Hummingbirds of Panama

Who doesn’t like hummingbirds?

They’re colorful, cute, the smallest of all the birds in the world, buzz around sounding like George Jetson, and can only be found in the Americas. Yep, that’s right. You won’t find one of these fellas buzzing around Europe or Africa.

And Panama has 59 different species of these guys.

Hummingbirds always seem to put a smile on the face of just about anyone.  They’re super fascinating with their sword-like bill, their iridescent colors and if you’re lucky to see, their territorial displays and fights.  The more aggressive hummers use their bills to fight off competition and we saw a few fallen ones several years back when we were marveling at some fighting over some feeders in Costa Rica.

When we were in Panama the last couple of weeks we didn’t see all 59 species, but we saw 26–just about half. And that’s not bad since we were only on the Western half of Panama.

I’d love to have the metabolism of a hummingbird. In just one hour after Ito, our guide in the Cerro Punta area, had refilled one of the feeders at the cabins at Los Quetzales, it was 1/2 empty.  Yet, these little guys don’t appear to be slowed down as much as I am after having a big dinner, (like the big Easter brunch I just finished). Maybe if I were flapping my tiny wings a gazillion times a minute I’d be thirsty too.

Now, I’m not a super exceptional photographer, but I try to practice a lot and hummingbirds give me loads of good practice and material.  Hummingbirds, believe it or not are pretty easy to capture–easier than, say, warblers.  Warblers don’t sit still for one moment.  Hummingbirds, on the other hand, often cue up nearby the feeders on a tree  branch like good little soldiers, giving me terrific opportunities for getting a nice photo. And if the sun is shining just right, I can get some great shots of the iridescent colors these birds are known for.

You’ve just got to be careful not to get in their flight path and it gets really crazy when there are dozens or so (or even 20 or so as it was in several cases on our trip) when they fly right over your shoulder.  To hear them whiz by right next to your ear is both exciting and scary at the same time.

Here are my favorites from our Panama trip of last week and the week before.  Now that I’ve had a chance to sort through them all (I had close to 200 of just hummingbirds), they are ready for your enjoyment  Be sure to click on them to enlarge.

Violet Sabrewing

Violet-headed Hummingbird

Purple-throated Mountain Gem – female

Violet Sabrewing

Black-bellied Hummingbird

Violet-headed Hummingbird

Violet-headed Hummingbird

White-throated Mountain Gem

Violet Sabrewing

Violet-headed Hummingbird

Violet-headed Hummingbird

Green Violet Ear and flowers

White-necked Jacobin displaying

Black-throated Mango

White-necked Jacobin

Blue-chested Hummingbird

Green Violet Ear

Violet Sabrewing – female

Purple-throated Mountain Gem