Costa Rica 2013, Part 3.

Before we get to the anymules, I want to talk about orchids. I love orchids, I really do. There are so many different kinds. Every year there’s an orchid show at the Botanical Gardens here in NYC and it is mind-blowing. Here’s my post on it from about a year ago. And in Costa Rica they just grow wild! No cultivation required! So envious. They’re similar to bromeliads, which are plants that don’t need dirt to flourish. The orchids just wrap their root-tentacles around whatever’s nearby. I took pictures of several I came across.

Now before I left, I took my The Wildlife of Costa Rica: A Field Guide and I ended up reading it from cover to cover. I’m glad I did because I now know many things, things like the Mexican Burrowing Toad’s advertisement call is a bellowing uuwwaaaa, likened to the sound of a person vomiting, which is how they earned their common name “sapo borracho” (drunken toad”), or the Oilbird is the world’s only nocturnal avian frugivore (congratulations to you, Oilbird!).

So, on one of my first days there, The Moomins and I went to a refuge where indigenous animals that had been recovered from smuggling operations and were deemed unreleasable were kept. Our guide took tours through this refuge fairly frequently, so the animals were familiar with him. For example, he walked past an enormous avian cage and a Caracaca, which is a scary carrion-eating bird, flew down immediately and waited for head-skritchins. It was adorable.

We saw Scarlet Macaws being all parrot-y, squawkin’ and squabblin’ and flappin’ around.

And there were two Two-Fingered Sloths. They were sleeping. Because sloths.

But those weren’t the most amazing things there. The two things that were magical for me was the butterfly atrium and the hummingbird garden. Holy pumpkin-seeds, people. First, the butterfly atrium. Big, airy building filled with plants the butterflies enjoy.

There were two types of butterflies that were especially prevalent, the Blue Morpho and the Banded Owl Butterfly. However, there were other ones flittering around as well.

There were SO MANY. Here’s one of the fruit stations.

Seriously. Butterflies on all the surfaces.

One even landed on The Moomins and kept her company for the entire time.

They had plants that had butterfly eggs and caterpillars all over them. The eggs were beautiful, the caterpillars were beautiful – every aspect of the life-cycle of the butterfly is visually appealing in some way, it seems.

In the corner, staff had hung up all the chrysalises and there was a newly emerged guy with curled-up wings.

The only thing in the butterfly atrium that bugged me a little was this freaky plant that looked like a portal to an abyss. It was huge and veined and it had a dark pit in the center. It looked… menacing.

The other life-altering thing was the hummingbird garden. A little way outside was a small garden with five or six hummingbird feeders in them and a few small trees. Those trees were PACKED with hummingbirds.

It was pouring down rain and I could not have cared less. I stood there in the rain, water dripping off my nose, staring at all these teeny birds whizzing past my head. They make a cool noise when they go by, like a frrrrrrrmmm sound. It’s absolutely delightful. Here’s some video that I took.

They were mostly green hummingbirds with white eyefeathers that makes them look very alert.

There was a smaller, more colorful fellow who kept zipping in and out with a stunning aqua-colored head. I could not get a picture of his awesome aqua hat while he was sitting at the feeder, but I managed to get a vague shot of it as he zipped away. In the second picture, that turquoise smudge, that’s his cool head color. Don’t yell at me, I’m doing my best here people, hummingbirds are fast.

There was a bigger violet one.

And there was a teeny tiny little black one. He could have fit right in my palm.

I got an amazing shot from the back. He looks like a little jewel.

I really could have stood there in the rain all day. It was absolute bliss. I am now sorely tempted to get that strange hat with a mask and hummingbird feeder built in, so hummingbirds drink right in front of you. This one.

Tomorrow, frogs!

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