In such famous birding locales as Central Park and Magee Marsh, May means warblers, grosbeaks, and other breeding birds dressed and singing to impress. The trees are in bloom, the weather is warm, after a long winter, it’s magic. In Costa Rica, we got a similar thing going on but with local, resident species. Although I wish I could fly north with those Chestnut-sideds and other birds of summer all the way to the cool woods of Western New York, there’s more than enough bird action in Costa Rica. Most habitats resound with birdsong, Yellow-green Vireos and Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers are back in the neighborhood, and hundreds of other bird species are out there waiting to be seen.
Here is some of what’s been happening and to be expected in Costa Rica during the previous month and the next:
Eastern Kingbirds at the homestead – The past few days have been punctuated by a dozen Eastern Kingbirds feeding in a fruiting tree visible from the front of our place. Part of a hedgerow next to a farm, thanks to that green space, we can start every morning with the babbler-like songs of Rufous-naped Wrens, Red-billed Pigeon, Hoffmann’s Woodpeckers and other common species of the Central Valley. We also see Masked Tityras, Blue Grosbeak, an occasional Montezuma Oropendola and other birds. The kingbirds have been a treat because we don’t see them that often and because they remind me of beautiful Niagara and Pennylvania summers. While large numbers move through the Caribbean lowlands, Eastern Kingbirds are much less common around our place.
These long distance migrants have to watch out for raptors like this Short-tailed Hawk, another frequent visitor to our neighborhood.
Swallow-tailed Gull, Gray-hooded Gull, Shorebirds– Recently, an immature Swallow-tailed Gull was seen during a pelagic trip off the central Pacific coast (!). While this Galapagos endemic has been seen on trips to Cocos Island, it’s usually observed at night. A fantastic find by Rodolfo Dodero, he and passengers also saw Christmas Shearwater and other more regular species of the open ocean.
Gray-hooded Gull, another mega, was found by local ornithologist Ariel Fonseca during shorebird counts at Punta Morales. Although Marilen and I missed that bird by a few days, it’s always good to know what shows up! This and other sightings are yet more reminders to check those coastal spots and take a close look at every bird. Speaking of that, as expected, shorebirds have also been passing through. The most interesting sightings have been of White-rumped Sandpipers at Cano Negro, and Upland Sandpipers in Guanacaste.
Fires!– On a low note, the extra dry weather has resulted in a higher than normal number of forest fires. Devastation at its worst, important wetlands in Cano Negro and Sierpe have been affected as have been regenerating dry forests on the Cerro Lodge road, near Orotina, and elsewhere. As the climate becomes increasingly hotter and drier, more fires will probably happen.
Oxbow Lake hotspot near Carara– There’s an oxbow lake along the highway just north of the bridge at Tarcoles and it has acted as important wetland habitat for a number of species this past dry season. Recently, someone reported three Jabirus from there, I can’t help but wonder what else might occur. Maybe Glossy Ibis? Maybe even a Masked Duck? Hopefully those species, shorebirds and more and that I can see them on Global Big Day!
Costa Rica Prepares for Global Big Day 2019– It’s happening on May 4th and once again, the birding community in Costa Rica has been getting ready to count birds. Although there doesn’t seem to be as much enthusiasm as last year, we do have teams in most parts of the country. I will be counting birds, if all goes well, Marilen and I will see how many we can identify. Watch the results for Team Tyto!
Would you like to know where to find birds in Costa Rica? How to look for and find them while supporting this blog? Purchase my 700 plus page e-book “How to See, Find, and Identify Birds in Costa Rica”. Hope to see you in the field!