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The 8 Most Endangered Bird Species in Costa Rica (and What’s Needed to Save Them)

Endangered species are a sign of our human dominated times. We hear about so many animals being endangered that society has become all too accustomed to hearing about the plight of the Giant Panda or Rhinos disappearing, or so many other species being “endangered”. We hear about the term so much, when people talk about wild animals, we almost expect it to be used. It becomes normal, accepted and that’s insane because endangered means nothing less than a steady path straight to extinction. Gone. Gone for good and there ain’t no way the Labrador Duck is coming back, no more return or revival of the Passenger Pigeon or Carolina Parakeet or any of the other 1,000 plus bird species that have likely gone extinct over the past few thousand years.

If it weren’t for the massive effects we as a species have on our natural surroundings, I gather that “endangered species” would be a categorization limited to flora and fauna with extremely limited ranges and/or specializations that make them more vulnerable to sudden natural changes to their habitat or ecology. It might also be limited to the few species already on their way out the evolutionary door. However, since extinction doesn’t normally happen in the blink of an eye, even those naturally doomed species would be very few in number.

For the most part, the Anthropocene has been a bad and mortal ride for other life on Earth but they aren’t taking this trip alone. We are the ones driving this roller coaster of connected life and unless we make it safer for everyone on board, we’re going to engineer a crash that also takes us out of the picture. Luckily, we have made some adjustments, some solutions to keep more life around. Let’s hope that we can also find solutions for the following 8 most endangered resident bird species of Costa Rica:

Harpy Eagle

The king of Neotropical birds, its monstrous proportions, lethal capabilities, and rarity have given it near mythical status…at least in Costa Rica where its status is presently uncertain. Healthy populations of this top raptor formerly hunted in rainforests in many parts of the country; a number of indigenous artifacts that portray the Harpy Eagle show that it was well known among peoples in Costa Rica for thousands of years. However, this was when much larger areas of unbroken rainforest covered the lowlands and foothills of the Caribbean slope and the southern Pacific slope.

These days, this huge eagle is much less prevalent in Costa Rica if it even still breeds in the country. The only documented sightings since 2009 have been one bird in Tortuguero and another north of Rincon de la Vieja in 2017. Both of these were likely wandering eagles in search of territory but given the amount of forested habitat in a few choice spots and studies assessing Harpy Eagle populations in Panama that showed pairs using around 20 square kilometers of forest, a handful of pairs may still occur in Costa Rica. The places to look for them would be in the Barra de Colorado-Tortuguero National Park forest complex, the northern forests connected to the Indio Maiz Reserve in Nicaragua, forests of the eastern Talamancas near Panama, forests on the north slope of Rincon de la Vieja and Guanacaste National Park, and maybe even in remote parts of Braulio Carrillo National Park.

Sadly, although the Osa Peninsula and the adjacent Piedras Blancas National Park may have enough forest to support 3 or even 4 pairs of Harpy Eagles, since the last sighting there occurred in 2006, I doubt it still lives in that part of the country.

Crested Eagle

If the Harpy Eagle is the king, the Crested Eagle is either a prince or a grand duke of neotropical raptors. It occurs in much of the same rainforest habitats as the Harpy and also acts as a top predator. As with the Harpy in Costa Rica, the Crested Eagle has likewise certainly disappeared from much of its former range.

It is rarely seen but, unlike the Harpy, one or two are spotted just about every year. It may be hanging on (if by a thread) in the same areas where Harpy may still occur, in the forests of the Osa and Golfo Dulce (there have been recent documented sightings), in the Las Tablas area, and in any large area of foothill rainforest on the Caribbean slope.

In some places, I can’t help but wonder if this big raptor may have taken up the niche left by the absence of the Harpy Eagle. This might help it survive although it would still surely need large areas of healthy habitat and perhaps habitat that hosts healthy populations of large reptiles.

