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Costa Rica birding app

Updating the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide App

While out birding or guiding, I usually have a camera on hand. Having
become part of the modern day birding kit, that would be expected. But, the funny thing is, I don’t take that many pictures of birds. I guess I would but I already have more than enough images of hundreds of species, especially the common, easy to shoot ones like flycatchers, toucans, and Short-tailed Hawks.

I still bring the camera, though, but more for shots of birds in flight, rarities, and just in case probability takes an unlikely right turn in my direction to bring me good shots of Tawny-faced Gnatwren or other deviously difficult birds to photograph. I don’t take such pictures to expand my portfolio, I release the shutter with the hope of adding more images to the birding apps I work on. They have to be quality images and since the Costa Rica Field Guides app now shows images for more than 900 species, there aren’t too many more that I can get pictures of anyways.

However, there’s always that chance that I will suddenly have that skulking gnatwren or Tawny-crowned Greenlet paused and in good light, or get good shots of some of the swifts. However unlikely those scenarios may be, as with winning a lottery, they are still possible and the more I encounter those birds, as per the laws of probability, the more likely such photographic chances will present themselves.

But, fortunately for the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app, I am far from the only person contributing images. In addition to the hundreds of excellent photos contributed by Randall Ortega Chaves (one of the co-founders of the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app), several people have helped us with images of a host of other difficult species. Many of the images are actually birds common elsewhere but a challenge to find and photograph in Costa Rica, birds like Great Shearwater, White Tern, and Northern Pintail. Although a birder might not be looking for those species in Costa Rica, or be likely to see them, we include those and every species on the official list for the country because that’s what a complete field guide should do. With that in mind, contributed are greatly appreciated and is why contributors are listed on the app, the app website, and, if desired, promoted on the app Facebook page.

Since the creation of the app, we have also routinely provided free updates with more images, vocalizations, and other information. Recently, we did another one, these are some of the new images:

Unspotted Saw-whet Owl, many thanks to Pete Morris at Birdquest for being so generous with this and so many other excellent images including the Uniform Crake pictured below.

Seth Beaudrault gave us a few very nice images of Barred Hawk and Scaled Antpitta, as with the birds above, both are species already shown on the app but there’s nothing like having more quality images of really cool birds.

Many thanks also goes to Jean Bonilla, a guide in the Monteverde area who made it possible to finally show the Black-breasted Wood-Quail on the app. This is the excellent picture he took and contributed:

In going through my photos from the previous year, I also found some images to include. They aren’t pictures of birds in perfect views but that’s actually why I put them on the app. The birding days are grand when all the birds show themselves in perfect light. However, since such days are also as rare as sightings of the RVG Cuckoo, I think it’s important for a field guide to also picture birds as they are often seen; in substandard light and in odd positions.

Birds like this Nutting’s Flycatcher,

this view of Western Kingbird,

and this White-necked Puffbird.

The app also now shows more images of ducks and a few other birds in flight and additional images of Rough-legged Tyrannulet and other uncommon species. We are just a few short images away from picturing every species on the list, if you would like to help us out, please contact me at information@birdingcraft.com These are the final birds we are looking for!-

  • Mangrove Rail
  • Ocellated Crake
  • Paint-billed Crake
  • Violaceous Quail-Dove
  • Cocos Cuckoo
  • Cocos Flycatcher
  • Cocos Finch
  • Short-tailed Nighthawk
  • Great Swallow-tailed Swift
  • White-chinned Swift
  • Red-fronted Parrotlet
  • Black-headed Antthrush
  • Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner
  • Silvery-fronted Tapaculo
  • Tawny-crowned Greenlet
  • Tawny-faced Gnatwren
  • Lined Seedeater,
  • Sulphur-rumped Tanager

As always, I hope to see you birding somewhere in Costa Rica!

