San Vito Bird Club/Pajareros del Sur–A Successful Collaboration!

Many, MANY thanks to Bley Fernandez, Paula Mesen and Jeisson Figueroa (from the Pajareros del Sur) and all who attended last Sunday’s bird walk at the Wilson Botanical Garden (Las Cruces).  Many new birders, many young birders and some regular birders joined in!  More collaboration to come.

Be a part!

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(Photos courtesy of Randall Jimenez)

POW (photos of the week) for Sept. 11, 2018: Slaty Spinetail coming and going.

There’s a term in sports photography, nature photography, current event photography and probably all photography–The MONEY Shot.  In sports, the money shot could be the wide receiver catching the game-winning pass; in nature photography, something like the Humpback whale breeching up out of the sea; in current events, a fireman walking out of a burning building holding a child.

Bird photography is the same.  When photographing a Slaty Spinetail, the ‘money shot’, as you might imagine, comes in capturing the distinctive spiny tail!  Gail Hull, of Finca Cantaros, has done just that.  In photo #1 below, we see the bold rusty and black coloration of the Slaty Spinetail as it is facing us.  In photo #2 we get the Slaty Spinetail ‘money shot’…a good, close look at that distinctive spiny tail as the bird is facing the other direction.  Well done.

We have three different spinetail species down here in the south; the Slaty Spinetail, the Pale-breasted Spinetail and the Red-faced Spinetail.  All three are quite secretive.

(both photos taken at Finca Cantaros, Sept. 2018 by Gail Hull)

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Taxonomy Update – 2018 (from Jo Davidson)

Dear SVBC members and friends. We have gathered on this web page to mourn the loss of two beloved species which recently died at the hands of the North American Classification Committee (NACC). The American Ornithology Union (AOU) has published the list of taxonomy changes for 2018, and we in the Southern Zone have lost two species. They are still around, thank goodness, but have been reclassified as members of another species.

Our local Cherrie’s Tanager and the Passerini’s Tanager are once again lumped together as one species. They are both known again as the Scarlet-rumped Tanager (Rampocelus passerinii).

The Masked Yellowthroat, which we have seen during our walks at the San Joaquin wetlands, is now lumped together with, and now known as, the Olive-crowned Yellowthroat (Geothlypis semiflava).

Fortunately, we also have two new species to celebrate. The Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner was split, and the species in our area, the Chiriqui Foliage-gleaner (Automolus exertus), is named for the Panamanian canton which is a large portion of the range of this new species. The White-collared Seedeater was also split, and the Costa Rican species is Morelet’s Seedeater (Sporophila morelleti), named for the person who first found the original species in 1885. The species that occurs in areas north of Costa Rica is now the Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater.

Three of our Costa Rican Woodpeckers have been placed in a new genus – Dryobates. Their previous and new scientific names are as follows:

Hairy Woodpecker – Picoides villosus is now Dryobates villosus      

Smoky-brown Woodpecker – Picoides fumigatus is now Dryobates fumigatus     

Red-rumped Woodpecker – Veniliornis kirkii is now Dryobates kirkii

Additionally, the Mouse-colored Tyrannulet has had its scientific name changed from Phaeomyias murina to Necotriccus murinus.

Finally, I implore the AOU and the NACC to stop picking on the Red-breasted Blackbird. Last year they changed its scientific name to Leistes militaris, and this year they have changed its English common name to Red-breasted Meadowlark.

Please update your field guides to reflect these changes. Happy birding to you all!

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Why Are They Called ‘Ant’-Birds?

Antbirds–Ant Tanagers–Antvireos–Antshrikes–Antpittas–Antwrens–Antthrushes?  Why are so many Costa Rican bird species modified with the word ‘Ant’ in from of them?

Most people have the misconception that all of these various species of ‘Ant’ birds are consumers of…ants!  This is not the case (although some birds, like the Northern Flicker woodpecker, do consume ants with gusto).  These birds are called ‘Ant’ birds for another reason.

‘Ant’ birds are given this prefix not because they eat ants; but rather because they FOLLOW ants, in particular Army Ants ( most often Eciton burchellii).  If you live or have visited the neo-tropics you may have had the opportunity to observe Army Ants on the move.  Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of these tiny marauders will sweep through an area not unlike…an army!  Along their march the Army Ants attack and kill pretty much anything they encounter.

***No, they are not as fierce and aggressive as those ants in that great movie with Charlton Heston, ‘The Naked Jungle’.  In that movie the ants could ‘..clean a bull down to the bones in less than an hour.’  Great movie!***

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Invertebrates and even small vertebrates probably fear nothing more than being swarmed over, torn apart and ultimately eaten by Army Ants.  And so, when an army of Army Ants is discovered by the beetles, crickets, worms, centipedes, lizards and even small snakes of the forest floor they do exactly what you or I would do; GET THE HELL OUTTA THERE!

