Long-Tailed Sylph

A Vibrant Gift

The universe must have been reading my mind when my next client hired me. Only two weeks prior, I came across a photo of a Long-Tailed Sylph that immediately made my “must draw” list. Now I had the perfect reason to get this one on paper asap! She wanted to surprise her husband with a custom bird drawing that was “colourful, little, green, and flying” for his upcoming birthday. After showing her a couple of hummingbird options, I was thrilled she picked this species!

I took a moment to contemplate the symbolic meaning of what she was trying to express. This is my favourite part of creating art, it is hearing my client’s story and portraying that on paper. To represent her husband, we had chosen the male bird as the focus and positioned him facing right to represent looking into the future. I find right-facing portraits more energetically active, whereas left-facing portraits more reflective. To symbolize their sweet, strong, and vibrant marriage, we picked a bright cascade of Indian Clock Vine.

About Long-Tailed Sylphs

Long-tailed sylphs live in the higher elevations of the forest edges of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Columbia, and Venezuela. When in search of food, they will move up and down the mountain slopes based on the availability of nectar and insects, becoming more territorial during mating season. For mating, the females are attracted to males with longer tail-feathers because it shows their strength. To attract the females, the males will fly in a U-shaped pattern to further show off his gleaming ribbon-like tails. In terms of their population, BirdLife International noted that they are abundant but in decline due to habitat loss caused by agriculture and mining. My hope is that their numbers remain abundant because they are a gift and an inspiration to those who are lucky enough to know them.


Materials used: Faber-Castell Polychromos on Strathmore Bristol Vellum 100lb paper (14x11 inches)

This illustration has been SOLD. Please contact me for commissions if you are interested, or please visit my wildlife gallery. Thank you!

This illustration has been SOLD. Please contact me for commissions if you are interested, or please visit my wildlife gallery. Thank you!

Mel Unger