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Birding Costa Rica Costa Rica bird finding guide Costa Rica birding app preparing for your trip Where to see birds in Costa Rica

Why It’s Important to Study Before a Birding Trip to Costa Rica

Study for birding? What? Didn’t we spend enough of our lives studying during high school and university? To pass our tests for a driver’s license? To compete on Jeopardy? Whether you dislike studying or not, it’s the right thing to do before a birding trip to Costa Rica. Make that any birding trip anywhere. This is why it’s especially important to study before testing your bino skills in Costa Rica:

Unfamiliar birds, unfamiliar bird families: Just like Dorothy, you can kiss Kansas goodbye! Not only are the birds unfamiliar, but so are many of the families. Have you ever seen a Blue-gray tanager at the home patch? That common bird is pretty easy but what about a Dull-mantled Antbird or dozens of other skulking species with poetic names? But at least House Wren is on the list right? Well, yes, it is and it pretty much looks like the ones back home but it’s not going to sound like them. But what about folks who have already birded in Costa Rica or other areas in the Neotropical region? See the next point to answer that question.

Ocellated Antbird

Almost too many birds: Almost because there can never be enough. But seriously, though, there are so many possible birds, it’s always worth studying before the trip no matter how many times you have birded Costa Rica. Study to brush up on field marks of foliage-gleaners, to know which species are possible in given areas (get the targets set), and to always be ready- see the next point.

Black-bellied Hummingbird is one of 50 plus hummingbird species that live in Costa Rica.

You only get one look: Maybe, maybe not, but serious biodiversity comes at a price- almost everything is is rare by nature. Not so much the second growth and edge species (most of which can also be seen from Mexico south to the bird continent), but most of the forest-based birds and raptors. Combine small populations with major skulking and hiding skills and we have a recipe for challenging birding that can afford very few sightings. The up-side is that you can go birding at the same quality forest site day after day and see more species every time. Since we might only get a few looks at various species during a one or two week trip, we need to be ready to focus on the field marks. A good birding guide will be a major help but it still pays to know what to look for.

What’s an antbird?: Back to unfamiliar families. Try and become more familiar with things like puffbirds, forest-falcons, motmots, and antbirds. These things don’t occur at home. They don’t act like most birds at home. This makes you want to see them more of course, so study them in the field guide and read about their behavior (this blog is a good place to start).

Keel-billed Motmot

Check out the vocalizations: Yeah, it’s a lot to study and not everyone’ s cup of tea but knowing at least a few of those sounds before the trip is going to be a huge help. To give an idea of how important knowledge of bird vocalizations is when birding in the Neotropics, when we do point counts, we hardly use our binoculars at all. The majority of birds at dawn and in the forest you can’t really seem at that hour anyways. But, you can hear them and you can hear a lot, like dozens, even one hundred species in some spots. With a list that tops 900 species, no one can be expected to know every single chip and song, but even knowing what certain bird families sound like can really help.

Study common birds, study the birds you want to see the most: If you don’t have the time and memory for hundreds of species, stick to the common ones along with your favorite targets. The more you study, the more you will see (even with a guide), and you will be seeing birds that are already sort of know instead of random, totally unfamiliar species.

Some stuff to study:

Field guides: First and foremost, this the first tool to get. Although the best way to learn any new bird or family is to see it in person, studying before a trip will help. Some people prefer illustrations and others prefer photos. Both will help but an advantage of photos is that they can capture subtleties and other aspects of birds that can be hard to show with an illustration. They also tend to show how the birds look in the field. We won’t know anything about the birds in Costa Rica if we don’t have a study guide and although there are a few others, these are the best ones to get:

-The Birds of Costa Rica a Field Guide by Carrigues and Dean: Compact, complete, good illustrations and maps, the book to get.

Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app by BirdingFieldGuides: On a mobile device, photos for 850 plus species, vocalizations for more than 600 species, and information and maps for all species on the list (over 900). Also, ability to take and email notes in eBird format, variety of search functions, similar species function,no Internet needed for app to work.

Reference books: The best book to get is Birds of Costa Rica by Stiles and Skutch. It might be a bit out of date, kind of big for the field, and the illustrations are ok, but it has the best set of information about the ecology of birds in Costa Rica. This is an excellent book to study to learn about the behavior of the Costa Rican avifauna. Other good choices include:

– Any other books by Alexander Skutch.

– Birds of Tropical America by Steven Hilty is an excellent treatise on the behavior and ecology of neotropical birds.A fun, informative read before and after the trip.

-The Wildlife of Costa Rica: A Field Guide by Reid, Leenders, and Zook also works as a field guide and has information about other animals in addition to birds.

