Costa Rica Views: The Tiny ‘Volcano Hummingbird’

Nature on PBS (March 27, 2023) – No bigger than a human thumb, the volcano hummingbird exists only in the Talamancas.

The volcano hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula ) is a very small  hummingbird, native to the Talamancan montane forests of Costa Rica and western Panama.

This tiny endemic bird inhabits open brushy areas, paramo, and edges of elfin forest at altitudes from 1850 m to the highest peaks. It is only 7.5 cm long. The male weighs 2.5 g and the female 2.8 g. The black bill is short and straight.

The adult male volcano hummingbird has bronze-green upperparts and rufous-edged black outer tail feathers. The throat is grey-purple in the Talamanca range, red in the Poas-Barva mountains and pink-purple in the Irazú-Turrialba area, the rest of the underparts being white. The female is similar, but her throat is white with dusky spots. Young birds resemble the female but have buff fringes to the upperpart plumage.

The female volcano hummingbird is entirely responsible for nest building and incubation. She lays two white eggs in her tiny plant-down cup nest 1–5 m high in a scrub or on a root below a south or east facing bank. Incubation takes 15–19 days, and fledging another 20–26.

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