HOW TO SEE HUMMINGBIRDS IN COSTA RICA: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW!
Costa Rica: The sole equivalent of ‘Heaven on Earth’ and a must-visit for every wildlife lover, priding itself with the highest species diversity for an area of its size than anywhere else on Earth.
One of the most charismatic and colourful on its 500,000 species list is the dainty and darling hummingbird.
In this blog, we talk all about the Hummingbirds in Costa Rica, fun facts and include all of the hotspots where you can see them up close and personal!
ABOUT THE HUMMINGBIRDS IN COSTA RICA
WHAT TYPE OF HUMMINGBIRDS ARE IN COSTA RICA?
Incredibly, out of the world’s 343 known species of hummingbird, there are around 50 species that can be found in Costa Rica alone! There are 2 types of Hummingbird which can only be found in Costa Rica: The ‘Coppery-Headed Emerald‘ and the ‘Mangrove Hummingbird‘.
HOW MANY HUMMINGBIRDS ARE IN COSTA RICA?
For such a small country, Costa Rica is positively bursting with over 900 species of birds, including the fairy-like hummingbirds. There is estimated to be three times more hummingbirds in Costa Rica than in the whole of the US! Hummingbirds in Costa Rica live here all year round, so there is always a good chance to see them!
WHAT IS THE RAREST HUMMINGBIRD IN COSTA RICA?
The rarest Hummingbird in Costa Rica is the dazzling and endemic Mangrove Hummingbird. As the name suggests, they can only be found in and amongst Costa Rica’s subtropical mangrove forests.
HUMMINGBIRDS FUN FACTS:
The name “Hummingbird” originates from the subtle “hum” sound created from flapping their wings an incredible 60 times per second, which to the human eye, can only be seen as a blur. They fly at an average speed of 45 miles an hour.
Hummingbirds are only found in North, Central and South America!
Hummingbirds are the smallest bird species in the world.
Hummingbirds are the only bird that can fly in all directions – including: up, down, left, right, backwards and can even hover in place!
Hummingbirds bizarrely have no sense of smell, and are attracted to flowers purely by their bright colours! This is something that all hummingbirds have to learn on their own as they grow up.
Hummingbirds only use their legs for perching, they cannot physically walk!
Hummingbirds can consume up to double their body weight in a day.
Hummingbirds are very smart little birds! They have the largest brain and heart (proportionate to its body weight) of all animals, and remember the exact location of the plant with the best nectar year after year!
Hummingbirds visit up to 2,000-5,000 flowers to feed daily, and can consume over twice their body weight per day!
A hummingbird nest is adorably tiny and compact. They are roughly the size of a ping-pong ball (1.5 inches) – a perfect little nest for little hummingbird eggs – which themselves are the size of jelly beans!
A hummingbirds heartbeat can reach a staggering 1,200+ beats per minute during the day, but can also be slowed right down to as slow as 50-150 beats per minute when the hummingbird experiences what is known as ‘torpor’. ‘Torpor’ is a hibernation-like state that hummingbirds experience while they sleep. It allows them to conserve mass amounts of energy by lowering their body temperature!
WHERE TO SEE HUMMINGBIRDS IN COSTA RICA
WHERE CAN YOU SEE HUMMINGBIRDS IN COSTA RICA?
A preferred habitat of a hummingbird generally is a tropical moist rainforest, which luckily in Costa Rica, makes up 55% of this glorious country. Though may not always find hummingbirds all in the same place. What is called “high-elevation” hummingbirds can be found high in the mountains whereas more common species (i.e. the “rufous-tailed hummingbird”) can be even found whizzing through the lowlands including gardens and coffee plantations.
However, there a few hotspots where you are very likely to see these dazzling fast-flying creatures, one of which includes the infamous Monteverde Cloud Forest:
Would You Believe: We also saw wild Hummingbirds in Los Angeles! Click to read our blog post ‘A 5-day Los Angeles itinerary: 13 things you must do!” after to find out where! (Opens in a new tab)
MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST: THE HUMMINGBIRD GARDEN
WHAT IS MONTEVERDE CLOUD FOREST?
