Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bulletin 200 - Panama #8 - hummingbirds

With this edition, I have reached another milestone..#200. Looking back at the first one, it was May 2007, after 2 couples I met birding in Galveston asked me to send them some photos of the birds we had seen. I now have over 250 people who receive these bulletins. It is due to you, my subscribers, that publishing these bulletins is a labor of love. Thank you.

I suppose everyone was wondering why I had not shown any hummer photos from Panama. It was because I was saving them for #200. The hummingbirds are a large new world family of birds with 340 species. Most of them are in the tropics. North America has 18 species listed in Sibley, 8 of whom occur just across the Mexican border in Texas or Arizona. The Panama field guide has 59 species! The names of some of these tropical hummers are very imaginative such as sunangel, fairy, hermit, plumeleteer, topaz, coquette, emerald, mango, woodnymph, sunbeam, coronet, mountaingem etc. These are the jewels of the bird world.

So lets start with the hermits. This group of hummers have long curved bills and are usually brown or green in color. Some of them have elongated central tail feathers. The sexes are similar except where noted. They usually do not come to feeders.

The Long-billed Hermit (Phaethornis longirostris) is 6" in length and readily comes to feeders.

Long-billed Hermit

The Green Hermit (Phaethornis guy) is also 6" long but has dark green upperparts. The male is green on the underside, but the female shown here has gray underparts, and rufous stripes on face and throat.

Green Hermit - female

The Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl) is a 4" very common hummingbird from central Mexico to Ecuador and Venezuela. It looks similar to our Buff-bellied Hummingbird except belly is gray and tail rufous. Those 2 species are the same genus. Sexes are similar.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Another of the same genus is the Snowy-bellied Hummingbird (Amazilia edward) is also 4" long. It has a sharp demarcation from the green throat and white belly. The tail and wings are coppery colored. Here are a couple of photos.

Snowy-bellied Hummingbird

And another bird.

Snowy-bellied Hummingbird

The Purple-crowned Fairy (Heliothryx barroti) is a large 5" stunning hummer with bright green above and snow white below. The lateral tail feathers are white as well. They do not come to feeders, so one has to be quick and lucky to catch them feeding on flowers. The male has a purple crown.

Purple-crowned Fairy - male

Another day, I caught a female feeding.

Purple-crowned Fairy - female

The Sapphire-throated Hummingbird (Lepidopyga coeruleogularis) is a small (3.5") hummer with a forked tail. The male is all green except for a violet-blue throat. The forked tail isn't seen in the photo as his tail is spread.

Sapphire-throated Hummingbird - male

The female has white underparts except for green spots along the flanks. Here the forked tail with white tips is seen.

Sapphire-throated Hummingbird - female

The Black-throated Mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis) is a 4" green hummer. The male has a black stripe from his throat to his belly.

Black-throated Mango - male

Next we have a couple birds with white in their name. The White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora) is a common 4.5" hummer that we saw everday on the trip. The male has a green back, blue head, white collar, white belly and mostly white tail. He is a stunning bird and easy to ID.

White-necked Jacobin - male

When hovering, he fans his tail and the white is obvious.

White-necked Jacobin - male

We also had a juvenile male who just had some blue on his throat.

White-necked Jacobin - juvenile male

The female is all green above and spotted green below.

White-necked Jacobin - female

Next is the White-vented Plumeleteer (Chalybura buffonii). This 4.5" hummer is named for the elongated vent feathers under the tail. The male is all green otherwise.

White-vented Plumeleteer - male

The female is all gray underneath.

White-vented Plumeleteer - female

I have saved the best for last...3 species with violet in their name. The first is the Violet-headed Hummingbird (Klais guimeti). The male of this 3" hummer has a purple crown and throat. We didn't see him however, just the female. She is green above and grayish below. The ID mark for this speices is the conspicuous white spot behind the eye. It is the only member of this genus.
Violet-headed Hummingbird - female

The male Violet-bellied Hummingbird (Darmophila julie) is a 3.5" stunner. Instead of his green throat being iridescent and flashing, the violet belly flashes when he gets the sun on it. The rest of the bird is green. The belly just looks black until it shows it color, so getting a photo of that took some patience. It is the only member of this genus.

Violet-bellied Hummingbird - male

And here is a full on view.

Violet-bellied Hummingbird - male

Lastly the male Violet-crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania columbica) is a 4.5" violet hummingbird with a brilliant green gorget and a forked tail. He is breathtaking.

Violet-crowned Woodnymph - male

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2014 David McDonald

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