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Birding Costa Rica birding lodges Introduction

Looking for a Few Good Birds from Lands in Love

It’s the day after guiding and this time, it was a day trip to Lands in Love. We were going to look for birds in Braulio Carrillo but given the time, effort, and guts needed for the drive back through rush hour traffic (and  a chance at a landslide shutting the road), I deemed that a day trip to Lands in Love might be a better option. Many of the bird species are the same as Braulio and some. Yesterday, that “and some” resulted in the following goodies:

  • Great Curassow: We surprised a pair on the main trail to the waterfall.
  • Green Ibis: As we drove past the ponds in the afternoon, I thought I heard the call of a Green Ibis. After a quick check, yes, there they were! Two Green  Ibis!

    Green Ibis
  • Semiplumbeous Hawk: Seems like Lands is a fair site for this choice raptor.

    Semiplumbeous Hawk
  • Broad-billed Motmot: It’s always nice to see a motmot and 4 species have been found at Lands in Love.

    Broad-billed Motmot
  • White-flanked Antwren: We got great looks at more than one of this uncommon species. They were moving around with Streak-crowned Antvireo, Slaty Antwren, Tawny-crowned Greenlet, and other small birds.

    White-flanked Antwren
  • Spotted Antbird: We also heard a Bicolored Antbird but didn’t see any ants.

    Spotted Antbird
  • Thicket Antpitta: Seen once again instead of a heard only. I think Lands is one of two best sites in the world to see this bird, the other being Arenal Observatory Lodge.
  • Tawny-chested Flycatcher: Perfect looks at one on the main trail to the waterfall. I was sort of expecting Sepia-capped and not this one because I have never had this rarity at Lands in Love.

    Tawny-chested Flycatcher
  • Song and Nightingale Wrens: Usually, I see Black-throated and Bay Wrens. This time, those big wrens were heard only but instead, saw two of the most difficult birds.

These were just a few of the 100 plus species we identified during a day of birding at and near Lands in Love and we were still missing a bunch of commonly seen birds. Always great stuff to see there, can’t wait to go back!

Birding Costa Rica Pacific slope preparing for your trip

Finally, Long-billed Curlew in Costa Rica!

We all have our bogey birds, those troublesome species that play a permanent game of avian hide and seek. The only problem with the game is that bogey birds are on a winning streak that can last for years. Some of the most unrepentent players of this frustrating means of play are species like Masked Duck (my personal nemesis), Boreal Owl, and Conn. Warbler . Those birds just love to bend space and time to avoid you, and you know that you are dealing with a bogey when you experience too many dialogues like so:


“Guess what I am looking at!”

“I don’t know, an Ivory Gull?”

“How did you know! YES! I’m, feeding it dog food, took 400 pictures, and it’s not going anywhere! I know you need it so come and tick it!”

“Ok, I’m on my way!”

Half an hour later, you step out of the car with high spirits and binoculars at the ready. However, as you approach your faithful birding friend, the victory spring in your steps turns to an uneasy, stuttering stroll when you see the apologetic look on his or her face. You know what that means because it’s not the first time this has happened to you. You don’t even need to ask if your long awaited mega tick Ivory lifer Gull is around because the face says it all.

Sheepishly, your friend says, “Ahh, it left 5 minutes ago. Maybe it will come back”.

You know the score, though, so you sigh and say, “I’ll wait but what can you expect from a bogey bird”.

Of course, it fails to show after a couple of cold hours so you head back to home, work, or some other non-birding endeavor. Sure enough, it either shows up right after you depart, or the next day, or some other time when you can’t see it. Such is the curse of the bogey bird and it won’t be broken until some angelic individual Ivory Gull, Black Rail, or Northern Goshawk jumps into view and says, “Yes, my kind does exist! Lifer hereby granted!” With the curse broken, you then of course see flocks and multiple individuals of the much wanted species because they know that the game is over. They don’t want to play it any more with you so they settle their mischievous sights on the next needing birder.

I finally broke one of those curses this past Sunday on a trip to Chomes. We were actually looking for other birds (and that might be the key to ending the accursed game) but I was glad to FINALLY get Long-billed Curlew for Costa Rica. Yes, I have seen the tawny senor Pinocchio on wintering grounds in Mexico and watched its antics on the short grass prairies of Colorado but I still needed it for my Costa Rican country list. Others have espied it many a time in Costa Rica and one friend has seen the species on just about every visit he has made to Chomes. He was with us on Sunday so this is probably why the curse was broken but I’m not complaining, I will break that bogey bird curse any way I can!

This Long-billed Curlew was one of the first birds we saw.
Look at the outrageous bill!
The curlew wasn't the only bird there. We also had hundreds of dowitchers, plovers, Western sandpipers, and other species.

As for the Masked Duck, I’m done playing with that skulking, web-footed zorro of the marshy underworld. If it shows, I will look sans elation. If I don’t see it, it’s dead to me anyways! You hear that, you bunch of no fair playing, poor excuses for a relative of a Ruddy Duck? When I see you, I won’t even raise the voice! There won’t be any excitement or birding dance at your appearance. No, I’m going to be as casual with you as mentioning the presence of a Blue-gray Tanager. In fact, I might not even tick you off the list! Ha! Still want to play hide and seek?

(If anyone reading this seems to be a magnet for Masked Ducks, let me know! Just keep it on the down low…)

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

Big Cool Wrens of Costa Rica

Getting ready for a birding trip to Costa Rica? Hope to come to this birdy land at some happy, future time? If so, start learning about the Costa Rican avifauna now because we aren’t talking about 300 birds to look at but a country list of 900 plus birds. Some of those species are familiar, others are from your best birding dreams, and then there are the birds that supposedly belong to the same families as the ones at home, but look like the feathered variety of the X-Men.

