This zippy little hummingbird is named for the cap that adorns the male’s head. I saw this individual in Costa Rica on the Caribbean mountain slopes where they are native. Microchera albocoronata can also be found in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama.
One of the smallest hummingbirds on earth, it is only 2.5 inches long. In a dark forest canopy it can be tricky following a dark speedy bird with your eyes, or more difficult, a camera lens; but the bright white cap helps with that. By staying focused on a zooming white dot, we were rewarded. Like most hummingbirds, their diet consists of flower nectar and an occasional insect. Hummingbirds are almost always bright colors like red or emerald or fuchsia, but this unusual species is burgundy.
What I liked best about this rare bird was its verve. You may be familiar with the fierceness of hummingbirds as they zoom around in constant defense of their territory. For this hummingbird that is roughly the size of your thumb, all the hummingbirds in the forest are bigger. Even butterflies are bigger! Yet the snowcap hummingbird charges through the forest like he owns it; extracting nectar on his daily route, squabbling with competitors while getting his needs met, and dazzling tourists too. I think that’s quite remarkable.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander