Scintillant Hummingbird (Selasphorus scintilla) - nest with chick. Ethics discussion.
29 January 2009, Savegre Mountain Hotel, San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica
We took shelter from a rain shower under the eave of the Quetzal Education
Research Center where we noticed this active hummingbird nest built on the
bottom of a large metal support hook.
Nesting in the Scintillant Hummingbird is from September to February.
Although clutch size is apparently unknown in this species, most
hummingbirds lay two eggs, but this one had only one surviving chick which
was large enough that we thought it would fledge soon.
The Scintillant Hummingbird is endemic to the mountains of Costa Rica and
adjacent Panama where it is rather locally distributed. It is the smallest
hummingbird in Costa Rica measuring barely 2.5".
With respect to the recent thread on the ethics of luring owls with mice, I
am much more concerned about the ethics of photography intruding on nests
and interrupting nesting activity. The recently documented case of two
photographers who were fined for disturbing a nesting pair of
Yellow-breasted Chats in British Columbia is a case in point.
Some web sites, such as BirdForum specifically prohibit posting photos of
nesting birds out of concern for the welfare of the subjects. That is
understandable and I support them in that. But they cannot know in all
cases the true circumstances of how the photos were obtained, and the
extent of the disturbance if any. For them it is better to make a broad
rule than to try to adjudicate the specifics of every individual case.
One of the significant advantages of digiscoping over conventional
photography is that you can get reasonable photos from a much a greater
distance. Thus there is much less chance that you will disturb the birds
or change their behavior. In this case, the nest was in a high traffic
area, so it probably didn't matter, but I had to back well away from the
nest to get this photo in focus. In my judgment, my presence did not
interfere with normal nesting behavior. The female continued to feed the
chick regularly without concern.
If anybody feels that I shouldn't have taken this photo, or posted it here,
please let me know your concerns privately.
Panasonic DMC-LZ5 / Nikon FieldScope 3 / 30X WA hand-held (no adapter)