– Travellers Wildlife Guides Costa Rica by Les Beletsky is another field guide with lots of cool information about birds and other wildlife.

eBird: What modern day birder doesn’t use eBird as a study tool? If you don’t check it out but be aware that it can be a serious eater of time. Most of all, it’s good for knowing where birds have been seen. Pay it back by sending in your own lists.

Bird finding guides: There are a few old ones that still have some valid information but as with any country, bird finding information changes over time. the most recent bird finding guides are:

– A Bird Finding Guide to Costa Rica by Barrett Lawson has a lot of good bird finding information for various places, especially well known sites. Available in print.

How to See, Find, and Identify Birds in Costa Rica by Pat O’Donnell (yep, that’s me) is like two or three books in one with the most up to date bird finding information for most of the country, including several little known sites, as well as information about behavior, ecology, and identification of Costa Rican birds. Available in e-book format and for Kindle devices.

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Birding Costa Rica birds to watch for in Costa Rica Costa Rica birding app Introduction

A Tropical Screech Owl Visits the Neighborhood

I have this Polish friend by the name of Eva who loves owls. She is also into Hoopoes but owls are what she likes the most. It’s easy to see why Eva and lots of other non-birders would take the time to see an owl but not even give a second glance at say a Connecticut Warbler (not that this one allows looks anyways) or a Black-capped Vireo. With their fluffy plumage, big, staring eyes, and horn-like tufts, they hardly look like birds. We know that they are indeed avian but they seem to be in a special, cool class of their own.

Owls are pretty much eternally cool and it’s a shame that we can’t see a few every day of the week. The problem with owls is that they mostly come out at night, hide out during the day, and usually have low density populations. In Costa Rica, most species are fairly common and even live in unexpected places (like that pair of Spectacled Owls in the middle of San Jose) but they are still a pain to see. They just hide too well and one of the most accomplished of hiders is the Tropical Screech Owl.

A pair of Spectacled Owls from Pocosol. This awesome species lives in a lot of places.

It’s not rare, it can live in parks, and it doesn’t screech. Regarding screeching, are there any screech owls that actually screech? Barn Owls screech but screech owls give hooting calls and even horse whinnies but they sure don’t screech! I bet one did when it was “collected” but instead of realizing that even rabbits screech when faced with imminent death, the 18th century collector thought, “Well now, this fine specimen of an owl has thus given a screechy vocalization. I shall name it a Screech Owl!” Meanwhile, the Mahicans, Tuscarora, and other automatic birder native peoples silently chuckled because they knew that the small owls of the eastern woodlands whinnied, gave trebled calls, and hid in plain sight but weren’t really known for their screeches.

BUT, back to the Tropical Screech. This fine little bird is indeed fairly common in the Central Valley but you would never know it. Perhaps because it has to deal with larger owls, it doesn’t call so much, loathes the day, and does its best to stay out of sight. I hear one call now and then from nearby shade coffee farms but hardly ever see one (and I am always on the lookout for a roosting owl). To give an idea of how much of a birding pain this little bird can be, my friend Susan has heard them now and then near her house too but she hadn’t seen one until recently. On that fine day, she noticed that the neighborhood grackles were cackling up a storm and went to check out what they were up to.

How would you like to be harrassed by this crazy bird?

Instead of finding a cat torturing a baby bird, she saw a Tropical Screech Owl! She called me, I said that I couldn’t make it because of work but to please call back if the birds stayed. Thirty minutes later, I open an email with owl photos and a short message saying that the grackles had gone. That did it. Next thing I knew, I had packed my digiscoping stuff into the car and was on my way. Twenty minutes of frustrating driving behind a slow clueless car later (yes, he gets the clueless award because he passed a bus on a blind turn), I arrived at Susan’s. She showed me the birds and said, “But look what else is there!”.

A baby Tropical Screech Owl!

A bit of adjustment and we had better looks.

Yes! A pair of Tropical Screech and a fuzzy baby as a bonus!

The parents were also present.

Another look. Note the dark edge of the facial shield. Pacific Screech can also show up in the eastern Central Valley but has more pale brown uniform plumage and little dark edging to the facial shield.

