The Spectacled Parrotlet was one of the species that we did not expect to see during our trip, however I was lucky enough to observe a pair of them perched on a bamboo fence in Cali, when visiting the CRARSI. The female is really similar to the Orange-chinned Parrolet, except for not having the orange chin that defines that species. The male has a darker green coloration on the body overall, and sports a turquoise mask along with blue plumage under the wing. They are the smallest parrotlet species that exists in the world.
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The Slate-throated Whitestart is part of the Myioborus genus that includes also the Golden-fronted and Collared Whitestart or Redstart, as are called sometimes. It is a varied genus of warblers that are present in all of the American continent, in different species. In Costa Rica, the Slate-throated is also found along with the Collared species, although here they are called Redstarts instead. They forage very actively on the ground or low in the bushes, flashing their tail to frighten insects that are then caught in the air. Their upper parts and throat are dark grey, while their underparts are yellow in the south, and red on the northernmost part of their range. It also shows a dark red crown that’s difficult to see unless in good light.
The Silver-beaked Tanager is relatively big among tanagers, but has a streamlined body. Their beak is indeed silver, but the most striking feature of the species is the deep red colors of the feathers, which are lighter on the belly and darker on the throat and head. They are very active and move rapidly along the foliage as they search for fruit and insects. It can be seen on the picture below that the bird is in a position to take off the branch.
The Shining Sunbeam is a weird species that shows a dull cinnamon belly, throat and face, with a dark olive back and wings, which do have strong iridescence that can be hard to spot, but that is very peculiar with a purple to gold smooth transition. From all the hummingbirds observed at Termales del Ruiz, which is situated at 3,000 meters above sea level, this one was the smallest, but it was also relatively numerous; it is bigger than woodstars though. The bill is relatively shot and thin, being black for the most part. The vent is covered in white plumage.
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.
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.
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.
The Saffron Finch is pretty conspicuous, since it has a bright yellow coloration and forages on the ground in groups of three or more, making them easy to spot against the green grass. The adult has an orange patch on the front of the head. The juvenile is streaked on the back and wings, and have a lighter yellow coloration on the belly. They are often kept caged by people, and when free they frequent suburban areas and are very tolerant of human presence.
The Rufous-throated Tanager is very peculiar, with a mottled body all around, a pattern that is only broken by the black head and rufous throat. The pattern is composed of dark feathers with orange lining on the back and wings, and light yellow feathers with black spots of different shapes on the belly. In terms of body shape, it is very similar to the Silver-throated Tanager, which they shared the feeder at Doña Dora’s restaurant in Cali.
The Rufous-shafted Woodstar is a very small hummingbirds even when compared with other woodstars, like the Purple-throated. Their plumage is also less colorful, consisting of an olive green back, brown wings and cinnamon belly. The female has has olive green on the top of the head, a thin white line that stems from the eye, then a dark ear patch, and a white throat with a dark line on the center. The male has a glittering purple gorget and lacks the cinnamon belly, which is metallic green instead. Like all other woodstars, this species is very small and flies in a bee-like fashion, with swifter movements than larger hummingbirds.