Birder of the Year: Costa Rica, Thursday 2
As 2009 Birder of the Year, Dianne Patterson of Columbus, Miss., received a Swarovski 8x32 EL binocular and an expenses-paid five-day trip for two to Costa Rica with Swarovski and WildBird hosts. She also received a Swarovski squall jacket as well as “Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America” from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Dianne, her husband Jim, Clay Taylor of Swarovski Optik and I flew to Costa Rica in late May to bird with Clay's Costa Rican colleague, Alex Villegas. Aided by our driver, Rafael, we covered a fair bit of ground starting May 27.
While creating the itinerary for this year's trip, Clay and Alex kept in mind Dianne's passion for hummingbirds. That passion previously persuaded WildBird readers to award the Birder of the Year title and prizes to her, recognizing that the maintenance of 40 to 50 hummingbird feeders requires time and dedication (not to mention money).
Costa Rica hosts dozens of hummingbirds. A perusal of "The Birds of Costa Rica" reveals more than 50 species accounts in the hummingbird section. In contrast, "Field Guide to the Birds of North America" includes 21 species accounts.
Our stop at La Georgina on Thursday morning gave us a chance to introduce Dianne and her husband, Jim, to Costa Rica's hummingbirds. It would've been easy to remain for hours, marveling at the nonstop activity and reveling in the sparkly sprites' antics at the sugarwater feeders.
I can't say enough about the wise decision to replace the windows next to the feeders. They look much better, and their ability to slide open makes so much more sense. Our group opened a few windows for closer viewing. One member of our entourage, Grace (Clay Taylor's daughter), sat for a spell and absorbed the sights and sounds just inches from her face.
We saw mostly Fiery-throated Hummingbirds as well as Magnificent Hummingbirds and Volcano Hummingbirds. A Green Violet-ear or two made quick appearances, but the majority of the cast included the first three species. Click on an image to see a larger version.
top of the frame? I have a guess but want to know your thoughts.
One tip I've heard from hummingbird aficionados is to avoid feeders with yellow ports, the thought being that the yellow color attracts insects that compete with the birds for the sugarwater. At La Georgina, I noted the white feeder ports and an apparent lack of insect competitors. Was it the 10,000-foot elevation, not the color, that accounted for the absence of bugs?
In this 30-second video clip, look at this Fiery-throated Hummingbird's little throat as it sips from the feeder. Also note the small white spot behind the eye, considered a field mark for this endemic species. Watch for its tongue to stick out from the beak, and turn up your computer's sound to hear the birds' chittering and the buzz of this bird's wings as it exits. Pretty cool.