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Green Costa Rican Birds

Green with envy? Green with Hulk-like anger? Green like a rookie? No, just the plain old-fashioned baby of a blue and yellow combination. With all of those leaves and epiphytes out there in the Costa Rican countryside, one might expect three-fourths or a respectable half of Costa Rican bird species to have predominantly green plumage. Since that’s far from the case, being green doesn’t apparently work quite as well as one might think in keeping birds from being eaten. Given the absolute paucity of green raptors, it’s even worse at helping those taloned, fierce-eyed birds catch prey items.

The various shades of brown are far more common in Costa Rica’s avian realm and it makes me feel vindicated for paying attention to the names of Crayola Crayons at a young age. Finally, I can put that locked away knowledge to practice and notice when a bird happens to have umber or sepia highlights in its plumage! Russet and rufous seem to be the most common faces of brown that are shown by Costa Rican birds but I digress because this post is supposed to be all about green.

Although the choices for green birds in Costa Rica are rather limited, one family in particular stands out for their constantly green wardrobe. That family is the Psittacidae and even though the Scarlet Macaw likes to be a rebel with its crazy red, yellow, and blue colors, the rest are as green as the foliage of an elm in June.

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Scarlet Macaws are the odd ball of their family in Costa Rica.

The norm is better represented by species like the Mealy Parrot

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the White-fronted Parrot or

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the Crimson-fronted Parakeet.

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For parrots, green works very well at keeping them hidden and anyone who has seen a flock of parrots or parakeets fly into the foliage of a tree can attest to this. As they flutter into the tree, those noisy birds seem to pull a vanishing act right before your very eyes like feathered Houdinis.

Common and widespread, the Green Honeycreeper has also done well with its beautiful green plumage, the female being a more subtle green than the glistening, bluish-green male.

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Female Green Honeycreeper

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Male Green Honeycreeper

Female euphonias tend to be yellowish-green while most males are blue-black and yellow. The exception is the olive-colored male Olive-backed Euphonia and the emerald-like Golden-browed Chlorophonia. Despite their bright colors, chlorophonias are typically tough to see in the crowns of cloud forest trees.

Olive-backed Euphonias are common on the Caribbean slope.

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Golden-browned Chlorophonias are common in the highlands.

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Female manakins are another bunch of green birds but since they flit around the dark recesses of understory vegetation, I don’t have any photos of them. Nor do I have images of the canopy loving, titmouse-sounding Green Shrike Vireo because it’s hard enough to just see that thing through binoculars.

However, some of the other green Costa Rican birds that I do have images of are the

Emerald Tanager– not the best photo but there it is!

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Emerald Toucanet– Yes, it helps when they come to feeders.

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Green Kingfisher– This most common kingfisher in Costa Rica sports such a lovely jade hue.

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Then there are the hummingbirds, many of which come in varying degrees of glittering green plumage. It’s hard to pick out the greenest of the bunch but I’ll settle on the aptly named Green Thorntail for now.

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Green Thorntail.

There are also a bunch of other species that have olive on the back or have some shade of green in their plumage but the above represent many of the greenest birds to be encountered when birding Costa Rica.

Check the Costa Rica Living and Birding Blog on a regular basis for more information about birds and birding in Costa Rica.

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