The Violet-bellied Hummingbird is another of the cute hummingbirds we saw in Colombia. Its name is pretty descriptive, since the belly is a deep iridescent purple tone that looks metallic on the right light; on the shadow it looks blue instead. The throat and face also glow in light green sometimes, other times it looks dark green along with the back of the head. It has a long and thin black bill that’s used like most hummingbird to extract nectar from the deep cavities of flowers in Colombia. I saw this individual while walking down from Doña Dora’s restaurant. It was doing its early morning stretching routine.
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.
Metallura is a genus that contains nine species, all of them inhabiting different ranges in the Andes mountains. They are small and vary in coloration of the plumage. The Tyrian Metaltail is green overall, showing a white postocular spot, and white plumage on the belly and vent that gives it a scaled pattern on the underparts. The gorget is metallic green, however it is not seen from every angle due to iridescence. We saw one individual in Rio Blanco Natural Reserve, perched on a small ornamental plant, most probably resting after a full nectar meal.
The Tourmaline Sunangel forms part of the Heliangelus genus of hummingbirds, consisting of ten species that are only found in South America. The Tourmaline is by the most part green, with a purple gorget that brightens up on sunlight. They are small in size and have a thin dark bill. It shows some white on the vent and in the postocular spot. In good light, this hummingbird displays a purple-like gorget that looks metallic.
The Steely-vented Hummingbird belongs to the Amazilia genus, which contains a lot of similar hummingbird species like the Rufous-tailed and the Andean Emerald. They are all very similar in terms of body shape and size, but differ in their coloration and some of them in their habitat and behavior. It has a metallic green body with blue wings and tail, and shows yellow to magenta feathers on the rump. Their bill is thin and straight, and it has white feathers covering its legs. Like the Rufous-tailed, it is very aggressive and territorial.
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.
The Rufous-shafted Woodstar is a very small hummingbirds even when compared with other woodstars, like the Purple-throated. Their plumage is also less colorful, consisting of an olive green back, brown wings and cinnamon belly. The female has has olive green on the top of the head, a thin white line that stems from the eye, then a dark ear patch, and a white throat with a dark line on the center. The male has a glittering purple gorget and lacks the cinnamon belly, which is metallic green instead. Like all other woodstars, this species is very small and flies in a bee-like fashion, with swifter movements than larger hummingbirds.
The Purple-throated Woodstar bears some resemblance to the White-bellied Woodstar, even though they do not belong to the same genus. Their flying behavior is more like a bee, in that they move swiftly and without sharp turns like most hummingbirds do. As they fly over, they do sound like bees. They are also pretty small, like most woodstars. It does not have the glittering green body of the White-bellied; instead, the back is a duller green color, and the belly is olive with orange feathers covering the legs and white vent. A white ring almost surrounds completely the neck. The female has a white-gray throat, while the male has an iridescent purple throat (as the name would suggest) that looks rather dark from some angles.
The Long-tailed Sylph is member of a genus with long tails, with the Violet-tailed Sylph being the other species that can be readily found in Colombia. The Long-tailed is overall very green, with a glittering emerald patch on the front of the head. The wings are very long and extend far beyond the base of the tail. However its most definitive feature is its long tail, which can measure up to 12 centimeters in length and account for around two thirds of the overall length of the bird; this is a huge burden for the bird as it flies around from flower to flower in search of nectar. The female has a fairly short tail instead, a characteristic known as dymorphism, which is very common in bird species.
The Great Sapphirewing is a very large hummingbird with glittering colors. We saw both the male and female at Termales del Ruiz, which is above the 3,000 meters over sea level mark. At this altitude, oxygen content is low, meaning that the birds do not spend as much time on the flight and frequently perch to conserve energy, specially with such a large size. Their wing beat is relatively slow as well. The male on this species has a green body, but the chest glows with blue tonalities as light changes, an iridescence phenomenon. The wing is metallic blue, both on the upper and the lower side, which easily explains its common name. The female is very similar, however the chest, belly and throat are cinnamon in coloration. Both have a very long and narrow bill, and a white postocular spot.