Now where were these birds on our Big Day? We tried for them literally right in the same area. They probably should have been called “Hermit Owls” or “Pain Owls” instead of “Screech Owls”.

To see the Tropical Screech Owl in Costa Rica, look for roosting birds in the big bamboo bunches in the Bougainvillea Hotel gardens (if you stay there and look for ages in the bamboo), or you might try spotlighting for them at any hotel in the Central Valley with a big garden. Another good site for them is Talari Lodge (this is where I made the recording for this species that is on the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app), and other sites in the Valle del General.

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Birding Costa Rica birds to watch for in Costa Rica Costa Rica birding app Introduction preparing for your trip

“2014” Expectations and Hopes for Birding in Costa Rica

We are now officially in what a fair portion of humans on the planet refer to as “2014”. Yep, 14 years after the milenium and if you haven’t been to Costa Rica yet for birding, what are you waiting for? The birding is great, the weather is great, and there’s a quetzal with your name on it!

Does this quetzal have your name on it?

So, whether you are on your way to Costa Rica or are itching to plan a trip, here are ten things to expect in 2014:

1. A smooth ride between Varablanca and Cinchona: Finally, the road is paved! Ever since 2009, this fine birding route was wacked up pretty bad by the Cinchona earthquake. It has been slowly paved ever since and the last stretch was finally completed a month ago. I’m looking forward to checking it out because I have had a lot of fine birding on this road and am sure that it holds a few hidden surprises here and there. It’s also kind of close to home and is on our Big Day route so that helps too.

The view from the Cinchona- Varablanca area.

2. Great bird photography at the Nature Pavilion along with a big sit done at that site: This rather new birding site in Sarapiqui continues to be one of the best places for bird photography in the country and keeps getting better as the owners plant more trees on their property. I plan on doing a big sit on their deck to see how many species show up. Not sure when I will do it but I can’t wait!

This Collared Aracari was at the Nature Pavilion.

3. An Ochraceous Pewee: It’s about time for me to actually see this uncommon, high-elevation endemic. I have heard them a couple of times but have yet to see one! I keep putting it off because a day trip up to Cerro de la Muerte is kind of a long one for me. The bird is way overdue though so I need to start planning a trip now.

4. A major Big Day: For those whom I have guided, it’s no surprise that I plan on breaking the Big Day world record. A lot of factors need to fall into place but it can be done in Costa Rica and I hope this year is the one. Like Eric B and Rakim, I’m thinking of a master plan and with better preparations and scouting, it just might happen.

A scene from last year's Big Day.

5. Lots of hummingbirds: You have to bird with your eyes closed to not see lots of hummingbirds when birding Costa Rica. Those little glittering sprites are pretty easy to see in many parts of the country, and especially so at a variety of sites with feeders and flowering bushes that are planted to attract them.

The local variety of the Magnificent Hummingbird is pretty common at high elevations.

6. Want antbirds? Go to the right sites!: If you want to see more antbirds, bird more often in quality forest. The Pacific slope species are regular in places like Carara National Park and the Osa Peninsula, but the best sites for Caribbean slope species seem to be the Arenal- Monteverde forest complex (especially at sites around Arenal, at and near Pocosol Research Station, and Lands in Love), and the northern forests (Laguna del Lagarto and nearby).

7. More raptors: Who doesn’t want to see more raptors? I hear about the apparent scarcity of raptors from birders than any other bird related commentary and they are right, raptors are rather scarce in Costa Rica. It has to do with them being at the top of the food chain, competing with other raptor species, many needing large areas of quality forest, and way too much edge habitat. This is why one sees more Gray and Roadside Hawks, and caracaras than other species. However, look long enough and in the right places and things like hawk-eagles, Gray-headed Kite, and other rainforest raptors eventually show.

8. Lots of antswarms!: Ok, so this is every neotropical birder’s wish but that’s what I’m hoping for. Best chances are places with high quality forest (hmm, seems to be a theme there…). For those who are unaware, the beauty of a bunch of hungry Eciton burchellii ants is that they attract all sorts of birds. In addition to those cool little antbirds, you can also get woodcreepers, tinamous, forest-falcons, foliage-gleaners, antpittas, ground cuckoos, and who knows what else coming in to the swarm.

