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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Not to be confused with the Oreotrochilus genus, the Rufous-gaped Hillstar is the only member of the Urochroa genus. It is rather large and streamlined, showing lots of different colors around the body. Its throat is blue to purple, ending on a dark orange malar strip which is very conspicuous and looks like a big smile. The belly is gray but shows blue-green feathers on the sides. The back and head of the body has olive, blue and green hues. A very small white postocular spot finishes the look.
The White-bellied Woodstar is among the smallest hummingbirds like most woodstars, however it is colorful and conspicuous. The body is mostly green, with a white collar that joins a white line coming out of the eye. The gorget is metallic purple due to iridescence, so it looks dark sometimes. The black bill is long, thin and just slightly curved down. The vent and belly also show white plumage. It flies in a typical bee fashion, with smooth movements instead of the rapid bursts that larger hummingbirds do.
The Violet-tailed Sylph is part of the Aglaiocercus genus, containing two more species, one of them being the Long-tailed Sylph which we also saw in Colombia during our trip. It has a long tail that glows in purple from the back. Other than that, the bird is mostly green, with flashes of orange on the belly and blue hues on the back. Their bill is relatively short when compared with other hummingbird species on its range. When the outer tail feathers are molted, individuals can be seen with shorter tails, like in the pictures below, since those feathers are precisely the ones that grow very long.