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Yesterday, I guided a couple on the Poas-Cinchona-Nature Pavilion route. This always makes for a fun, easy-going tour because it puts the focus on feeders and photography with such extra possibilities as mixed flocks, and target birds like Black Guan, Resplendent Quetzal, Prong-billed Barbet, toucans, and high elevation endemics. Although the unusual hot, dry weather on the Caribbean slope has put a damper on bird activity (and can’t be doing anything good for birds, plants, insects, or anything other life forms adapted to rain on a daily basis), we still connected with the guan, quetzal, barbet, and an overall nice variety of birds.

A Prong-billed Barbet from another day at Cinchona. We saw one at the Volcan Restaurant.

Hummingbird feeder activity was especially good and was the main focus on our attention. At our first main stop, the Cinchona Cafe, we were treated to near constant hummingbird activity. One of the most common species was the big, bold, and beautiful Violet Sabrewing.

Male Violet Sabrewing.

At least 6 males were present and one female eventually showed as well.

The sabrewing was outnumbered, however, by Green-crowned Brilliants. At times, one feeder would play host to 6 or 7 brilliants, including juvenile males.

A male Green-crowned Brilliant .

A frontal view of a male brilliant.

The next most common hummingbird species was the tiny Coppery-headed Emerald, a white-tailed, middle elevation sprite with a slightly decurved bill.

A close, front view of a female Coppery-headed Emerald.

Green Hermits were also visiting the feeders more than they usually do (I wonder if the Heliconias they feed on are suffering from lack of rain), a few White-bellied Mountain Gems also made an appearance, and a couple of Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds were around.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird.

One Green Violetear was present but fed on flowering bushes instead of sugar water at the feeders. Rounding out the Cinchona hummingbird show were a few male and female Green Thorntails. Sometimes, the thorntails and other hummingbirds would perch within arm’s length.

A male Green Thorntail at Cinchona.

After enjoying a delicious country breakfast accompanied by hummingbirds, we moved on down slope to the Nature Pavilion. Being situated in the Caribbean lowlands, this site has a totally different set of hummingbirds (except for the near ubiquitous Rufous-tailed). White-necked Jacobin is the regular species at this site although hermits can also zip by, woodnymphs usually show up (although not yesterday), and Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer makes an appearance or two (we did have this one).

A male White-necked Jacobin.

Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer- note the red feet!

In addition to hummingbirds, we also did alright with other bird species even during the heat of the mid-morning. Two pairs of Rufous Motmots showed well down by the river along with Bay Wren, Collared Aracari, and a brief Keel-billed Toucan. A Black-mandibled also called but wouldn’t reveal itself.

A female Gartered Trogon from the Nature Pavilion.

Vivid Red-legged Honeycreepers were feeding in a flowering tree when not feeding on fruit.

A Striped Basilisk also showed well at the Nature Pavilion.

When the clock got close to noon, we headed back upslope, and drove on up to the Volcan Restaurant. This hotspot is situated at a much cooler 2,000 meters and shows it with birds like Magnificent Hummingbird, and Purple-throated Mountain Gem.

Magnificent Hummingbird.

We also enjoyed the antics of several Volcano Hummingbirds (all females but didn’t pick out any Scintillants), Green Violetear, a couple more Violet Sabrewings, Green-crowned Brilliants, one female Magenta-throated Woodstar, and a female Stripe-tailed Hummingbird.

A Volcano Hummingbird at the feeder.

A female Magenta-throated Woodstar.

A female Stripe-tailed Hummingbird.

The forested riparian zone at the restaurant also dished out some non hummingbird birdies, including Prong-billed Barbet, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher, Slate-throated Redstart, and a few other species, one of which was a female quetzal! A small Lauraceous tree next to the stream had some fruits and the female was actively feeding on them.

After getting our fill of a good lunch, lots of hummingbirds, and the birds in the riparian zone, we checked out the higher elevation forests near the entrance to the national park. They had already seen lots of Fiery-throated Hummingbirds at Paraiso de Quetzales but that didn’t stop us from looking at a few that were feeding on flowering bromeliads. Other birds included a quick Black Guan, Sooty, Mountain, and Black-billed Nightingale Thrushes, Yellow-thighed Finch, Slaty Flowerpiercer, some very nice looks at several Golden-browed Chlorophonias, Black and yellow Silky Fkycatcher, and both Common and Sooty-capped Bush Tanagers.

A fun day overall, it makes me want to go back up there and just hike off into the highland forests on Poas.

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2 Responses to “Hanging Out with Hummingbirds from Poas to Sarapiqui”

  1. Gil & Liway Tuzon
    April 11th, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Hi Pat,
    That was a nice birding with many photo opportunities. We enjoyed every minute of it. Unfortunately, only one day to see a lot but actually more than we could handle at that time. We got lost in the types and names of hummingbirds seen. The food was excellent especially from that 1st soda stop. Wish we could do it again.
    More power to you and best regards to your family,
    Gil & Liway

  2. @Gil and Liway- Hi! Yes, a memorable day. Always nice birding up that way.

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