Shining Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes lucidus); Mielero luciente; Azurnaschvogel; Guit-guit brillant
Honeycreepers are classed in the Thraupidae family, which at present includes, in Costa Rica, at least 21 species of tanager. There are in addition many other species in the family, several of which are also considered to be tanagers. Of these, three bear the name honeycreeper, and all are characterised by a rather long, decurved bill: Green Honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza); Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus); and Shining Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes lucidus). They are unrelated to the honeycreepers of Hawaii.
Despite the distribution maps in the bird guides, the Green Honeycreeper is actually the only one easy to find close to Turrialba. Note however that John Beer took the next two photos at Finca Estrella in Costa Rica’s southern Pacific region:
On an excursion to the Lagunas de Bonilla, which are fairly close to Turrialba but just across the Cartago province border in the Provincia de Limón, Steven Aguilar and I found a pair of Shining Honeycreepers on the path above the lakes. This is a fairly common bird in both the Caribbean and the Pacific lowlands. It is found up to around 1200 m but I have seen it myself only a half a dozen times and never in the immediate vicinity of Turrialba (650 m). This week’s sighting at Bonilla (Abajo) is the nearest location so far.
As can be seen from the photo above, this honeycreeper species might just as well be called the yellow-legged honeycreeper, a neat distinction from the very similar Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus), which is not found in our area.
I really miss the photographic help from John and Larry since, for different reasons, they are unable to join in excursions at the moment. The Shining Honeycreeper female, a mostly green bird, seemed to me to be a really beautiful bird with its understated blue breast streaks on a pale breast. Alas, neither Steven nor I could get a pic with our cellphone cameras. If any reader can supply a photo of the female of the species, please contact me!