9. Using the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app: The newest version has more than 575 species and is now available for Android in addition to being available in the iTunes store. We should be able to push the number of species above 600 in 2014.

Costa Rican Brush-Finch-one of the species on the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app. This image was taken by Linda Scott.

10. A book on birding in Costa Rica: I’m working on it…

Hope to see you in Costa Rica!

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Birding Costa Rica birds to watch for in Costa Rica Costa Rica birding app Introduction preparing for your trip

A Few More Differences Between Tropical Birding in Costa Rica and Temperate Zone Birding Back Home

Birding in the tropical zone is not the same as watching birds in the temperate zone. However, the huge and tantalizing array of interesting birds that will never be seen near a North American or European home comes with a price: a lot of them are just tough to see! Unlike the easy-going spring or early summer birding in the coniferous and broad-leafed forests of the north, you can come on down to Costa Rica, stalk along a trail through rainforest where 300 species have been recorded, and actually see three or four birds over the course of an hour. When that happens, you can’t help but wonder, “Where the hell are the birds?”, especially because you are hearing so many of them.

I’ve blogged about these differences in the past but here are a few more things to keep in mind before heading to Costa Rica for a birding trip:

  • Waterfowl: As in the paucity of ducks and total absence of geese and swans. Unlike the duck-filled marches and lakes of higher latitudes, we have just three species of commonly occurring web-footed quackers. That trio of Anseriformes are the Black-bellied Whistling Duck, the Muscovy Duck, and the Blue-winged Teal. While several other species of northern ducks can and do turn up, they aren’t very common and are the exception. To give an idea of why Costa Rica is not the place to visit for watching waterfowl, us local birders are stoked if such rarities as Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, or Northern Shoveler make an appearance. So, don’t worry about looking for ducks when birding Costa Rica (not that many visiting birders do anyways).

    Truly wild Muscovy Ducks shows up here and there when birding Costa Rica.
  • Challenging Mixed Flocks: If you get a joyous Passerine kick when watching chickadee-led flocks of warblers, get ready for larger, more complex, and heart pounding groups of birds that race through the high canopy and dim understory of tropical forests! Dreamy mixed flocks are a typical aspect of birding in tropical habitats but yes, here comes another catch- they don’t come easy! In other words, the understory antwrens, antvireos, flycatchers, and such move through the lower levels of the forest in seriously stealthy mode. They are quiet, take their time, and don’t exactly stand out from the various dull shades of rainforest green. Meanwhile, up there in the 40 meter high canopy, tanagers, woodcreepers, and other species rush through the foliage like a starving, hyperactive horde. It’s common to see only a few birds well, to get looks at pieces of various species as they forage in bromeliads and other vegetated cubby holes, and miss most of the birds in the flock. However, do not despair! Follow those flocks until you can position yourself where they will pass by at eye level or in good light and you might eventually get looks at all of the birds in the flock and find that crazy Sharpbill or rarely seen Gray-headed Piprites.

    Do some stealthy birding and you might see a female Streak-crowned Antvireo.

    Hopefully, your looks at the avian ADHD Tawny-faced Gnatwren will be better than this image.
  • Poor views: See Challenging Mixed Flocks above! Away from mixed flocks, you will run into frustrating moments when birds are hidden by leaves, epiphytes, and other proliferations of vegetative matter. You will hear but not see many a bird. Birds will also be back-lit and thus turned into silhouettes even after you have contorted your neck in ways that resemble novel vogue dancing or yoga positions. Instead of being frustrated, just use that fine Brooklyn Zenish adage of “Forget about it” (in an accent from Far Rockaway or Bensonhurst of course) and re-position yourself on higher ground or another part of the trail to blaze the corneas with properly colored and detailed birds. Once that happens, you can once again exclaim “Forget about it!!”, but this time as a victory cry.

