As is usual in Hummingbirds, the Fiery-throated Hummingbird shows iridescence in its plumage, by refracting light that hits in different angles and intensities. The result is a colorful plumage that changes with every so slight movement, and in the case of the Fiery-throated, it transforms into a rainbow of color. The challenge for any photographer is to obtain a picture of this active bird with the glowing yellow-red throat and blue chest. Getting that in-flight with natural light as the hummer approaches a flower with acrobatic movements is a matter of luck. To beat the odds, it is recommended to visit places like Paraiso Quetzal Lodge in Cerro de la Muerte, where these hummingbirds are abundant and have become used to people being around with their cameras. At times you can see tens of these birds in garden; they will often fight with one another and pass over your head at high speed. Other times they will perch in an almost catatonic state, ideal for classic portrait pictures.
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Few birds can claim legendary status, except the Resplendent Quetzal. To see it free, you have to go the Cloud Forest, either in Monteverde or in Cerro Buenavista, hike your way inside the dense canopy, and wait. Luckily, the conservation tourism efforts put forward by people in both areas ensure that we have easier access to them, while they live and nest in essentially undisturbed areas. Mountain hotels like Paraiso Quetzal Lodge are making the difference, protecting this sacred bird for the new generations to delight on their sight. The communities are also organized, with families cooperating to keep track of birds and nests, alerting the guides of its location to guarantee tourists a sight, but also raising data on activity of the birds that can be used for scientific research.
I could simply describe this bird as marvelous. The male has a scarlet belly and chest, with iridescent emerald green wing coverts, back and head. The wing feathers are actually green, while the underside of the true tail is white. The bill is yellow, and the iris is deep black. On the top of the head, some orange feathers break the green pattern. The most bizarre feature is the long “tail” feathers, measuring more than its standard body length, which breeding males carry fully grown from November to around May, at the end of the breeding season. They use those feathers to compete with other males to attract a female. While the female is not as exuberant, it is also a beauty. Their preferred food is the “Aguacatillo” fruit, which translates to “little avocado”. There are many species of this tree, which grow and bear fruit at different elevations and different times of the year, provoking what is known as altitudinal migration.
The Sooty Thrush is a bird similar to the Clay-colored Thrush, the national bird of Costa Rica, but with black plumage. The bill and feet are a striking bright orange, with a light blue iris featuring an orange eye ring. It can be found in the highest mountains in Costa Rica, either flying between trees, or hopping in the ground in typical thrush fashion. Its song is delivered in intervals and has a metallic, harsh quality. In Colombia, there are two species very similar to the Sooty Thrush, one called the Great Thrush and another one called the Glossy-black Thrush, however both have dark irises and yellow eye rings, and look plumpier than the Sooty.
I saw this little bird for the first time at the reserve called “Locos por el bosque”, which translates to “Crazy for the forest”, located in Coronado, San José. A single individual perched on a wire fence, which separated the trail from the forest area. It inhabits the mid elevation forests in Costa Rica, including the San Gerardo de Dota area, where this picture was taken. It is locally known as “Men’s friend”, due to its behavior of following people through the trails as they hike the area, potentially looking for the insects that are flushed by them. Their upperparts are entirely black, with the exception of a small red-brown crown. The face is bright yellow, featuring a black iris. The upperparts are entirely yellow, except for the underside of the tail feathers, which are white.