Solitary Eagle

Back in the 90s, there were fairly regular reports of this massive black-hawk from several sites. Even taking into account the confusion of this species with the similar Great Black-Hawk, it seems that the Solitary Eagle was seen now and then in Virgen del Socorro, near San Vito, in the Osa, and other sites.

Not any more.

I’m not sure what happened but given the paucity of sightings, in Costa Rica, the population of this large raptor must be very low. Since there seems to a fair amount of possible habitat for this species (primary forest in hilly areas), it seems that it should still occur in such places as Braulio Carrillo National Park, in the Talamancas, and elsewhere. But if that is the case, then why aren’t we seeing it more often at suitable, accessible sites?

Unfortunately, I suspect that this species has declined in large part because lower rainfall even in protected areas has resulted in lower productivity and thus fewer large snakes that make up an important (or even vital) part of its diet. At the same time, given all of that available habitat, much of which is inaccessible, it seems that there should still be some pairs that breed in Costa Rica. Needless to say, studies to ascertain what’s going on with this large raptor are urgently needed.

Red-throated Caracara

This specialized wasp eating falcon has become the classic very rare bird of Central America. Sightings are so few and far between, one would never guess that its raucous screams used to play a common role in Costa Rica’s morning chorus. However, that was some time ago, back when there was enough healthy forest (and perhaps other factors) to support large populations of its requisite wasp larvae prey.

Long gone from most parts of its North American range, in the present era of the Anthropocene, the last Red-throated Caracaras of Central America mostly occur where one might expect them; in the final few remaining large forest blocks. In Costa Rica, some continue to be seen in the heart of the Osa Peninsula and others are occasionally found in northern Costa Rica. Wandering individuals might also still show up on the Caribbean slope of the Talamancas and in the foothills in and near Braulio Carrillo National Park.

Guanacaste Hummingbird

Never heard of the Gaunacaste Hummingbird? Don’t feel bad, this lost species is only known from one old specimen. Also called, “Alfaro’s Hummingbird”, Costa Rica’s biggest avian mystery hasn’t been seen since its discovery in 1895.

Recent determined searches have yet to find it but since it can be easily mistaken for the Blue-vented Hummingbird, and because there is more ground to cover, researchers are still looking for it. If you happen to be birding on or near Volcan Miravalles, take pictures of any hummingbirds you find. Who knows, you might rediscover a lost species and the most endangered bird in Costa Rica in one fell swoop.

Speckled Mourner

This becard relative may lack bright, shiny colors but its still high on the wanted list of many a local birder. In Costa Rica, there are very few sightings of this extremely rare bird, and most actually travel to the Canal Zone of Panama or Indio Maiz in Nicaragua to see it!

An uncommon species of lowland and foothill rainforest, this mourner probably needs large areas of intact primary forest, especially along streams. As far as records from the past ten years, there are rumors of it still occurring at La Selva and I know a reputable guide who saw one in perfect microhabitat for it in the Osa (a flat area of primary forest along a stream) but haven’t heard of any other possible sightings. That said, it seems that it should still occur in a few places. Surveys should look for it along streams in lowland and foothill primary forest in all of the largest forest blocks.

Yellow-billed Cotinga

Although this bright white bird with the yellow beak and butterfly flight can be readily seen at Rincon de Osa, don’t kid yourself, this species is seriously endangered. In fact, other than the hummingbird, this cotinga would probably be the most globally endangered species in Costa Rica.

The reasons for this unfortunate designation stem from it needing a particular combination of threatened habitats next to each other in a naturally small range. Those habitats are lowland rainforest and mangroves. Take one away or limit their connection and cotingas have troubles. This is why there is a tiny and nearly extinct population at Carara, and why the only other populations are probably limited to areas near Dominical, in and near the Osa Peninsula, and one or two places in Panama.

The overall world population of this cotinga is not precisely known but it believed to be pretty darn small, maybe even as low as 150 birds. Its main hope for survival are the mangroves and rainforests of the Osa and Golfo Dulce. If it starts to decline there, it’s hard to understand how it would not go extinct.

