Today we went to a place called Green Hills, near San Ignacio, where it is known that there are a lot of hummingbirds. The owners put out feeders for them. The hummers come and go, sometimes ten or more at a time. I saw eight different species including the following:
The White-necked Jocobin has a blue head and a green and white body. The neck is white only at the back. If you view it from the front, you would not see any white on the neck. It is a very pretty bird. The tail is white and spreads out wide below the bird when hovering, The female is green with blue spots on the front.
The Long-billed Hermit is one of my favourites. It is rather plain in colour but it is quite large for a hummingbird. It has a long, downward-curved bill and a very long tail. Hermits are a type of hummingbird that have stripes on the sides of their head and downward-curved bills. Other hermits are quite small but have the same characteristics. One Long-billed Hermit hovered right in front of my face for a while and I got a great look at it.
The Rufous-tailed Hummingbird is the most common in southern Mexico, Belize and northern Guatemala. It is green with a rufous-coloured tail. They have a red and black bill.
The Violet Sabrewing is a large, striking hummer completely dressed in brilliant purple. It is somewhat of a shock when one comes into view. He is like a king in his royal robes amongst the plainly dressed hummers. The female is not so impressive, dressed in a greyish white.
The Wedge-tailed Sabrewing is a large, but rather plain hummer, named for its large, arrowhead-shaped tail. The female has a smaller tail similar to most other hummingbirds.
The Green-breasted Mango is another great hummer. The male is a very dark green with a purple tail which is not too impressive when perched, but it spreads out the tail feathers and flashes its dark purple when hovering. The female is unique in that it has a dark green vertical stripe down the centre it its white belly.
The White-bellied Emerald is fairly plain compared to its neighbours. It is a dull green on the back and white on the front.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is a plain green and white but the males have a brilliant red throat. The red throat is only visible when the light hits it in a certain angle. At other times it appears to be black.
All of these hummers are tropical birds except for the Ruby-throated which can be found as far north as Canada during the summer. It is one of the less common birds here. A couple of times, people have pointed them out to me at other locations and they were very excited to see it, but I was more interested in the tropical ones that I cannot see in the north. I found the same thing with many of the migrant warblers. People here are excited to see them but many of them are common in Canada and actually look much nicer there when they are in their spring breeding plumage.
There are 335 species of hummingbirds in north, south, and central America and 22 different ones in Belize. Some of them migrate long distances like the Ruby-throated and some have tiny ranges and never move very far. In Baja California I saw the Xanthus’s Hummingbird which lives only at the southern tip of the Baja peninsula and never goes anywhere else. I saw the Cozumel Emerald which lives only on the island of Cozumel in Mexico.
I have seen a total of 19 different hummingbirds of which only two can be seen both in the tropics and north of Mexico. I seldom see more than one or two different species in a single day. In Cockscomb Basin I saw four or five different kinds in the same tree. Today I saw eight species from a single location in the garden at Green Hills. Raptors and Hummingbirds are my favourite birds (the largest and the smallest) A wonderful day.
I hope one day to see the Bee Hummingbird which is the smallest bird in the world. It is the size of a bumble bee and weighs only as much as two paperclips. Most birds are very light as they are made up of mostly feathers and hollow bones but this is incredibility small. It lives only in Cuba.