Costa Rica’s only truly migrant hummingbird

Quite by chance the 200th species that I have recorded in my garden here in San Antonio de Santa Cruz de Turrialba landed literally at my feet yesterday. An immature male with just a small patch on the lower throat was sitting on the veranda floor. Presumably it had hit the window and had been stunned but it flew off rapidly when I reached down to pick it up. It was a dainty little bird but couldn’t match the beauty of an adult male with its sparkling gorget:

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Minn

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird, very familiar to all eastern US birders

Larry’s beautiful photo shows a male bird in Minnesota in May of this year. This little hummer may well have just made the return trip from Costa Rica. Central America hosts this migratory species from mid-October to mid-April. To get here, and back, it makes an astonishing 18-22 hour non-stop journey over the Gulf of Mexico. And this is a tiny bird weighing only about  0.12 oz and measuring not much more than 3 in. All the other more than 50 hummingbird species in Costa Rica are considered residents. 

Since migrant Ruby-throats are generally found below 1000 m in Costa Rica, I have seen the species only twice before here on the Turrialba Volcano slope.

Here to finish off today’s brief post is an individual that we saw in the south of the country that looks pretty much like the bird I found here yesterday. Note the white postocular spot and the marks on the throat:

Hummingbird, Ruby-throated, Finca Estrella (4)

Immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Finca Estrella; photo by John Beer

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