The Volcano Hummingbird is tiny, even for a hummingbird, just 7.5 centimeters (a little less than 3 inches) long. It also has a tiny habitat, ranging in the higher mountains of Costa Rica to western Panama. And within that habitat it prefers to scrubby vegetated areas. In that part of Central America, taller mountains tend to be volcanoes; hence, the species’ common name. The background in this first photo is in fact a volcanic cinder field.
The species also has tiny territories, in some cases just 15 square meters, which the males defend aggressively. Unlike a lot of hummingbirds, the males hang around the nest after copulation, defending the territory against pretty much everything, including photographers.
Volcano Hummingbird nests are exquisite, and WC was lucky enough to see one.
The nest was in the middle of a thorn bush of some kind, and WC was being harrassed by a deeply unhappy male, but the photo at least gives you a sense of the nest’s delicate beauty. While Birds of the World says females don’t nest in a male’s territory, this nest was directly under the perch of the fiercely protective male. The female was incubating two tiny eggs.
The male has a flashy gorget, whose color varies among the three subspecies. Someday WC hopes to get a photo that shows it.
For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.