Ecuador Photo Gallery
Hummingbirds abound in Ecuador, which
is a wonderful
place to watch them. It has around 130 different
types of hummingbird and you can see them almost all over the
from the lowlands on both sides of the Andes to surprisingly high up in
the mountains. A few types are even found
in the streets and urban parks of the capital, Quito - look out for
sparkling violet-ears and black train-bearers. Many of
hummingbirds are brightly-coloured and some, such as the booted
racket-tail below, are so distinctive than
even the most inexperienced bird-watcher can easily identify them.
underwoodii) at Bellavista
are the only
type of bird which can fly backwards. They can also hover in
mid-air and can even fly upside down.
Although the 'elbow' and 'wrist' joints are fused so the
wings do not bend in the middle, hummingbirds have 180º of
motion at the shoulder joint. The distinctive humming
noise is made by their wings, moving at up to 70 or 80 beats per second
for the smallest hummingbirds. The Giant hummingbird beats
its wings only around 10 times per second. Most middle-sized
hummingbirds flap their wings at around 20-25 beats per second, or 1200
to 1500 beats per minute.
Whiskered Hermit (Phaethornis
yaruqui) hovering in
hummingbirds is not easy - they move incredibly fast and seem to take
great delight in hovering really close to you just when you're changing
the camera battery or otherwise unable to take a photo.
Having said that, I'm not a professional photographer and
managed to take the hummingbird photos on this page with a fairly
digital camera. The strategy is take as many photos as
possible and then delete the ones that show an empty space
where a hummingbird was just a fraction of a second before...
To get the images here, I took over a thousand shots.
green-crowned woodnymphs (Thalurania
can appear to be turqoise-crowned,
depending on the angle of the light
types of hummingbird takes some practice. The best book by
far for bird identification, in my opinion, is the huge, wonderfully
detailed and beautifully
Birds of Ecuador: Field Guide: Field Guide Vol II (Comstock Book), by
Greenfield, which has six pages of "hummers". (It may be cheaper to get
of Ecuador Field Guide
the United States, even if you live in the U.K). As you watch
hummingbird, it may appear to change
colour from blue to green, or a drab-looking bird may suddenly seem
to glitter and sparkle, because of the light reflecting from
Brown Violetear hummingbird (Colibri
can look quite drab
until you see its sparkling blue-green throatpatch.
by looking out for
common and distinctive hummingbirds such as the rufous tailed - pink
beak, green body and red tail, males and females look the same, though
females are a little duller coloured. Rufous tailed
hummingbirds are often
seen chasing other hummingbirds off 'their' flower or feeder.
Bear in mind that the green can appear quite dull or brightly
glittering, depending on the light. Juveniles sometimes seem
The red tail can sometimes be hidden
by the wings when
in mind that some
species of hummingbird
show sexual dimorphism, i.e. the males look very different from the
females. The male white-necked
jacobin is unmistakeable and the male
booted racket-tail is unique with his little fluffy white legs and long
spatulate tail. However, the female white-necked
nothing like the male and does not even have a white neck.
The female booted racket-tail does have 'boots' but does not
have a racquet tail.
Male (l) and female (r)
booted racket-tails (Ocreatus
Female (l) and male (r) white-necked jacobins (Florisuga mellivora)
posture of a
hummingbird can help
indicate which family it belongs to. The hermits have long
curved bills and tend to tuck their tails slightly under
them look as if they are curved forwards. They often hover with their
bodies in a nearly vertical
position. Woodstars, generally very small
with shortish tails and straight bills, tend to hold their bodies more
their tails sticking upwards.
Typical postures for a
woodstar (left) and hermit (right)
- not to scale, woodstars are actually
about half the size of hermits.
feeders, especially the type with little perches, are a
great way to persuade the birds to stay in one place for a while.
Just because hummingbirds
are able to hover in midair doesn't necessarily mean they want to...
jacula) slurping nectar from
a feeder in Mindo
is the preferred
hummingbird food and many resorts and hotels
in Ecuador put out feeders full of
nectar which attract hundreds of hummers. One hotel
know refills the feeders up to six times a day and the tiny
hummingbirds get through a whole sack of sugar in just a couple of
months. Hummingbirds don't survive on nectar alone though -
also eat small insects.
Fawn Breasted Brilliant
rubinoides) at Bellavista
you're lucky enough to
live in an area with hummingbirds and decide to put out hummingbird
food (either commercially-sold nectar, or sugar
and water mix), you need to continue. Hummingbirds use huge
amounts of energy flying and have a 'flight plan' to flowers or feeders
where they know they can feed. If the food supply just
suddenly stops, the birds will suffer or even die if they are at the
end of their energy reserves. It's important to
follow the instructions on your hummingbird feeder to provide the
correct mix of sugar and water (don't add colouring or
anything else) and also to keep the feeder clean (avoid
chemical cleaning products though).
White Whiskered Hermit (Phaethornis
a feeder in Mindo
you'd like to see and photo these hummingbirds for yourself, Mindo
is one of the easiest birding
destinations in Ecuador to visit
and you will
definitely see at least half a dozen different types within an hour or
two there. Please respect the fact that the hummingbird
pictures, like all photographs on
this site, are copyrighted and not to be used without permission.
in Photos: Hummingbird Pictures
Hummingbird heaven! Hummingbird facts, hummingbird food and
images of some of
Ecuador's hummingbirds to help with bird identification.
taken by Sarah Clifford at
hummingbird feeders and in the wild in various Ecuador locations
including San Luis de Pambil, Mindo and Bellavista.