Hummingbird Paradise

Costa Rica is well known among birders as a great destination for hummingbirds. It is home to 50 different species and has many range-restricted and near-endemic hummers on its list.

At Rancho Naturalista a good portion of these 50 have been recorded over the years. Thanks to the combination of different habitats, feeders, an abundance of flowers and of course Rancho’s geographical location, this has been proved as a true hummingbirds paradise. Reason enough to highlight these beautiful birds and shed some light on some really special ones.

Starting off with the most iconic hummingbird found at Rancho Naturalista; the Snowcap. This tiny hummingbird is highly sought-after by birders visiting Costa Rica. The Snowcap is a regular visitor of the flowers around the lodge as well as at the hummingbird pools (more on that later). But don’t think it stops there. There are many more specialties and intriguing species of hummingbirds to be found on Rancho’s grounds.

Snowcap (© Meagan Wescoat)

Crowned Woodnymph (© Meagan Wescoat)

Green-breasted Mango (© Meagan Wescoat)

Hummingbird Feeders
At the main lodge we placed hummingbird feeders which are visited all day long by mainly 7 species. The feeders are located on the balcony of the lodge from where the guests can admire them in all their glory as they come to feed very close, so that even binoculars aren’t necessary. The main species visiting the feeders are: Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Crowned Woodnymph, White-necked Jacobin, Violet Sabrewing, Green-breasted Mango, Green-crowned Brilliant and Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer.

Flower visitors
Certain species of hummingbirds don’t or rarely visit the feeders but instead prefer certain types of flowers. A popular hummingbird attractor is the verbena, a plant holding purplish-blue flowers, blossoming throughout the year. These verbena bushes are located all around the main lodge as well as at Rancho Bajo, which lies at 10 minutes walking distance. The Snowcap is one of its regular visitors, as is the spectacular Black-crested Coquette, the tiny Stripe-throated Hermit, Green Thorntail and the range restricted Garden Emerald. Besides that, it is very popular among the Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds and attracts Violet-headed Hummingbirds too. In specific seasons it is a good spot to look for the White-crested Coquette (June-September) and Ruby-throated Hummingbird (November-March). In 2021 even a Rufous-crested Coquette spent a few months around the lodge in these flowers!

Garden Emerald (© Mercedes Alpízar)

White-necked Jacobin (© Skip Shand)

Black-crested Coquette (© Mercedes Alpízar)

Forest Hummingbirds
Some of the hummingbirds prefer to stay in the forest interiors and only occasionally make their way out of it. From the trails lekking Green Hermits can be heard and, with some patience, seen. The enigmatic Purple-crowned Fairy also inhabits these forests and while wandering in the upper parts of the trail one might encounter a Green-fronted Lancebill. Also present in the forest, feeding mostly on specific flowers and Heliconias, is the Band-tailed Barbthroat.

Hummingbird Pools
A unique feature of Rancho Naturalista as a birdwatching lodge in Costa Rica is the presence of the hummingbird pools. The naturally formed shallow pools located in a stream near the lodge offer spectacular views of hummingbirds (as well as other types of birds) bathing and coming to drink. From the viewing platform, one can expect various species coming to the pools especially in the late afternoon. Snowcap, Crowned Woodnymph and Purple-crowned Fairy are frequent visitors and with some luck one might even spot a White-tipped Sicklebill or other rarity.

Do you wish to learn more about the specialty birds found at Rancho Naturalista? Visit our birdpage!

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