Ruby-throated Hummingbird – the only migrant hummer in Costa Rica

A morning visit with friends Sue and Wiet to the hummingbird hedge at Pavones-San Rafael brought nearly two hours of fun plus a hummer that I had not seen in our area before, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilocus colubris). In the USA it is virtually the only hummer found east of the Mississippi but its status in Costa Rica is quite different. If you check the new edition of The Birds of Costa Rica (Garrigues and Dean) you’ll see that of the dozens of Costa Rican hummers only this species has a blue map opposite its image, indicating its migratory status.

Although I know the species very well from my many years in Dallas, Texas, this is only my second encounter with this species in Costa Rica. In March 2013, I had found a dead male at the tourist restaurant El Sapito at Santa Teresa on the Turrialba-Pacayas road. Now I finally found live birds, some definitely immature males, others perhaps females.

Immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird; spots on throat look black here

Immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird; spots on throat look black here

In a slightly different position, the throat spots light up:

Immature male Ruby-throated displays his throat colours

A blurred image, but the immature male Ruby-throated here displays his throat colours.

The rabo de gato hedge at Pavones has now had visits from at least 14 different hummingbird species.

On this trip, in addition to an overhead visit from a Black Hawk-eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus), the following hummers were present:

  1. Stripe-throated Hermit
  2. Garden Emerald
  3. Crowned Woodnymph
  4. Rufous-tailed hummingbird
  5. Ruby-throated hummingbird
  6. Snowcap (males also this time)
  7. Violet-headed hummingbird

If we had stayed longer, I’m sure other species would have arrived. Below is a final photograph, this time of a male Snowcap (Micorchera albocoronata). Many thanks to Sue Magree for all photos, none of which were easy to obtain.

A much sought-after hummer, the aptly named Snowcap

A much sought-after hummer, the aptly named Snowcap.


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