Postcard from Chile: Giant Hummingbird in Zapallar

Giant Hummingbird (Picaflor gigante) ©2011 Margaret Snook T

Giant Hummingbird captured in flight near the coast in Zapallar in Central Chile (© M Snook for Cachando Chile)

I made the Post a Week Pledge just 3 weeks ago, and I’m already having a hard time keeping up! But I’m bound and determined to make good on my promise and catch up ASAP! And that means you’ll probably be seeing a few more postcards from me in the near future!

For more on Chile’s Giant Hummingbird and other summer-inspired ramblings, read on!

I don’t know why I always allow myself to be lured into the same silly trap year after year. I always think that once we get beyond the holidays, that January will be more relaxed–it never is! Here in Chile everyone is trying to get their desks in order before heading off for vacations in February. This year has been special because I have visitors who are here for the first time, so we’ve been squeezing in as much fun stuff as possible (loads of  post-worthy stories and photos piling up!).

So… my new strategy is to post more Postcards from Chile (click to see more) in order to keep up and show more quick shots of this beautiful country and keep you posted on what I’m up to…

In this postcard, a giant hummingbird–or “picaflor gigante” (pee-ka-FLOR hee-GAHN-tay) in Spanish–feeds  on the bright red tubular flowers of the aloe succotrina plant just a few meters from the sea in Zapallar, in Central Chile.

Many thanks to Cachando Chile reader Anne Chernett (of Little Chile), who kindly identified both the bird and the plant!

Here’s another shot of the picaflor gigante that shows his beak:

Hummingbird in Zapallar

Hummingbird (picaflor) in Central Chile ©2011 M Snook T

Technical info:

Common name: Giant hummingbird / Picaflor gigante
Latin Name
: Patagona gigas
: 21–22 cm / 8 inches
Physical description
: Not a very showy bird, the Picaflor gigante is a greenish-gray with a slightly metallic green sheen. It is a coppery reddish color at the throat and breast, with white near the tail. Males tend to be a bit larger and grayer in color. The tail feathers (rectrices) are brownish-green with a metallic green sheen. The long, pointed beak is essentially straight with a slight curve at the end.
: generally found in Chile from Atacama in the north to Arauco in the south, although may be spotted further south. They are found in dry areas (though always close to a source of water) near the coast (as in the case of the bird shown here), across the central valley to the foothills of the Andes.
Migratory habits
: The giant hummingbird migrates from Chile in the winter and is believed to cross the Andes to northeastern Argentina in March and return in August (Chilean winter).

See more about this and other Chilean birds can be found (in Spanish) at: Aves de Chile.

For more postcards, see: Postcards from Chile.


18 responses to “Postcard from Chile: Giant Hummingbird in Zapallar

  1. Gorgeous little creatures and beautiful photography. We need these reminders in winter up here in Polar Bear land.
    I am also having a tough time hitting my blog target, but I do have an explanation. The guys who are helping me with this are late creating their training plan. Last I heard we begin this coming Thursday

  2. Hi John-
    Yes, hummingbirds are incredible! They’re bigger here than the ones I’ve seen in the northeast of the US–but they also seem to be more plentiful. They love these red flowers, so anyone who wants to see a “picaflor” only needs to hang around one of these plants for a little while!
    Good luck getting your blog up and running. I’m not having much luck with my new version either!

  3. I have no idea what those flowers are called, but I like to call them Dr. Seuss flowers, because they look like something from Horton Hears a Who or One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Great shot of the humming bird!

  4. Hi Abby-
    Dr. Seuss flowers–good one! So what do you cal those really tall curly-cue things? Those REALLY look like something out of the Seuss kingdom!

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  6. That first photo is great! Absolutely gorgeous shot.

  7. I think you got what the bird was instincively. It’s a giant humming bird 🙂
    picador gigante. I think yours is a male. They look browny and the females look grey. They’ve both got white bottoms. Was it greeny coloured on top?

    And I think the flower is aloe succotrina. If you are ever lost in Chile, far from doctors and hospitals you can use the gel in the leaves to stop sunburnt skin blistering, heal woulds, shampoo your hair and banish wrinkles. I’ll say allegedly but it worked on me. ….but the wrinkles might have gone because I was having a lovely holiday and relaxing.

  8. Thank you so much Anne! I just googled both picaflor gigante (which also seems to be Patagona gigas) and Aloe succotrina and you appear to be spot on! Brilliant! I KNEW that someone out there would know the answer!
    I’m going to update the post so all readers will see that too!
    Thanks again for clearing up that mystery!

  9. Beautiful pictures! Thank you, Margaret.

  10. Please DO NOT feel obliged to post once-a-week. I have several blogs. For a while I was part of a group that required a photo-a-day. After 270 posts or so, I was exhausted and lost all interest for a good while. I cannot tell you what to do, but please consider writing about Chile, when you are (emotionally) moved by Chile and inspired to write.

  11. Hi- Thanks for the support! But I accepted the challenge because I love to write, have tons to say, and am pretty much ALWAYS emotionally moved by Chile. It’s just that it’s often hard to put me and my own project first, so things like this challenge work as a little mind game I play to help me readjust my priorities and do something that I really want to do… I considered the post a day–and wish I could–but knew that would be a pure set-up for failure! My hope is to hit the minimum of writing once a week and then over-deliver! If the time comes that it’s too much and no longer want to keep it up, I know how to let go. Thanks again for the support!

  12. ¡Fantásticas fotos! Y muchas gracias por el saludo.
    Sólo una vez antes había visto al famoso Picaflor Gigante.
    Llegué bien a Berlín. Un poco destrozado por las 16 horas de vuelo y los 40 y tantos años de edad.
    Un abrazo

  13. Hola! Muchas gracias! Me alegro que esté aprobado por el gran fotógrafo de pájaros! Y me sorprende mucho que no lo había visto mucho! Antes los vi siempre fuera de la ventana de mi oficina! Donde ves esta flor, encontrás el picflor gigante!
    Me alegro que llegaste bien-estaremos esperando tu vuelta!

  14. A man’s interest in a single bluebird is worth more than a complete but dry list of the fauna and flora of a town.
    Henry David Thoreau

  15. Peg- what an awesome picture! How wonderful you have visitors!
    Happy New Year – I’ll make a promise to stop by once a week. And I’ll catch up on FB. Take care.

  16. Very nices pictures,and your site is very interesting,I like to visit blogs of different countries.We can learn many thing with your blog.Thank you Margaret.

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