In my Costa Rican Garden – Stripe-throated Hermit

Stripe-throated Hermit (Phaethornis striigularis): Ermitaño enano; Streifenkehl-Schattenkolibri; Ermite à gorge rayée

One of my initial tasks upon returning to my happy home in San Antonio de Santa Cruz is to attend to my hummingbird feeders. This time I was greeted on my first morning not only by a rainbow but also by the appearance in the garden of no less than 5 different hummingbird species: Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Green-breasted Mango, White-necked Jacobin, Violet Sabrewing, and Stripe-throated Hermit. It must, however, immediately be said that the Costa Rican race of the Stripe-throated Hermit has almost no trace of stripes on the throat! Many still simply call it by its former name, the Little Hermit, i.e. in Spanish the ‘dwarf hermit’. Its tiny body is lengthened by the tapered, white-tipped tail, which tends to be longer in females.

Stripe-throated Hermit at Angostura

Although it is a forest dweller like all hermits, which are appropriately known in the German language as ‘shade hummingbirds’, the ‘little hermit’ has not often attended my feeders. But this time, when the bigger guys give a few moments’ pause between visits, the little fellow zips up just one yard or so from a perch barely above ground level in the pingoro hedge and snitches a few mouthfuls of sugar water. John’s first picture here is actually from the Angostura Dam down past Turrialba:

Stripe-throated Hermit at Angostura; photo by John Beer

My own location is only just within the normal elevation range for the species, which is rarely found higher than about 1500 m. Any small brown hummer is generally this species, though juveniles are said to have a pale rufous, not green, back. Sexes are virtually identical in plumage but perhaps this final photograph shows a juvenile male:

This file photo from 2016 would seem to show a short-tailed male; photo also taken at Santa Rosa by John Beer

See my next post for the latest surprise species to be added to what I think is a fairly impressive list for San Antonio.

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