Today I found a life bird just 15 minutes’ walk from the house, the diminutive Black-crested coquette (Lophornis helenae). It’s not too long ago since I was surprised by a male White-crested coquette (Lophornis adorabilis) high in the guayabo tree off the back porch of our house in San Antonio. It looks like this year’s nesting season will bring as many hummingbird surprises as did last year’s, because it was just earlier this week that I found my first Tico Ruby-throated hummingbird (see my earlier post).
I had just spent 45 frustrating minutes trying to pin down a big sprinkling of warblers (Tennessee and Blackburnian were the only ones I could discern) in the cypress grove on the way to the hamlet of San Diego, when I stopped next to a small rabo de gato bush (Stachytarpheta) and heard the droning of what seemed to be a large bee. No, it’s a hummingbird moth, I thought, when I spotted it no more than 6 feet away. This hummer is less than 3 inches long and must be incredibly difficult to find when it is in its usual haunts, up high in the canopy. The tiny size combined with the white rump-band tells you that it’s a coquette, and then you check either the crest (for males) or the belly (for females and juveniles) to distinguish it from the otherwise similar White-crested coquette. This bird fed unconcernedly for a good two or three minutes at close range and so I was able to verify that it was a female, or possibly a juvenile. When I returned to the same spot a couple of hours later, it was gone. Here’s the male for comparison.
My thanks to Richard Garrigues for the use of his photographs. No mean feat to catch this guy on camera!