The super White-throated Magpie-Jay.

Don’t believe me? Just raise your bins in Costa Rica and check out those big, bold wrens. While we also have the small and plain Troglodytes, I’m talking about the big, babbleresque birds thatd defy your definition of “wren”. Unlike their smaller cousins, these guys actually do have appearances that compete with their sonorous songs:

Rufous-naped Wren: Fun to watch, easy to see, and always singing. You can’t miss this one on a trip to Costa Rica.

Rufous-naped Wren

Band-backed Wren: Also arboreal but a bird of humid forest on the Caribbean slope. More common in the past, they can still be seen in lowland and foothill rainforest. It’s cool to watch these patterned wrens forage with a mixed flock.

Band-backed Wren.

Rufous-breasted Wren: Smart looking bird! It likes to skulk in vine tangles in Carara National Park.

The Rufous-breasted Wren is not as big as the others but too beautiful to leave off of the list.

Spot-breasted Wren: This one is much more a bird of Nicaragua north to Mexico but you can see also see them in Costa Rica around Cano Negro. Song of Spot-breasted Wren.

Stripe-breasted Wren: Learn one of the main songs given by this bird to know that you aren’t hearing a pygmy-owl. This one can be tough to see because it loves to hang out in the dense vegetation of wet rainforest. Listen to a Stripe-breasted Wren.

Riverside Wren: Yeah, they do like riparian zones but the name fails to hint at their exotic plumage. Watch for this one along forested creeks and streams from Carara on south. Riverside Wren song.

Bay Wren: This one is a real beauty and looks more like some babbler from the Sundaic bioregion. You will be happy to know that it’s also a common resident of second growth on the Caribbean slope.

Bay Wren

Rufous and white Wren: The name says it all when it comes to its appearance but the song is magic. Listen and watch for this wren in riparian zones and moist forest on the Pacific slope. Rufous and white Wren song.

Rufous and white Wren

Banded Wren: This common, dry forest species is another one to listen to. Banded Wren song.

Banded Wren

Plain Wren: Definitely the plainest of the bunch and a lot like a Carolina, you will hear it sing and call from coffee farms and second growth. Plain Wren song.

Plain Wren

Black-throated Wren: This wren likes to pretend that it’s an antbird but is all wren when it sings. Black-throated Wren song.

Black-throated Wren

Black-bellied Wren: Possibly the finest of the bunch, it’s nevertheless a pain to see. Learn the beautiful song to know what’s hiding in that dense second growth. With enough patience, you might see one at places like Rancho Mastatal, the Golfo Dulce lowlands, and other humid forest sites on the southern Pacific slope.

Black-bellied Wren

Black-bellied Wren song.

These aren’t the only wrens in Costa Rica but they are the bold and beautiful. If I can ever manage photos of Nightingale and Scaly-breasted Wrens, I will write about those gnomish wrens with amazing songs.

big year Birding Costa Rica Introduction preparing for your trip

A Bit of Costa Rica Birding News, August, 2014

Do you find yourself in Costa Rica these days? Do you wish you were in Costa Rica? Check out the following news items for insights, action, and intrigue about birds and birding in Costa Rica!:

  • Shorebirds are in town: Well, it’s their city of mudflats and shorelines and not bumpy roads where Rufous-collared Sparrows hop but if you are a birder, you get the picture. Sightings of shorebird species are coming in from Guacalillo and flooded fields in Guanacaste. Could someone please brave the heat waves of Chomes to see who happens to be probing the mud for worms and other invert delicacies?

    Least Sandpipers are coming to town.
  • Familiarize yourself with Peruvian Boobies and Inca Terns: No Peruvian Booby yet for Costa Rica but they really could be out there! According to Xenornis, several have now shown up at Amador, Panama and maybe there’s an Inca Tern to be found as well. If you see a booby with a white head, take a picture and send it to the AOCR.
  • Check out the 2014 Birding and Nature Festival in Costa Rica: It’s happening on September 19th to September 21st, includes guided walks at the EARTH campus and the Las Brisas Reserve, and cool bird talks. Very good chance of seeing Cerulean Warbler and other migrants in Costa Rica, and lots of cool residents, plus owls on the night walks.

    You might see a Sunbittern.
  • National Park Fee Hike: $10 per day apparently wasn’t quite enough to help fund the government (no, it doesn’t seem that those funds go back into the parks), so the fee for tourists has been raised to $12. Keeping with bureaucratic traditon, the birding unfriendly opening hours of 8 to 4 have not changed. Where to complain? I’m not sure but if I find out, will publish that on this blog.
  • Very cool video by someone else: Speaking of videos, I didn’t do this one but recommend watching it. Done by a young Canadian birder about his time in Costa Rica with his dad. Lots of nice shots, and enthusiastic commentary.
  • Almost at 600 species for the year: No, not major news really, but good news for me! I am just a few species shy of 600 for the year. Does that mean I will stop at 600? Of course not, the constant pseudo Big Year will march on like penguins in search of destiny, adventure, and fish!
  • Writing for 10,000 Birds: I will finish off with another tidbit of news about myself. I just became one of the beat writers for 10,000 Birds (a super cool birding blog).  Look for my posts every other Saturday, first one on the 9th.

Have any Costa Rican bird news you want to share? Send me a comment and it will probably make it onto this blog.