Violet-tailed SylphBefore arriving to the San Jorge Tandayapa Lodge for a long weekend last month, I asked if there was a chance to see the Violet-tailed Sylph. I had only seen him once before at the Bellavista Lodge further up the hill. My pictures from that day were blurry from my inexperience as a photographer and rainy, dark weather that complicated shots of this super fast bird. I was bound and determined to get better shots. But the answer was only maybe…

We arrived late on Friday afternoon and by Sunday morning we hadn’t caught even a glimpse of this beautiful bird. But, as we were arranging seats at breakfast, a long tailed hummingbird caught my eye and I immediately thought it would be one of the Trainbearers. Then he flew and I caught sight of an electric blue tail. I practically took flight myself, grabbing the wrong camera in my hurry to catch this stunning creature in a photograph.

Violet-tailed Sylph

Once I got the correct camera in hand, I was able to snap a series of photos of the Violet-tailed Sylph from two different directions. He perched for a couple of minutes on either side of a single visit to a sugar feeder set in the shade of the hillside. It was the most exciting three minutes of the entire trip for me!

We learned from our trip to Bellavista that the Violet-tailed Sylph prefers visiting feeders set low to the ground. And though the bird will perch nearby, he doesn’t generally perch for long stretches. And when he flies, he flies fast.

My next goal will be to capture him in flight. According to the Luis Alcivar, manager of the San Jorge Eco-Lodges and photographer himself, I need to return mid-January when as many as 26 males will be visiting the feeders. Anyone interested in taking a mid-week trip with me? Sounds like we better make the reservations now.

For the best views, please click on an individual picture: