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Birding Costa Rica birds to watch for in Costa Rica

Macaws, Barbets, and an Ultra Tame Sooty-Faced Finch

It’s hard to keep up with the bird news in Costa Rica. Just too much going on, all the time. Regarding tidbits of note, off hand, I can say that there has been a Yellow-billed Cotinga visiting a fruiting vine thingy plant near the entrance to Cerro Lodge, water levels have become low enough in Cano Negro to facilitate the finding of such coveted species as Agami Heron, Green-and-Rufous Kingfisher, and Sungrebe, and quetzals have been more active and thus easier to see at any number of highland sites.

As for myself, since I may also have too much to say, I’ll limit it to a few things of birding interest:

Macaws at Dave and Dave’s– Formerly known as The Nature Pavilion, the excellent birding/photography/reforestation place known as Dave and Dave’s has been playing host to increasing visits from macaws. Thanks to those reforestation efforts, both species of huge, screaming, long-tailed parrots that occur in Costa Rica have been showing up to feed. Great Greens fly in once in a while to feed on Beach Almonds that have been planted, and Scarlets have been coming in to feed on another tree or two. These aren’t big old trees either but young, short ones. That means easy photo opps. for a pair of mega birds.


Toucans and other birds have been showing at the fruit feeders. The other day, a Rufous Motmot surprised us by flying in to sample a bit of plantain.

Barbets at Cinchona– Although the occurrence of two barbet species at the Colibri Cafe isn’t exactly novel, it’s always worth a mention. Seeing funny looking chunky birds, (one of which is a regional endemic) at close range just never gets old, especially when you can just about feed them by hand. The anti-feeder crowd will no doubt give a big old frown upon hearing that. If you find yourself frowning, I suggest channeling that energy into much more important endeavors like planting trees, trying to figure out how to grow organic pineapples, or working on converting gas-driven engines to electric driven ones.

The Sooty-faced Finch with issues– It has recently come to my attention that increasing numbers of birds have identity issues. Who knows why but this year, I have seen a Sunbittern that acted like a Little Blue Heron, both nunbirds and Resplendent Quetzals trying to be Tropical Kingbirds, and Barred Hawks that have just been plain unfriendly. Well, I can say that the trend continues at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, on this occasion with a Sooty-faced Finch. Go there, eat in the restaurant, and you will probably share space with one of these regional endemics.

I don’t know if it is trying to be a House Sparrow or is just into buffet cuisine (probably the latter), but this finch is a serious fan of the restaurant. In fact, it seems to have declared that the place belongs to it because when I mimicked its calls, the wacky finch leaped onto the nearest chair to call back right in my face. After calling, it then perched there for several minutes as folks walked right on past or sat nearby to eat their lunches. Although I suspect it wanted a French fry, I can’t discount the possibility of it also wanting to just be a House Sparrow or maybe even a person. When it wasn’t staring at us from the top of the chair, the finch was scooting all over the floor, even running under busy tables, calling the entire time. Crazy! Although Sooty-faced Finches have been acting that way at the Waterfall Gardens for some time, it’s always worth a mention.

As always, there’s much more to be said but instead of reading about it, you are always better off coming down to Costa Rica to experience all things bird for yourself.

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