Bare-throated Umbrellabird

It was hard to choose an 8th species for this list but after thinking about which rare birds have declined the most, I had to settle on this large and bizarre cotinga. Rare for some time, the umbrellabird of Central America hasn’t been getting any more common. One can go birding in perfect habitat time and time again without seeing it and sadly, the reason for not seeing it is simple; there are very, very few of them.

A precious few are seen at La Selva and a couple other sites in the winter months, at Pocosol perhaps all year long, and on breeding grounds in Monteverde but the numbers are always low and sightings rare. Since large areas of suitable forest are present in less accessible areas of Braulio Carrillo and the Talamancas, there is hope that a good number of umbrellabirds also occur there but data are lacking.

Honorable Mentions

Unfortunately, some other birds in Costa Rica are nearly as threatened with extinction or at least require further study. They are:

Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle

Like a large Short-tailed Hawk or Booted Eagle, this aerialist hides in plain sight. However, no matter how well it can hide while soaring up there against the clouds, it still seems to be decidedly scarce. Never common, this raptor nevertheless seem to be much more rare in Costa Rica than in the past.

Wandering Albatross

We don’t know how often this equatorial albatross species uses Costa Rican waters but since it has been recorded from time to time and is critically endangered, it certainly merits a mention.

Galapagos Petrel

The same thing can be said about this pelagic bird.

Great Green Macaw

On account of steep declines in other parts of its range, this beautiful bird is now considered to be “Critically Endangered”.

Thanks to conservation and reintroduction efforts, at the moment, this major bird is fairly easy to see in Costa Rica. However, if we don’t stay firm with protecting this species, including the Mountain Almond trees it depends on, it could be lost.

Gray-headed Piprites

A very little known and little seen bird, there are very few regular sites for it. Studies are sorely needed to asses its status and try to figure out what this bird exactly needs for habitat.

Yellow-tailed Oriole

Common in some other parts of its range, on account of the local pet trade, this large oriole has become very rare in Costa Rica. These days, the best places for it seem to be sites in and near Cano Negro. It also likely lives in a few other scattered sites but not many. Hopefully, increased campaigns against bird trapping will change its status for the better.

Cabanis’s Ground-Sparrow

One of Costa Rica’s most recently described endemics is also highly threatened. This is another bird for which ecological studies studies are urgently needed to try and keep it from suddenly going extinct. I realize that can sound alarming for a bird of second growth but given that urbanization has destroyed and overlapped large parts of its extremely small range, and that it doesn’t seem to be all that common, I think the concern is warranted.

Luckily, at the Project Cabanisi, there are people studying and working on the conservation of this towhee relative. Please consider giving some support to this project.

Edit- One Last Important Honorable Mention!

Sedge Wren

I’m not sure how I overlooked this one, thanks to Paz Irola of Get Your Birds! and various local bird conservation projects for the reminder!

In Costa Rica, Sedge Wrens occur in small and localized populations that require sedge or dense, grassy habitats, mostly around Cartago and in some parts of the slopes above the Central Valley. Unfortunately, those same habitats aren’t afforded any protection and are thus typically slated for “development” or for grazing.

Climate change is also probably making the situation worse as drier weather decreases the amount and quality of habitat for the Sedge Wren. Not to mention, birds that occur in Costa Rica aren’t the same as the much more numerous Sedge Wrens of the north. They do not migrate, sound and look a bit different, and are either the same species as similar resident Sedge Wrens in northern Central America, the Grass Wren of South America, or a highly endangered species endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama. No matter what their taxonomic status may be, they form a distinct phylogenetic group that is under serious threat.

How to Save Endangered Birds in Costa Rica

The birds on this unfortunate list differ from each other in various ways but the solutions to conserving these and so many other birds tend to be the same. To varying degrees, they all need:

  • Studies to ascertain populations, to see where they occur so we can focus conservation in the right places.
  • Life history studies to figure out what they need for survival as well as the factors that contribute to their decline.
  • Short and long term plans for effective conservation. This can include habitat protection, management, and reforestation, awareness education about the importance of these birds, reintroduction, and other efforts.

