Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes Cyaneus)

The moment I saw this bird for the first time, I knew it would become my favorite. It is fairly small, yet the blue body and red legs of the male just pop out in their normal habitat, which is fairly green. The female is more difficult to spot, since most of the body is dark green, and the legs are dull red, even brownish. And there is more, because the juvenile male starts with the same green color as the female, however as it matures it gets the blue body and bright red legs. After the breeding season, the male again turns green, but keeps the red legs. This means that males can also be seen in various molting stages, with patches of green, blue and black all over the body.

Note that while the Red-legged Honeycreeper is in the Tanager family, its body shape is slimmer and is in general smaller than the Tanagers. The closest one in size is the Plain-colored Tanager, however the body shape is entirely different, with shorter bill and fluffier plumage. In Costa Rica, there are two other Honeycreeper species, the Shining Honeycreeper (which belongs to the same Cyanerpes genus) with its yellow legs, and the Green Honeycreeper (which belongs to the Chlorosphanes genus), with a green body.

red-legged honeycreeper, male - cyanerpes cyaneus - mielerito patirrojo, macho (2)

The legs look almost pink in this frame. Only males have bright red legs

red-legged honeycreeper, male - cyanerpes cyaneus - mielerito patirrojo, macho (5)

The blue-purple color of the male stands out against light green and brown backgrounds in the forest

red-legged honeycreeper, male - cyanerpes cyaneus - mielerito patirrojo, macho (6)

The light blue crown can be seen from the top on this picture

red-legged honeycreeper, male - cyanerpes cyaneus - mielerito patirrojo, macho (10)

There is a lot of contrast with the bright red legs, deep blue body and black nape, mask and wings

red-legged honeycreeper, male - cyanerpes cyaneus - mielerito patirrojo, macho (9)

Their bill is slightly downcurved and thin, helping them to grab nectar from suitable flowers, albeit not on the flight like hummingbirds do

red-legged honeycreeper, male - cyanerpes cyaneus - mielerito patirrojo, macho (8)

In this pose the honeycreeper is ready to fly away

Red-legged Honeycreeper, Male - Cyanerpes cyaneus - Mielerito Patirrojo, Macho (7)

The male Red-legged Honeycreeper colors always amaze me. It is one of the most beautiful small birds I have seen

2 thoughts on “Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes Cyaneus)

  1. Pingback: Green Honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza) | Chris Photography

  2. Pingback: Shining Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes lucidus) | Chris Photography

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