Endangered Hummingbird Illustration Highlights The Delicateness Of Biodiversity

One of 10 award-winning science visualizations from the 2015 Vizzies
Both the birds and the tree in this illustration are nearing extinction. [Read more] Juan Luis Castillo

A mountainous, dolphin-shaped island–just 15 miles across and nearly 400 miles from the coast of central Chile–is the only home of the Juan Fernández firecrown, a critically endangered hummingbird. Juan Luis Castillo, a botanical illustrator based in Madrid, chose to depict an “ordinary moment,” in which a cinnamon male hummingbird and an emerald female hummingbird feed off the nectar of the cabbage tree. The cabbage tree is another endangered species, and its range is limited to the same archipelago. Peter Hodum, a conservation biologist at the University of Puget Sound, says the firecrown has already lost more than 80 percent of its native forest habitat. He thinks the illustration emphasizes the delicate nature of island biodiversity that, if lost, “we’ll never be able to recover.”

“Juan Fernández Firecrown, Cabbage Tree” won an Honorable Mention for Illustration at the 2015 Vizzies. See all 10 of the winners here.

This article was originally published in the March 2015 issue of Popular Science, under the title “The 2015 Vizzies.”