Reader Robert Lang continues his photodocumentation of Costa Rica:
Continuing January’s Costa Rica trip. I shot a lot of birds, so am dividing them into groups. A few months ago we had hummingbirds. Coming up in a while, water birds. But today: passerines, raptors, and everything else.
At the Monteverde Biological Reserve, the tiny Bananaquits (Coereba flaveola) vied with the hummingbirds for access to the feeders.
Our naturalist/guide got very excited when we saw a Black-Faced Solitaire (Myadestes melanops); apparently, they’re somewhat less common than some of the other birds of Monteverde.
The Clay Colored Robin (Turdus grayi) is the national bird of Costa Rica; surprising because it is uniformly brown and ordinary-looking. (No, the genus name is not based on its color. Turdus are thrushes, like the American Robin.) Why not something more spectacularly colored, like the toucan or quetzal? According to our guide, they wanted the national bird to be one that can be seen all over the country.
The Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) was a fairly common sight.
As was the similarly yellow-breasted Social Flycatcher (Myiozetetes similis). They and the Great Kiskadee are both members of the Tyrannidae family, the “tyrant flycatchers.” (Oh how the dinosaurs have fallen, if this is what passes for a tyrant these days. Someone needs to Make Dinosaurs Great Again.)
Another yellow-breasted bird was the quite small White-Collared Manakin (Manacus candei). This one was cute and neat on his branch, but when he hopped down to wash up in a puddle, ended up just a bit bedraggled.
The Montezuma Orependola (Psarocolius montezuma) is a large bird with a bright yellow tail, but the most striking thing about it is its nest; they build long, pendulous nests in colonies, typically in tall, isolated trees.
There were two types of grackle: the Great-tailed and Nicaraguan. Only the guides could tell them apart. The Nicaraguan grackles (Quiscalus nicaraguensis) were some of the noisiest birds, whose call is a long, descending siren-like whistle.
The Great-Tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) looks pretty much the same, but its tail is, I guess, something to be proud of.
There are several types of toucan, which are iconic birds of the rain forest, but we only ever saw them from a great distance (like this one, shot with an iPhone held up to a spotting scope) or glimpsed in heavy leaf cover. This one appears to be the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii).
Also seen only from a distance, the Lineated Woodpecker (Dryocopus lineatus), similar to the Pileated woodpeckers of North America.
A Yellow-Headed Caracara (Milvago chimachima) found something tasty washed up by the riverside.
And the cleanup crew: Black vultures (Coragyps atratus), on the Pacific side:
And a Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) on the Caribbean side.
The most impressive forest birds were the motmots, which have “paddles” descending from their tails. First, a Rufous-Capped Motmot (Baryphthengus ruficapillus):
And last, a completely rufous bird, the Rufous-Colored Motmot (Baryphthengus martii):