The hummingbird family hosts hundreds of glittering, fantastic bird species. All are restricted to the Americas and more than 50 species have been recorded in Costa Rica. Many of those feathered dynamos are common and easy to see, especially at feeders put out for them and natural feeders in the form of flowering bushes and trees.
Although the majority of hummingbird species are simply stunning, some species stand out for the incredible colors and glittering plumage they show. The tiny Snowcap is one of those species.
Found in the humid foothill forests of Honduras south to central Panama, the Snowcap can be tough to see as it forages on flowers high in the canopy of the forest. Fortunately, it also comes down to bushes at the edge of the forest and this is by far, the easiest way to get close looks at this incredible bird.
Two of the easiest places in the world to see this species are at an unsigned hummingbird garden known as El Tapir and the much better known, classic birding hotel known as Rancho Naturalista.
To get to El Tapir, take the main highway from San Jose towards Guapiles. After passing the entrance to Quebrada Gonzalez ranger station, go about 2 kilometers further and watch for a small clearing with a couple of buildings on the right. Pull in, open the gate if needed, and drive back to the house. Pay the caretaker 2,500 colones ($5) and wait for the Snowcaps (and several other hummingbird species) to show at the flowering Porterweed. There are occasions when they don’t appear but are present most of the time.