Honeycreepers! Reader Bruce Lyon sent photos of three species from Costa Rica, along with his notes and the IDs (indented):
During my recent trip to Costa Rica I had the delightful experience of having all three species of Costa Rican honeycreepers feeding at a bird feeder at the same time. Color explosion! Honeycreepers are tanagers and, as their name suggests, they like sweet things. Nectar is a key part of their diet but they love fruit too and are readily attracted to fruit tables. These birds were all photographed at a wooden platform supporting a hand of very ripe bananas. Honeycreepers were formally placed in their own family (I think), but fairly recent phylogenetic work suggests that they do not comprise a monophyletic group. Nectar-feeding, and the various traits that accompany this diet, appear to have arisen independently in a few different tanager clades.
A male Shining Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes lucidus). Check out the legs on this guy. They are so fleshy and bright yellow that they almost look plastic. The striking leg colors on this species and the Red-legged Honeycreepers suggests that leg color might be under sexual selection:
A female Shining Honeycreeper—her legs are somewhat less ridiculous than the male’s:
A male Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus). These guys are particularly common and at times a dozen or more birds can swarm a feeder:
A young male Red-legged Honeycreeper making the transition from subadult to full adult male plumage:
Last, a male Green Honeycreeper (Cholorphanes spiza). This green color almost seems unnatural—I have no clue what name would apply to this green. No fancy legs on this guy, which is interesting because this species is not closely related to the above two species.