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The Hummingbirds in Costa Rica that Don't Visit Feeders (and How to See Them!)


Hummingbirds in Costa Rica! This birdy country might be small but there’s a huge number of birds, hummingbirds included. Despite only being as big as West Virginia, 53 hummingbird species have been seen in Costa Rica.


Yes, really. That many!


Three are rare vagrants and one, the Guanacaste Hummingbird, is an enigma that has only been seen on one occasion. That leaves us with 49 regularly occurring hummingbird species, more than enough to keep a birder happy!

Of those hummingbirds, a good number visit feeders but a handful rarely or ever do. Read on to find out which hummingbirds in Costa Rica don’t typically visit feeders and learn how we still see them:


White-tipped Sicklebill



This big and hefty hummingbird is one of the more challenging hummingbirds to see in Costa Rica. It’s not rare but it covers a large territory while visiting hanging Heliconias and similar large flowers. We find this bird by finding the flowers it feeds on.


Bronzy Hermit and Band-tailed Barbthroat

While both of these hermit species can show at feeders, like the sicklebill, we see them more often at the flowers they feed on. Heliconia patches and knowing their songs are key to find them.




Green-fronted Lancebill

Another specialized hummingbird, the lancebill feeds from small hanging flowers in cloud forest and, for part of the year, foothill rainforest. Until someone invents a custom feeder to suit their fickle feeding needs, we’ll have to look for lancebills at the usual places where they occur. That would be along streams, at the flowers they like, and at Hotel Quelitales. This birding lodge often has Green-fronted Lancebills sitting on a small perch next to a waterfall, the perfect spot for this hummingbird!



While this beauty doesn’t usually visit feeders, fortunately, they are pretty common and easy to see. We find them in lowland and foothill rainforest where they forage at small flowers. They also hawk small bugs in the air and pick them from spider webs and foliage. They also seem to move with mixed flocks. At the Rancho Naturalista birding lodge, we also see them at their hummingbird bathing pools!


Mangrove Hummingbird

This much coveted endemic is not so easy to see. Since it has such a limited distribution, the Mangrove Hummingbird is considered to be endangered. It is certainly uncommon and can occasionally visit a feeder near its mangrove habitat but we typically see them inside mangrove forest.


Long-billed Starthroat and Plain-capped Starthroat

Occasionally, both of these long-beaked stars come to a feeder but we usually see them in other situations. Both like to feed on arboreal flowers in open habitats and are actually fairly common.


Plain-capped Starthroat in Costa Rica.


Small hummingbirds in Costa Rica that feed on small flowers

The following hummingbirds probably get excluded from feeders by larger hummingbirds. Luckily, they are still reliable for close looks and pictures at various flowering bushes and trees. These species are Blue-throated Goldentail, Sapphire-throated Hummingbird,


Garden and Canivet’s Emeralds,

the three Coquettes,



and Snowcap.




Fortunately, whether feeders are present or not, in Costa Rica, we can still see plenty of hummingbirds at key flowering plants. Do you like to do hummingbird photography? Have you wondered how many hummingbirds you can see during a week or ten days in Costa Rica? Contact us at sharpbill@lifertours.com!


A few FAQs about hummingbirds in Costa Rica


How many hummingbirds live in Costa Rica?

49 or 50 hummingbirds live in Costa Rica. There are also three additional hummingbirds that are rare visitors.


Where can you see hummingbirds in Costa Rica?

You can see hummingbirds in Costa Rica in any place with bushes, trees, and other natural habitats. The places in Costa Rica with the most hummingbird species are in cloud forest and other highland habitats.


What’s the most common hummingbird in Costa Rica?

The most common hummingbird in Costa Rica is the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. This pretty hummingbird lives in gardens and other edge habitats in many parts of Costa Rica

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