Birdwatchers and novice wildlife watchers alike tend to catch their breath at the site of the bejeweled fliers who can hover indefinitely and fly backwards—making them unique among all other birds of the world. In Costa Rica, they range from very small to surprisingly large, with tail streamers, bright colorations and fancy head plumes.
Co-evolving with the plants of Costa Rica, hummingbirds have long, slender bills and long tongues, perfect for feeding on nectar. Eating their body weight in nectar each day, hummingbirds have an extremely high metabolism—the highest of any bird on the planet, in fact. To maintain their energetic existence, they also supplement their nectar diets with insects. While awake, their heart rate exceeds 1,200 beats a minute. At night, they go into a torpor state to conserve their energy.
Most hummingbirds live relatively solitary lives, and aggressively defend the nectar-bearing plants in their territory from other hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.
The tiniest hummer in Costa Rica is the male of the species Selasphorus Scintilla, weighing in at just two grams. Camplyopterus hemilecurus is the largest hummingbird in Costa Rica, and weighs in at 11.5 grams. This bird is a flash of brilliant violet on its head and beautifully contrasting emerald wings.
Of the 50 species that live year-around in Costa Rica, ten of them prefer highland environments like the Arenal and Irazu volcanoes. In fact, La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which is within minutes of Arenal Hills, boasts one of the highest concentrations of humminghbirds in a highland ecosystem. These include showy specimens like Panterpe insignis, known by its fiery red throat, and shimmering green body, indigo chest, and a radiant blue crown.
At Arenal Hills, we have purposely included flowering plants that attract hummingbirds to our community. These include orchids, Porterweed, bananas, ginger, and more. We encourage our residents to provide natural nutrition instead of sugar feeders.