Green Violetear on a routine trip to San Diego

Note the blue tail when you see the Green Violetear

Note the blue tail when you see the Green Violetear

I took advantage of a mostly dry day in this El Niño year to see if vehicles can now get down to nearby San Diego. After the excitement of the trek up the Turrialba Volcano earlier in the week, birding in my patch was expected to be perhaps less than thrilling. Surprise surprise! The porterwood hedge at Carlos Luis’s little house before the drop down to San Diego produced not only a female Scintillant Hummingbird (Selasphorus scintilla) but also a Green Violetear (Colibri thalassinus), who sat and preened for a good while. Plumage of males and females of this species is essentially identical.  The photograph above is from Karel Straatman‘s collection of Costa Rican bird photos and clearly shows the main field mark, the violet patch behind and below the eye. This was only my second Green Violetear sighting but for me the first field mark was the lovely dark blue tail. The dry trill heard when it is in flight is also quite different from the sounds made by our local hummer, the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. This particular bird exhibited strange behaviour, moreover, in that, when perched, it twisted back its head almost in a contortion, rather like a male Great-tailed Grackle during courtship.

This sighting encouraged me to walk all the way down to San Diego, where the massive mudslides have now been pushed aside, to try my luck further. Here is my species list for San Diego for today:

  1. Gray-headed chachalaca
  2. Cattle egret
  3. Black vulture
  4. Roadside hawk (great close-up view)
  5. Red-billed pigeon (in numbers now again)
  6. White-tipped dove
  7. Groove-billed ani
  8. Crowned woodnymph
  9. Emerald toucanet (3 birds, very nice)
  10. Keel-billed toucan
  11. Yellow-bellied elaenia
  12. Scale-crested pygmy-tyrant
  13. Common tody-flycatcher
  14. Great kiskadee
  15. Social flycatcher
  16. Tropical kingbird
  17. Brown jay
  18. House wren
  19. Stripe-breasted wren
  20. Plain wren
  21. Orange-billed nightingale-thrush
  22. Clay-colored thrush
  23. Tropical parula
  24. Passerini’s tanager
  25. Golden-hooded tanager
  26. Bay-headed tanager
  27. Green honeycreeper
  28. Variable seedeater
  29. Melodious blackbird
  30. Montezuma oropendola

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