    Rufous-browed Tyrannulet- Forget about it!!
  • Study some vocalizations: If you can learn at least some of the songs and calls for most of Costa Rica’s birds, that would be ideal. However, since learning the songs of 600 plus species a few months before a trip is rather daunting for the majority of flocks (except Felonious Jive because that birding genius already has innate knowledge of all bird calls), you might want to pick out a 100 or so of the most common species and focus on those. That will ready your ears to help detect the uncommon or rare birds if and when they do show up, and will enrich your Costa Rican birding experience. The Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app can help in this and other regards in preparing for your trip.
  • Tough understory things: While the temperate zone has its fair share of understory  birds, believe me when I say that the birds up there are absolute rookies when it comes to staying hidden on or near the forest floor! Tinamous, quail-doves, wood-quails, antpittas, antthrushes, leaftossers, and ground-cuckoos can’t help but laugh with disdain at the  Ovenbird and grouse as they make amateur attempts to avoid being detected. They do, however, give much respect to that master creeper known as the Connecticut Warbler. A post about looking for tinamous will give you some tips on seeing them although your chances will be highest if you hire an experienced local guide.

    The Zeledonia is one of those pro Costa Rican skulkers. This individual was the happy, extremely rare exception!

As you might infer from this post, birding in Costa Rica might not be as easy as watching birds near home BUT it will be very rewarding when you keep seeing new species every day of your trip!

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Press Release for the Second Version of the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide App

Birding Field Guides releases Second Version of Birdwatching app for Costa Rica

For Immediate Release: August 20, 2013

The first birding app for Costa Rica is a digital field guide replete with photos, sounds, text, and range maps for more than 500 bird species.

San Jose, Costa Rica – The second version of the Costa Rica Birds-Field Guide app became available in the iTunes Store in July, 2013. This is the second version of the only app and digital field guide completely focused on bird species of Costa Rica.

Since the 1990s, Costa Rica has been an important destination for ecotourists, especially those who enjoy birdwatching. As birding has increased in popularity as a hobby, increasing numbers of birders have made their way to Costa Rica. This small Central American country appeals to birdwatchers and ecotourists on account of its stable, democratic government, and protected areas that host hundreds of bird species, including such exotic stunners as toucans, macaws, parrots, the fantastic Resplendent Quetzal, and over 50 species of hummingbirds.

This second version of the Costa Rica Birds-Field Guide app has been updated with information and images for more than 520 species of birds that occur in Costa Rica and vocalizations for more than 320 species. Other new features include a full checklist of Costa Rican birds that can be edited and emailed, and improved search options. The new “Which Bird is it?” function lets app users take pictures and make recordings of birds that are then automatically sent to the people at Birding Field Guides for identification.

Michael Mullin, head of programming for Birding Field Guides, expects that the new features and additional species will make it easier for tourists and residents of Costa Rica to identify and learn about the many birds that are seen and heard while visiting this biodiverse country.

He said, “The updates in this second version were designed to provide the visitor to Costa Rica with more information about the country’s bird species as well as make it easier to identify and learn about them. We plan to continue updating the app with images, information, and vocalizations of additional species before the end of 2013”.

The app is currently available for version 4.3 or higher iPod Touch and iPhone devices.

About Birding Field Guides

Birding Field Guides was started in 2012 and develops birding and nature-related apps and products for digital devices. For more information, please visit http://birdingfieldguides.com.

To learn more about this product, please contact

Patrick O’Donnell, Media Relations

Casa 30e, Condominio Colonial

Santa Barbara, Costa Rica

Office: (506) 8318-3329

information@birdingcraft.com

###

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Birding Costa Rica Costa Rica birding app Introduction preparing for your trip

New and Improved Birding App for Costa Rica Now Available

Earlier this year, the first birding app for Costa Rica was released and since I played a principal role in its development, I am going to talk about the new, updated second version. Version one of the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app featured images, range maps, and information for more than 400 species, vocalizations for nearly 300 of those birds, and an easy means of searching for those species among other features. Since then, we have worked out a few minor bugs and in addition to the features already present on the app, added the following features:

  • More species for a total of 528: We realize that this doesn’t include all of the birds on the Costa Rica list but we have attempted to include more of the species that are commonly seen, regional endemics, and quite a few uncommon birds. We figured it was better to make this app available now to help people learn about and identify birds in Costa Rica sooner rather than wait for images of Thicket Antpitta, Nightingale Wren, Tawny-faced Quail, and other tough birds to see and photograph (although we hope to put those and others on the app eventually). Some of the new birds we did include in this recent major update were species such as

Black-capped Pygmy Tyrant

Black-capped Pygmy Tyrant vocalization

Mangrove Vireo

Mangrove Vireo vocalization

Pinnated Bittern

and

Olive-crowned Yellowthroat

Olive-crowned Yellowthroat song

  • Vocalizations for more than 320 species: This includes more sounds for commonly heard species such as all of the trogons, various wrens, antbirds, parrots, and many other species. We will eventually be adding sounds for all species on the app in subsequent updates.

