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February 2006 

The Green Honeycreeper was one of the birds
during our Feb '06 tour in southern Costa Rica & adjacent Panama.
This photo is of a male.

Also with green, below, is a Urania Moth,
photographed during this tour in southern Costa Rica.
Uraniinae moths can be confused with swallowtail butterfleis,
since they are large, very colorful, tailed,
diurnal, and flower-loving. 



List of Birds during our Costa Rica & Panama Tours - February '06

Cumulative list of Birds during FONT Costa Rica Tours

Cumulative List of Birds during FONT Panama Tours

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Costa Rica & Panama


The following account written by Armas Hill, leader of the tour:

This birding & nature tour, February 10-18, 2006, included portions of two countries. We were in the highlands and on the Pacific slope and in the Pacific lowlands of Costa Rica. In adjacent Panama, we were in the highlands and lowlands of the Chiriqui, the westernmost province in that country. All of these areas were not only enjoyable places to be, but also great places to bird.

Of the 267 species of birds found during this tour, 238 were in Costa Rica. 107 were in Panama during the 2 days that were were there. 78 of the 267 species were found in both countries, while 29 species were found in Panama alone. In that last category were:
the Veragua Parakeet (an isolated population that has been considered a subspecies of the Brown-throated Parakeet of northern South America),
the Veraguan Mango (which was considered part of the Green-breasted Mango); we saw a female on a nest,
and the White-throated Mountain-gem (closely related to other mountain-gems, particularly the Gray-tailed Mountain-gem that we also saw - in Costa Rica).

Other birds that during this tour we found only in Panama included:
Pied-billed Grebe
Least Grebe
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Snail Kite
  (this species is rare in Panama)
Mangrove (or Pacific) Black Hawk
Great Black Hawk
Peregrine Falcon
American Oystercatcher
Black-bellied Plover
Black-necked Stilt
Groove-billed Ani 
(in the Chiriqui highlands)
White-tailed Nightjar  (a wonderful find, seen at rest during the day)
Violet Sabrewing
Brown Violetear
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  (a rarity in Panama)
Red-faced Spinetail  (in the Chiriqui highlands)
Barred Antshrike
Red-capped Manakin
  (a gem to see - in a forest by the Pacific beach)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher  (in the Chiriqui highlands)  
Barn Swallow  (how could it be that there were none of these during our 5 days in Costa Rica)  
Cliff Swallow  (a few with the Barn Swallows)
Eastern Meadowlark

From the likes of Black-bellied Plover, Whimbrel, and Sanderling, you can see that we were at a beach in Chiriqui. It was a beautiful one, with surf and sand for miles, without many people and with many birds. It's interesting that of the species in the list above, and seen along that beach, was new for FONT in Central America, the American Oystercatcher. That's not an easy feat, as there have been numerous FONT tours in Central America, in Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize. And our cumulative list is not short. The American Oystercatcher in Panama became bird # 931.       

This was our 27th birding & nature tour in Costa Rica. Prior to it, our cumulative total of birds for the country was 684. 
During this February '06 tour, 1 new species was added to that CR list, the Southern Lapwing. 2 of them were seen in a pasture south of Golfito; they appeared to be on territory. Maybe now the Southern Lapwing is a nesting bird in Costa Rica. The Southern Lapwing is not in the book "A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica" by F. Gary Stiles & Alexander Skutch, published in 1989. The species, common to abundant in much of South America, has been spreading north. In Panama, it has been of regular occurrence north to the Canal Basin. We've seen it, in recent years, in Panama as far west (or north) as the Chiriqui lowlands. Where it occurs in the Panama Canal Basin, it's often with Wattled Jacanas. In the Chiriqui lowlands, it was with Northern Jacanas, as it was in the partially wet Costa Rican pasture south of Golfito. Another bird from the south, that's been spreading north, was also in that pasture, the Red-breasted Blackbird

That's part of the fun of birding in southern Costa Rica. There's the chance of seeing something a bit unexpected, as more-southerly birds are moving in. During other tours in that region of southern Costa Rica, we've seen Savanna Hawk and Pearl Kite, two other species expanding northward. 
Years ago, that's where the Yellow-headed Caracara was first seen in Costa Rica. Now it's seen in open, deforested areas throughout the country, north to Nicaragua.   

