The Vermilion Flycatcher is very small when compared with most Flycatchers found in Costa Rica, however it might easily be the most beautiful. Its deep red body is refreshing to see, since Costa Rican species are mostly yellow instead. The body plan is pretty similar to a Great Kiskadee or Social Flycatcher, just a lot smaller and plumper body. The back is dark grey and the red crest is sometimes raised. They are relatively shy but very active, particularly in the morning where they ca be seen catching insects and returning to the same perch in a typical flycatcher fasion. This species is found in Mexico and southamerica, but there have been reports in Costa Rica’s frontier with Panama, meaning we could be seeing it close by in the next years.
The Velvet-purple Coronet was one of the most impressing hummingbirds we saw in Colombia. Its plumage is strongly iridescent all around the body, showing marvelous different hues with each movement. At one time it would look almost entirely black, then it flashed green and olive tones on the upper wing and shoulder, along with brown feather tips on the back and head. The head, throat and belly would look almost entirely black, until it turned the head towards me and flashed deep blue and purple colors, with turquoise flanks. White feathers cover the legs and the tail underside. So much change is almost unbelievable until you see it with your own eyes or camera lens, whichever is faster. To top if off, after perching it would hold the wings open for a brief moment, showing a chestnut coloration on the underside of the wings.
Euphonias are among the most difficult species to identify, particularly the females since most of them are equally alike with olive coloration and not a single field mark. When they travel in pairs it is easier, since once the male is identified, one can assume the species of the female relatively safely. In this species, the male is identified by having a yellow forehead that extends back to the nape, and showing a blue/black mask and throat. The upperparts are also blue-black depending on the light, while the chest and belly are bright yellow.
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.
Metallura is a genus that contains nine species, all of them inhabiting different ranges in the Andes mountains. They are small and vary in coloration of the plumage. The Tyrian Metaltail is green overall, showing a white postocular spot, and white plumage on the belly and vent that gives it a scaled pattern on the underparts. The gorget is metallic green, however it is not seen from every angle due to iridescence. We saw one individual in Rio Blanco Natural Reserve, perched on a small ornamental plant, most probably resting after a full nectar meal.
The Tourmaline Sunangel forms part of the Heliangelus genus of hummingbirds, consisting of ten species that are only found in South America. The Tourmaline is by the most part green, with a purple gorget that brightens up on sunlight. They are small in size and have a thin dark bill. It shows some white on the vent and in the postocular spot. In good light, this hummingbird displays a purple-like gorget that looks metallic.
The Toucan Barbet is a species very similar to the Prong-billed Barbet in terms of shape and size, however it is way more colorful. It has a deep red eye on a black mask and front head. The bill is pale with colors ranging from yellowish to light blue, and a black tip in the upper mandible. The throat and cheeks are gray. The chest and belly are red, while the back and flanks are dull orange. The wings and the tail are dark with some orange tones. In terms of behavior, we saw this species approach the feeders in groups up to three individuals, although a single individual came alone sometimes. They move display slow movements characteristic of the toucan family, moving the head from one side to another, and then jumping out in bursts of activity.
The Torrent Duck is very special and one of the highlights of our trip to Colombia. They are only found living in the high courses of rapid flowing streams, with lots of rocks that serve as anchorage and resting places for them; most other ducks prefer calm waters and lakes to spend their time. This duck chooses a spot downstream for resting during the night, and at the morning it swims upstream against the strong current, until it finds a preferred feeding area. It then begins a cycle: Either the male or female mount guard from a comfortable rock, while the other feeds in a small pool or river region that has light current. When the food is gone, they both jump to the current and get dragged downstream until they reach the next feeding area, where again one of them mounts guard while the other one feeds. This is very unique behavior, one we could observe from very close at Yarumo Blanco SFF.
The Streaked Xenops is part of the woodcreeper family, better known for their characteristic behavior: Their perch on vertical branches or tree trunks, holding themselves tight with their claws, and then start to climb while going in circles around the branch, probing with their bill for worms and insects that may hide in their crevices. It has very dull coloration, showing dark brown upperparts and light brown underparts with buffy streaking in the chest and belly. The bill is short and slightly curved up, with the lower mandible being pale from the base to half its length.
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.