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Baja Hummingbirds and others. – Chris Llewellyn's "Birds Eye Views"

Baja Hummingbirds and others.

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Here on the East Cape we have two Hummingbird species that are commonly seen at our feeders.  I have photos of 38 different types of hummers and I thought I’d share some of them with you today.  First photo will be that of the Baja endemic Xantus’s Hummingbird.

Xantus’s Hummingbird

Xantus Hummingbird is a medium-sized hummingbird that can only be found in Baja, California. The bird is deemed to be the most distinctive among the few Baja specialty birds. It grows to a length of 3-3.5 inches, and weighs about 3-4 grams upon maturity. It was named after a Hungarian zoologist, John Xantus de Vesey.  Debbie’s photo of a Xantus’s graces the cover of our book, “Birds We See” in Baja.  It is also featured in the book, “Hummingbirds of the World” with our permission.  The next bird is the hummer most often seen here, the Costa’s Hummingbird.

Costa’s Hummingbird

The desert might seem like a bad place for a creature that feeds at flowers, but it is the favored habitat for Costa’s Hummingbird. In Arizona and California deserts, this species nests during late winter and spring, and most then avoid the hot summer by migrating to coastal California and Baja. The thin, high-pitched whistle of the male is often heard over desert washes in early spring.  We move to the high mountains of Costa Rica.  The Volcano Hummingbird.

Volcano HummingbirdThis guy was sitting in the misty rain when I shot him.The Volcano Hummingbird is restricted to the Costa Rica and Panama Highlands Endemic Bird Area, where it is generally common in highland pastures and open grassland with scrub, usually above 2000 m elevation. This tiny hummingbird is mainly green above, with a brilliant wine-colored gorget in the male (replaced by dark spotting in the female), a white breast band, and greenish (males) or pale rufous (females) over the rest of the underparts. The tail is slightly forked in both sexes, more noticeably so in males. Three subspecies have been named, and these principally differ in the color of the gorget, being purplish gray to brilliant green in the southernmost form. In the non-breeding season, both sexes may defend territories around certain patches of small flowers.  The following hummer lives up to it’s name. The Lesser Violet-ear-





Lesser Violet-ear



Lesser Violetear is locally common in montane regions of southern Central America and of South America, from Costa Rica south to northern Argentina, and east to the coastal mountains of northern Venezuela. Formerly Lesser was included with Mexican Violetear (Colibri thalassinus), which occurs from Mexico to Nicaragua, as a single species (“Green Violetear”, C. thalassinus), but Mexican and Lesser violetears differ significantly from one another in plumage, and now are classified as separate species. All species of violetears (Colibri), including Lesser, have a patch of elongated violet feathers on the sides of the head (hence the English name). Lesser Violetear otherwise is mostly glittering green; most populations have a purely green breast, lacking the bright blue breast patch of Mexican Violetear, but reportedly some specimens of Lesser, from the northern part of the range, in Costa Rica, also may have some blue on the underparts. Lesser Violetear inhabits highland humid forest borders, clearings and highland pastures, and is resident throughout its range.  I took this photo of an Ana’s Hummingbird in Oregon.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Anna’s Hummingbirds are among the most common hummingbirds along the Pacific Coast, yet they’re anything but common in appearance. With their iridescent emerald feathers and sparkling rose-pink throats, they are more like flying jewelry than birds. Though no larger than a ping-pong ball and no heavier than a nickel, Anna’s Hummingbirds make a strong impression. In their thrilling courtship displays, males climb up to 130 feet into the air and then swoop to the ground with a curious burst of noise that they produce through their tail feathers.

Soon I’ll be traveling to the mainland to bird with Mark Stackhouse, one of the best birding guides ever.  I should have some adventures to blog about.  ’til later Happy Birding.   

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