Wednesday, December 8, 2010

No Violetears, but plenty of Sicklebills!

That is right, last sunday I went again to Cerro Azul (central Panama foothills) along with Osvaldo Quintero and Rafael Luck in search of the Brown Violetear reported elsewhere. Contrasting with my last visit, the day was sunny and hot in Panama City when we left it, and it was a clear day too in Birders' View when we arrived, but very windy. The activity was quite low, specially in the flowering trees and bushes that were attracting the hummingbirds, so we did not saw a sign of the Violetear. We decided to bird inside the forest, sheltered from the wind. Eventually we got to the now-famous Heliconia patch, home of the splendid White-tipped Sicklebill, and just few seconds after our arrival, one individual hovered in front of me for three seconds! Despite its dullness, the White-tipped Sicklebill is spectacular if you take into account its size and, of course, its distinctive bill. The combination of curved bill and streaked underparts is unique among Panama's hummingbirds. They are perfectly adapted to the dark understore where they live (just see how much light its eyes reflect when you photograph them with flash), sucking the nectar of the Heliconias flowers with its specialized, 90º curved bill. The purpouse of that extravagant bill become evident when you see its favored flowers (as in the picture). Notice also that they like to perch in the flowers, instead of hovering in front of it, when feeding. We found at least two different individuals, with one of them allowing great pictures while perched, making its insignificant call. After all it was a great, sunny day at Cerro Azul, despite we did not see our main target... but who is complaining?
This post was submitted to Bird Photography Weekly # 119. Check it out!


  1. Wow Jan, great shots of a very interesting hummingbird, well adapted for sure. What color are its eyes in normal light, black?

  2. @ Larry: that's right, black eyes in natural light

  3. lol, this is a bird I hope to see when I go to Costa Rica. :)