Tag Archives: Clay-colored Thrush

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.

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.

(Update: later IDed via Facebook What’s This Bird as a Crowned Woodnymph.)

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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.