Long-billed Starthroat (Heliomaster longirostris)

The Heliomaster genus contains four species, two of which occur in Costa Rica, including the Long-billed Starthroat that can be spotted in the Caribbean and northern lowlands, as well as in the south Pacific. It also includes the Plain-capped Starthroat, which is mostly seen in the north Pacific, central valley and some valleys in the south Pacific. Both Starthroats have longer than average bills which are straight, although both species have similar bills. The main difference between the Long-billed and Plain-capped is that the former displays a colorful blue-green forecrown, while the latter lacks that crown. To aid in identification, it can be noted that the Long-billed has a postocular spot, while the Plain-capped has a postocular strip. Other than those two specific traits, the two species are very similar, with olive upperparts and gray to white underparts, and a magenta throat that is iridescent. The tips of the tail feathers are white, which can be seen the most dramatically during flight.

Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, (Eupherusa eximia)

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.

Purple-throated Mountain-gem (Lampornis calolaemus)

The Purple-throated Mountain-gem is a striking hummingbird, where the male has a brilliant, iridescent throat the turns purple. The crown also changes color, from dark purple to metallic blue, all due to the angle of light that is hitting it. The upperparts are mainly green, although the belly is gray and the chest has a broad metallic green band as well. The female is similar but has a cinnamon belly, chest and throat, which does make it look very contrasty and eye catching. Both sexes have a white postocular line that reaches down and back almost to the neck. They are mostly seen in mid elevation cloud forests. The iridescence in hummingbird means that there is something different about each picture, even of the same individual.

Scintillant Hummingbird (Selasphorus scintilla)

The Scintillant Humminbird is, together with the Snowcap, the smallest hummingbird species that can be spotted in Costa Rica. It is not the smallest bird in the world though, that record belongs to the Bee Hummingbird. The male has an iridescent orange gorget, while the female has buffy throat with speckles, mostly green ones. It can be seen in the highlands, particularly around Cinchona and Cerro de la Muerte.

Coppery-headed Emerald (Elvira cupreiceps)

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.

Crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica)

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.

Violet Sabrewing (Campylopterus hemileucurus)

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.

Green-crowned Brilliant (Heliodoxa jacula)

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.

Masked Flowerpiercer (Diglossa cyanea)

The Flowerpiercers are small birds in the Tanager family that have the upper tip of the bill curved down, allowing them to pierce flowers from the base and drink their nectar, hence their name. Their very short bill do not allow them to drink nectar like a hummingbird does, by inserting the bill into the flower, so they do not pollinate flowers. Instead, they used their bill to open up a hole at the bottom of the flower, and drink the nectar that dips from it. Both the Masked and the Black Flowerpiercer have a similar shape and size, however their colors are pretty different. The black mask with bright red eye of this species is unmistakable.

Brown Violetear (Colibri delphinae)

The Brown Violetear is a medium-sized hummingbird which has a violet ear patch, not surprising given its name. The body is mostly brown in coloration, with darker wing and tail feathers. The feathers covering its vent are whitish, as well as some of the throat feathers surrounding a small colorful patch in the center. It possesses a patch of green to blue iridescent feathers in the throat, something the Lesser Violetear does not possess. The black bill is relatively short and straight, which it uses to sometimes catch small insects on the flight. It is found in mid to high altitudes, particularly in humid areas where Porter Weed flowers are plentiful. Their small size and light weight let them perch in delicate branches without breaking them.