Easter visitor

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A visit today from a Pine Warbler, how nice.

It sampled my homemade suet dough and came back for more.

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I haven’t seen a Pine Warbler since last April.

Happy Easter!

Tamarindo birds

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Parrots being adorable in trees near the beach, Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

I think these are Orange-fronted Parakeets.

The most numerous parrots on the Pacific Slope of Central America, the Orange-fronted Parakeet is found from Western Mexico south to Costa Rica. Primarily colored a dull green, the Orange-fronted Parakeet has an orange-peach forehead and lores, dull blue mid-crown, olive-brown throat and breast, yellow green belly and blue flight feathers. These parakeets inhabit a variety of habitats including forest edge, deciduous woodland, Pacific swamp forest, savanna, arid thorn scrub and even cow pastures and urban areas. These birds feed primarily on fruits and flowers, but outside of the breeding season, large flocks have been known to cause damage to maize and ripening bananas.

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A Hoffman’s Woodpecker being weird, on the fourth floor corner of our condo building. Maybe catching some rays? It was very hot in Tamarindo in the dry season of March.

A typical bar-backed Melanerpes, Hoffmann’s Woodpecker is largely creamy below and on the head, with a dark gray back and black wings, both heavily barred in white, while the nape is golden yellow; males also have a small red crown patch. Like many Melanerpes, this woodpecker has proved itself able to adapt to human-modified habitats. Indeed, it shuns dense forest, preferring semiopen wooded country, especially in xeric areas.

Birds around Arenal Volcano

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During our mid-March trip to Costa Rica we drove from Tamarindo to the Arenal area and spent a day and night at the Arenal Volcano Lodge (view from the balcony of our room), with a side visit to Arenal Observatory.

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The lodge lured birds with fruit and flowers and running water, to convenient viewing and photography distance. This is a Clay-colored Thrush, I believe.

The clay-colored thrush (Turdus grayi) is a common Middle American bird of the thrush family (Turdidae). It is the national bird of Costa Rica, where it is well known as the yigüirro. Other common names include clay-colored robin.

Someday I would love to write an article about vacation places with the best passive bird watching – like the rental house in Caye Caulker, Belize with a second-story balcony up in the trees… with me in a hammock with a rum drink!

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I think this is a Swallow-tailed Kite. We saw many of them but I didn’t get a great pic. Split tail, falcon-like head.

The swallow-tailed kite feeds on small reptiles, such as snakes and lizards. It may also feed on small amphibians such as frogs; large insects, such as grasshoppers, crickets; small birds and eggs; and small mammals including bats. It has been observed to regularly consume fruit in Central America. It drinks by skimming the surface and collecting water in its beak.

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We spotted this Crimson-collared Tanager at the Arenal Observatory, a great side trip with good lunch and many walking trails. LINK

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A pretty Blue-gray Tanager was waiting a turn at the feeders.

The Blue-gray Tanager is one of the most widespread, and ubiquitous, birds of the humid lowland neotropics. At almost any location between southeastern Mexico and central South America, it is a familiar presence at forest edge, in second-growth, along roads and rivers, in plantations, and even in urban parks and gardens.

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We saw a few coatis, or coatimundis,  charming furry raccoon-like mammal. This one was scouting for fallen fruit under the bird feeders.

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These birds were a real treat for me. We watched them while eating lunch at the observatory lodge.

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The Montezuma Oropendola is about the size of a crow and quite exotically beautiful. (This is one of my favorite photos from Costa Rica.)

The oropendola, or Montezuma bird as I heard one local call it, is an icterid, a member of the New World blackbird family (like my friends the grackles). It has a kind of crazy and beautiful song, which you can hear HERE.

This is a bird I will never forget.

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We found this bird near a trail. It seemed unconcerned by our presence. It is a Crested Guan, I think.

In protected areas where hunting is not allowed, the species can be quite approachable and even tame, but throughout much of its range Crested Guan is heavily hunted.

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A bit dinosaur-like, don’t you think?

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Very happy to capture this flitting jewel of a hummingbird. Not sure what kind it is.

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From many places we could see the volcano. It has been dormant since 2010, which doesn’t seem like a very long time!

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On our little hike we came across some cattle and their bird pals the Cattle Egrets.

The short, thick-necked Cattle Egret spends most of its time in fields rather than streams. It forages at the feet of grazing cattle, head bobbing with each step, or rides on their backs to pick at ticks. This stocky white heron has yellow plumes on its head and neck during breeding season. Originally from Africa, it found its way to North America in 1953 and quickly spread across the continent. Elsewhere in the world, it forages alongside camels, ostriches, rhinos, and tortoises—as well as farmers’ tractors.

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Hunting cattle egret.

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In the woods we saw a Chestnut-mandibled Toucan.

It is one of the larger, more conspicuous species of toucan, and is often noted for its yelping, far-carrying vocalization (described by locals as “Díos te dé!”). It is largely frugivorous, but like other toucans it occasionally feeds on insects, lizards, and the eggs of other birds.

