Photographing the Sickle-billed Hummingbird 2

A Mother White-tipped Sicklebill Hummingbird and her Chicks.

We observed this White-tipped Sicklebill for several days while she foraged for enough heliconia nectar and insects to feed her hungry chicks. Severe flooding the previous year had drastically curtailed the availability of the heliconia flowers that she favors. She often took close to an hour to return to her nest where two eager little beaks waited impatiently.

female White-tipped sickle-billed hummingbird feeding her two chicks and showing the regurgitated nectar

After feeding her chicks, she flew around the outside of her nest, inspecting it in detail and sometimes using her long tongue to adjust a loose strand or two.

white-tipped sickle billed hummingbird inspecting her nest

Her nest was built under a large banana leaf, which hung over a stream. It sheltered her brood from the rain and the tropical sun as well as hiding it from the view of predators.

The nest was very loosely woven. It was made of tendrils and roots and held together with spider silk. If you look closely at the image below, you might be able to see the silhouette  a second chick to the left of the one who's head is sticking out. This gives you an idea of how loosely woven the nest is.

white tipped sickle billed chicks showing their small, straight beaks

This species boasts one of the most extreme feeding adaptation of any hummingbird. Its dramatically curving bill aids in reaching through the narrow openings and taping the nectar reserves of the heliconia and other flowers that are out of reach of most other species of hummingbirds. Note that the chicks lack the long bills.

 Our 10 minute video of the this adventure



The White-tipped Sicklebill or Eutoxeres aquila is about 4 inches long and weighs 1/3 of an ounce. The subspecies salvini inhabits the forest understory of humid forests, often along a river, from eastern Costa Rica to western Colombia.

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  • Thanks, Tom. We really appreciate your feedback. It was a rough trip for our old bodies, but well worth it.

    • Cindy Walpole
  • Very nice video and a wonderful bird to photograph. Good job – I enjoyed it.

    • Thomas Kreulen