Costa Rica Photo Gallery

Birds at Savegre Mountain Lodge, San Gerardo de Dota.

January 2009 -- Digiscoped images by Joseph Morlan

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)
Joseph Morlan