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Next morning at the lodge I saw this neat medium-sized bird, a Smooth-billed Ani.

A bird of tropical savannahs in the Caribbean and South America, the Smooth-billed Ani reaches the United States only in southern Florida.

Some birds of Pacific coast Costa Rica

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The first bird I saw in Costa Rica was… a grackle! Great-tailed Grackles were zooming around just outside the airport in Liberia, C.R.

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At our condo in Tamarindo, a White-winged Dove was nesting on the fourth-floor balcony.

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And howler monkeys were hanging around in the trees just outside.IMG_9951

Pacific Ocean and beach across the street.

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Magnificent Frigatebird above.

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Great Kiskadees were nesting on the rooftops of the condo.

We saw a lot of them in Costa Rica. They live as far north as south Texas.

These are bold, loud birds that quickly make their presence known. They sit on exposed branches near the tops of trees, often above water, where they give a piercing kis-ka-dee call and dart out to catch flying insects or pluck food—often small fish—from the water. They also eat fruit and sometimes come to feeders.

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I took a walk in the morning and found Black Vultures lurking.

These birds are uniform black except for white patches or “stars” on the underside of their wingtips (this can be hard to see in strong light or from far away). The bare skin of the head is black.

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Their strong beaks made it easy to rip into garbage bags.

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I never did figure out what this little bird was, hopping around like a sparrow in the underbrush.

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And I think, but I’m not sure, that this flycatcher is a Tropical Kingbird.

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Probably Brown Pelicans.

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Good morning, Sanderlings.

Sanderlings breed on the High Arctic tundra and migrate south in fall to become one of the most common birds along beaches. They gather in loose flocks to probe the sand of wave-washed beaches for marine invertebrates, running back and forth in a perpetual “wave chase.”

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Grackle time.

The jay with the jaunty plume

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The White-throated Magpie-Jay does not live in New Hampshire. We saw this one in Tamarindo, at the edge of the beach.

My husband and I joined friends in Costa Rica for a week. Home tomorrow and I will share more bird photos.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology Neotropical Birds: Calocitta formosa

In northwestern Costa Rica and southwestern Nicaragua, the magpie-jay prefers deciduous tropical dry forest. An edge specialist, it thrives in cattle ranches and at the edges of towns where isolated nesting trees can be found. However, optimal habitat seems to be a combination of open land for nesting and dry forest for feeding. Magpie-jays may be particularly dependent on ant-acacias for dry-season forage: territories with acacia stands are more productive.

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Birds of black

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Starlings, my darlings.

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Grackle on the lawn.

Welcome back, blackbirds! Many grackles and red-winged blackbirds have been flying through in the last couple of days. Another sign of spring.

Honeymoon Pond

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Male Mallard Green is such a distinctive color.

A pair of mallards were swimming on the pond the other morning.

In spring we have many bird visitors just passing through.

Drive-by coastal bird watching

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Owl watchers along Route 1A/ Ocean Blvd in Rye just north of Rye Harbor, yesterday in the late morning. On my way to walk the dog I pulled over, rolled down my window and snapped a few pics too.

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Snowy Owl on a rooftop, patiently (sleepily) enduring the paparazzi.

I read on the NH bird list later that there was also a snowy owl a very short distance away on the restroom roof in Rye Harbor State Park, aka Ragged Neck.

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In the neighboring marsh, the tide was high and a male Common Eider was close enough for a few decent photos.

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Very cool looking duck!

A colorful duck of the northern seacoasts, the Common Eider is the largest duck in the Northern Hemisphere. The male’s bright white, black, and green plumage contrasts markedly with the female’s camouflaging dull striped brown.

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Their food is “aquatic invertebrates, especially mollusks, crustaceans, and sea urchins.” They dive to the sea floor to take their prey.

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Also spotted fishing in the marsh, a Common Loon molting from winter to summer plumage. Sign of spring!

Yesterday was very warm for March in the New Hampshire Seacoast, with temps around 65, bright sun and a southwest wind. So good.

 

Curious crows

In our town we voted yesterday for town and school candidates, budgets and other warrant articles. (Results.)

Crows were lurking around the school parking lot, watching voters come and go.

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This one hopped from car roof to car roof.

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The car crow was cawing to the tree crow.

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Tree top view.

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This one was on top of the school garage, maybe wondering why the parking lot comings and goings were greatly increased for one day.

Crows are one of those birds that pay much better attention to us than we do to them.

Worth watching: Nature on PBS “A Murder of Crows” (full episode available online)

At home safari

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Quite the wildlife weekend. Here is an otter in our pond this morning. It was swimming around hissing at us.

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Yesterday (Saturday) afternoon I spotted a small hawk out the living room window.

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Did it see me too?

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Beautiful little Sharp-shinned Hawk.

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Perched in the gingko tree in the front yard. I didn’t even see the woodpecker when I took this picture!

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The hawk started to move around the tree, hop-flying from branch to branch.

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Hunter and hunted.

The woodpecker flew off with the hawk in hot pursuit. I don’t know how it ended – they disappeared into the woods.