Next Bird Sit: Sunday, October 21/Proximo caminata de aves: 21 de octubre.

Please join Jo Davidson and the San Vito Bird Club for our next birding event on Sunday, October 21 at 7:30 am.  Meet on the terrace by the comedor at the Wilson Botanical Garden at 7:30 a.m. We hope to spot a variety of migrants, including Chestnut-sided Warblers and Summer Tanagers from this location. Rain or shine, we hope to see you there!

As always, binoculars will be available as needed.

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(Photo courtesy of Jo Davidson–Chestnut-sided Warbler)

Next Bird Walk: Sunday, Sept. 23rd/Proximo caminata de aves: 23 de sept.

Please join Greg Homer and the San Vito Bird Club for our next bird walk on Sunday, September 23rd at 7:30 am.  This walk will include very little walking, as we sit and observe a variety of hummingbirds and other avifauna in the Brazilian Cloak garden of the beautiful Finca Sofia (Lydia’s place).  Bring a folding chair and perhaps something to drink.  I’ll meet you at 7:20 am at the bottom of the lastre road across the highway from Casa Botania.  If you know where Finca Sofia is, go right on up and park outside the gate.

As always, binoculars available as needed.



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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slaty 3



Bird Walk–SATURDAY! Sept. 8th at Agua Luna/Caminata de aves–SABADO! 8 de septiembre a Agua Luna

Please join Greg Homer and the San Vito Bird Club for our next bird walk on SATURDAY, Sept. 8th at the Centro Turistico Agua Luna.  This will be a short and easy walk along a forested rural road and end up at the Centro Turistico Agua Luna where coffee and breakfast may be purchased.  There is also a small wetland on the property.

Centro Turistico Agua Luna is on the road past Sabalito but before the La Union turn off, on the left side of the road.  There is a prominent sign.  Meet at that sign at 7:30am on Saturday.  If you prefer to carpool, two or three cars with available space can pick you up.  Be at the San Vito cemetery NO LATER than 7:10am.

As always, binoculars are available as needed.  Hope you can join us!

(migratory Wilson’s Warbler, courtesy of Jo Davidson)


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!

tax 1tax 2

Bird Walk Sunday: Aug. 26/Caminata de Aves: 26 agosto, domingo

Please join Greg Homer and the San Vito Bird Club for our next Bird Walk.  We will meet at the Soda La Negra (next to the bakery that is 300 meters past the hospital) on Sunday, August 26th at 7:30am.  This walk is fairly flat and is on a solid lastre road with many Porro trees.  We had very good birding on the road last year.  Binoculars available as needed.

Hope you can join us!

Bay-headed Tanager (Photo by Jeff Worman)

Bay-headed Tanager (photo by Jeff Worman)

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!***

n jungle.jpg

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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Bird Walk: Sunday, Aug. 12/Caminata de Aves: 12 de agosto—Wilson Garden

Please join Greg Homer and the San Vito Bird Club for a Sunday bird walk at the Wilson Botanical Garden (OTS Las Cruces), Aug. 12th.

Meet at Recepcion at 7:30am.  Binoculars provided as needed.  Hope you can join as we continue our search for the first northern migrant of the year.


Por favor, unete a Greg Homer y el Club de Aves de San Vito por el proximo caminata a Wilson Garden (OTS Las Cruces), 12 de agosto.

Reunirse a Recepcion a las 7:30 en la manana.  Hay binoculares si es necesario.  Espero que ustedes pueden unir a nosotros.  Todavia buscamos por la primera migrante del norte.

(Photo courtesy of Jo Davidson: Blue-headed Parrot)

Blue Head Jo



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)


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:

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)