Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher (Phainoptila melanoxantha)

The Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher is one of the four species in a unique family around the world, with the Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher being the only other species to be seen in Costa Rica. The male shows a combination of yellow rump, chest and undersides, with gray belly and vent; its throat and head it black, as well as it tail and wings. The Female has a gray throat with a black cap, olive chest, wings and tail. Their shape is similar to other Costa Rica thrushes, as they look rather plump when compared with the Long-tailed. Although Flycatchers by name, they prefer to eat fruits, specializing in berries that are abundant in the highlands; indeed their range is restricted to Guanacaste, Tilaran, Central and Talamanca Cordilleras. They are endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama, thanks to the fact that the Talamanca Cordillera stretches out into Panama.

Red-ruffed Fruitcrow (Pyroderus-scutatus)

The Red-ruffed Fruitcrow is a large bird belonging to the Cotingidae family. It does resemble a crow in overall body form, but it sports a brilliant red-orange throat and an orange chest and belly that’s very distinctive, even inside the darkness of the forest they inhabit. Although arboreal, they do come to the ground to eat fallen fruit. Another endemic bird of Colombia. We saw this bird in Yarumo Blanco SFF, in Pereira, where it is actually abundant and not so afraid of people. It came to ground a few times and seemed to be comfortable with us being around.

Gold-ringed Tanager (Bangsia aureocincta)

The Gold-ringed Tanager was one of the species that we looked for the most. It is one of the emblems at Tatama National Park, since it has a restricted range that gives it an endemic and vulnerable status, with Tatama being a few of the places where it can be spotted. Its body is mostly dark green with black throat and a yellow patch on the chest. It has blue wings and a black head. The yellow supercilliary coils down and joins the yellow moustachial line, forming the ring that gives this species its name. We found it in a few occasions as we descended down the trail at Tatama. At one side of the trail, a big wall raised which was covered in vegetation; the bird would forage in there, going up and down in search of fresh fruit, and was not very disturbed by our presence. They move rapidly when foraging, jumping from branch to branch in search for the best fruits. As long as you stay motionless, they won’t be scared of being in close proximity.

Buffy Helmetcrest (Oxypogon stuebelii)

The Buffy Helmetcrest is a hummingbird species that’s native to the Nevado del Ruiz Paramo and is found on a really limited range, being endemic to Colombia. Since they live at altitudes above 4,000 meters above sea level, where oxygen content is low and temperatures are close to 0 degrees celsius, they can’t flap their wings as fast as other hummers, and they prefer to perch on branches while they drink a flower’s nectar, which helps them conserve previous energy. There are four species of Oxypogon, each one inhabiting the paramo region of a different peak. Frailejones flowers are among the common energy sources for them.

Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher (Ptilogonys caudatus)

The Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher is an elegant bird that can be found in the highlands in Costa Rica. It’s long black tail contrasts with the gray and yellow body, ending with a yellow crest that is normally seen protruding from the head. The male is more colorful than the female, but overall they look similar and might be indistinguishable on bad lighting. Along the Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher, this species is part of a four species family around the world, with only the Black-and-yellow and the Long-tailed being present in Costa Rica, endemic to our country and western Panama.

Talamanca Hummingbird (Eugenes spectabilis)

The Talamanca Hummingbird is pretty similar to the Fiery-throated Hummingbird and both inhabits similar environments, in the highlands of Costa Rica. The female has gray underparts, which makes it easier to identify against the Fiery-throated. The male is glittering green in the upperside, with iridescent throat and head that look black most of the time, but in certain angles reveal a deep turquoise-blue metallic color in the throat, and purplish-blue on the head.

Fiery-throated Hummingbird (Panterpe insignis)

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.