Post-nesting time always seems to bring me sightings of new hummingbirds. Mostly they are species that a visitor to the area might expect upon consulting the Costa Rican bird guides. This is the case with the Green thorntail (Discosura conversii), which appeared yesterday at a rabo de gato hedge as I made my way down to San Diego. The hedge is the same one that attracted my first Black-crested coquette (Lophornis helenae) last year. It is located less than 1 km away, before the descent to San Diego, and it is thus at roughly the same elevation as my house in San Antonio, where I have never seen it in these more than six years.
The male is an easy identification. The tiny size and the very obvious white rump band narrow it down immediately to just three possible hummers, the two Coquettes and this species. The long tail, partially obscured here in Richard Garrigues‘ photograph, is the clincher, adding at least a further inch to its length. My male bird, possibly accompanied by another, displayed a brilliant green throat, and the head showed dark green rather than what seems to be black in the photo above. The female is still reasonably easy to identify since it has none of the rufous of the Coquettes, plus it has an easily seen white malar stripe. Karel Straatman’s photo below shows a female at a feeder and despite the angle of the bird’s body the malar stripe is still clearly visible.