Unveiling the Secrets of Costa Rica’s Hummingbirds: Spots, Facts and Trivia!

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    In this blog, we uncover the ultimate guide to experiencing the enchanting world of hummingbirds in Costa Rica, from discovering their vibrant species to revealing the prime locations for unforgettable encounters. Andrea is our expert who has spent over 10 years exploring the intricacies of birdwatching and hummingbird observation. Having assisted numerous enthusiasts in navigating the awe-inspiring landscapes and diverse avian habitats, her recommendations stem from real-world experiences ensuring enthusiasts have a guide that shows how to spot and photograph these mesmerizing birds in their natural habitats.

    Costa Rica is a true hummingbird haven, with at least 50 species of hummingbirds zipping around the country. 

    A hummingbird feeding from a pink flower while in mid-flight. 

    Types of Hummingbirds in Costa Rica and Where You Can Dine With These Beautiful Birds

    With 15% of the world’s hummingbird species found in this small country, Costa Rica has an incredibly diverse range of these fast little birds. 

    Visit Costa Rica and dine with the hummingbirds. Exercise some caution, however, and try not to feed these birds in the wild through hummingbird feeders, as this is not allowed. In most places that you stay, they’ll likely show up when it’s snack time. 

    Here is a complete guide to the most spectacular species in Costa Rica. 

    Fiery-Throated Hummingbird

    A colorful hummingbird perched on a mossy branch. “Its radiant colors left me in awe as it shimmered in the sunlight.”

    Tiny in size, this bird has a fiery red throat. Look for them when you go whitewater rafting, horse-riding, or on a canopy tour at La Fortuna near the Arenal Volcano.

    Volcano Hummingbird

    A hummingbird perched on a green leaf with a soft-focus background. “This tiny bird flitting among the alpine flowers was a delightful surprise during my hike near the Arenal Volcano.”

    True to its name, this robin lives among the volcanic slopes of Costa Rica’s mountains. The male has a bright crimson throat while the female has white underparts with green on top. Feeding is the only time hummingbirds are seen together at the terraced gardens of Arenal Observatory Lodge.

    White-Throated Mountain Gem

    A hummingbird feeding from a flower while in flight.“The elegance of the White-Throated Mountain Gem, with its pristine white throat, was a captivating sight in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve”

    This is one of many species that prefer the cooler mountain areas. The male has a striking white throat and an emerald green crown. Dine with them along the trails of Sky Walk Park near Arenal.

    Violet Sabrewing

    A vibrant hummingbird perched on a branch among green foliage. “The Violet Sabrewing’s deep purple hue and impressive size were a majestic presence in the lush green of La Paz Waterfall Gardens.”

    With violet wispy feathers across its head, this is the largest hummingbird in Costa Rica. This hummer has wingbeats that generate the humming sounds at the El Silencio Lodge in the Monteverde Forest Reserve.

    Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird

    A hummingbird hovering next to a red hibiscus flower.“The energetic buzz of the Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird became a familiar sound as I explored the gardens of San José.”

    Widespread in Costa Rica, the bird gets its name from its vivid reddish-orange tail. The male has an iridescent green throat. Spot them at the Botanical Gardens of San Jose.

    Purple-Throated Mountain Gem A hummingbird perched on a branch with purple flowers in the background.

    “Amidst the misty mountains, the Purple-Throated Mountaingem’s vibrant throat was a gem against the verdant backdrop.”

    The male has a violet georgette that seems to change colors when viewed from another angle. It has a throat with a greenish crown. This bird is endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama, and you can meet them at the Essence Amazonio Resort in Puerto Viejo.

    Mangrove Hummingbird

    A hummingbird perched on a pink flower stem against a green foliage background. “Spotting the elusive Mangrove Hummingbird in the Pacific mangroves was a rare and rewarding moment.”

    As the name suggests, these birds with gray-green plumage live near the mangrove forest edges. Keep your cameras ready on the trails of the Tortuguero National Park.

    Charming Hummingbird

    A hummingbird perched on a twig against a soft green background. “The Charming Hummingbird lived up to its name, enchanting me with its swift, dance-like flight near the Osa Peninsula.”

    This tiny bird lives up to its name displaying purple-red iridescence on its throat and a bright green back. Males perform elaborate courtship displays, which you can see in the gardens of Hotel Sí Como No in Manuel Antonio.  

    Scintillant Hummingbird

    A hummingbird feeding on nectar from pink flowers. Photo by Frank Cone

    “This Scintillant Hummingbird dazzled me with its diminutive size and quick movements.”

    Aptly named because of its purple throat and glittering green feathers, these hummingbirds can be found only in the highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama. Look for these beauties in the cloud forests.

    Cinnamon Hummingbird

    A hummingbird perched on a twig against a blurred green background. “The warm, cinnamon shades of this hummingbird added a touch of spice to my birdwatching experience in Guanacaste.”

    Native to Costa Rica and some other places in the Americas, this bird lives in shrublands and gardens. It has a cinnamon-colored belly and breasts and a metallic green back and head. The Cinnamon Hummingbird can visit 1000 to 2000 flowers every day to find nectar.

    Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

    A hummingbird perched on a branch against a green background. Photo by Skyler Ewing

    “The flash of red from a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird’s throat was a brilliant highlight on my trek in the woodlands.”

    Hummingbirds have the largest brains, and this little bird is a unique species that has the largest brain of them all.  This dazzling bird can fly in any direction, even upside-down and backward. These hummingbirds feed on small insects and visit thousands of flowers every day.

