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 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.
The Booted Racket-tail is simply a marvel of nature. It has a long tail, which is composed of bare rachises ending in a wide racket-like structure. At first glance, it can resembled the Long-tailed Sylph, but the tail’s shape is unmistakable once taken notice. The long, slim tail ending in a wide feather reminds me of a Motmot, albeit a very small one. Other than its most conspicuous trait, it has white feathers covering its legs, which explains why it is called Booted. The body is mostly green but iridescent like many hummingbirds, making it change in coloration with the view angle. The black bill is straight and short.
The Great Green Macaw is a pretty uncommon sight in Costa Rica. It is a huge bird, their calls are very loud. I had the opportunity to observe the birds very close in Rio Cuarto. Our wildlife photography guide explained that Green and Scarlet Macaws do not hybridize in the wild, however in this refuge, a pair of Macaws have been interbreeding in the last few years, resulting in hybrids being born. In Rio Frio, where my parents live, it is common to see a pair of these birds flying overhead most of the times I am there. Either they are more common in the area, or a single pair of birds has taken residence. They are easy to identify, as their harsh call is heard from very far away and no other parrot has such a characteristic call, other than the Scarlet Macaw. They like to feed on almond and are likely to be seen perching relatively high in those trees.
This bird feels exotic in every way. The long tail ends in two small buds; when perched it sometimes moves the tail in a pendulum fashion. The bird call is a deep, guttural “Hoop-Hoop”, which repeats itself at infinitum, though some birds will variate the sound. It will stay motionless on its perch, either in complete silence, or performing its call. When there are various individuals in the area, it seems like one bird’s call is responded by another’s, resembling a conversation between birds at a distance. The bird is nervous, but can be approached to a distance of 3 meters or less; I have successfully taken pictures of it at such a close distance, even using the flash, and the bird does not fly away.