Stripe-tailed Hummingbirds are distinguished from other hummingbirds by its rufous wing patch, although that characteristic is shared with the Blue-tailed (rare in Costa Rica) and Black-bellied Hummingbirds. It has a white vent and tail underside, along with the outer two feathers of the tail being white on the upperside. The male shows a dark blue patch on the throat which continues until the chest. During flight, the wings look almost entirely rufous, with only a lining of green feathers on the shoulders. The female has a white throat and chest. Both sexes resemble the Coppery-headed Emerald, although the latter is smaller.
Bellbirds are very unique birds, not easily confused with any other bird species in Costa Rica. As the name implies, the male has three protuberances on the faced called “wattles”, which by itself puts them in a category of their own. The head and throat are white, with a chestnut body, a color combination that is unlike every other bird in the country. The female is olive, with yellowish underparts that have red stripes; it could be confused with a Flycatcher, however it is a log bigger in size than the Boat-billed Flycatcher. Bellbirds in Costa Rica display altitudinal migration patterns and hence can be seen in coastal areas like Golfito, and mountainous areas like San Ramon. Males are found actively calling during the breeding season, which starts on March and ends by July. Juveniles resemble the females, but would try to sing with varied degrees of success, as they learn from their parents the delicate art.
The White-line Tanager has strong dymorphism, with the male being black with a small white line on the shoulder, and the female being entirely rufous. They normally forage in pairs, which helps in identifying them. Males can look very much like Scarlet-rumped Tanagers when the rump is not visible, but the bill is gray instead of blueish. The female is also similar to the Scarlet-rumped, however it has no marks and a black bill. They also approach fruit feeders but are more wary than Scarlet-rumped preferring to forage in the dense vegetation.
The Coppery-headed Emerald is one of the few species of birds that are true endemics of Costa Rica, meaning only found in this country. The male is mostly green, with the copper hues on the head that can only be seen in the appropriate light and angle. The female has grey underparts and lacks the copper colors on the head. Both have a black downcurved bill, which help with identification versus similar species like the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, with which it shares the brownish-red rump. They are one of the tiniest species of hummingbirds in Costa Rica. They are seen in the mid to high elevations, in places where there is high humidity, but specially in the Cinchona and Vara Blanca zone.
The Crowned Woodnymph is a medium sized hummingbird with a violet belly and glittering green throat, along with different shades of blue and green on the back. The female has white underparts and throat instead, with golden patches along the neck and head; the rest of the body is green like the male. They are mid sized among Costa Rican hummingbirds and might resemble a little bit the Violet-bellied Hummingbird that is found in Colombia. They inhabit low tropical rain forest locations like Braulio Carrillo and Bosque Eterno de los Niños, where they feed from the nectar of a variety of flowers, including Porter Weed.
The Violet Sabrewing is one of the largest hummingbirds to be seen in Costa Rica; whenever these hummingbirds perched on the delicate branches, their weight and speed would made them swing very fast. This species has a fairly down curved bill. Most of the male’s body is deep, glittering violet, although some parts have a bluer hue. The underside of the tail feathers is white, while the wings are brown, with green-blue feathers on the shoulder. The female is drab in coloration, with gray underparts showing green and yellow sports, and green-yellow iridescence on the back of the head.
The Green-crowned Brilliant is a relatively large hummingbird of the Heliodoxa family, which contains nine species, but the jacula is the only species to inhabit Costa Rica. It has a weird face, resulting from the elongated form towards the long and thin bill. The male is mostly green with glittering metallic-green crown as the name suggests, which becomes visible only with some angles due to the iridescence phenomenon that the bird displays; it also has a small purple patch on the throat. The female is similar, but has a white belly with scaling pattern in the throat and the flanks.
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 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.
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.