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I started this year’s birding in Costa Rica six days late but only because the first days of 2016 were spent birding around Niagara Falls, New York. It was gray, it was cold, there were two owls, and looking at birds with old birding friends. It was a gift. But now I am back in Costa Rica and eager to see how this winter’s birding compares to Januaries of the past, to see if I can manage some good images and recordings of things like Tawny-faced Quail, Black-breasted Wood-Quail, and Azure-hooded Jay (among other toughies), and to get a healthy start on the year list.

I was pleased to see this ghost from the north.

Casual birding near the house and scanning the skies from the window has turned up the usuals on sunny, dry season days. Yesterday, a day of guiding at Cinchona and Poas was likewise clear and filled with a bright tropical sun. As expected, the birds were mostly taking a break but careful scanning still  resulted in several nice birds, and activity picked up after the clouds blanketed the peak of Poas in the afternoon.

At the Colibri Cafe, a lot of birds came for breakfast, the best being a male Red-headed Barbet as soon as we arrived, along with close looks at Prong-billed Barbet, Emerald Toucanet, Silver-throated Tanager, and several other species.

This is the more regular barbet species.

Emerald Toucanets in the sun.

This Hoffmann's Woodpecker was a surprise and a reminder that things are a bit too warm and dry in Costa Rica.

Hummingbirding was also quality with close inspection and flybys of massive purple Violet Sabrewings,  feisty Coppery-headed Emeralds, a male Green Thorntail, and others including near constant company of two or three White-bellied Mountain-Gems.

Close looks at White-bellied Mountain-gem are always a gift.

After breakfast, clear skies meant that we were in for some slow birding but the scenery was nice, and as expected, some raptors came out to play. Those taloned birds included a distant Double-toothed Kite, White-tailed Kite on the drive up, expected TVs and BVs, Red-tailed Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, three Barred Hawks, and a beautiful pair of White Hawks down in the canyon at Virgen del Socorro. A little way into the canyon, watching a fruiting tree also turned up a few tanagers.

The birding was better back up on Poas but only because clouds took the brunt off the high elevation sun.

Spot-crowned Woodcreeper was one of many high elevation species we saw.

If you find yourself at Cinchona on a sunny day, get to the Colibri Cafe early (opens around 6), and enjoy much of the morning there. If you have a four wheel drive vehicle, head down to Virgen del Socorro and hang out by the bridge until it clouds over again. Bring a lunch, watch for birds, and when it gets cloudy, get ready for a lot more birds on the rest of the road.

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  1. 10,000 Birds Six Months Birding in Costa Rica, 620 Species of Birds - 10,000 Birds

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