In my garden: Purple-throated Mountain-gem + at least 5 other hummingbird species

Purple-throated Mountain-gem (Lampornis calolaemus): Colibrí montañés Gorgimorado; Colibri à gorge pourprée; Purpurkehlnymphe

I really can’t remember if I’ve ever had 6 different hummingbird species at the feeders. I think the exceptionally heavy rains of the last several days have made my sheltered feeders more inviting than the many natural nectar sources that are always available in the garden. The prize species is definitely the male Purple-throated Mountain-gem , which my wife says arrived yesterday. I myself noted it for the first time today.

Male Purple-throated Mountain-gem; photo by Larry Waddell
Purple-throated Mountain-gem at its preferred higher elevations in Bonilla Arriba; photo by John Beer

The hummingbirds just keep coming. The latest arrival is another male, this time a Talamanca Hummingbird (Eugenes fulmens), whose size of 5 inches allows it to dominate the feeders for lengthy spells. Earlier texts use its former and very appropriate name of Magnificent Hummingbird.

Male Talamanca Hummingbird; photo by Larry Waddell

For a couple of weeks now my feeders have attracted not only the common resident Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, but also, and fairly unusually I must say, White-necked Jacobins and Green-breasted Mangos. These 3 hummers might be termed the ‘core’ species for local hummingbird feeders, but there really aren´t very many feeders set up here in the village of San Antonio, where their use is simply not a common practice among local residents. Friends Sue and Wiet, a couple of kilometers away in San Rafael, have always assiduously maintained their own feeders and acquired impressive lists of visiting hummingbirds. It now looks like I may join them. Here are some photos of these 3 species, all of which are easily found in the Turrialba area, beginning with the 4 inch Rufous-tailed Hummingbird:

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird -the red bill proclaims this to be a male of the species; photo by John Beer

Flashy blue and white plumage announces the presence of the male White-necked Jacobin . I have several Jacobins here at the moment, some male, as shown below, and at least one the much more sombre green female, with its spotted breast. Here’s a male in full flight:

Male White-necked Jacobin at San Rafael; photo by Larry Waddell

For the first time in my garden, the Green-breasted Mangoes are also several in number, although mostly with the white breast and central green stripe of females and immatures, as here with this rather pretty immature of unknown sex, photographed in Santa Rosa:

Immature Green-breasted Mango; photo by John Beer

Costa Rica’s hummingbirds are residents, with the exception of the sole migrant hummer, from North America, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, which is a rare vagrant in our area from mid-October to mid-May only.

The biggest and heaviest of our hummingbirds is the Violet Sabrewing (Campylopterus hemileucurus). The male bird that is currently here in the garden dominates even the Talamanca Hummingbird at the feeders. It’s considered a mountain species but descends to our elevation of around 1300 m outside breeding season, which can last from May to October. I have noticed that it frequently feeds on nectar from Heliconia latispatha, a tropical plant pollinated by this and other hummingbird species.

Male Violet Sabrewing; photo by Karel Straatman

It looks like I’ll have to be on the look-out at the feeders because there are quite a few other species that could easily turn up.

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