Another "part of the fun" of birding in southern Costa Rica is that it is a bit of "the way it was". For those of us who have birded in Costa Rica for years (I have since 1978), we've seen a lot of changes. Notable among them are changes of habitats, and that there are now many more people (ecotourists and others) who visit. Costa Rica is, for a few reasons, a great place to visit for nature. Varied habitats are close to each other. There are good accommodations. But there's also a price in that it's now a special treat to find a place that's not, as it were, "on the beaten path". In southern Costa Rica, that can more readily be done. For example, we traveled, during our Feb '06 tour, along a dirt road, not often traveled, into the northern Osa Peninsula, where among the birds that we encountered, there were Scarlet Macaws in flocks, King Vultures soaring over a ridge, and both Great and Little Tinamous calling a dusk in the woods. Earlier, along that road in the morning, Three-wattled Bellbirds were giving their loud calls in the trees.   

And yet another "good part" of birding in southern Costa Rica is that there are a number of species to be found there with restricted ranges, only in that portion of Costa Rica and in adjacent Panama. They include: 
Chiriqui (or Rufous-breasted) Quail-Dove
Costa Rican Swift
(has been considered part of the Band-rumped Swift that's common further south in Panama)
Charming Hummingbird
(also called the Beryl-crowned Hummingbird, closely related to the Bue-chested Hummingbird of Costa Rica's Caribbean slope and further south in Panama)
Garden Emerald
(was part of the Fork-tailed Emerald, now "split" into 4 or 5 species)  
Baird's Trogon
Golden-naped Woodpecker
Black-hooded Antshrike
Riverside Wren
Chiriqui Yellowthroat
(has been considered part of what has been the Masked Yellowthroat of South America)
and the Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, which is even more localized than the others here, as it is restricted to part of the region of the Golfo Dulce ("Sweet Gulf") in Costa Rica. The species is one of the handful of species (4) endemic to Costa Rica.
All of the birds in this paragraph were found during our February '06 tour in Southern Costa Rica & adjacent Panama.

A group of birds that has become easier to observe during recent years in Costa Rica & Panama has been the hummingbirds. To a large extent that's due to there being more hummingbird feeders, particularly at lodges, where they can be readily observed. During our Feb '06 tour in southern Costa Rica and Panama, 22 species of hummingbirds were seen. Some were at feeders and others were in their natural settings, usually feeding a flowering bushes or trees. Our hummingbirds during the tour follow (noting the country where seen, Costa Rica (CR), Panama (PN) and if naturally (n) or at feeders (f)):
Band-tailed Barbthroat (CR) (n)
Bronzy Hermit  (CR) (n)
Western Long-tailed (or Long-billed) Hermit  (CR) (n)
Scaly-breasted (or Cuvier's) Hummingbird  (CR) (n)
Violet Sabrewing  (PN) (f)
Brown Violetear  (PN) (n)
Montane Violetear (the southern population of the Green Violetear)  (CR,PN) (f,n)
Veraguan Mango  (formerly part of the Green-breasted Mango (PN) (n)
Garden Emerald  (CR) (n)  (formerly part of the Fork-tailed Emerald, that has been "split" into 4 or 5 species throughout Central America; this is the southernmost of the "splits".) 
Fiery-throated Hummingbird  (CR) (f,n) (in the high mountains, restricted to southern Costa Rica & western Panama) (This extraordinarily beautiful hummingbird has been said to be declining in recent years, possibly due to global warming.)
Blue-throated Goldentail  (also called Blue-throated Sapphire(CR) (n)
Charming Hummingbird (also called the Beryl-crowned Hummingbird(CR) (n)
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird  (CR,PN) (f,n)  (This species is more common in Panama.)
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird  (CR) (n)
White-throated Mountain-gem  (PN) (f)
Gray-tailed Mountain-gem  (CR) (f)
Green-crowned Brilliant  (CR) (f,n)   
Magnificent Hummingbird  (CR) (f,n)
Magenta-throated Woodstar  (CR) (f)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  (PN) (n) (as already noted, rare in Panama)
Scintillent Hummingbird  (CR) (f)  (This is Costa Rica's smallest bird.)
Volcano Hummingbird  (CR) (f)  (On different mountains in Costa Rica, subspecies of this bird have different colored gorgets. The male of the subspecies we saw in southern Costa Rica, has one that's purplish-gray, rather like flowing lava from a volcano.)   

