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

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!