Arguably one of the most pristine and wild forests in the world, Costa Ricans consider the Monteverde Cloud Forest one of their seven natural wonders, with a unique blanket of cloud nurturing 90% of untouched forest and an abundance of extremely rare plants and animals, some of which are only found below these canopies and nowhere else in the world!
WHERE ARE THE MONTEVERDE HUMMINGBIRDS?
To see the Monteverde hummingbirds, you will need to visit the Selvatura Park – a staggering 850-acre ecological complex with an abundance of wildlife and adventure activities. Specifically, head to the ‘Hummingbird Garden’ in Selvatura Park, where you will find a quaint little corner of floating feeders with dozens of delightfully colourful blurs whizzing around excitedly – 14 unique species hummingbird which can be found here in Monteverde!
With no fear of humans, this is a rare opportunity to get up close and personal with these fairy-like creatures. Feel their fluttering wings whizz past your ears and watch as they feed just inches away on the nectar! If you’re patient enough, gently rest your finger near the feeder and if you’re lucky, the Monteverde hummingbirds will gratefully use you as a perch! The most incredible wildlife experience!
Top Tip: When filming the Monteverde hummingbirds, record at least one video on a “Slo-Mo” setting, which can be found as a standard camera mode on most smart phones. Not only will this give you wonderful footage of their wings in action slowed down (not seen to the naked eye) but amazingly, also captures their calls to one another – which cannot be heard in real time! Watch our “Slo-Mo” video above!
OTHER ACTIVITIES TO DO AT MONTEVERDE:
Stick around Monteverde Cloud Forest for an abundance of other wildlife experiences, including the world’s largest butterfly dome, spanning over 2,700 square feet and housing 30 mesmerising species of Costa Rican butterfly! Likewise, visit ‘The Herpetarium‘ to witness a vast majority Costa Rica’s wonderful lizards, snakes and frog species.
Venture also into the Cloud Forest itself to walk across the infamous hanging bridges, feel the thrill of zip wiring across the canopies or take part in a Monteverde night tour in search for nocturnal wildlife!
Fun Fact: When feeding on nectar, the hummingbirds move their tongue in and out 13 times per second!
OTHER PLACES TO SEE HUMMINGBIRDS IN COSTA RICA
LA PAZ WATERFALL GARDENS 📍
La Paz Waterfall Gardens is a nature park, wildlife sanctuary and 5* boutique hotel all in one complex, just a 45-minute drive from San Jose airport. Includes incredible hiking trails to see five famous waterfalls plus Costa Rica’s largest animal sanctuary, where you can see: jungle cats, monkeys, reptiles, butterflies and – of course – hummingbirds!
The La Paz Waterfall Gardens ‘Hummingbird Garden’ attracts over 50% of Costa Rica’s 50 different hummingbird species! The wild hummingbirds here have no fear of humans and will happily drink from the feeders just inches away from you!
BAJO DEL TORO 📍
Spot hundreds of wild hummingbirds in and around the small inland town of Bajo Del Toro. The main draw to Bajo Del Toro is the long forest trek to Catarata Del Toro Waterfall – a 90 metre tall waterfall cascading into an old volcanic crater. You will have to pay $14 to enter this well maintained, privately-owned land to make your way to the reserve, the waterfall itself and its on-site facilities, which include public toilets and an on-site restaurant.
You do not have to venture down the steep steps to see the waterfall, or the hummingbirds! The reserve owners have set up hummingbird nectar feeders all along the edge of the restaurant, attracting hundreds of them each day! That, coupled with the backdrop of the distant waterfall, is what we call a perfect view!
MISTICO ARENAL PARK 📍
Our best until last destination, located in La Fortuna. Mistico Arenal Park is a privately owned, natural ecological reserve, adorned with awe-inspiring hanging bridges, momentous nature, majestic fauna and – most importantly for us – one of the largest hummingbird concentrations in Costa Rica – being home to 33 out of 50 Costa Rican hummingbird species!
Mistico Arenal Park have a very different stance to attracting hummingbirds, and do not participate in putting out artificial feeders for their resident hummingbirds. They believe the hummingbirds in their park should be encouraged to feed naturally and in turn continue their important job of pollinating the Park’s forest plants. Watch them in their element as they whizz from flower to flower within this glorious natural reserve.
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