Green Violet-ear 
(Photograph taken during the FONT tour in Costa Rica, 
in February 2006, by Rosemary Lloyd)

During other FONT tours in southern Costa Rica there were even more hummingbirds, such as the White-tipped Sicklebill and the White-crested Coquette. In all, in Costa Rica, there are 45 species of hummingbirds. All of these have been found during FONT Costa Rica tours over the years. Some are only in the northern part of the country. Others are most common on the Caribbean side. Two species of hummingbirds endemic to Costa Rica are the Coppery-headed Emerald and the Mangrove Hummingbird. If one takes the time to sit for a while and watch hummingbirds feed and fly, it's a really a pleasure. How such fascinating little birds can have, in good light, such spectacular colors, is nearly unbelievable.             

A number of the hummingbirds just mentioned occur in the mountains of southern Costa Rica. Those high mountains when there's good weather (as we had) can be a beautiful place to be, with some nice birds to see. Among those that we saw were the Spangle-cheeked Tanager, Blue-and-gold Tanager, Sooty-capped Bush-Tanager, many Ruddy Treerunners, the Zelodonia (that's also been called the Wrenthrush, and now is considered an aberrant warbler), and another warbler that's a wonderful bird to see, the dapper Collared Redstart, called the "amigo de hombre" (or "friend of man") due to its tameness.

Collared Redstart

In addition to the colorful Fiery-throated Hummingbird, already referred to, we also saw in the highlands the Flame-throated Warbler, another attractive bird. We saw 2 species of Silky-Flycatchers (not true flycatchers, but more closely related to waxwings), the Black-and-Yellow and the Long-tailed. Also nice to see in the high country was the Barred Hawk, and flocks of Sulphur-winged Parakeets. At about our highest point (and in fact by the highest point along the entire Pan American Highway) we saw Volcano Juncos, and we enjoyed a trio of Finches: the Peg-footed, the Large-footed, and the Yellow-thighed.    

Tanagers, and some of their close relatives, are a colorful lot. During the days we were based in the Coto Brus Valley we saw some of their best colors in a nice cast of those birds, including:  Silver-throated, Golden-hooded, Bay-headed, and Speckled Tanagers, in addition to the more-widespread Cherrie's (formerly Scarlet-rumped) Tanager. It's a common bird, the Cherrie's Tanager, in southern Costa Rica on the Pacific side. It's not so, oddly, in western Panama. Also in the colorful cast of birds in Coto Brus were: Thick-billed Euphonia, Red-legged and Green Honeycreepers, and the Lance-tailed Manakin. Some visitors from the north also added some color, notably Baltimore Oriole, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Western and Summer Tanagers, and some Warblers such as: Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, Bay-breasted, Canada, and Mourning.                

One of our favorite places that we visited during the Feb '06 tour in southern Costa Rica was the La Amistad National Park, a large wild area along the Continental Divide in both Costa Rica and Panama. The park can be difficult to enter, as the dirt roads ascending into the mountains are rough. We did on a 4-wheel drive truck, with an incredible driver. The forest was magnificent. Given more time, more birds and animals can be found, but we did see, in addition to a number of birds just mentioned in the last paragraph, some good ones, such as the Pale-billed Woodpecker (in the same genus as the Ivory-billed Woodpecker), the Black-banded Woodcreeper (only the 3rd time for us in 27 Costa Rica tours), and the White-whiskered Puffbird (also called the White-whiskered Softwing). Whatever it's called, it sits still. High in the trees were what have been called the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan. New taxonomy now says that this large bird is now conspecific with the Black-mandibled Toucan of South America. In a rock in a rushing stream there was a marvelous Sunbittern. That bird is not conspecific with anything. It's unique, in its own family. Earlier in the day, in a pond, we saw some Masked Ducks. Yes, it was a good day.  

A Kinkajou photographed in the forested mountains of southern Costa Rica 
during the FONT tour in February 2006.
(Photo by Rosemary Lloyd)  

Mammals that we saw at La Amistad National Park included the White-faced Capuchin Monkey and Kinkajou. The latter, normally nocturnal, was seen high in a tree during the day, apparently feeding. Other wildlife included the Morelet's Crocodile, Spectacled Caiman, and Green Iguana. And we saw a wonderful assortment of butterflies and moths (photographs of some taken during the tour are in our Central America Butterfly List, elsewhere in this website). 

Yes, it was a good tour, during a week in southern Costa Rica and western Panama in February 2006.    

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