Twinkle the Snowy Bellied Hummingbird

Some of you may know that I live in the bonafide paradise of Boquete, Panama. I mentioned the flowers in my yard a few weeks ago, but I don’t think I told you about my other garden companions–the whimsical hummingbirds.

The most common hummingbirds in my area are the Rufous-tailed and the Snowy-bellied. I’ve spotted the majestic Violet Sabrewing once in my yard, but that was the only time. The Rufous-tails are friendly enough, but the Snowy Bellies are the gang that monopolize our feeder. 

If you think hummingbirds are delicate, timid creatures, you’re wrong. The Snowy Bellies are loud and exuberant. They perform aerial dogfights where they swerve and dive at each other, their wings and beaks colliding, to keep intruders away from their food.

They are so intelligent and bold that whenever the feeder is empty, they look through all the windows of the house to see where I am and cheep-cheep at me until I come out. They will find me wherever I am in the yard and buzz inches from my face to tell me they’re hungry. Honestly, these tiny birds, weighing ounces, boss me around.

Over the years The Hubs and I see what looks like a bumble-bee hovering around, only sometimes it isn’t a bee. It’s the teeniest, tiniest bird we’ve ever seen. It’s smaller than my thumb, and it’s quiet and shy. On the rare occasion I do notice it, it hums away before I can get close enough to see its markings.

Right now we have a massive wall of yellow flowers blooming along our fence, and the hummingbirds are using it to feast and congregate. Yesterday, I saw the little dark silhouette against the brilliant petals. I finally sneaked up on the teeny-tiny bird and got close enough to see its white collar. It was still too small for me to make out its colors as it hovered in the shadows. Then he looked up and for a split second the sunlight caught his gleaming throat. I saw a flash of iridescent magenta. I knew I had the clue I needed now.

I looked in my bird book and determined he was the Volcano Hummingbird, a precious little creature only found in the mountains of Chiriqui and Costa Rica. Finally, after all these years we know what species the “bee bird” is.

Look where my finger is pointing in the photo. That’s how tiny it is compared to other small hummingbirds. I hope to get the Volcano Hummingbird on camera one day. For now I have to use an image of a female from Wikipedia. She doesn’t have that gorgeous fuschia neck, but you can see how teeny-tiny this species is. Marvel at the cuteness!

You can see some great photos of this hummingbird on Flickr that I can’t use because they’re copyrighted.

Are you a bird nerd?

What kind of birds do you see in your yard?

What is the most incredible bird you ever saw?

Photo source