A few more samples of vocalizations: Scrub Greenlet, Slate-colored Seedeater, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Collared Forest-Falcon

  • Image with text: Upon touching the text icon, a small thumb image of the species is shown so you can see the bird while reading about its field marks, habitat, description, and see what notes you have taken on the bird.
  • Search by group or family: Although you can display the species on the app by group (tinamous, antbirds (typical), cotingas, etc.), if you would rather see the families listed in taxonomic order, we included that feature too. The search filter can also be used to quickly search for groups listed in alphabetic or taxonomic order and this can bring you to the hoped for species in a matter of seconds.
  • Checklist: We added the latest full checklist of birds that have been identified in Costa Rica. Birds can be marked off as seen, heard, male, female, and immature and this list can be emailed once your device goes online.
  • Which Bird is It?: Not sure what that strange greenish bird is or if the sound you heard was a Rufous-tailed Jacamar or a Lanceolated Monklet? This feature lets you use your device to take a picture of a bird as well as record its sound. Those images and sounds are then automatically emailed to us once your device goes online. We will respond with the correct identification (as long as the picture or sound was made in Costa Rica).

Whether birding Costa Rica or just visiting Costa Rica to experience this beautiful country, this Costa Rica birding app can act as a study guide before a trip, and will help in identifying many of Costa Rica’s avian sights and sounds.

If you already bought the first version of this app, update to the new and improved second version for free!

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How Many Hummingbird Species Can you see in Costa Rica in Just One Day?- a Plan of Attack

Costa Rica is a great place for seeing a bunch of hummingbirds. As with most places frequented by those fairy-like, feathered dynamos, a high percentage of species are fairly easy to see as long as you know where feeders and the right types of flowering plants can be found. The range of habitats accessible in a pretty small area also makes it possible to see several species in one day. By “several”, I don’t mean 5 or 6 but something along the lines of 15 to 20. Although I haven’t tried this yet, I bet you could even see even more during a day of birding in Costa Rica. Although the numbers are still going to be less than such a sugar-high endeavor in hummingbird crazy Ecuador or Colombia, it would still be fun to try.

With the focus on hummingbirds, here is one possible route for some serious hummingbird madness in Costa Rica:

Start out at the El Tapir. This defunct butterfly and hummingbird garden pulls in 7 to 8 species on a regular basis and is the most accessible spot in the country for the eye numbing Snowcap.

Male Snowcap

While the female isn’t going to cause any birding related seizures, the male just might when the sun lights up his amazing burgundy plumage offset by a brilliant white crown. In addition to the Snowcap (1), this site would also have a good chance of turning up the following species:

2. Black-crested Coquette

3. Green Thorntail

4. Brown Violetear

5. Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer

6. Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

7. Violet-headed Hummingbird

8. Violet-crowned Woodnymph

9. Long-billed Hermit

10. Green Hermit

We would probably also get a flyby (11.) Stripe-throated Hermit before heading over to the Sarapiqui area to check Heliconia patches and flowering bushes for:

12. Blue-chested Hummingbird

13. Bronzy Hermit

14. Band-tailed Barbthroat

That would be our main chance for those species although the hermits could also be had at Carara.

After getting those three key targets, we make a stop at the Nature Pavilion for another chance at the plumeleteer, woodnymph, hermits, and

15. White Necked Jacobin- guaranteed at this site.

It would also give us a good shot at

(16.) Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, a vocal species we would just as likely pick up by ear.

We might also get (17.)Green-breasted Mango.

Continuing uphill, we would make a stop at Virgen del Socorro if we still needed the coquette, Brown Violetear, and Violet-headed Hummingbird. If not, we would probably skip that to stop at the Cafe Colibri in Cinchona. The stocked feeders there should be good for:

18. Coppery-headed Emerald

19. Violet Sabrewing

20. Green-crowned Brilliant

21. Green Violetear

22. White-bellied Mountain-gem

We would also have another chance at Brown Violetear and Green Thorntail.

