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March 2012

"With over 350 species of birds, and among them some good indeed"


This male Flame-colored Tanager
was photographed during the FONT tour
in southern Costa Rica in March 2012.  
It was one of many colorful birds that we enjoyed
during our two tours in Costa Rica that month.
(photo by Virginia Woodhouse)


Lists of Birds & Other Wildlife during the FONT Costa Rica Tours in March 2012

A Gallery of Photos from our March 2012 Costa Rica Tours

Lists of Costa Rican:   Birds     Mammals (with photos)     Amphibians & Reptiles (with photos)

List & Photo Gallery of Central American Butterflies

Upcoming FONT Birding & Nature Tours in Costa Rica


The following, relating to the FONT March 2012 Costa Rica Tour, was written by Armas Hill, the tour leader:

During our two tours in Costa Rica during March 2012, with one in Northern Costa Rica and another in Southern Costa Rica, a combined total of 372 species of birds were found.
During the Northern Costa Rica Tour, there were 232 species.
During the Southern Costa Rica Tour, there were 257 species.
During both tours, nearly all the birds were seen. Just a few were only heard.
Our two Costa Rica tours in March 2012 brought the number of FONT tours in that country up to 32.

Cumulatively, 726 bird species have been found during the FONT tours in Costa Rica over the years. In March 2012, as many as 6 species were added to our cumulative tally. 
They were: Mallard, Long-billed Curlew, Red-rumped Woodpecker, Least Flycatcher, Streak-chested Antpitta, and Tropical Mockingbird.

A bird that we saw for the 2nd time ever during a FONT Costa Rica Tour was one very rare for that country: the Aplomado Falcon.
The species was only known to have been seen in Costa Rica a very few times (with 3 published records) in the 20th Century. But during a FONT Costa Rica Tour in the 1990s we saw one in the Guanacaste region of the country.
Very surprisingly, we saw the species again in March 2012 in that same area of Guanacaste, for a sighting in the 21st Century!

Other species in March 2012 that were for us the 2nd time in Costa Rica (out of 32) were: 
Black-billed Cuckoo, Mouse-colored Tyrannulet, and Black-tailed Flycatcher.

Species that we found in March 2012 for the 3rd time in Costa Rica (out of 32) were:
Fulvous Whistling Duck, Pearl Kite, Southern Lapwing, Common Potoo, White-tailed Nightjar, Red-throated Ant-Tanager.

And yet other species in March 2012 that we found in Costa Rica infrequently (single digits out of 32) included:
Thicket Tinamou (seen), Jabiru, Glossy Ibis, Bicolored Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk, Black Hawk-Eagle, Killdeer, Plain-breasted Ground-Dove, Mangrove Cuckoo, Tropical Screech Owl, Snowcap, Baird's Trogon, Olivaceous Piculet, Lance-tailed Manakin, Turquoise Cotinga, Bicolored Antbird (a pair building a nest), Spotted Barbtail, Tawny-crowned Greenlet, Cliff Swallow, Black-bellied Wren, Rufous-and-white Wren, Black-throated Wren, Timberline Wren, Red-breasted Blackbird, Melodious Blackbird, Giant Cowbird, Black-cheeked Ant Tanager, Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, Peg-billed Finch, Streaked Saltator, Blue Grosbeak, and Painted Bunting.     

Even though about 860 species of birds have been found in Costa Rica, cumulatively, only 4 species are endemic to the country.
One of them is among the birds in the previous paragraph, the Black-cheeked Ant Tanager. Not only is it endemic to Costa Rica, it is endemic to just one specific region of the country, the area of the Golfo Dulce in the southern Pacific lowlands.
Two other Costa Rican endemic birds were seen during our March 2012 tours, both of them hummingbirds: the Coppery-headed Emerald and the Gray-tailed Mountain-gem.
Another hummingbird endemic to the country, the Mangrove Hummingbird, we did not see in March 2012, although we have in the past.

Two of the bird species that we saw in Costa Rica in March 2012 have been classified as globally "endangered"
They were: the Black-cheeked Ant Tanager (already referred to above) and the Yellow-naped Amazon (or Parrot).
Not quite endangered, species that were found (and also enjoyed!) during our March 2012 Costa Rica Tours that are classified as globally "vulnerable" were the Turquoise Cotinga and the Three-wattled Bellbird (another cotinga).
One of these cotingas is very quiet. The other, in March, can be quite loud.
Species that we saw in March 2012 in Costa Rica that are classified as globally "near-threatened" were: the Resplendent Quetzal and the Baird's Trogon.

Above: a male Resplendent Quetzal
Below: the feathers of a male quetzal outside a nest hole,
photographed during the FONT Costa Rica Tours
in March 2012

Not only is the quetzal "resplendent", it is "spectacular", and we had a wonderful encounter with the species (both the male and female at a nest) in the mountains of southern Costa Rica.
Our encounter was wonderful enough for the bird to be voted, at the tours' end, as nearly everyone's "favorite bird"
Collectively, when all the votes were compiled, the Resplendent Quetzal was the "Top Bird" of our March 2012 tours.
Our encounters with the Baird's Trogon were also wonderful. We saw well both the male and the female.
The Baird's Trogon is one of a few birds restricted to only the Pacific lowlands of southern Costa Rica and very adjacent Panama.
Others in that grouping of "near-threatened species", found during our March 2012 Southern Costa Rica Tour, included the Golden-naped Woodpecker and the Riverside Wren.  

