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I Sing the Sabrewing Electric

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I've seen violet sabrewings in the highlands of Honduras and in a heliconia plantation in Guatemala. They've been a quest bird for me, this nearly sparrow-sized giant hummingbird, and I've been rewarded with brief glimpses and blurry photographs. 

I am delighted to say that I almost got my fill of violet sabrewings on our trip to Costa Rica in Feb/Mar 2014. 

How could I ever get my fill of a cobalt violet hummingbird?

This is a little photo salon of sabrewings, taken at a roadside restaurant in the Central Highlands. A simple cafe that features local cuisine in an open-air setting, where you have to dodge the quarreling hummingbirds buzzing all around you. My kind of diner.

This is a truly majestic hummingbird, well-named. 
He's gorgeous enough in the shade, but when the light hits him right, you just have to gasp.

He's a knight in violet mail. 

And those spanking white tailtips. 

It's one thing to photograph a bird plunked on a plastic feeder perch. Much more satisfying to follow them to their natural resting perches.

This wing structure flips me out. I'm counting ten primaries, and five, maybe six secondaries. But the structure is unlike anything I've drawn before. And how to capture that color? I'd love to try someday soon. Permanent rose, cobalt violet, ultramarine violet would surely be in the palette.

If females, which are gray below with a small violet gorget, ever visit feeders, I've never seen one. This puzzles and amazes me. Because now I've seen a lot of violet sabrewings, and I've yet to see a female. She'll be a quest bird for me now.

Ye gods! look at that tail pattern!

Ostentatiously beautiful from any angle, the violet sabrewing is another gift from above. I can only shake my head in wonder that such creatures exist. 

I remember watching the movie "Avatar," and being left puzzled that the animation team would take the time and trouble to create an alternate ecology, all these dreamt-up plants and organisms. It was beautiful, wonderful and awesome, but I kept thinking, "Isn't what's here wonderful enough? Do these people laboring away in a studio know that there are violet sabrewings out there? Have they seen them? How could people presume to create anything half as wonderful as this?

I would be satisfied just to try to do it justice in a painting, glad to know such a bird lives and flies where I can go see it, at a roadside cafe in Costa Rica. 



It is truly at treat whenever I come upon a bird I have always wanted to see, and they are being seen so often that we can jokingly say "oh it is just another_____________" (fill in the blank with that special bird.)

Glad you got to see these.

Kathy in Delrya Beach.

Posted by Anonymous April 28, 2014 at 7:51 AM

Now I know what color electric blue is. Just breathtaking!

Now I really want to go to Costa Rica! I enjoyed watching Violet Sabrewings at feeders in the highlands of Panama on the side of Volcan Baru. Good luck painting them and replicating their glorious magical colors!

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