Hummingbirds in the mist

January 13 2020


Hummingbirds in the mist

I’m a sucker for colorful birds and it turns out I’m not alone.

As I ascend the final weathered steps to a pavilion adorned with nectar feeders, other hotel and day guests at the Termales Del Ruiz in the Central Andes of Colombia briefly turn their attention away from the swishing, buzzing, diving, and swooping to welcome me with that rarest of smiles. Not a polite acknowledgement or perhaps a knowing smirk. Written across their faces are full-on ear-to-ear grins.

Approaching closer to the dizzying whir of greens, blues, oranges and purples, I feel the corners of my own mouth stretch out and upward.




This is the shared euphoria of witnessing something spectacular. Sunangel, Thornbull, Puffleg, Sunbeam, Starfrontlet, and Metaltail: A current of fanciful names that befits the flashes of color, outrageous plumages, and the hum of wing beats.

A woman hands me a plastic flower. I don’t speak Spanish so she cups her hand and allows a gorgeous purple hummingbird to land softly upon the side of her palm. I do the same and soon feel the nearly weightless tickle of a 3 g bird as it lands upon my outstretched hand to feed.

Hummingbirds are perhaps nature’s most spectacular bird family. The sheer variety of bill lengths, tail shapes, colors and iridescent special effects is enchanting – dwarfed perhaps only by the splendor of their hovering flight.




As I watch the hummingbirds, I am left perhaps more inspired by the shared delight of those who have come to admire them. Everybody loves hummingbirds, I tell myself, but perhaps it’s something deeper? After all, none of the half a dozen spa guests strikes me as a hardcore nature enthusiast. It’s a misty morning and not especially warm at over 3500 m (11,500 ft). Inside, breakfast is waiting. And so too are half dozen warming pools against the backdrop of a dramatic mountain waterfall.

But for a few minutes, nature steals the spotlight.




The Hotel Termales del Ruiz is located high above the cloud-forest tree line along a winding road that leads up to the Los Nevados National Park. Heading up from the lodge towards the park entrance, one enters the unique Paramo ecosystem of the Andes mountains. Glaciers dominate the horizon as waterfalls cascade into the elevated valley floor below the park’s headquarters.


About the author:
Rick Bateman is a freelance writer and “bird nerd”. He was born in the US, studied in Ohio and Leipzig and lives now in Tyrol, Austria. He travels the world and brings the beauty of nature to people through his writing.

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