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.

White-browed Spinetail (Hellmayrea gularis)

The White-browed Spinetail was the only species of Spinetails we ever saw in Colombia. It inhabits the paramo at Nevado del Ruiz, at an altitude of 4,200 meters above sea level. Its body coloration is composed of brown back and head, gray belly, chest and throat, and a gray supercilliary on top of the black eye. With this colors, it might look very dull and uninteresting, however it is an amazing fact for this little bird to withstand the lack of oxygen and low temperatures of this elevation, specially during the night.

Velvet-purple Coronet (Boissonneaua jardini)

The Velvet-purple Coronet was one of the most impressing hummingbirds we saw in Colombia. Its plumage is strongly iridescent all around the body, showing marvelous different hues with each movement. At one time it would look almost entirely black, then it flashed green and olive tones on the upper wing and shoulder, along with brown feather tips on the back and head. The head, throat and belly would look almost entirely black, until it turned the head towards me and flashed deep blue and purple colors, with turquoise flanks. White feathers cover the legs and the tail underside. So much change is almost unbelievable until you see it with your own eyes or camera lens, whichever is faster. To top if off, after perching it would hold the wings open for a brief moment, showing a chestnut coloration on the underside of the wings.

Shining Sunbeam (Aglaeactis cupripennis)

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.

Plumbeous Sierra-Finch (Phrygilus unicolor)

Sierra-Finch is an appropriate name for this species, as they are specialized to live from 3,000 meters above sea level at higher. They are mostly seed eaters and take advantage of plants of the subparamo and paramo region. The male is gray in coloration, but sometimes looks blueish on overcast lighting. The female on the other side is streaked in a combination of brown, black and gray. While being a shy species, getting them at eye level is fairly easy, as the vegetation at such altitudes does not grow very tall, and due to the low oxygen content, they stay perched for long periods of time, presumably to conserve precious energy.

Lachrymose Mountain-Tanager (Anisognathus lacrymosus)

The Lachrymose Mountain-Tanager bears some resemblance to the Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, however they differ in a key feature: The Lachrymose has blue upperparts, and that includes the back, wings, tail and nape, while the Blue-winged has black upperparts. Also the yellow underside aren’t as bright on the Lachrymose on the subspecies that we observed at Termales del Ruiz, which is above 3,000 meters over sea level. Other subspecies range from yellow to deep orange underparts. Their diet is mainly composed of berries and fruits, although some insects do form part of it.

Green-and-black Fruiteater (Pipreola riefferii)

The Green-and-black Fruiteater is a species of the Cotingidae family, despite having a body form similar to a Tanager. The female is entirely green with yellow streaking on the belly, and red bill and legs. The male is similar, but has a black head and a yellow necklace that separates the black head from the green belly. We saw this species as we searched for the Gold-ringed Tanager at Tatama National Park. It was not surprisingly perching on a branch that showed some small fruits, which presumably were being eaten by the bird.