Text Box: Costa Rica Rare Bird Reports


February 2007:


28 – Julio Sánchez reported that a Paint-billed Crake Neocrex erythrops was found dead in a rice field near Gamba. The bird’s crop was filled with rice, suggesting possible poisoning.



27 – Jim Zook spotted a Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens in some brush in an abandoned coffe plantation near Sabalito, east of San Vito de Coto Brus. Jim reported that this individual’s breast was practically orange.



26 – Noel Ureña wrote to say that on two recent occasions he has seen a group of five Red-fronted Parrotlets Touit costaricensis flying over the valley near Savegre Mountain Hotel, in San Gerardo de Dota. He also reported three White-winged Tanagers Piranga leucoptera (two females and a male) that have been feeding in the oak forest at the end of the road up through the apple orchards above the hotel.



25 – Willy Alfaro and Leo Garrigues saw a single Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum at Rancho Naturalista.


For the fourth year in a row, Jim Zook found a wintering Yellow-throated Warbler Dendroica dominica in a pine plantation near Gutiérrez-Braun, north of San Vito de Coto Brus.



24 – Julio Sánchez had two separate sightings of Keel-billed Motmot Electron carinatum, neither in the Arenal area, where this species is now being seen with some regularity. The first bird was seen at 13:00, from the Hunter Trail at Tirimbina Rain Forest. It was in the lower level of mature forest with a fairly open understory. Later, at 17:30, another bird was spotted at the edge of a remnant forest patch in a cattle ranch in La Guaria. These are the first reports in recent years that I am aware of from the Sarapiquí area. A fascinating discovery!


Jim Zook observed a juvenile White-tailed Hawk Buteo albicaudatus some four km south of the bridge over the Savegre River on the Coastal Highway. The bird was flying high over some recently plowed fields. It was the first time Jim had ever seen this species south of Guanacaste.



23 – Steven Easley discovered a male Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera at Palo Verde NP. The bird was in front of the OTS station, just before you get to the boardwalk into the marsh.


Steven also had 3 Dickcissels Spiza americana along the entrance road to Palo Verde NP.


I spotted a Wattled Jaçana Jacana jacana in the last rice field before entering Esquina Rain Forest Lodge. Local guide, José Angel, had told me the bird had been there for several days and, sure enough, there it was by a small wet spot, not far from the road, in the otherwise dry field of harvested rice. There were also impressive numbers of Blue Ground-Doves Claravis pretiosa in the rice fields, and Todd Ward noticed a Mangrove Cuckoo Coccyzus minor in a fencerow tree.


Coincidentally, Christian Detellier and Christine Fouillien were taking a boat tour on the Sierpe River this same day and also saw a Wattled Jaçana.



18 – Jim Zook has found a Chuck-will’s-widow Caprimulgus carolinensis on the same perch along the road to El Colmenar every time he has visited Palo Verde NP since November 2006. Apparently, this is not a day roost but a nighttime perch as Jim has seen the bird there in the predawn darkness.


Jim also reported a nesting pair of Pearl Kites Gampsonyx swainsonii along the entrance road to Palo Verde, just 4 km in from the Bagaces turnoff. The stick nest is in the top of a leafless tree that is about 15 m tall and in a pasture with other large, scattered trees. The nest tree is some 75 – 100 m into the pasture from the road, on the righthand side as you’re going to Palo Verde.



16 – Again, Jim Zook heard Cedar Waxwings Bombycilla cedrorum, this time in Palo Verde NP, on the road to El Colmenar.


He also had his fourth record of Magnolia Warbler Dendroica magnolia for Palo Verde NP. All records have been in the last two years and each bird has been in a different sector of the park. This most recent bird was a male found in riparian forest along the Bebedero River.



15 – Alfredo Scott, in an unfortunately terse communication, mentioned a Rosy Thrush-Tanager Rhodinocichla rosea on the Riverbed Trail at Esquinas Rain Forest Lodge.