Not mention, there are also choices we can make to conserve birds at home and further afield such as eating less meat, using organic products, buying songbird friendly coffee, maintaining a garden with native plants, and supporting organizations like the American Bird Conservancy that actively work to protect birds. It also doesn’t hurt to promote birds and nature connection as much as possible.

If you would like to know more about where to find the birds on this list along with other information about birding in Costa Rica, please consider supporting this blog by purchasing How to See, Find, and Identify Birds in Costa Rica, a 700 plus page e-book designed to help every birder see and identify more birds in Costa Rica.

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The Rocky River Heron

Joan Jett of Blackhearts and The Runaways fame first sang, “I love rock and roll so put another dime in the jukebox baby!” Weird Al’s twist on that classic 80s rock tune says, “I love rocky road! So weren’t you gonna buy half a gallon baby?”

When visiting California Gulch or some roads in Costa Rica or so many other off beat places we go for birds, the song gets changed to, “I love rocky roads so put another wrench in the toolbox baby!” However, if the Fasciated Tiger-Heron could croon, if that rocky river loving bird could put words to the tune, it might say, “I love rocky flows so put another fish in the eddy baby!”

If you ever wondered what the Fasciated Tiger-Heron does, that lyric just about sums up how it spends most of its time. Unlike so many other herons, this species doesn’t visit marshes, doesn’t wade in estuaries or fly along any ocean shore. It doesn’t even stalk the shallows of slow, steady-flowing tropical lowland rivers. In the nations where our rocky river bittern ranges, those habitats are used by the related Bare-throated Tiger-Heron and the Rufescent Tiger-Heron. At some period in evolutionary history, we can only assume that in occupying and become more adapted to rocky forested rivers, the ancestor of the Fasciated became the bird that it is today.

Like other Trigrisoma herons (the tiger-herons), the Fasciated is a fair-sized bird with a thick, and powerful neck, sharp beak, and medium-length legs. In other birding words, its more or less shaped like a bittern, like a compact, modern dinosaur. However, unlike bitterns, the Fasciated and other tiger-herons don’t bother to hide themselves in the grass, don’t make any noises that sound like a water pump.

No, these birds are too rough and tough characters for any of that quaint country stuff. More in keeping with their dino ancestors, tiger-herons stalk where they wish, make growling noises that sound like some scary predator of the night, and eat baby crocodiles. At least the Bare-throated and Rufescent eat young crocs. The Fasciated doesn’t but I bet that’s only because saurians don’t inhabit the bird’s cold, rocky river habitats.

In fact, the Fasciated is so adapted to rocky streams and rivers, it just can’t seem to live anywhere else. Ranging from Costa Rica through much of the tropical Andes, the Fasciated Tiger-Heron uses rocky streams and rivers that flow through forested landcapes. As one might gather, this special heron also has a morphological feature or two that help it survive in its rushing river home. A bit stockier than other herons, like a feathered goat, it has shorter legs that may help it find better balance on slick river rocks. Its slightly blunter bill might help it catch more crayfish or other prey items peculiar to its cold, splashing home.

Although it’s far from being the only heron that patiently waits in place to eventually catch unwary prey, the Fasciated T. seems to be especially adept at practicing stillness. This river bird stands in place for so long, it can seem more like a garden statue, just another rock in the river than an actual living bird. With water constantly rushing and splashing past it, the heron seems to be making some natural Zen statement. Compared to herons of lowland tropical places, keeping still for long periods of time might be a necessary adaptation to catch enough food in places with fewer prey items. Being “Zen” also probably helps to avoid predators as does another of its characteristic features; its cryptic plumage.

Check a stream for this heron species and you might need to do a double take. Look carefully at the river with binoculars and don’t be surprised if one of those many “rocks” turns into a bird that was hiding in plain sight. Coupled with its art of being still behavior, the mottled gray plumage of the adult helps it blend in remarkably well with the surrounding river rocks and rushing water. The orange and black plumage of the juvenile is another story and raises the question of why the adult seems to be more camouflaged than young birds; a situation typically the other way around.

