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From August 31st to September 2nd, the first Costa Rican Birding and Nature Festival will be held at the Las Brisas Reserve in the Caribbean foothills of Volcan Turrialba. Organized by two twenty-something birders and one photographer with a passion for conservation, the festival aims to celebrate Costa Rican biodiversity with guided walks that focus on birds and herpetofauna of the area (one of the best on the country), a few talks given by local experts, and the annual fall, Ceruleam Warbler census.

What? Cerulean Warbler census? Yes, and two of the festival organizers (Juan Diego Vargas and Ernesto Carman) have been gathering data about Cerulean Warblers for a few years now as part of the Costa Rican Cerulean Warbler Project. They started up that project after realizing that they were seeing Ceruleans pass through the country in fair numbers. What habitats do the birds use? When do they migrate through Costa Rica? What can be done to protect them? They hope to answer these and other questions with data gathered by birders who happen to spot them during migration.

It appears that a number of Ceruleans migrate through Costa Rica on their way to the Colombian Andes. In fact, there might be a few flying through the night skies as I write this post. The window for their migration appears to be a brief one and the festival is meant to coincide with its peak. Although they aren’t as common as other migrants in Costa Rica (no surprise given the small size of their population), birders have a very good chance of seeing Cerulean Warblers in the country if they bird the Caribbean foothills during late August and early September. I have seen them on more than one occasion in foothill rainforest at this time of the year and several have also been seen at the Las Brisas Reserve during the same time frame.

The proceeds from the Festival de Aves and Naturaleza Costa Rica go to the Cerulean Warbler Project  (more properly known as Cerulean Warbler Conservation-CR) and it’s bound to be a wonderful time. I sure hope I can check out the festival, at least for a day. Since the festival is in Spanish, there was also talk about hosting an English version the following week but unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough time to organize it for this year. Next year is another story though!

Regarding the site for the festival, Las Brisas is a private reserve in the Caribbean foothills near Siquirres and Turrialba. Although I haven’t been there, Juan Diego tells me that he has seen some of the biggest mixed flocks he has ever experienced in Costa Rica at this site and canopy views on the trail system make many of the tanagers, flycatchers, woodcreepers, woodpeckers, and other rainforest species easy to see. I hope my schedule allows me to experience the festival! Even if you can’t make it to this year’s festival, it’s still worth it to check out the incredible photo gallery at the festival website.

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