14 – Jim Zook heard a small group of perched Cedar Waxwings Bombycilla cedrorum while on the Pailas Trail at Rincón de la Vieja NP.


At La Guinea, east of Filadelfia, Jim had his first Guanacaste sighting of Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas. He found two males and a female in a three-hectare patch of sugar cane that was surrounded by other fields that had already been harvested.


Paco Madrigal reported an active Jabiru Jabiru mycteria nest, with two chicks, at Hacienda Solimar.


Bill Tice and his wife were birding the Robles Trail at Savegre Mountain Hotel, when they noticed a Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge Dendrortyx leucophrys “with a family of a few chicks, standing not 12 feet from the trail. She was making some low clucking sounds and her chicks were scurrying about. This went on for about 20 seconds until she strutted away. I relayed this to Mr. Chacón the next day and he said it was a great find.” Indeed it was!



13 – Paco Madrigal saw a pair of Cedar Waxwings Bombycilla cedrorum in a fig tree, just beyond the electric gate on the road to the Waterfall Trail, at Arenal Observatory Lodge. The two birds were seen in the same tree the previous morning (12 Feb), as well.



11 – Rafa Campos and K. Flynn discovered a Palm Warbler Dendroica palmarum at Ensenada Lodge. The bird was seen near the salt ponds in the open area between the salt storage shed and the mangroves. It was only the second time Rafa has seen this rare migrant parulid in CR.


Also at the salt ponds, Rafa found at least one American Golden-Plover Pluvialis dominica amongst the myriad Black-bellied Plovers P. squatarola. To this sight report, Adolfo “Fito” Downs replied that about ten days earlier, while visiting Ensenada Lodge with a group of Canadian birders, an American Golden-Plover was apparently seen on the dock below the lodge. However, Fito wasn’t there at the time to verify it for himself.


Jim Zook came across two Jabiru Jabiru mycteria at some aquaculture ponds along the road between Comunidad and Sardinal (on the road to Playa del Coco). At the same ponds, Jim also had some 75 Long-billed Dowitchers Limnodromus scolopaceus that he was able to hear vocalize.


At Corralillo, Jim saw a Merlin Falco columbarius flying over freshly cut cane fields.


And in the evergreen forest along the entrance road to Santa Rosa NP, Jim spotted a female Magnolia Warbler Dendroica magnolia. It was the first time he has seen this species in Santa Rosa [and I doubt that there are many other records for the park].



10 – Paco Madrigal looked down and saw a Buff-fronted Quail-Dove Geotrygon costaricensis below the fruit-tray feeders at El Mirador San Fernando, in Cinchona! Keep an eye out for this bird if you visit the mirador because it was out feeding in the open for nearly 15 minutes when I stopped by on 16 Feb with Tom and Carol Sykes and their group of birders from Wisconsin.


I had seen the quail-dove there once before, on a rainy 16 Nov 2004, but had not seen, nor heard other reports of the bird showing up again since. However, it may now be a regular “customer.”



09 – Jim Zook reported finding a female and five male Snail Kites Rostrhamus sociabilis at the La Pacifica Tilapia ponds, about one kilometer east of the PanAmerican Highway. The birds were on the left side of the road (as one heads towards Bijagua de Upala), about 200 m before crossing the irrigation canal.



08 – Vinicio Porras watched a group of three Streaked Xenops Xenops rutilans foraging near the road below the entrance to Bosque de Paz. In four years of guiding at the lodge, it was only his third sighting of this rare species.


Bill Tice looked up to see a Solitary Eagle Harpyhaliaetus solitarius circling overhead with a Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus above the bridge at La Virgen del Socorro. A local guide, who’s name Bill didn’t get, also saw the eagle.



