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Costa Rica Birding News- June, 2024

Coming to Costa Rica in June? It’s gonna be good! More elbow room, lots of bird activity, I’m already looking forward to it. For me, it’s a good time of year to search for nesting birds, fruiting trees, and enjoy fresh, cloudy weather.

Yeah, fresh, cloudy weather in June. Who would have thought? It’s June but you gotta remember, Costa Rica doesn’t have any summer. No winter either. Just wet or dry, and high, middle or low elevations with some vacillations in local temperatures.

It’ll rain in the afternoon but I like it. Just before the storm, swifts reveal some of their waterfall mysteries and birds are active, all morning long. Partly rainy? Birds are moving all day!

It’s the good birding stuff. Here’s some birding news to whet your palette.

Mega Hummingbird near Boca Tapada!

The biggest local birding news has been the occurrence of a White-bellied Emerald in northern Costa Rica, near Boca Tapada. This plain looking hummingbird is common in Mexico and northern Central America. In Costa Rica, it’s another story!

Known in Costa Rica from a handful of old sightings, a couple of which might actually have been Mangrove Hummingbirds, local birders have long hoped for one to come back for a visit.

Earlier in the month, while birding near Boca Tapada, birding guide and owner of Lifer Tours Juan Diego Vargas had a brief look at one while guiding clients. Although he was pretty sure of its identification, since he didn’t get a picture, Juan Diego opted to hold off on announcing it until he could absolutely confirm such a rare bird. Check out his account here!

Not long after, Lisa Erb (the owner of Rancho Naturalista), Harry Barnard, and Meche Alpizar (top birding guides based at Rancho) had good looks at the hummingbird and could confirm that yes indeed, the White-bellied Emerald was back in town!

Since then, dozens of local birders have pilgrimaged north to see this mega in some roadside Verbena (Porterweed). Although the landowner started charging people $20 a person (a fair sum for Costa Rica) to leave the road and walk on his property, lots of birders have still gone to see it. He has also installed a plastic green “wall” to prevent non-paying birders seeing it from the public road.

I can’t help but wonder if drought caused the bird to vacate its typical range? I also wonder if a few more are around. I bet so! If you see any hummingbirds that have mostly white underparts, please take pictures! The same goes for Blue-vented Hummingbirds with rufous in their wings. Those might be another vagrant bird that could be around; the Blue-tailed Hummingbird.

This is a Blue-vented Hummingbird. If you see one of these with rufous wings, take those pictures!

More Sightings of Buff-collared Nightjar

Wait, Buff-collared Nightjar? In Costa Rica? Yep! A few years ago, a small population was discovered in Santa Rosa National Park. Recently, Guanacaste based birders turned up few more at a site just outside of the park!

This is exciting for two reasons. For one, we now know of another population in Costa Rica. The other big reason for celebration is that this new spot is not within the park and therefore much more accessible.

I don’t know how the road is and expect it to be rocky rough but the birds are there and several people have gone and seen them. Hopefully more birders will check additional suitable spots in that area. It seems like more should be out there.

White-tailed Tropicbird in the Caribbean Basin

Another fun sighting was an adult White-tailed Tropicbird in the Caribbean Sea! This good bird was seen during pelagic bird monitoring off the coast of Tortuguero. Not unexpected but still pretty rare for Costa Rica.

We actually have all three tropicbirds on the country list but Red-billed is the only regular one (and is still pretty uncommon).

A Good Time for Pelagics

I would rather take the ferry than this boat.

Isn’t it always? Yes, I suppose so but, to me, the wet season months have always seemed better for pelagic birds. Or, maybe it’s just better in the Gulf of Nicoya.

Rains bring more nutrients into the Gulf and that brings in the birds. At least that’s my theory. Past ferry trips during these months have always been good, it’s time for some more!

Preparing Updates for the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide App

On another birding note, I have been gathering new images and getting ready to update the Costa Rica Birds Field Guide app. I might include another bird or two that are not on the bird list but that could certainly make an appearance.

Altamira Oriole from the Costa Rica Birds app. Nope, hasn’t been seen yet but it’s very much expected!

I’ll definitely include more images in general to help birders identify more birds in Costa Rica, learn about them, and be fully prepared for their birding trip. No, we won’t have any automatic identification tools like Merlin but there will be accurate, localized information to help find and identify well over 900 bird species in Costa Rica, and the usual features that help people customize the app to their needs (making a target list, marking birds as soon or heard, and more).

June birding in Costa Rica’s gonna be good. I hope to see you here!

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