White-tipped Sicklebill

Aagh! This hummingbird would have been a life bird for me, and right there close to home. Is there a population of White-tipped Sicklebills (Eutoxeres aquila) at the Espino Blanco Reserve, which is adjacent to the property where neighbour and friend Susan Magree found the bird pictured below?

White-tipped Sicklebill in San Rafael de Santa Cruz; photo by Susan Magree

This bird has its eyes closed because it was briefly stunned after colliding with a window. Susan picked it up and placed it in a hanging basket and it very soon flew away. She had never seen the species before. Local guide Steven Aguilar ( says that rather than being a sedentary species it travels long distances, adding that he sees it more frequently on the Pacific side, where he has found more than one nest, often located underneath a leaf. Be sure to check out his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Schiffornis.Tafari

This large hummingbird’s incredibly decurved bill, which it uses to feed on heliconias, is its chief distinguishing feature, though the heavily streaked breast should also be noted.

White-tipped Sicklebill sitting on the tip of a heliconia; photo by Richard Garrigues

It seems that the species is perhaps not a rarity, being found in humid forest at lower and middle elevations (up to 1200 m) from Costa Rica south to northern Peru. In our immediate area there are quite a few records but only 3 so far this year, 2020. Hotel Quelitales is one of them and it’s a place that is rapidly becoming well-known for hummingbird species but it is a fairly long drive away, near Cachí. Las Brisas near La Alegría de Siquirres has one of other two records but it too is a good hour’s drive from Turrialba so the Rancho Naturalista, a mere 30-40 minutes from Turrialba is nearest. However, I have been to all three of these without ever even suspecting that the White-billed Sicklebill might appear. It looks like I may have to invest more serious time at the Espino Blanco Reserve, just 10 minutes from my house!

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