If you feel like pondering such questions while birding Costa Rica, come visit and scan rocky rivers and streams in rainforest for Fasciated Tiger-Herons. On account of the bird’s natural stealth and likely low density populations, it might take a while to find one. But don’t give up! Think like the heron, check the river with care because you can bet that the birds are somewhere on that waterway. They might be standing just around the bend, or keeping still on the other side of a big river rock, being Zen, hiding in plain sight.

Birding Costa Rica

708 Species Identified in Costa Rica on Global Big Day, May 8, 2021

This past Saturday, Global Big Day (GBD) 2021 happened. Unlike pre-pandemic GBDs, this big birding day was potentially limited by driving restrictions and other measures meant to slow the spread. In some countries, birding was somewhat sidelined by tragedy in the form of instability and a massive rise in cases. It can be hard to watch birds when you don’t feel safe, feel outrage, or when you or loved ones are suffering from a terrible disease. On the other hand, birding can also act as an escape, a mental salve for temporary yet needed and real healing to get you back on track, give you strength to keep on moving (yellow is the color of sun rays…).

Despite some driving restrictions in Costa Rica, the local birding community kept on moving and kept up with local GBD tradition to surpass 700 species. 708 to be exact! It wouldn’t have happened if the local birding collective had not reached most corners of the country, had not made a serious team effort to find and count key rare birds.

Those would be birds like the Unspotted Saw-whet Owl, a denizen of cold dark high mountain nights. This tropical cousin of the Northern Saw-whet Owl made it onto the list because someone spent nocturnal time up there in he mountains to hear one call. Local and rare bird like Sharpbill, Lovely Cotinga, various crakes, Lanceolated Monklet, Red-fronted Parrotlet, and other species also made it onto the day list because various people focused their birding in just the right places.

Although around 20 possible species were still missing from the list (mostly very rare or local species like Black-and-White Hawk-Eagle, Speckled Mourner, and Black-crowned Antpitta), we still ended up with a high percentage of birds likely to occur in Costa Rica at this time of year. Once again, it shows what can be found, what can be seen when you get hundreds of people outside and birding on the same day. It shows how rich Costa Rica is in terms of avian diversity, how incredible the birding in Costa Rica can be.

As for Mary and I, we were fortunate to be healthy and able to head further into the field on this past GBD than the previous year. Really, “the field” just means birding away from home and although we didn’t try for any major Big Day madness, didn’t go for any 300 species bird focused trip, we still managed to escape and celebrate with some memorable birding. That’s par for the course. This is Costa Rica after all.

During our somewhat casual GBD, we started with early morning birding from the back balcony, listening for and recording expected regular species like White-eared Ground Sparrow, Crested Bobwhite, Ringed Kingfisher, and other species from the riparian zone out back. After submitting that first list, we made our way to the Pacific Coast to look for shorebirds, see if we could connect with a Savannah Sparrow that had been seen a few days before, and just see whatever else we might find.

Stops near Carara gave up various moist and humid forest species including Long-tailed Manakin, Chestnut-backed Antbird, and Gray-capped Flycatcher. If we had stayed longer, we would have seen and heard much more than 30 or so species but we didn’t want to linger. We wanted to explore the Playa Hermosa area, see if a sparrow might jump into view.

Over at Playa Hermosa, we saw far more surfers than any sparrows but leaping Mobula Rays were cool! We also saw birds- tiger-herons and other waterbirds in the wetlands of the Playa Hermosa Wildlife Refuge, more Groove-billed Anis than you could shake a stick at, a Laughing Falcon focused on looking for its serpent prey, and other birds here and there. No sparrow but any time near the ocean is much appreciated.

An ocean view just outside of Jaco.

