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big year

Final Birds of the Year

This is it. December is here, with its snow and gulls and other birds from the north and the year is coming to a close. Except that in Costa Rica, we don’t have any dark cold days, nor do we offer much for the Larophile. We do have some birds from the north but they come in the form of Baltimore Orioles, Yellow Warblers, and other birds that come here to escape that northern annual freeze. Thanks to jet propulsion engines and planes, you can also migrate away from the cold. Come to Costa Rica and a birder can also add a few several dozen final year birds.

Did someone say Snowcap?

In my near future, I don’t foresee any serious chasing of the feathered kind but Mary and I are scheduled to participate in one more count. Maybe we will add a few more year birds, maybe even some after the count. Although we both have more than 600 species for 2019, incredibly, even more species can still find room on our lists, I wonder what they might be?

My latest year bird (numero 680) was a Rufous-winged Tanager seen while guiding near the Mistico Hanging Bridges area. During those days of guiding, I also saw birds like Great Curassow, Ocellated Antbird, Keel-billed Motmot, and Lattice-tailed Trogon but as nice as those species are, it wasn’t the first time I had seen them in 2019.

The Keel-billed Motmot.

In the next few days, with luck, we might even connect with Bare-necked Umbrellabird. I hope so, even if I already did see one this year, I rarely see this endangered species and it would be an excellent final bird of the year for Mary. Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo might be even better but even being in the right place doesn’t mean that you can hit the birding lottery with this mega. If we find an antswarm, though, we could be in luck, I will certainly be listening for this very challenging species.

Other, more likely final year birds may come in the form of species we have looked for and should have already seen. Although we have done well on owls, the Striped Owl has evaded our efforts thus far! There’s still a chance although I think it depends on whether or not we visit the Jaco area at night.

Another big empty spot on our year lists is next to the name of the American Kestrel. Although the “Sparrow Hawk” isn’t common in Costa Rica, we have looked for it in the right places. I really don’t know why we haven’t seen this beautiful little falcon yet but it’s about time we connected, maybe one will still show near the airport or some other open field.

We could also pick up a nice set of final birds for the year in the Ciudad Neily area but since that is kind of far to go, it’s not going to happen in 2019. Maybe in 2020, but not this year. Instead, though, if we head to the coast, we still may pick up Common Tern and other coastal species. At least no matter where we go birding in Costa Rica, some new year bird could appear. That’s how the birding goes in a place with a list of more than 920 species.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season and Merry Christmas! Thank you for reading this blog in 2019, I am grateful.

6 replies on “Final Birds of the Year”

Thanks for some great memories Pat, wishing you and your family a good christmas and a bird filled 2020.

Awesome photo of the Keel-billed Motmot! Where did you find that mega?

Merry Christmas Pat, and a happy and birdy New Year! Thanks so much for all the interesting and informative blogs! They help me plan my trips–I’m returning for the sixth time to the Golfito/Piedras Blancas NP area in May, super-excited.

@Nic- Glad to hear that Nic, hope you and your family are doing well and ready for a great year.

@Mary Ann- I think that photo was from the Peninsula Road, a good spot for seeing that species. Now, one is also hanging out at the Bogarin Trail.
Same to you Mary Ann, glad to hear that the blog has been helpful. That will be a good trip!

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