Love in a Thicket

We filmed much of Hotel Heliconia at the La Selva Biological station in Costa Rica, a wonderful gathering place for tropical biologists. Our schedule was flat out – as normal, working from Sun up to Sundown. One evening at the dinning hall a newcomer sat down at our table. As we chatted it turned out the young student was there to study hummingbird breeding.

Along a trail by a bubbling brook is a thicket well known for its hummingbird-breeding group (known as a lek) – something we were keen to film. I mentioned the lek and gave instructions on how to find it. How kind, how lucky, our new acquaintance exclaimed with glee. Then the student went on to explain plans to capture and mark all of the males with different fluorescent nail polish on the head so they might be easily studyed. My jaw dropped, this certainly would not do for our filming. I asked when the marking would start, and was told in five days. Lovely.

We started filming the sequence the very next morning at 4:30 am. On the fifth and last day before the marking makeover the female hummingbird visited giving us the shots needed to finish the sequence. We never returned. The thought of male birds with hot pink and fluorescent green didn’t appeal, and after all they wouldn’t cut. But I’ll always wonder what the female hummingbirds thought of the boys new look.

Producer Writer Director Cameraman: Phil Savoie
AC: Ted Giffords, Nick Turner
Field Assistants: Canudo “Noodles” Mudoz Briones, Gerado Vega Chavarria
Editor: Martin Elsbury
Narrator: Robert Lindsay
Super 16: Kodak 7279
Location: Costa Rica


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