Further up the road, we would make stops for:

23. Black-bellied Hummingbird

24. Magenta-throated Woodstar

It would probably also be a good idea to pay the steep entrance fee to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens to ensure Black-bellied Hummingbird and in case the feeders and flowering bushes are harboring some rarity.

The next main stop on this day of the hummingbird would be the feeders at the Restaurant Volcan. They should add:

25. Volcano Hummingbird

26. Magnificent Hummingbird

27. Purple-throated Mountain-gem

28. Stripe-tailed Hummingbird

Then, we make a short drive to higher elevations on Poas for

(29.) Fiery-throated Hummingbird.

Hopefully, the Fiery-throated Hummingbird will show us how it got its name.

Somewhere along that route, we will hopefully get lucky with a Green-fronted Lancebill before reaching Poas. Then, we head over to the feeders at the Freddo Fresas restaurant to see if we can turn up a Scintillant Hummingbird for species number 30.

With a good chance at having 30 in the bag, we would head down the Pacific slope and check flowering trees in coffee farms for:

31. Steely-vented Hummingbird

32. Long-billed Starthroat

We might also get lucky with Canivet’s Emerald although we would have a chance for that bird making number 33 at our next main stop, the Guacimo Road, or some other dry forest site near Carara. That same area should also give us:

34. Cinnamon Hummingbird

35. Plain-capped Starthroat

We would also have another chance at Green-breasted Mango and Scaly-breasted Hummingbird around there before hitting the mangroves to try for one of the toughest birds of the day, (36.) Mangrove Hummingbird. Although this Costa Rican endemic lives in the mangroves near Tarcoles and Bajamar, it’s pretty uncommon.

If we still need Bronzy Hermit and Band-tailed Barbthroat, we could try the Heliconias along the Laguna Meandrica trail in Carara National Park. Other than those species, our other main targets would be:

37. Charming Hummingbird- only likely if there are enough trees and bushes with flowers. If it's around, we would have a fair chance of getting it by voice.

38. Blue-throated Goldentail- good chance of at least hearing this one in Carara.

We should pick up (39.) Purple-crowned Fairy at any of the humid lowland and foothill sites,

A Purple-crowned Fairy dive bombing a ginger.

but to hit 40, we would need some luck in getting the Mangrove Hummingbird and Canivet’s Emerald plus at least one of such rarities as White-crested Coquette or White-tipped Sicklebill. However, if we do this day during the winter, I just realized that I had left out one more species that is just about guaranteed, Ruby-throated Hummingbird. With that in mind, I guess 40 is possible if enough flowering plants are scouted out!

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Press Release for the First Costa Rica Birding App

Birding Field Guides releases first birdwatching app for Costa Rica

For Immediate Release: January 25, 2012

First birding app for Costa Rica is a digital field guide replete with photos, sounds, text, and range maps

San Jose, Costa Rica – The Costa Rica Birds-Field Guide app became available in the iTunes Store on January 22. This is the first app and digital field guide that is completely focused on birds that occur in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica has been a top destination for ecotourists and birdwatchers since the early 1990s. Birders flock to this Central American country to take in the sights and sounds of hundreds of bird species, including more than 50 glittering hummingbirds, 6 toucans, and the breathtaking Resplendent Quetzal.

Michael Mullin, head of programming for Birding Field Guides, expects this app to make it easier for ecotourists and birders of all levels of experience to identify and learn about Costa Rican birds with images, range maps, and text for over 400 species. Vocalizations of over 200 bird species are also included along with a search filter and other features.

He said, “This digital field guide helps the user to quickly find images and hear sounds of birds they encounter while vacationing in Costa Rica. It’s also a valuable learning tool and represents a next step in the evolution of nature field guides”.

The app is currently available for version 4.3 or higher iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad devices.

About Birding Field Guides

Birding Field Guides was started in 2012 and develops birding and nature-related apps and products for digital devices. For more information, please visit http://birdingfieldguides.com.

To learn more about this product, please contact

Patrick O’Donnell, Media Relations

information@birdingcraft.com

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