Next on the site list for our casual GBD was the Jaco wetlands. These are a series of wetlands just outside of Jaco that always host an interesting set of birds. Maybe not as many in the hot mid morning hours of our visit but that’s quiet time for tropical birding no matter where you go. Even so, we still saw birds, still heard and saw some choice species. The best was a sweet surprise Paint-billed Crake that happened to give its diagnostic call just as we stopped next to a ditch!

We waited with camera in hand, wished it to walk into view, even if for a moment but had to settle on it being a heard only bird. I can’t blame the crake. I mean, if I was a small bird that could either (1) hide in the grass and keep my feet cool or (2) walk into a sunny opening where any number of raptors could swoop on down for an easy kill…yeah, I would stay in the ditch too.

From Jaco, we drove a ways up the coast to our next main stop, the salt ponds at Punta Morales.

Birding this hot lowland site at noon can be chancy for connecting with the birds. Even if the visit does coincide with high tide (high tide floods the mud flats of the adjacent Gulf of Nicoya and drives the birds to salt and shrimp ponds), the birds might be elsewhere. Luckily, upon arrival to the salt ponds we were fortunate to be treated to the welcome sight of shorebirds and terns resting on the berms.

It didn’t take long to scan and see that several were Black Skimmers and that the majority of species were Whimbrels, Black-bellied Plovers, and Marbled Godwits. Among them were some Willets, a scattering of Wilson’s and Semipalmated Plovers, and some other species. It was some hot lowland heat scanning bereft of getting lucky with a Hudsonian Godwit or other rarity but it was still worth being there.

We ended up seeing what was probably the only Stilt Sandpiper for Costa Rica’s GBD list, saw a Northern Scrub Flycatcher, and added some other dry forest species to our day list before driving back towards home. Since one or two choice birding spots were on the route back, well, we couldn’t not bird there. At least not on the Ceiba-Orotina road.

A mix of open fields, dry forest, and scattered trees, this is an excellent area for odd birds to occur. Our casual birding turned up a pair of Harriss’s Hawks, another Crested Bobwhite, many Turquoise-browed Motmots, and 3 species of cowbirds among various other dry forest species. No amount of scanning revealed any Upland Sandpipers, nor could we parse out a Eurasian Collared Dove among the many White-winged Doves but the other birds were nice.

After that final stop, we drove straight back home. We were happy to have participated with thousands of other global birders on a day dedicated to birding that identified more than 7,000 species, happy to not have had to drink any Red Bull, and look forward to a GBD when we just might have to drink Red Bull to keep on moving during 20 hours of record breaking birding. Until then, stay healthy, be happy, and consider visiting Costa Rica for birding.


Cerulean Warbler Conservation- How You Can Help Today

The roar of the falls was and still is the constant backdrop to birding Goat Island. Part of Niagara Falls State Park, the mature deciduous forest on this bit of land wedged between roaring cataracts acts as an important waypoint for migrating birds. As thousands of gulls and ducks dive and forage in the swift, cold waters of the Niagara River, high numbers of small birds feed on insects and berries in the rich vegetation on the island.

One May day in the distant 80s, the warm sun dappled the understory of the woods as newly arrived migrants sang from the maples and oaks. Magnolia Warblers flitting at the edge, dozens of Bay-breasted Warblers whispered from high above, the familiar summer sweet song of Yellow Warblers, Nashville and Tennessee Warblers seemingly competing to see who could sing the most staccato song. Baltimore Orioles playing their natural born flutes, grosbeaks doing the drunken robin waltz, a Scarlet Tanager adding its burry version to the natural, ancient birdsong mix.

Vireos were a constant, wood-pewees were also there, always there. On one of the more fateful, long past days of May on Goat Island, my 11 year old self heard a different song. Sort of like a Blackburnian but not quite, something new and there was another one or two responding. I crept through the morning forest, arm held in front to keep the spider webs at bay, walked on the soft ground of the trail towards the high-pitched, rising songs. Having listened to enough Blackburnian Warblers to recognize their songs, I had a strong suspicion about the identity of these new singers but then, just as now, seeing a new bird was believing.

