|Grey-tailed Mt. Gem|
The hedge is Stachytarpheta frantzii (aka Snakeweed, Porterweed, Mouse-tail, etc.), which is one of two native varieties in Costa Rica. It's planted all over the finca and draws in hummingbirds of many types. Though we don't have the hummer pileups like they do at La Georgina up on Cerro de La Muerte, we usually see 5 or 6 species regularly throughout the year. The Rufous-tailed hummers are more or less permanent residents, but the others come and go.
In the last week, however, two (maybe three) new holiday visitors have shown up; hummers we've never seen here before. The first, the Grey-tailed Mountain Gem, was spotted in the Porterweed down by the workshop. They are tiny, four inches from beak tip to tail tip, but seem completely non-plussed by the larger Rufous-tailed hummers that claim patches of the hedge as their own and defend their rights vigorously.
The second bird, just as tiny, now visits the purple flowers below the balcony several times a day. It's the more fascinating of the two due to its unusual appearance. It is the White-crested Coquette, an apt name for a creature so delicate and enticing.
Sean refers to its unusual bouffant as its mohawk, though they are actually feathers that grow from the sides of its head. Note, also, the tiny white cap feather on top of the head.
Since this bird frequents the shady side of the house and is in constant motion, it's rather difficult to get a clear photograph. At first, he reminded us of the Sphinx Moth, the insect world's hummingbird impersonator, but the larger size and the "spikes" dispel that notion quickly. Like the Mountain Gem, this gurrión is not impressed much by the Rufous-tailed hummer's brusque attacks to drive it out. It comes back immediately or positions itself deeper in the foliage where the larger bird can't reach it.
|A variant of a Mountain Gem?|
I theorize that it's not a coincidence that these three small hummingbirds decided to make their holiday visits during the same week. Perhaps all three frequent similar habitats and move about together across Costa Rica, like a tour group. Perhaps they will decide to make our farm a permanent home or at least stay the summer. In any case, we feel lucky that they decided to visit and let us add to our list of distinct colibrí up here on the mountain.