Getting ready for a birding trip to Costa Rica? Hope to come to this birdy land at some happy, future time? If so, start learning about the Costa Rican avifauna now because we aren’t talking about 300 birds to look at but a country list of 900 plus birds. Some of those species are familiar, others are from your best birding dreams, and then there are the birds that supposedly belong to the same families as the ones at home, but look like the feathered variety of the X-Men.
Don’t believe me? Just raise your bins in Costa Rica and check out those big, bold wrens. While we also have the small and plain Troglodytes, I’m talking about the big, babbleresque birds thatd defy your definition of “wren”. Unlike their smaller cousins, these guys actually do have appearances that compete with their sonorous songs:
Rufous-naped Wren: Fun to watch, easy to see, and always singing. You can’t miss this one on a trip to Costa Rica.
Band-backed Wren: Also arboreal but a bird of humid forest on the Caribbean slope. More common in the past, they can still be seen in lowland and foothill rainforest. It’s cool to watch these patterned wrens forage with a mixed flock.
Rufous-breasted Wren: Smart looking bird! It likes to skulk in vine tangles in Carara National Park.
Stripe-breasted Wren: Learn one of the main songs given by this bird to know that you aren’t hearing a pygmy-owl. This one can be tough to see because it loves to hang out in the dense vegetation of wet rainforest. Listen to a Stripe-breasted Wren.
Bay Wren: This one is a real beauty and looks more like some babbler from the Sundaic bioregion. You will be happy to know that it’s also a common resident of second growth on the Caribbean slope.
Rufous and white Wren: The name says it all when it comes to its appearance but the song is magic. Listen and watch for this wren in riparian zones and moist forest on the Pacific slope. Rufous and white Wren song.
Banded Wren: This common, dry forest species is another one to listen to. Banded Wren song.
Plain Wren: Definitely the plainest of the bunch and a lot like a Carolina, you will hear it sing and call from coffee farms and second growth. Plain Wren song.
Black-throated Wren: This wren likes to pretend that it’s an antbird but is all wren when it sings. Black-throated Wren song.
Black-bellied Wren: Possibly the finest of the bunch, it’s nevertheless a pain to see. Learn the beautiful song to know what’s hiding in that dense second growth. With enough patience, you might see one at places like Rancho Mastatal, the Golfo Dulce lowlands, and other humid forest sites on the southern Pacific slope.
These aren’t the only wrens in Costa Rica but they are the bold and beautiful. If I can ever manage photos of Nightingale and Scaly-breasted Wrens, I will write about those gnomish wrens with amazing songs.