And guess who takes of advantage of this Army Ant-induced mass-panic?  Correct; our ‘Ant’ birds!  A swarm of Army Ants creates a delicious and nutritious movable feast of beetles, crickets, etc. for the ‘Ant’ birds who hover above the swarm and simply wait for movement.

FYI: If ever you find yourself in swarm of Army Ants…do not panic; simply move out of their way.  Army Ants are blind and stay in contact with their kin through a pheromone trail left by the ant in front of them.  But they can bite!  Also, take some time to look and listen for some bird species you rarely get the opportunity to see; the ‘Ant’ birds.

(photo courtesy of Greg Homer, taken at El Tangaral in San Vito de Coto Brus)

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Let’s Try Some ‘Deductive Reasoning’

Observing the photo at the bottom of this page, courtesy of young Hellen Hidalgo, we see a sizable tree near Campo Dos y Media in the southern zone of Costa Rica.  In this tree we can also see about 14 or 15 spectacular long pendulous nests built and maintained by Crested Oropendolas (shown here, courtesy of Monique Girard):

Crested Oropendula. Photo by Monique Girard

Crested Oropendola. Photo by Monique Girard

As we observe the photo below more closely we notice a few interesting features of these Oropendola nests.   Let’s put on our Deductive Reasoning Caps and ask ourselves, ‘Why?’.

  1. Why are the nests constructed very high up in an isolated tree?
  2. Why do the nests seem to be hanging from the extreme distal (furthest from the tree) part of the branches?
  3. Why do the nests all seem to be on just one side of the tree?
  4. And lastly, why are the nests communal?

Over countless generations, Crested Oropendolas have found this particular lifestyle to be the most successful for them; the best way ensure that their genes are passed on to another generation.  All organisms do the same; we call this Population Dynamics or Population Ecology.

FYI: These questions are merely rhetorical and posed just for fun.  No homemade cookies for the best answers.

(photo courtesy of young Hellen Hidalgo)

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Quiz Bird for July 2018!

Be the first to correctly identify this Quiz Bird and win one dozen of Helen LeVasseur’s homemade cookies (they cannot be shipped; you must pick them up).

Send your ID to:

eltangaral@gmail.com

Photo taken by young Hellen Hidalgo in Campo Dos y Media in June of 2018.  Good luck!

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(photo courtesy of Hellen Hidalgo)

POW: Photos of the Week for July 7/Fotos de la semana: 7 de julio

Our two birds for this POW were taken in the small town of Caracol, near Rio Claro.  The great husband and wife team of Yeimiri Badilla and Marilin Saldana brought us these amazing photos.

Photo #1: You should recognize this bird from all of our San Vito Bird Club publications, t-shirts and coffee mugs; it is the Turquoise Cotinga!  Taken in their front yard.

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Photo #2: Taken in the palm plantations near Caracol.  Palm oil plantations often contain a surprising variety of bird species.  This young Striped Owl was probably in search of small rodents who feed on the palm nuts.

Striped Owl

POW for June 19: Parakeet and Woodpecker!

Normally, our two Photos of the Week (POW) are somehow connected.  (See last week…both birds have streaked breasts.)  This week I’m challenged to find a clever connection between these two birds; Olivaceous Piculet and Sulpher-winged Parakeet.  Sure, they both have feathers, a cloaca and lay eggs but I’m looking for a CLEVER connection!  Your help appreciated.

Photo #1: Olivaceous Piculet.  Courtesy of Gail Hewson-Hull

Olivaceious Piculet ghh

Photo #2: Sulpher-winged Parakeet.   Courtesy of Alison Wickwire Olivieri (taken at Las Tablas)

Sulphur-winged Parakeet LA Feb 8 2018

The Streakers! POW for June 2018

Our first streaky Photo of the Week comes from Finca Cantaros duena Gail Hewson-Hull.  This streaky-breasted bird is a Sulpher-bellied Flycatcher.  One of our larger tyrant flycatchers, the Sulpher-bellied is more often seen feeding on fruits than catching flies.

Sulpher B FC gail

Our second streaker comes from SVBC President Emeritus Alison Wickwire-Olivieri.  Many birders who come down to the southern zone have this bird, the Streaked Saltator, on their must-see list.  FYI: that bill is heavy and powerful!  Distinctive and musical song.

Streaked S alison

Kids Learning to Use Binoculars!

Few things inspire greater optimism for a healthy future than observing excited school kids learn how to use binoculars (see below).

The San Vito Bird Club along with our Detectives de Aves (Bird Sleuth) crew of educators are asking for your financial support.

As our education programs expand across the southern zone of Costa Rica we need more binoculars for the kids to use during their Detectives de Aves lessons; two lessons in particular.  One lesson is dedicated to proper use of binoculars in the field and the last (and most popular) lesson with binoculars is a half-day field trip into a rain forest full of birds!

Click the link below if you’re able to send us a donation.

sanvitobirdclub.org/membership/support-the-club/

Or contact us via email if PayPal is not your thing.

vp@sanvitobirdclub.org or president@sanvitobirdclub.org

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