Luckily for me, they kept on singing until I had arrived somewhere beneath them. I looked up into the green, trying to locate the naturally hidden birds. As with so many small birds, that meant staring up and into a mosaic of leaves and branches and waiting for movement, any hint of movement. If that seemed to have happened, the next step was automatically raising the bins to the eyes and getting them focused, all in a flash before the supposed bird moved one (because warblers work on a different, more fidgety schedule). On that particular birdy morning, after a bit of movement finally caught my eye, the next step brought me onto a small bird that had a dark, narrow breast band on white underparts.

The pattern could only mean one thing, a male Cerulean Warbler! Interested more in song than a foraging dance, my much awaited lifer let me admire it for well satisfied views. Even better, it was joined by other singing males, maybe 4, maybe even 6. Watching them sing and move in the high trees revealed bits of sky blue plumage that give the species its name. Over years of birding the beautiful woods of Goat island during May migration, that distant day was the only time I had seen several males and one of the very few days when I had seen any Ceruleans at all.

On that special day, as with any day when I am fortunate to see a migrating Cerulean, I wondered where they had come from. I wondered where they might be going. That far north in their range, away from known breeding grounds, we rarely saw that special bird. It was rare then and is even more rare today.

The reasons why Ceruleans have declined are fairly well known, these are royally plumaged birds with appropriate regal tastes and needs. They are birds of the tallest forests, the high canopy rulers of the magnificent floodplains, of where the sycamores are already old, where the oldest oaks may have been visited by the final generations of Passenger Pigeons. Since those same places also make wonderful farmland, tend to be easy to cut down, the realm of the Cerulean has been greatly diminished, conquered to the point of making this lovely little species “Near Threatened“.

A picture of a male Cerulean Warbler taken by Alan Schmierer on South Padre Island, Texas.

Destruction of wintering habitat in the foothills of the Andes acts as additional assaults on the southern kingdoms of the Cerulean. Cutting of migration stop over sites in between are more flashpoints during the unconscious war against this small beautiful bird.

Cerulean Warbler stopver habitat.

Knowing where Ceruleans go, where they stop during migration, tells us what these warblers need for survival and, therefore, the places we need to protect. But how on Earth can you follow the large scale movements of such a smidgeon of a bird, any small bird for that matter? The answer comes in the form of small transmitters that can be tracked by satellites.

Thanks to satellite tracking with MOTUS stations, crucial data have been gathered about the movements of dozens of migratory birds including Kirtland’s Warblers and Swainson’s Thrushes. Similar information for Cerulean warblers can help reveal insights about where they spend more time during migration and answer questions about where different breeding populations spend the winter. Since answering such questions is vital for effective conservation and protection of Cerulean Warblers, in conjunction with the Rainforest Biodiversity Group, on May 8th, local birding and conservation duo Ernesto Carman and Paz Irola will be doing a Birdathon to raise funds for Cerulean Warbler research.

By way of the Proyecto Cerulea, Ernesto and Paz have been a major help with Cerulean Warbler research and conservation for several years. Along with fellow birder Juan Diego Vargas, they have successfully organized Cerulean Warbler festivals, gathered much needed data, and banded a number of Ceruleans and other migrants. Over the past two years, in response to the need for tracking the movements of migratory birds through Costa Rica, they have worked hard to attain and install MOTUS stations and are now ready for the next crucial step; installing transmitters on Cerulean Warblers and other threatened species of migrants that they capture at the Las Brisas Reserve.

To help Ernesto and Paz gather important data for Cerulean Warblers and other threatened migrant birds, please consider donating to the 2021 RBG Bird-a-Thon. Rain or shine, it will take place May 8th (yes, Global Big Day, 2021!). Who knows, they may band a bird or two that come from your favorite birding spot. They might even catch a bird that ends up singing for another young birder in the timeless woods of Goat Island.

Although the donation page may be for “The Friends of the Great Green Macaw Inc”, this is just the official name for the Rainforest Biodiversity Group charity.