If, when you visit Costa Rica, you see a hummingbird with a white rump band, then you know that it will be a very small one and that it must be either a Thorntail or a Coquette. However, the male Green Thorntail (Discosura conversii) has a very obvious long tail, while the female has an equally distinctive white malar stripe. If these features are absent but the rump band is present, you are looking at a Coquette. Until now, you had only to consider the Black-crested Coquette (Lophornis helenae) and the White-crested Coquette (Lophornis adorabilis). Neither of these is very common in the Turrialba area, although the Black-crested can be found at certain locations with some regularity.
For example, the following adult male Black-crested Coquette is feeding on rabo de gato this week at Rancho Naturalista birding lodge near the village of Tuis, not far from Turrialba:
This same week a White-crested Coquette was also present at the same location, but the real sensation was the discovery of an immature male Rufous-crested Coquette (Lophornis delattrei), the first confirmed record in the country since 1906!
Only adult male Coquettes have the distinctively coloured crest, and so this individual Rufous-crested (a species found only much further east and south in Panama and Colombia) had to be very carefully identified. By the time I arrived in Tuis, many of Costa Rica’s best birders were there lined up with cameras and binoculars, or had even already been there. I was able to renew acquaintance with several of them as well as with Kathy and Lisa Erb, owner and manager respectively of Rancho Naturalista. All birders were given a warm welcome with coffee, sandwiches and cinnamon buns. Many thanks to them for making this sighting possible! All this plus a new life bird for most of us and a new addition to Costa Rica’s bird list. Today’s beautiful photos are courtesy of friend Wayne Easley, who was on the spot this morning, fortunately. Wayne is a goldmine of knowledge regarding birds, insects and the natural world in general.
Here is a look at an adult male Rufous-crested Coquette found in Panama in April 2016:
Link at: http://macaulaylibrary.org/
We hope to find an adult male somewhere here in Costa Rica in the coming months.
My own visit was sadly quite brief and I actually missed the adult Black-crested Coquette. On the other hand, an immature male was easy to find, as was a beautiful male Snowcap (Microchera albocoronata), Rancho Naturalista’s signature species:
I will replace the old file photo below (from neighbour Sue Magree at nearby San Rafael) with a pic of one of today’s Snowcaps as soon as colleagues can make one available.