07 – Another feeding station surprise, this time at Bosque de Paz: Buff-fronted Quail-Dove Geotrygon costaricensis! During our first early morning birding at the lodge, Bob Quinn glanced at one of the feeders on the ground and noticed this generally shy species. It retreated into the forest, but we subsequently had prolonged views of two birds as they fed on the cracked corn that the lodge puts out for birds. Local guide, Vinicio Porras, said that the quail-doves have been coming to the feeders for several weeks now.


Bill Tice saw a MacGillivray's Warbler Oporornis tolmiei up the road from the Ara Ambigua Hotel in Sarapiquí.



06 – For the third day in a row (see below), Phil Brown heard Cedar Waxwings Bombycilla cedrorum, and I happened to look up and see four waxwing silhouettes as they flew overhead at the Arenal Observatory Lodge.


Jim Zook saw an adult dark morph Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens at Chomes. The bird was in the mud flats along the Gulf of Nicoya, beyond the village and past the shrimp ponds.



05 – Phil Brown heard Cedar Waxwings Bombycilla cedrorum in flight over the Arenal Observatory Lodge shortly after daybreak. Later, I was amazed to see an Emerald Tanager Tangara florida coming to the fruit feeders off the dining room balcony. It was the first time that I’d ever seen this species come to a fruit feeder anywhere in CR—and the views were absolutely stunning!! (Talking with Leo Chaves, however, I was told that this species has been coming to the AOL feeder for several years now—though not when I’d been there!)



04 – Bob Quinn picked out a group of six Stilt Sandpipers Calidris himantopus among the various other shorebirds at the Ensenada Lodge salt ponds. This same morning, Phil Brown heard several Cedar Waxwings Bombycilla cedrorum as they flew over the lodge.



03 – While scoping the salt ponds at Ensenada Lodge, I noticed a Surfbird Aphriza virgata. Further sorting through lots of other loafing shorebirds revealed at least twenty individuals.



02 – I spotted a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius while birding with Bob Quinn and his group just outside the Pura Vida Gardens (on the road above Hotel Villa Lapas). Also seen at the site was a pair of Yellow-crowned Tyrannulets Tyrannulus elatus that gave the impression that they might be nesting. At one of the lookout points a bit further back down the road, we were treated to the spectacle of three White Hawks Leucopternis albicollis soaring below us!



January 2007:


31 – Jim Zook found his second Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo Neomorphus geoffroyi—just three months after seeing his life bird! This time, he was birding at Tierras Enamoradas (could you come up with a wierder name for a hotel?), formerly known as Valle Escondido, at an elevation of about 450 meters, on the road from San Ramón to Chachaqua. The bird was foraging with other species at an army ant swarm. Unlike the bird Jim saw at the Rain Forest Aerial Tram in November, this one had gray orbital skin (not light blue).


Paco Madrigal saw a Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis about four km south of Tortuguero, along the main canal.



27 – Paco Madrigal encountered a Bicolored Hawk Accipiter bicolor along the “La Peninsula” road, not far from the park rangers’ housing, en Arenal NP.


Johan Fernández reported seeing a group of at least ten Band-tailed Pigeons Patagioenas fasciata at the Aerial Tram near Jacó. Though this highland resident is known to descend to lower elevations at this time of year, the maximum elevation at the tram is about 325 meters—which is decidedly low for this species.



26 – Paco Madrigal had a Keel-billed Motmot Electron carinatum perched on the electrical wire over the entrance to Arenal Lodge.



24 – Kevin Easley spotted a hen American Wigeon Anas americana in a small roadside pond about halfway between Jacó and Quepos. It was a country tick for Kevin!



23 – Leo Chaves added a new species the Arenal Observatory Lodge’s bird list: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius. The migrant woodpecker was working on a dead tree near the parking area by the Smithsonian rooms.



