INTRODUCTION I crashed into the thick secondary growth, stopping suddenly to duck a certain branch in my path: a fat black bullet ant crawled along it with indifference, an attitude that would have quickly changed had I brushed up against him. I headed toward the large patch of Heliconia just to the right. We had earlier mapped out the clump, and finding it to contain seventeen flower clusters, it was one of the prize patches in the study plot. I took my spot ten paces from the outer clusters, started my stop watch, and waited with field book in hand. The Birds of Paradise were dripping nectar from their red fingertips. With such a gold mine, I did not have to wait long for a hummingbird. Like an Evinrude-powered flat bottom whizzing up a winding lagoon, the bird's sound reached me before I saw him. He appeared from the back of the patch, taking a drink here, then there, then here again, then at some other spot, then there again and back to here. He did not sit and sip for long at each spot, but he did pause long enough for me to see him gleam green and deep violet. He was a red-footed plumeleteer, emerald green on the head, changing to dark purple through his body and on to his tail. His feet and straight bill were distinctively red. Without a doubt he owned this lucrative Heliconia patch. But then from my right came another whir. A ...

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