So far, here, 55 out of our 372 bird species have been mentioned, in one category or another: 
rare for Costa Rica
globally endangered, or vulnerable, or near-threatened,
or endemic, to the country of Costa Rica or a limited region.
But, there were so many birds, during our 2-weeks plus in Costa Rica, that, whether in a category or not, we just simply enjoyed seeing.
Among them are these, not yet mentioned:
the Sungrebe, Green Thorntail (1 of our over 30 hummingbird species), King Vulture, Scarlet Macaw, Long-tailed Manakin, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, and both Long-tailed and Black-and Yellow Silky Flycatchers

A reason why these and other Costa Rican birds (including those referred to below) are so much fun to see is that they are interesting to watch, with many of them having, as Neotropical birds often do, bold patterns and bright colors.

Among the birds during our Costa Rica Tours in March 2012 there were some certainly colorful, particularly among the tanagers, toucans, trogons, oropendolas, orioles, motmots, manakins, and hummingbirds.

A male Cherrie's Tanager photographed during 
the March 2012 FONT tour in southern Costa Rica

Among the Tanagers, with brilliant red were both the Passerini's and the Cherrie's. When those two were, a few years ago, said to be the same species, they went by the name of Scarlet-rumped Tanager.
With a few bright colors, there was the Golden-hooded Tanager. Golden is just one of its colors. Bright blue is another.

Golden-hooded Tanager 

The Silver-throated and Bay-headed Tanagers were also nice for us to see. As of course was the Flame-colored Tanager, with the male as bright as its name implies. 
Also nice to watch were brightly-colored birds that were once considered tanagers, the Euphonias: the Spot-crowned, Yellow-crowned, Yellow-throated, Tawny-capped, Thick-billed, and the Scrub.

Yellow-crowned Euphonia

And, there were some species closely related to the tanagers: the Green Honeycreeper, Shining Honeycreeper, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Blue Dacnis, and the Scarlet-thighed Dacnis.

Green Honeycreeper

Again in March 2012, as during many FONT Costa Rica tours, we visited the homestead and property of the late, renowned naturalist, Alexander Skutch
At the feeders there, we enjoyed seeing an assortment of colorful Costa Rican tanagers and honeycreepers, while during our walk in the forest, two Rufous Pihas flew about in the trees, coming down from the treetops at times and being closer to us.   
It is always good to visit the Skutch property during the FONT tours in Costa Rica. Over the years, Armas Hill has visited often, including a number of times when Alexander Skutch was living. Many memories come back to Armas when he visits, and sees the homestead, now a museum, that is still much as it was when Alexander Skutch and his wife, Pamela, were there.
At his remote Costa Rican home, Mr. Skutch wrote many books and articles about birds, particularly those of Costa Rica. 
For an interesting summary of Skutch's writings, and some of Armas' reminisces, please click the link below.

A feature about Alexander Skutch, a Naturalist in Costa Rica

The name of the Skutch property has been, and continues to be, "Los Cosingos", the Costa Rican name for the Fiery-billed Aracari, another downright colorful bird, as are others in that tribe that we saw during our March 2012 tour: the Keel-billed Toucan and the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan.   

The Aracari may be "Fiery-billed", but one of the Hummingbirds during our tour was the Fiery-throated.
One of the Warblers during our tour was the Flame-throated

The Fiery-throated Hummingbird

In all, we saw 32 species of hummingbirds during our March 2012 Costa Rica Tour. One of the most notable of them was the distinctive hummer called the Snowcap.
Other notable hummingbirds included the Green Thorntail, the Magenta-throated Woodstar, and the Volcano Hummingbird whose gorget appears like lava flowing from a volcano.
Among the larger of our hummingbirds were these colorful creatures: the Violet Sabrewing, the Violet-crowned Woodnymph, the Magnificent Hummingbird, and the Green Hermit.    
The Coppery-headed Emerald, as noted above, is one of only 4 species of birds endemic to Costa Rica (out of 867 that been observed in the country). Another Costa Rican endemic that we saw was the hummingbird called the Gray-tailed Mountain-gem, very similar to the White-throated Mountain-gem of nearby Panama. Looking at the photo below, it's clear why the White-throated Mountain-gem might be said to be a better name!    

With lots of names, our 372 birds were part of what was, for us, a wonderful experience in Costa Rica in March 2012!   

A male Gray-tailed Mountain-gem

Above: the Coppery-headed Hummingbird
Below: a Magnificent Hummingbird
Both photographs during the March 2012
FONT tours in Costa Rica
(photos by Virginia Woodhouse)  


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