Text Box: Costa Rica Rare Bird Reports



A New Sighting of Red-breasted Blackbirds


12 October: Herson Guevara was horseback riding at Hotel Hacienda Moravia en Chirripo de Turrialba (1130 m) and saw eight Red-breasted Blackbirds Sturnella militaris in a grassy field. The local guide, German Loiza, who has worked at the hotel for six years, said the birds have been around for the past six months. This represents the highest elevation yet reported for this species in CR.


Herson also mentioned seeing a pair of Lesser Goldfinches Carduelis psaltria in the hotel’s garden.



Tody Motmot Found at Arenal


07 October: Juan Carlos Solano was hiking up the Cerro Chato Trail at Arenal Observatory Lodge early in the morning, when he spotted a small bird perched low, about 200m into the forested part of the trail. He was quite surprised [indeed!] to discover that it was a Tody Motmot Hylomanes momotula! He had good looks at it for a minute or more before it flew. This is the southernmost record in CR that I know of for this species.



Highlights of a Great Birding Trip


From 27 September to 10 October 2007, I had the pleasure of accompanying Jonas Nilsson and Jim and Bonnie Olson during their visit to Costa Rica. We were quite fortunate with the weather and saw nearly 450 species of birds in 13 field days. Of course, with that many species there were obviously lots of great birds and fantastic moments. Here I report only the rarer findings, in addition to the migrants mentioned above.


27 Sep: A pair of Lesser Goldfinches Carduelis psaltria visiting the Mexican Cypress trees at the Casa Vieja Restaurant (on the Cartago – Paraíso road by the entrance to Lankester Gardens) were among the very first birds on our trip list—an auspicious start!


28 Sep: A pair of Tropical Mockingbirds Mimus gilvus was found in a garden between Paraíso and Orosi, near the entrance to Sanchiri Lodge. I was unaware of this location for the species (which we also saw at two other sites during the trip).


29 Sep: In the morning, while birding at Jorge Serrano’s Paraíso del Quetzal, we had both Rough-legged Tyrannulet Phyllomyias burmeisteri and Ochraceous Pewee Contopus ochraceus. Then, at dusk in San Gerardo de Dota, Jonas found a Scaled Antpitta Grallaria guatimalensis near the start of the Waterfall Trail, just after crossing the log bridge. I’m not aware of previous records of this species in the valley.


30 Sep: Melvin Fernández, of Savegre Mountain Hotel, had told me that both he and Ernesto Carman had seen a male Black-throated Trogon Trogon rufus in the area below the hotel in recent months, and we also got to see it as we birded the Los Ranchos area that morning. At 2100 m, this is an incredibly high elevation for this species.


03 Oct: A Ruddy Woodcreeper Dendrocincla homochroa put in a brief appearance on the Oxbow Lake Trail at Carara. It was very possibly the first time I’ve seen this species in Carara, and, if not, it was certainly the first sighting I’ve had of it there in a long time.


05 Oct: A Rufous-necked Wood-Rail Aramides axillaris was quite cooperative as it preened in a patch of sunlight during a brief stop we made at the Mata Limón mangrove.


10 Oct: And one of the last species to make it onto our trip list was a Blue-and-gold Tanager Bangsia arcaei that showed very nicely at La Virgen del Socorro.



Streaked Xenops Seen at Monte Sky


03 October 2007: Rafa Campos and William Granados had excellent looks at a Streaked Xenops Xenops rutilans in the garden at Monte Sky, near Tapantí NP.



Lance Scores a Double Birdie on the Links


02 October 2007: Lance Barnett reported seeing two Southern Lapwings Vanellus chilensis at the Valle del Sol golf course in Pozos de Santa Ana. This is apparently the first record for the species in the Central Valley.



Yet Another Motmot Mixed Pair at Arenal


14 September 2007: While birding the La Peninsula road at Arenal NP with James and Monroe McKay, late in the afternoon, I heard a motmot vocalize. It sounded like the typical “hoarse” vocalization of a Broad-billed Motmot Electron platyrhynchum, but given the locality I decided to play a recording of Keel-billed Motmot E. carinatum, just to see what would happen. The result? Nothing. So, I switched to David L. Ross’s recording of Broad-billed Motmot (the one on the Costa Rica Bird Songs CD). When the recording got to the second part, which sounds like two birds giving a fast, rhythmic duet, a bird immediately flew in and landed on a looping vine just a few meters from where I stood. A second bird followed momentarily and landed another meter away, behind vegetation. I called James and Monroe over to see the first bird: a Keel-billed Motmot, and a second-ever sighting for me! As we admired the bird, and James took photographs, the second bird continued calling incessantly. Manuevering to get a view, I discovered that it was a Broad-billed Motmot! Curiousity got the best of me and I played the recording again. This time, when the faster rendition began, the broad-billed flew to the vine where the keel-billed was perched and the two performed the exact call together!!


Rare Observation of Mammal Predation by a Toucan


14 September 2007: James McKay took this image of a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan Ramphastos swainsonii at Hotel Villa Lapas. What the bird is holding in its beak is a Common Tent-making Bat Uroderma bilobatum! Unfortunately, none of us witnessed the actual attack, and so I cannot describe how the toucan caught the bat.


This species of bat roosts in Coconut Palms on the grounds of the hotel, where for years naturalist guides have been able to show their clients small colonies (average four to six individuals per frond) spending the daylight hours hanging beneath fronds that they have modified by chewing part way through the leaflets, causing them to bend about 90° and thus forming a “tent.” On my last two visits to Villa Lapas, I found no bats under the fronds of the small coconut nearest the restaurant, where they typically could be seen daily. I eventually found just four bats (two per frond) roosting under the leaves of a much taller palm beside the swimming pool.


Most members of the Ramphastidae are known to take eggs and nestlings from the nests of other bird species, but there seem to be few reports of them predating small mammals.



Black-cowled Oriole Seen on Pacific Side of Tilarán Range


03 September 2007: Johan Fernandez spotted a Black-cowled Oriole Icterus prosthemelas beside the road near the village of Dos de Tilarán. This adds to the growing number of sightings on the Pacific side of CR in recent years and is the northernmost sighting to date.




For reports prior to these, please check previous Costa Rica Rare Bird Reports:


Aug/Jul/Jun 2007

May/Apr/Mar 2007

Feb/Jan 2007

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.


Return to my home page.


[This web page is optimized for viewing at 1024 x 768 pixels.]