the book on my tablet. Sadly the character recognition scanner used for the Kindle version appears to have been somewhat lacking in capability, resulting in much gobbledygook.

    Have a great 2017 - - - Richard

    1. All the best for 2017 Richard. I've noticed that problem with some old scanned books that I have downloaded.


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