Daily Archives: January 21, 2019

One tree, many birds

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Great Kiskadee looking adorable in the big tree in front of our rental condo in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

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I thought this bird looked a bit like a robin. I figured out it is a Clay-colored Thrush, same family as robins.

From eastern Mexico to northern Colombia, this plain gray-brown thrush is very common in lowland habitats, including parks and gardens. In recent years it has become a regular visitor to southernmost Texas, especially in winter, and it has even nested there a number of times. It was formerly called Clay-colored Robin.

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A strange and wonderful bird, this is the Black-headed Trogon.

This beautiful yellow-bellied trogon is found in open forests from southern Mexico south and east through Central America to northwestern Costa Rica. It easily is  distinguished by its solid black upperparts, black tail with broad white tips to the outer rectrices, and dark eye with a pale blue eye ring.

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Other side.

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I got a good look at a Summer Tanager.

The Summer Tanager is a bee and wasp specialist. It catches these insects in flight and kills them by beating them against a branch. Before eating a bee, the tanager rubs it on the branch to remove the stinger.

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So many birds in this one tree. Makes you realize how important even individual trees – not just forests – are to birds.

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Blue-gray Tanager.

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. Blue-gray Tanagers prefer semi-open habitats; they are not found in interior of closed canopy forest, but they can quickly colonize fresh clearings. They are flexible as well in their diet, eating a wide variety of fruit, and also foraging for arthropods. Blue-gray Tanagers typically travel in pairs or small single-species flocks. They may briefly join mixed-species flocks, but do not travel with such flocks; however, Blue-gray Tanagers often join mixed-species aggregations of birds that are attracted to fruiting trees.

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The Clay-colored Thrush is Costa Rica’s National Bird.

The clay-colored thrush was chosen as the national bird for several reasons. Due to its wide range and tendency to live close to humans, it is well known and therefore mentioned in many of Costa Rica’s folk songs, short stories and novels. The males are also cherished for their exquisite song; during mating season, they serenade potential mates with an unmistakable tune. In Costa Rica, their mating season (usually April-June) coincides with the beginning of the green season, and therefore farmers have always taken the yigüirro’s song as the first sign of coming rains.

Patio birding in Costa Rica

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White-winged Dove, Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

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Coffee and papaya for breakfast and a little friend joined us in a tree near our patio.

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Cinnamon Hummingbird!

Cinnamon Hummingbird is completely cinnamon below, with bronze-green upperparts. It is common in dry forests, where it is present year round; but in seasons when resources are less available, some individuals may move to higher elevations, some even reaching pine and pine-oak forests. Cinnamon Hummingbird occurs along the Pacific slope from western Mexico south to northwestern Costa Rica, and also on the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico and in Belize.

Patio birding at its finest.

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Also seen from the patio, an Inca Dove.

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The tiny Inca Dove is covered in tan scaly-looking feathers and blends right in with its suburban desert habitats. That is, until it bursts into flight, making a dry rattling whir with its wings while flashing chestnut underwings and white in its tail. It nods its head forward and back with each step and coos a mournful “no hope” from the trees.

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Great-tailed Grackle, male, perches atop a thatched umbrella poolside at our condo complex.

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Female grackle at the edge of what she probably considers a very large birdbath.

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Great Kiskadee

They’re boisterous in both attitude and color: a black bandit’s mask, a yellow belly, and flashes of warm reddish-brown when they fly. Kiskadees sit out in the open and attract attention with incessant kis-ka-dee calls and sallying flights.

They are quite noisy in the tree in front of the condo, but hard to photograph when they are zipping around in flight.

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Also noisy: Rufous-naped Wrens, visiting the palms in front of our patio then flying up to a second-story condo porch.

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A large and conspicuous member of the Troglodytidae, the Rufous-naped Wren (Campylorhynchus rufinucha) is a resident breeding species occurring in a nearly continuous distribution along the Pacific coast of Mexico and Central America (Mesoamerica). It is boldly marked, with various amounts of rufous and black on the head and nape, a conspicuous black stripe through the red eye contrasting with white above and below, and a patterned back and white tail and wings. Birds often breed cooperatively. This wren is a highly vocal species that is well known to produce richly melodious song, sometimes combined into synchronized simultaneous or antiphonal duets and choruses. Its calls are usually short and rasping.