Poas is indeed a place but since it’s also a volcano, instead of saying “at” Poas, I can’t help but say “on” Poas. Where exactly the volcano begins in the Central Valley is subjective because the slopes gradually grade into the Alajuela area. But, once a birder begins to ascend the mountain, and especially at the higher elevations closer to the active crater, you are indeed up there on the volcano.
Team Tyto was up there the other day scouting for an upcoming trip. As it often is on Poas, the weather was a combination of wind, sun, and mist. The mist might be a barrier for sharp photos but for birds, it’s always better than sun and wind. During conditions like so, our feathered subjects of interest mostly play hide and seek with an emphasis on “hide”. Upon arrival, because of all that hiding, it’s easy to wonder where the birds are, conclude that none are around and that you are better off just enjoying the scenery.
The mountain scenery is indeed impressive but make no mistake, the birds haven’t disappeared, they just don’t feel like battling the blustery skies. They don’t call as much either because there might not be much use in vocalizing when few other birds can hear you and you also run the risk of attracting the attention of a predator whose sounds are likewise masked by the rushing sound of wind through the trees.
We had plenty of wind the other day but we still had some birds. No quetzals but given the abundance of fruit, there had to be some of those long-tailed megas in the area, they were probably taking shelter in ravines. The birds we did see included Sooty Thrush, Sooty-capped Chlorospingus, Fiery-throated and Volcano Hummingbirds, Black and Yellow Silky-Flycatcher, Flame-throated Warbler, and a few others. Not bad, not bad at all for a bit of casual birding on a windy day at 8:30 in the morning.
With more time and focus on the understory, I am sure we would have seen more even on such a windy day because no matter what the weather is on Poas, most of the birds are still there even if it doesn’t at first seem like it.
As an aside, if a birder tires of the wind, you can always check out the avian scene at the following nearby sites. We did and added several more species to the day list:
Freddo Fresas– The garden and ravine is good for more hummingbirds, Flame-colored Tanager, Red-faced Spinetail, White-eared Ground-Sparrow and other upper mid-elevation species.
Corso– A dairy farm that offers milking tours and has an ice cream shop, Corso also has a parking area with Porterweed. Check it out for Volcano and Scintillant Hummingbirds, and a few other species.
Varablanca– Various sites and side roads near this mountain saddle crossroads are good for quite a few montane species even Flame-throated Warbler, Yellow-winged Vireo, Wrenthrush, and various others.
A windy day doesn’t have to be a bad birding day. Be patient, keep looking, and when the weather changes, be ready for a welcome burst of bird activity! Good luck birding Costa Rica!
If you are looking for more information on where to find birds in Costa Rica and how to identify them, support this blog by purchasing How to See, Find, and Identify Birds in Costa Rica” .