Snowcap at San Rafael


Male Snowcap recovering from hitting window

Male Snowcap recovering from hitting window

Great sensation at Toby and Sue’s house over at San Rafael (1250 m) as a male Snowcap (Microchera albocoronata) crashes into their window.  The species does not feature on the nearby Espino Blanco Reserve bird list and I have seen it in the Turrialba area only at Rancho Naturalista, Tuis.  There it is the signature species for birders staying at the lodge.

Sue took the photo and in her own words: “Yesterday I heard  tiny thud on the window and ran out to make sure that I got there before the cats.  A beautiful, tiny snowcap hummingbird was on the sidewalk. (They are one of the smallest hummingbirds, weighing about as much as a penny, so he must have hit pretty hard to make a thud.)  I put him in one of the hanging baskets and he was gone when I checked a few hours later.  Here is a photo of him recovering in the geranium basket.  The photo is poor because I didn’t want to stress him and stuck the camera near the basket quickly and didn’t use a flash”.  Snowcaps were not on Wiet’s list of hummingbirds that she has seen at her feeders. I guess that they do come up this high, though.  (This guy might like to stick to the lowlands from now on.)

By way of explanation, neighbour Wiet also lives in San Rafael, a little lower down, and she has many, well-tended hummingbird feeders.  The Snowcap, according to the Costa Rica field guides, is usually found at lower elevations on the Caribbean slope but may occasionally wander as high as 14oo m.  It is found only in Central America, from southern Honduras to western Panama (Garrigues & Dean, The Birds of Costa Rica).  The female,  with light green upper parts and grey-white below, looks nothing like the stunning male and would have perhaps presented an identification problem.


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