I Survived Death Mountain

Posted: May 4, 2015

I am not going to lie: I was a little concerned upon learning I would be spending a week on top of Death Mountain (Cerro de la Muerte), but this week was one of my favorite experiences from this semester. We left the 90-degree weather in Atenas, and driving up the mountain, we could feel the windows of the van getting colder and the air getting thinner. Once we reached El Restaurante La Georgina and Hotel (A.K.A. two cabins), we immediately put sweatshirts on and were out counting hummingbirds.

You would never know such a tiny, beautiful bird could be so violent. Hummingbirds are highly territorial, and are very protective over certain flowering bushes and trees, as well as very protective over feeders. These little guys will do anything they can to protect their food source, including body slam another hummingbird out of the way to get to it.

We spent our week counting visitations to both flowering plants and feeders located at the restaurant, analyzing pollen samples from flowers, and using mist nets to capture and collect morphological data of the four species of hummingbirds found on the mountain. We observed Fiery-Throated Hummingbirds, Volcano Hummingbirds, Green Violet-Ear Hummingbirds, and Magnificent Hummingbirds. At first, differentiating between these four was a bit of a challenge, but by the end of the week we were experts, and absolutely had a blast. Also, having no internet was definitely different for all of us, but we would have a fire each night and play charades, laughing the night away and enjoying this place very different from our usual Costa Rican abode.

One of our highlights of the week was hiking up to the Paramo, where you could see for miles. The temperature definitely was significantly colder up there versus at our cabin, but the view was incredible. Also, getting to share this incredible week with some great people definitely made Cerro de la Muerte one of my favorite places in Costa Rica.