Blue-throated Goldentail – what a delightful name! The name alone catches the attention of any European bird-watcher more accustomed to the browns and greys of many of the species of woodland birds encountered there. Since the word hummingbird does not appear in the name it takes the prospective visitor to Costa Rica a quick internet search to discover that the Blue-throated Goldentail (Hylocharis eliciae) is indeed a hummingbird. It is found from southern Mexico to eastern Panama but is considered quite uncommon in most of the Caribbean, where it is a lowland species rarely venturing higher than 900 m.
This time, John Beer and I were lucky to be at the magnificent Reserva Las Brisas near La Alegría de Siquirres. The upper reserve where we found the bird feeding on rabo de gato is at an elevation of about 850 m. Guide Ernesto Carman of Get your Birds! was also present with Colombian visitors studying bird migration, and he was also able to make an audio recording. Ernesto found two individuals, though we ourselves identified just one, a male.
The bright red bill is here over-exposed but the diagnostic tail colour is clearly seen. Only the male has the blue throat. In this second photo, where the bird turned a fraction, the tail is seen to even better effect.
Six years ago a male of the species was banded at CATIE here in Turrialba (625 m) but on that day I was unfortunately absent from the monitoring programme. Here is a photograph taken with the bird in hand, specifically to show the blue throat:
More on the trip to Las Brisas in my next post which will feature more hummingbirds and additional beautiful photos by John, including the common but elusive Slaty Spinetail.