    White-Necked Jacobin

    A hummingbird in mid-flight with a blurred green background.“The White-Necked Jacobin’s striking contrast of colors was a visual treat at the feeders in Sarapiquí.”

    This little bird has a white neck ring and a black body. Watch how these birds feed along the forest trails of Wilson Botanical Garden.

    Coppery-Headed Emerald

    A colorful hummingbird perched on a thin branch against a green background. “The Coppery Headed Emerald, with its glistening crown, was a treasure to behold in the cloud forests of Costa Rica.”

    With a gleaming copper-colored head, white chest, and green body, this bird is a real stunner. It’s one of the larger forest species in Costa Rica. You can dine near the Hotel Bougainvillea Gardens in Santa Ana, where there are plenty of flowers that attract these birds.

    Bee Hummingbird

    A hummingbird perched on a thin branch among leaves. “Witnessing the world’s smallest bird near the swamp was an unforgettable and humbling experience.

    Among the smallest hummingbirds found in Costa Rica, this bird constantly hovers over flowers. You’ll find them at the Hidden Valley Butterfly Gardens near Monteverde.

    Violet-Crowned Woodnymph

    A hummingbird perched on a branch in a natural setting. “The iridescent blue-green of this beautiful violet-headed hummingbird sparkled like a living sapphire in the tropical sun.”

    The stunning looks of the male with its forked tail and brilliant violet and emerald plumage will catch your eye. You’ll find this magnificent hummingbird near the streams when you hike along the tropical lowlands of Costa Rica.

    Black-Bellied Hummingbird

    A vibrant green hummingbird perched on a thin branch. “The Black-Bellied Hummingbird’s understated elegance was a serene addition to the vibrant birdlife of the Talamanca Mountains.”

    Unlike other species, the male bird has bright white feathers on its tail and a black belly with colors scattered across its body. Spot them around the shaded areas in Costa Rica and in coffee plantations. 

    Green-Crowned Brilliant

    A hummingbird hovering near a red flower. Also known as the Green-Fronted Brilliant, this large yet sleek bird with a mostly bronze-green colored body and a blue neck collar looks quite beautiful when it clings to flowering plants and feeds with its rather long, pointed beak. These attractive birds have their habitats in the southern and eastern parts of Costa Rica.

    Best Places to See Hummingbirds in Costa Rica

    With many different hummingbird species to see, which is the best location to spot them? Here are some top spots to consider:

    La Paz Waterfall Gardens

    This hummingbird paradise has recorded 26 types (50% of all Costa Rica’s hummingbirds). Visitors can stand just inches from the feeders and become immersed in the zipping and zooming of these colorful birds.

    Rancho Naturalista

    Located on the foothills of the Talamanca Mountains, Turrialba, this lodge is home to the Snowcap Hummingbird, an uncommon and gorgeous Costa Rican endemic species. Other species to look out for include the White-Necked Jacobin, Green Thorntail, and Green Hermit. 

    Batsu Gardens and La Georgina in San Gerardo de Dota

    You’ll find plenty of shaded areas in the Batsu Gardens to spot colorful hummingbirds near the feeders and flowers. Take a break for lunch or dinner at the La Georgina Restaurant and visit their well-placed feeders to photograph your favorite robin-sized birds. 

    Arenal Observatory Lodge

    Strategically placed at the foot of the active Arenal Volcano, this lodge offers stunning views of the landscape and attracts several birds including hummingbirds; the Black Crested Coquette, a tiny and beautiful native species of Costa Rica and Nicaragua; the Bronze Tailed Plumeleteer; Green Thorntail; and Brown Violet-Ear. 

    Esquinas Rainforest Lodge

    Hidden in the remote jungle of Piedras Blancas National Park in southern Costa Rica, this forest is a hot spot for birdwatchers and among the best places to see the Mangrove Hummingbird, another local but threatened bird species that lives only in the mangroves of the Pacific Coast. 

    Birding in the Rainforests for Hummingbirds

    These birds help flowering plants to replicate by carrying pollen from one flower to another. If you wish to spot some in the tropical forests of Costa Rica, here are some suggestions:

    • Search for flowers that draw them in – Flowers like the orchid, heliconia, hibiscus, and passionflower tend to be red in color, tubular, or high-energy flowers that grow in the canopy, the understory, or the edge of the forest in the different regions of Costa Rica.
    • Listen for humming noises – These robins make a distinct humming sound when they flap their wings, which can be as fast as 100 times per second. You can likewise hear their squeaks, chirps, or buzzes, used to safeguard their territories or communicate. If you hear any of these sounds, this bird might be nearby.

    Fascinating and Fun Hummingbird Facts

    Did you know…? 

    –  The United Nations has asked people to take inspiration from the hummingbird to improve sanitation systems and has made it the symbol of World Water Day and World Toilet Day 2023.

    The bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world at just 5 to 6 centimeters long and 2 grams in weight. 

    –  A thumb-sized Volcano Hummingbird can fill its beak with 12,000 calories of nectar every day to satisfy its appetite. This in turn helps flowers and fruits grow elsewhere. 

    This hummingbird experience, one flower at a time, has given rise to what is known as the Hummingbird Effect.  

    –  Certain Costa Rican oak forests have many different hummingbirds. Some areas have up to 40 individuals from 10 different varieties of hummingbird species visiting feeders at once.

    – To conserve energy, these birds go into a hibernation-like state called torpor at night and sometimes during the day. Their metabolic rate slows dramatically.

    These facts about hummingbirds have inspired many birders and nature lovers from around the world to come and see Costa Rica.



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