22 – While enjoying an afternoon birding tour in the Tarcoles River estuary, Kevin Easley and Luis Campos were amazed to encounter an adult Agami Heron Agamia agami in the mangroves! This sighting constitutes the first record of the species for the Tarcoles/Carara area—one of the most heavily birded regions in the country. This beautiful heron is reportedly a rare resident of the Osa/Golfo Dulce region. Jim Zook reported sightings of an Agami Heron from July through November 1992, and again briefly in August 1994, at Hacienda Barú in Dominical. Other than that, the only additional record for the Pacific side of CR is an observation from Lomas de Barbudal by Rafa Campos, nearly 20 years ago now.


[When Luis called to report their discovery, he also mentioned that he is still regularly seeing Double-striped Thick-knee Burhinus bistriatus and Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis on the river. And about a week ago, while doing the mangrove birding tour with Paco Madrigal, they saw a male Mallard Anas platyrhynchos near the river mouth. The bird has not been seen since.]


This same day, Noel Ureña observed another essentially Caribbean slope species on the Pacific side of CR: Black-cowled Oriole Icterus prosthemelas. The bird was seen at Bahía Ballena and constitutes at least the fifth site where this species has been seen between Tarcoles and Rincón de Osa in the last three years.



18 – Robert Dean found a Violaceous Quail-Dove Geotrygon violacea and a Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus, while birding the Las Pailas Trail at Rincón de la Vieja NP.


Leo Chaves saw a group of 35 Cedar Waxwings Bombycilla cedrorum in flight over the Hotel Villa Caletas, northwest of Jacó.



17 – Don Voelker spotted a male Rose-breasted Becard Pachyramphus aglaiae with a rosy breast. The bird was seen on the Las Chorreras Trail at Hacienda Guachipelín. As the local race of this species never shows any red on the breast, one has to wonder if this bird might not have been a migrant from the north.



16 – Paul Murgatroyd and his wife, Elizabeth, saw a Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens at the Los Suenos end of Playa Herradura at 06:15 (low tide was 06:30). This is not very far south of the Tarcoles River mouth, and it is conceivable that this was the same individual that has been reported a couple of times in the last two months on the Tarcoles—and such mobility would explain why it has not been seen regularly on that river.



06 – While birding in a pine plantation on Cerro Espiritu Santo, near his home in Naranjo, Jim Zook logged 8 MacGillivray's Warblers Oporornis tolmiei, 3 Townsend's Warblers Dendroica townsendi, 1 Hermit Warbler Dendroica occidentalis, 1 Yellow-throated Warbler Dendroica dominica, and 1 Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana.



04 – Jim Zook spotted an immature Harris’s Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus at Finca Palma Quemada (near the Hatillo River, between Dominical and Matapalo). He had stopped to check the Tropical Mockingbirds Mimus gilvus that have been hanging out there for a couple of years now, when the young raptor flew in and landed on top of one of the roadside teak trees. It didn’t stay perched for long, but Jim then got to watch it soar over the nearby rice fields and pastures. This species is rarely found south of the Tempisque Basin in CR, though I did once see an adult in the pasture just south of the Tarcoles River Bridge.



03 – Luis Sandoval and Luis Sánchez watched and listened to a male Rosy Thrush-Tanager Rhodinocinchla rosea for at least 15 minutes on the Las Tumbas – Florida road, during the Fila Costera CBC. The spot was after the intersection with the road leading to Cuesta de Yeguas and the bird was perched two to three meters off the ground in a thicket.



02 – Randall Ortega reported seeing a Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus near Jacó. He was birding a forest patch up the hill across the road from the gas station at the southern end of Jacó.



For reports prior to these, please check Costa Rica Rare Bird Reports—Dec/Nov/Oct 2006.


For reports prior to those, please check the Gone Birding Newsletter.




Have you seen a rare bird in Costa Rica, or a species in an unexpected locality, or exhibiting odd behavior? If you have any noteworthy sightings, I (and the rest of the birding community) would appreciate hearing about them. Please send reports to Richard Garrigues gonebirdingcr@gmail.com and include pertinent details such as location (as precise as possible), date, time, and observers’ names. If you have digital images, all the better; however, please send images at file sizes of less than 500 kb.


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