Quiz Bird from June 7: The Answer

Jo Davidson, Terri Peterson and Alison Olivieri all correctly identified our June 7th Quiz Bird as the…


Well done.  And Ms. Peterson also chipped in with a very good point; not too long ago the Wrenthrush had a MUCH prettier name–the Zeledonia.  So look for the beautiful Wrenthrush next time you’re up in the higher altitudes.

FYI: Send your photos that may serve as a challenging Quiz Bird to:



Quiz Bird: June 7, 2019

Unlike most of our Quiz Bird photos, this photo is perfectly composed, lighted and framed.  You can clearly see every aspect of this Quiz Bird!

However, to see this bird you must leave San Vito and go up, up, up into higher altitudes.  Look around stands of bamboo, fairly close to the ground and you may spot the beautiful…???

Send your answers to:


(photo courtesy of John Missing, forwarded from Gail Hull)


Quiz Bird Answer! May 18th Posting

This was a difficult Quiz Bird.  We did have one correct guess on Facebook from the great and powerful Gabriel Calvo, who correctly identified the…NORTHERN SCHIFFORNIS.

I often refer the Northern Schiffornis as a ‘birder’s bird’, due its rather monotonous  plumage, sluggish behavior and secretive lifestyle.  The Northern Schiffornis definitely does not fall into the ‘charismatic’ category.  But it has a jolly good song!  Click in the ‘Listen’ button in the lower right of the screen (below).


Plus, no one (not even those wacky taxonomists) has ever really known what to call it.  Not long ago it was known as the Thrushlike Schiffornis and before that it was thought to be some sort of Manakin

Is it a Flycatcher?  Is it a Becard?  Is it a Manakin? Is it a Thrush?  Nope.  It is our one-and-only Northern Schiffornis.

(photo courtesy of Randall Jimenez)


Bird Quiz Winner for May 2019!

Congratulations to Leticia Andino for correctly identifying our Quiz Bird for May 2019; the INCA DOVE.

About the same size and of similar behavior as our extremely common Ruddy Ground Dove, the Inca Dove is a regular resident in the dry country of Guanacaste.

Well done Lety!


Quiz Bird for May 2019!

This month’s quiz bird isn’t seen in San Vito.  It has been spotted down the hill around Coto 47.  Could this bird be another species that is expanding its range?  I hope so!

Send your best guess to:


(photo courtesy of Alison Olivieri)

(Last quiz bird photo, Cooper’s Hawk, courtesy of Gail Hull)


Quiz Bird Winner!

Congratulations to the great and powerful Randall Jimenez for submitting the first correct answer to our April 2019 Quiz Bird.

Randall (from the Pajareros del Sur) correctly identified the Cooper’s Hawk.  This medium-sized Accipiter hawk is occasionally seen in San Vito during its migration north.

We also had guesses of Sharp-shinned Hawk.  The ‘Sharpie’, though slightly smaller than the Cooper’s, looks very, very similar.  The most significant difference between the two species is the rounded tail of the Cooper’s Hawk; the Sharp-shinned has a squared off distal end of the long tail.  (see below)

Again, please join me in congratulating Randall Jimenez.

(Cooper’s Hawk tail on L–Sharp-shinned tail on R)



Biggy and Smally: Woodpecker Messenger Service

The smallest woodpecker in Costa Rica, the Olivaceous Piculet, is no bigger than a warbler!  This very charismatic, big-bird-in-a-small-bird’s-body is often seen tap-tap-tapping on a slender dry twig looking for bugs.  The tapping sounds the Piculet makes have given it the local name of the Telegraph Bird.

The biggest woodpecker in Costa Rica, the Pale-billed Woodpecker, (probably the model for beloved cartoon character ‘Woody Woodpecker’) is over a foot long.  Normally, the Pale-billed Woodpecker is identified by it’s robust and very loud two-note rap…’TOCK-TOCK’…but recently I discovered the actual call of the Pale-billed Woodpecker.  To my surprise the Pale-bill’s call sounds very much like one of those old electric Morse Code devices with the key!  Click on the ‘Listen’ button in the lower right corner of this eBird page.


If you’re an old Boy Scout or Girl Scout, listen carefully–maybe IT IS an actual Morse Code message coming from the Pale-billed Woodpecker.  What message might they be sending us?

(images from eBird)






Swainson’s Thrush: ‘Hello, I Must Be Going’

Go outside for a minute or two and then come back in and finish this article…go on, really.


OK, now you’re back.  There is a very good chance you saw, or more likely heard, a Swainson’s Thrush or two while you were out there.

During late March and early April, here in Coto Brus, it seems like someone has opened up a giant firehose; and from that firehose has come a mighty river of Swainson’s Thrushes (see below).

This Swainson’s Thrush visit with us will be a fairly brief one however; for the Swainson’s Thrush is a passage migrant through Costa Rica.  They have been wintering in South America and are now anxiously heading home to North America where they will build homes and raise families.

Listen for them.  You’re likely to hear their flutey, thrush-like musical trill.  Also, you may hear my favorite of their calls, which I call the ‘Dripping Faucet’ call.  Here it is.  Click on Listen (lower right) and then select the third recording from the top:


During this time of year I am always reminded of that wonderful Groucho Marx song, ‘Hello, I Must Be Going.’

Hello, I must be going
I cannot stay
I came to say
I must be going
I’m glad I came
But just the same
I must be going.