You’re all getting plenty of exercise, right? Walking and birding and gardening and home projects. Good! Keep it up, San Vito Bird Club members.
About 3 years ago following one of our Bird Walks (when you all were pretty much a captive, coffee-drinking audience) I delivered a brief tutorial on the calls of our local Pigeons and Doves. Following the tutorial, I promised deliver it again ‘…some day.’ That day has come.
All seven of these birds are easier to hear than to see. And they each have a distinctive call or song. See how many you can identify by song when you’re out and about.
Always energetic, Jean-Philippe Thelliez travels the world in search of nature photo opportunities. Submitted by Jean-Philippe himself, here are five recent photos taken in Columbia, Panama and Costa Rica.
(All photos taken by Jean-Philippe Thelliez)
Photo #1: The Hoatzin-Columbia
Living along riparian forests in the Amazon basin, the Hoatzin has been called ‘…the reptile bird’. Young Hoatzins actually have vestigial claws on their wings, allowing them to climb away from threats. Not surprisingly, this odd looking bird is only member of the taxonomic family Opisthocomidae.
Photo #2: The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock-Columbia
What female could fail to be impressed by this male Andean Cock-of-the-Rock? Yes, it does have a bill in there somewhere
Photo #3: Harpy Eagle-Panama
For many treetop monkeys and sloths, the massive (2nd largest raptor in the world) Harpy Eagle is the last thing they ever see. Open your hand and spread your fingers as wide as you can; the Harpy Eagle’s claws are bigger!
Photo #4: Three-wattled Bellbird-Costa Rica
‘BONG’ Spend a little time up in the highlands around San Vito and you’ll probably hear the male Three-wattled Bellbird give its echoing and eerie call.
Photo #5: Plumbeous Kite-Costa Rica
Our fifth and final bird is the Plumbeous Kite. This particular bird appears to be bowing a polite ‘thank you’ for viewing these wonderful photos. The Plumbeous Kite also wishes to remind all of you to remain healthy, safe, patient and most importantly…ACTIVE!
Social distancing, we are told, is vital to ‘flattening the curve’ of the coronavirus, or slowing down the spread. This means we should all avoid crowds and limit physical contact with our fellow citizens. The San Vito Bird Club respects and agrees with this philosophy.
However we also believe that getting out of the house, breathing fresh air and interacting with nature is important to our health, both mental and physical.
What better way, what better time than right now, during these days of worry and stress, to do a bit of bird watching? Could this activity not be an antidote to some of our fears?
The following quote is from New York state’s Department of Environmental Conservation:
‘During the current COVID-19 public health crisis, getting outdoors and connecting with nature is a way to help maintain our mental and physical health.
Scientific studies show that time outside in nature, especially among trees, significantly reduces stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, improves mood, energy, and sleep, and boosts the immune system.’
This does not mean we are suggesting a pre-Coronavirus bird walk! Those walks…always with much hugging, hand shaking and good fellowship…must be suspended for the time being. BUT THEY WILL BE BACK! Oh yes, they will be back. For now we must keep some distance from each other. Let’s flatten that curve and keep this thing in check.
When the viral world is back to normal, we will announce the resumption of our hugging, hand shaking, good fellowship, constantly talking to each other when you should be watching birds…San Vito Bird Club Bird Walks! Could be as early as in the next month or two.
So until that time, get out there and do some walking and birding; just you or just you and your loved ones/special ones.
Where to go?
First of all, the best place to go birding is…where you are. In Coto Brus there simply are no bad places to go birding. Hell, there are Gray-breasted Martins and House Sparrows at the Rio Java gas station. So explore your own territory. You’ll be surprised what you’ll see and hear.
The second best place to go birding is…where you AREN’T. Here are three superb and fairly unfrequented birding spots around San Vito.
The Old Road/Magic Road: This spot has become increasingly popular with birders and may soon become a ‘destination site’. It’s open and can be dusty but you should see many bird species on both sides of the road. Be sure to listen as well as watch. Now is a great time to learn some of our local bird songs. This road is between the closed brown gate (closest to San Vito) of El Tangaral and the perfectly maintained light blue house. Bring plenty of water and good shoes (a bit up-and-downy).
The Sansonetti Road: We all know the cut-in-half car advertising La Chiminea, right? It’s just past Finca Cantaros. That road goes up over the hill and comes out by the San Vito International Airport. Check out the many flowering Inga trees along the road; they have white ‘floofy’ flowers. ‘Floofy’ is an Alison word.
The Tres Rios Road: On the main road at the Neilly end of the San Vito Hospital is a mini-super. Turn down that unpaved road and keep going down. When you come to a nice, shady, riverside spot…park your car and go birding. Look for the white Vulture up on the hillside. Spend some time looking into the flowering Porro trees. See the Oropendola nests in one of them.
FYI: The best times to go birding are dawn and dusk. We suggest the hours of 6am to 9:30am or 4:00pm to 6:00pm.
So for now, get out there! And stay healthy, both menatlly and physically.
Contact Greg Homer with your birding question/concerns:
In a perfect world every bird would pose on a bare branch in the full sun. That bare branch would always be real close to you and to your camera. That bird would slowly turn, showing off all aspects of its plumage and design, always while in full sun. That bird on the bare branch would patiently remain on that branch while you called over all twelve of your birding chums. As all of your loudly talking birding chums fumbled up their binoculars, scopes and cameras that bird would continue to pose.
Ah, but that is not our world.
In our birding world, the scenario described above has a rare-to-never occurrence rate. Birds are often secretive and private. Branches, leaves and the sun seem to almost have a perverse sense of humor when it comes to birding. Ergo, we must be prepared to meet these challenges head on and to identify birds under imperfect conditions. One of those imperfect conditions? Bad lighting. I refer to bird watching when the lighting is either so bright or so low that all you can see is a SILHOUETTE image.
Many bird guides, such as Cornell University’s Merlin Bird ID, offer silhouette images of the major categories of birds. Study these bird silhouettes.
San Vito Bird Club member Tom Wilkinson recently sent me a wonderful photo (see below). It is not actually a silhouette but a shadow! See if you can identify what group this bird belongs to and maybe even what species it is. Take a moment if necessary; and then scroll down to see a photo of the actual bird.
Here is the actual bird; living up in the roof of Tom’s house!
A Tropical Screech Owl! Listen to the Tropical Screech Owl by clicking the link below. The call is quite common at night. Click the green Listen button in the lower right of the screen to hear it.
Congratulations to the following San Vito Bird Club members; winners of our Bird Feeder Contest-2020.
Category #1: Most bird species at a single location feeder—Charles and Sara Beeson-Jones (see below)! The Beeson-Joneses lured 30 different species of birds to their feeder (located at Michael and Alison Olivieri’s rental house).
(photos courtesy of Helen LeVasseur)
Category #2: Best Bird Feeder Photo
The great Julie Gerard-Woolley won with this wonderful multi-Tanager feeder photo.
Category #3: Best Feeder Photo of an Unusual Bird Species—Jo Davidson with this spectacular photo of a Red-legged Honeycreeper on a papaya.