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Hummingbird in the rain

Juni 2024

Animals in Costa Rica

Three weeks in the animal paradise: My second trip to Costa Rica was simply dreamlike. Together with my photography friend, we explored the country from south to north. Our journey began in the highland cloud forest, where we took our time to photograph the dazzling Quetzal again, this time during nesting. The rest of the time we dedicated to extensive photography of hummingbirds, sometimes in the rain, and sometimes with a multi-flash setup. On this trip, I wanted to downplay staged photography. However, I could never have imagined how "natural" the pictures in the upcoming lodges would turn out to be....

After six nights in the cool cloud forest above 2500 meters, we finally headed south. Tales had warned us—it would be hot, but the humidity around 90% meant constant sweating. Our cameras also struggled, fogging up each morning.

Thus, we spent three nights in a dreamlike rainforest lodge in the southwest of Costa Rica, accessible only by boat. Our photo wish list included the Keel Billed Toucan, red macaws, sloths, and monkeys. We could hear the toucans, and I actually managed to capture a distant shot high up in a tree; however, sloths were absent, and while we heard the howler monkeys roar, they remained hidden in the dense rainforest. The red macaws did show up, but didn’t understand why we preferred to photograph them in the early morning light rather than under the harsh midday sun. So much for natural photography! Despite everything, I wouldn’t want to miss those three nights, and here are some "natural" images from the southwest.

After three sweaty days and nights in the rainforest, we spent two more nights in the highlands at a hummingbird lodge. Up to 26 different species of hummingbirds can be found here throughout the year - a significant proportion of the 52 species found in the Americas.

It was at this lodge that I had the opportunity to take some action shots of hummingbirds. These little flying artists are unique in their agility - they are the only birds that can fly backwards because they can move their wings in all directions.

The dazzling colours of hummingbirds change with the light, making them a fascinating subject to photograph. They are very territorial and want the flower or feeding place to themselves. They feed every 15 to 20 minutes, visiting up to 1200 flowers a day. They feed mainly on nectar but will also eat small insects. Their wings beat up to 80 times per second and their heart can beat up to 1200 times per minute during flight. At night they can go into a kind of torpor, where their body temperature drops by 3 to 4 degrees and their metabolism runs on a low flame.

These little survivors live for 7 to 10 years and breed once or twice a year. Their tongue is twice as long as their beak and moves up to 20 times per second as they lap up nectar.

This stay gave us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the fascinating world of kolibris and learn more about them.