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Birding Costa Rica

Costa Rica Birding News May and June 2018

The high season for birding in Costa Rica has definitely come to its end. As with every year, it’s as if the birds track the people who come to see them when they fly back north to breed in the same woodlands and wild areas where those same people go birding. Bird a stream in the eastern USA and that Louisiana Waterthrush may have shared waters with an American Dipper during winter in the Dota Valley. Hear the “sweet, sweet, sweet” song of the golden swamp warbler and that Prothonotary may have been watched by birders peering into mangroves on the Tarcoles River.

For the most part, the multitudes of Baltimore Orioles, Golden-winged Warblers (not a glitch, a lot winter in Costa Rica), Black-throated Greens, and other birds that nest far to the north head back to the breeding grounds in April. No doubt, some of those beauties photographed on the Texas coast and then on the southern shores of Lake Erie were wintering it up in Tiquicia. But they have gone back now and so have most birders. It’s because of the rains but to be honest, it’s not that bad and really, if you visit now, it might be easier to see the cool resident species you come here for because they are singing more and more active in the frequently cloudy weather. Since it’s the off season, you also have a good chance of finding good deals on hotels and more. Have some free time? Want to get busy with views of Red-headed Barbets, a couple dozen hummingbirds, macaws, and more? It’s a great time to visit Costa Rica! Email me at [email protected], I’ll set up the perfect trip.

With that in mind, until more birders can be convinced to come on down for awesome birding in Costa Rica these months, I will have a lot more time to do other things, especially writing. I am thinking of updating my bird finding e-book (if I do and you bought the first version, email me at [email protected], I will sell you the updated version at half price), and will be writing more about birds and travel in Costa Rica and elsewhere.

But now, how about some birding news for May and June:

Tadoussac– It’s a place in Quebec and if you are a birder, you likely already know about this news bite! If not, well, let’s just say that some very lucky birders had what just might be the best birding day that anyone could imagine.

Seriously, this one is going down in birding history.

Unless someone documents the continued existence of Ivory-billed Woodpecker and Bachman’s Warbler in the same day, seeing more than 700,000 warblers flying overhead, behind, and right past the noses in a single day is a tough one to beat. Yeah, that’s right, that many. Really. A few thousand would still be amazing but 700,000? I’m not sure what to call that except absolute pandemonium cerebral birding overload. I mean holy bird count Batman! That’s waaaay out of control!!! The connection to Costa Rica with this one is that some of those birds probably wintered or at least migrated through these parts. Then, they went north and somehow ended up joining thousands of other warblers for a crazy warbler convoy/fest in Tadoussac. Check out the list, the numbers are real and the comments are inspiration for the best of birding dreams.

Thousands of Cape-mays were seen. We are lucky to get a few in Costa Rica each winter. I was happy to see this one at the Arenal Observatory Lodge.

The petrel– Just to add a little more improbability to the mix, around the same date, one of Brian Patteson’s famed pelagic trips out of North Carolina found and photographed what appears to be a Tahiti Petrel. Not only new for that area, how about new for the whole damn Atlantic Ocean!!! I still need this cool wave wanderer. If I took a pelagic far off shore in Costa Rica, I might see one. Friends of mine have and during the month of May too.

But how about some news a bit more local in nature?

Bare-necked Umbrellabird and Oilbird around Monteverde– A male was seen displaying at Curi-Cancha recently. Will it stay? Hopefully, and hopefully with more of its wonderful, endangered kin. As for the Oilbird, it’s early for one to show but that’s alright, we will take it! Hopefully, this is a sign that more Oilbirds will be coming to the montane forests of Costa Rica the next couple of months.

Unspotted Saw-whet Owl tracked, seen, and videoed– Thanks to the good, hard-working folks of Get Your Birds!, not only are they heading up a project to assess the endemic Cabanis’s Ground-Sparrow and doing 300 species plus big days. They are also running around with Unspotted Saw-whets at night! These guys are hard core. I mean, it’s cold up there in the middle of the high elevation night, and they have managed to put a locator on one of these much wanted cute montane owls and have been following it. And, for all of our entertainment, a video was also made by birding guide Jose Pablo Castillo of one eating a small rodent. Enjoy!:

More bird counts– It’s really cool to see more local bird counts taking place. Not only are these events a fun way to share birds with other like-minded binocular wielding folks, but they also provide valuable data about local bird populations. This weekend, one will be taking place at Esquinas Lodge. I was going to attend but much to my dismay, had to drop out at the last moment because of sudden changes in my work situation that couldn’t be altered. I felt terrible to email that notification to the organizer and can only hope to make it up to him some day.

In June, a count at an excellent site in Coronado known as “Locos por el Bosque” will be taking place. I plan on attending and sure hope so because it coincides with my birthday. No better way to celebrate it than watching birds, especially with the best of people.

Will we see a quetzal? I hope one like this.

Bogarin Trail is Rocking– This home grown site is always good but lately, it’s been rocking the birding house. One day, someone posted a video of a Uniform Crake right out in the open. You know, just waltzing around like a mini wood-rail. Um, that’s insane. As many who have tried can attest, this is one of those “special” little birds that are easy to hear but mostly invisible. If you get lucky with the crake, you might also get lucky with roosting Black-and-white Owl, and these days, watch an Agami Heron that has been hanging there! Yes, one of the world’s original skulking herons has been joining the bird gang at Bogarin’s. Thank you Geovanni for making this avian oasis happen!!!

Birds at the Fortuna Nature Trail.

Updates to the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app– Back on the home front, new images have been included in a recent update to this digital field guide. One of the apps I work on, this update includes images of tough birds like Blue Seedeater, Ruddy Foliage-gleaner, and the elusive Silvery-throated Jay among other additions. There are also additional images from one of the country’s top bird photographers, Randall Ortega Chaves.

That’s it for now, I hope to see you in Costa Rica!

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