Birds of Costa Rica
Of the 300 New World Hummingbird species Costa Rica harbors 54 species. Hummingbirds (Colibris) command a range of superlatives: they possess the highest metabolic rates known in the avian world. With up to 200 wing beats per second they are able to hover in the air and also fly backwards. Their heart beat is the most rapid of any animal, with up to fifty times per second (depending on the species).
For their fast-paced lifestyle they need continuous and massive amounts of energy, mostly from flower nectar, but they do also eat insects and small spiders to obtain proteins. Hummingbirds are invaluable as pollinators, especially of Costa Rica's wide range of heliconias.
As delicate they appear, hummingbirds are in fact quite aggressive little creatures. Seriously territorial they defend their flower patch with deadly force. Unmindful butterflies risk to be speared if caught infringing.
The most commonly seen hummingbird in Costa Rica and many parts of Central America is the Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird, who frequents forest edges, rivers, coffee plantations and gardens from both coasts, up to about 6,000 feet above sea level.
The iridscent green and cinnamon-colored hummingbird is very territorial and aggressively drives much bigger hummingbirds away from its favorite food source.
In the process of sipping nectar, the bird's head and face become coated with pollen, which he then transfers to the next flower.