Black-capped Tanager (Tangara heinei)

The Black-capped Tanager is a member of the Tangara genus, and as such it is pretty similar in size and shape to other members of this genus that we spotted in Colombia, like the Golden Tanager and the Saffron-crowned Tanager. The adult male has a distinctive blueish plumage, darker on the wings, with a black cap and turquoise throat; the juvenile is similar but with overall duller colors and the head and throat colors not well defined. The female has greenish plumage instead and lacks the black cap. For all the Tangara species we saw at Finca Alejandría, this and the Scrub Tanager were the rarest ones.

Steely-vented Hummingbird (Amazilia saucerrottei)

The Steely-vented Hummingbird belongs to the Amazilia genus, which contains a lot of similar hummingbird species like the Rufous-tailed and the Andean Emerald. They are all very similar in terms of body shape and size, but differ in their coloration and some of them in their habitat and behavior. It has a metallic green body with blue wings and tail, and shows yellow to magenta feathers on the rump. Their bill is thin and straight, and it has white feathers covering its legs. Like the Rufous-tailed, it is very aggressive and territorial.

Scrub Tanager (Tangara vitriolina)

Although it bears some similarity with the Golden-naped and the Black-capped Tanagers, we did not see many Scrub Tanagers during our visit to Finca Alejandría. I just saw this individual as it approached one of the feeders and stayed long enough at the perch for me to snap one picture. They have a gray body with blueish wings, a black mask and its rust colored cap. The species seems to be very shy of people, as the bird did not actually come to the feeder and stayed at a safe distance on the branch. This may be due to its preference to live in bushy areas.

Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager (Anisognathus igniventris)

Don’t get confused by the name, this is not the Scarlet Tanager, which incidentally has very bright red colors. The Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager is just unbelievably handsome. It has a dark body which can look blueish under the right light. The belly is a deep scarlet color, although some subspecies may show different shades of this red. It also has a red patch on the ear, and two blue patches, one in the shoulder and the other on the rump. Just as its name, it is a very elegant bird, specially when set against a contrasting green background. It shares the same genus with the Blue-winged and the Lachrymose Mountain-Tanagers, however I really find this species to be pinnacle of beauty. We saw them at about 3,000 meters above sea level, during our visit to Termales del Ruiz.

Saffron-crowned Tanager (Tangara xanthocephala)

The Saffron-crowned Tanager is very confusing, since its plumage coloration can change a lot depending on the prevailing light. One thing that not changes and that really identifies this species is the yellow head with black mask. The body is either turquoise with green patches, or light green with turquoise patches. Whichever the color seen, it has a spotted appearance on the back and black wing feathers with turquoise/green linings. The belly and vent are white. In terms of body shape, it is very similar to the Gold Tanager, but with a very different coloration; this made them unmistakable even though they often shared the same feeder at Finca Alejandría.

Red-headed Barbet (Eubucco bourcierii)

This bird is a beauty, one that we can find in some spots around Costa Rica like Cinchona and Braulio Carrillo. I first met it during this trip to Colombia in Finca Alejandría, where a pair of this species would come and go from the feeders frequently. It is bigger than most tanagers, however it is rather small when compared with how I imagined it. It is the sole species of the Eubucco genus that is found in Costa Rica, with Colombia also hosting the Lemon-throated Barbet. They are related to the toucans, and as such they eat a lot of fruit, however they do not share the Toucan’s behavior of raiding other birds’ nests for eggs and hatchlings. The male and female only share the green body and yellowish beak, with the male having a red face with a white ring separating it from the back, a belly that transitions from deep orange to yellow as it goes down, and flanks that are streaked green and light yellow. On the other hand, the female features a black face with light blue cheeks, orange half hood and patch on the chest, light yellow belly and again streaked flanks in green and light yellow.

Purplish-mantled Tanager (Iridosornis porphyrocephalus)

The Purplish-mantled Tanager was a great sight as we traveled down the trail at Tatama National Park. We were in search of the Gold-ringed Tanager, an endemic specialty of the zone, however this tanager also surprised us a few times with its presence. Its body is blue, with a heavier tone on the face, chest and head, and has a bright yellow-orange throat that creates a lot of contrast. The bill is short but wide. Its diet is mainly composed of insects, however it also eats some of the berries found on the mossy forest that covers the medium elevations of Pereira. They inhabit the cloud forests of the Andes and forage at a relatively low height. They move very rapidly from branch to branch.

Masked Flowerpiercer (Diglossa cyanea)

The Flowerpiercers are small birds in the Tanager family that have the upper tip of the bill curved down, allowing them to pierce flowers from the base and drink their nectar, hence their name. Their very short bill do not allow them to drink nectar like a hummingbird does, by inserting the bill into the flower, so they do not pollinate flowers. Instead, they used their bill to open up a hole at the bottom of the flower, and drink the nectar that dips from it. Both the Masked and the Black Flowerpiercer have a similar shape and size, however their colors are pretty different. The black mask with bright red eye of this species is unmistakable.

Lachrymose Mountain-Tanager (Anisognathus lacrymosus)

The Lachrymose Mountain-Tanager bears some resemblance to the Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, however they differ in a key feature: The Lachrymose has blue upperparts, and that includes the back, wings, tail and nape, while the Blue-winged has black upperparts. Also the yellow underside aren’t as bright on the Lachrymose on the subspecies that we observed at Termales del Ruiz, which is above 3,000 meters over sea level. Other subspecies range from yellow to deep orange underparts. Their diet is mainly composed of berries and fruits, although some insects do form part of it.

Golden-naped Tanager (Tangara ruficervix)

The Golden-naped Tanager is a very conspicuous bird. Its turquoise body stands out from the crowd at Finca Alejandría, where we spent a lot of time photographing hummingbirds and tanagers as they came to the feeders. A violet band is sandwiched inside the black head, and hints of violet can be seen at the lower back of the head. The belly and flanks are white to tawny. But the most distinctive feature of this bird is the golden nape, which gives this species its name. It is sometimes raised like a crest.