Heather among the hummingbirds

Heather is traveling in Costa Rica, observing hummingbirds, taking notes, and even doing some dyework to capture the elusive beauty of those jewels of the air. If you look closely, the large bird at the feeder closest to her in this picture is a saber-wing hummingbird. Here are a few excerpts from her email journal:

At the [Monteverde Cloud Forest] Reserve, we walked up a flight of stairs to reach the “Hummingbird Gallery”, which was a terrace about 20 feet long by 10 feet wide with 6 or 7 hummingbird feeders hanging about. But the hummingbirds!!! They were everywhere. We saw violet saberwings, green crowned brilliants, mountain gems, green violet ears, and even a coppery headed emerald. When you stood still near the feeders, they would ignore you, for the most part, and eventually they would use your body to do aerial acrobatic maneuvers around. Several times we stood next to each other (maybe a foot between us) and one hummer would chase another in between us – talk about close formation flying! We were both glad we wore glasses as more than once one would fly close enough to our face to make a breeze in our hair! The “Cloud Forest” lived up to its name during the 2 hours we watched the hummingbirds. It sprinkled off and on the entire time, but we were so entranced we hardly noticed the wetness. I managed to take notes on the violet saberwings and the green crowned brilliants today, and we plan to return Saturday to for me to study the green violet ear and the mountain gem. They are both much smaller, and are going to be real challenges to create as they have so many color changes on those little bodies! Heck, the green crowned brilliant, although bigger, was a tough nut to crack as he just would NOT flash his purple throat at me so that I could note the color! I must have watched him for close to 30 minutes JUST for that little purple spot!
I wish you all could have heard the sounds they made flying around – buzzing and chittering at each other, and us! It was really magical.

As the sun sets, the numerous bird species are raucously singing, squalking, calling and chirling their way into the night. Now I hear the macaws calling their loud call, with the softer and higher chitter of the hummingbirds adding counterpoint rhythm. The colors of green on the canyon sides range from the darkest green-black to emerald to chartreuse to lime. I just looked up to see the most beautiful hummingbird, a new one, that looked to have a long curved bill, and was colored a brilliant sapphire blue. The long curved bill suggests that he is a “hermit”, perhaps one on my list. I will have to look him up and report on what, in fact, he is.


This morning we slept in, then took a taxi over to the Hummingbird Gallery at the Monteverde Reserve. And it was a beautiful day at the reserve!! It was actually sunny, which really showed off the colors of the birds. The wind wasn’t too strong, so the little guys were out in force. We even saw three Magenta-throated Woodstars, which are so tiny you could fit one in an old film canister (um, not that I would recommend trying that, mind you). They are so small they never even light to feed – they just hover, seemingly effortlessly, and they sound just like a bumble bee! I took the opportunity to take notes on the Purple-throated Mountain Gem, and added a bit to my notes on the Coppery-headed Emeralds, and even the Green Hermit.