Your Bi-weekly ‘Tiny Moment’

From Alison Olivieri

This was a tiny shock of recognition and not much needs to be said as the keen birders you all are will spot the juvenile Fiery-billed Aracari immediately.

We were verandah-watching with our good friends Helen LeVasseur and Greg Homer several months ago, eyeing the Banana Dehydration Station, when a band of these rogues landed all around us.

And there among them was the youngster — a first for us even after all these years of admiring each and every arrival.

Photo, with joy, by Alison Olivieri

Drum Roll Please . . .

Sending thanks to Nancy Nelson and Dan Fender for starting our recent Teacher Transport Fund Challenge — we have more than doubled their lead gift thanks to the following generous supporters:

Denise Dausey

Helen and Greg Homer

Catherine Lindell

Dorothy MacKinnon

Alison and Michael Olivieri

Judy Richardson

Jean Schroeder

Lydia Vogt

Recently, the teachers are working far afield, bringing the Detectives de Aves course to students in La Casona, Agua Buena, Chanengua and other remote locations. Most are without cars so we rely on busses, taxis and willing drivers to get them where they need to go.

The Transport Fund is an enormous help with the rising costs of fares and gas! We can’t possibly thank Nancy and Dan enough for their far- sighted and successful Challenge.

Tiny Birds, Tiny Moment

This Tiny Moment comes to us from across the Atlantic Ocean; we thank UK resident and International Member Charles Jones.


Stepping out one recent morning with my little dog and trusty blackthorn walking stick, I noticed a louder-than-normal round of singing from the House Wrens that frequent a drainpipe out near our garbage can grouping.

House Wren photo by Jo Davidson

At just the right moment, my dog became fascinated with a blade of grass…so I could actually look up in time to see a baby wren fledge from its drainpipe nest and careen onto the ground!

Luckily, a passing scent caught the dog’s attention because then two more fledglings bravely flew out. For a few moments it was sheer pandemonium as the fledglings tried to get their bearings, with the parents flying about to and fro…to and fro. Finally, the five of them gathered their wits and flew across the road to relative safety.


At the same time when those House Wrens were fledging in Cambridge, England and our sharp-eyed friend Charles Jones was viewing their activity, Michael and I watched a similar House Wren drama unfold in our very own San Vito garden…with a cup of English tea.

Sunday Walk Rained Out + Pop Quiz

We’ve had unseasonable rain for about a month and the forecast says this will continue for another few days……

Are we tired? Depressed? No: just struggling along with the barometric pressure! It seems more like October than May at the moment.

All of this is to say we will not have a Bird Walk this weekend but we encourage you to go out and look around — in between showers — because, guess what, there are birds’ nests galore out there!

And here’s a Pop Quiz just to keep you sharp! Identify this nest — the first correct answer sent to: wins a prize. We promise.


A Moment from Al Zucha

My pleasure to meet SVBC members as I am a recent International Member with plans to migrate to San Vito in Spring 2023 with a month-long visit in Aug/Sep 2022. While I’ve been birding for decades, I remain a novice. Since I live on the Houston Ship Channel, shorebirds are a constant. However I looked at the migration patterns and see that Red-winged Blackbirds’ range is to Panama.

Each morning the pup and I watch the chest-bumping patches of red signal dominance for the feeder. One chirps from a nearby shrub and then swoops in — wings back, chest out — and creates space and dominance — if not but for a seed or two. As seed protection, feeder sensitivity is set to to allow two Red-wings at once (finches up to four). Each grabs a seed, hops to the left, cracks seed, dumps hull, and enjoys the effort. “Conk-la-ree!”

Red-wings are ubiquitous on Texas coastal plains. Some flocks register in the tens of thousands. Red-wings were the first wild bird I learned to identify. Maybe that’s why red, black and yellow remain my favorite colors.

Photo by Greg Lasley/VIREO

Tiny Moments

Small bits, brief memories, filling our lives with joy — we all have these! Let us share them, from us to you and you back to us.

We’ll start: every day I walk my small dog and need a sturdy bamboo stick for balance (plus sunglasses, phone and keys). By the time binoculars and, worse, a camera are added it becomes completely unmanageable so the equipment is left at home.

I hear birds all around and see movement everywhere but am forced to concentrate on my steps to stay upright so it can become a vexation.

But suddenly the little dog will stop and spend minutes inspecting one or two blades of grass during which I can look around and this is when the Tiny Moment might happen.

The other day, two Yellow-bellied Elaenias popped onto a nearby wire fence and began to dance, each showing the other both their sides with fully poofed-up crests.

They make a noisy, vomitous call and thus are more often heard than seen. Needless to say this was new, thrilling and an out-of-myself moment — we all live for these!

Please send us one of yours (with photos if you’d like) to me: or Greg Homer:

From The Birds of Panama, a Robert Dean illustration.

A Donation for Transportation

We are the recent lucky recipients of a sizeable gift from Nancy Nelson and Dan Fender, earmarked to pay for transporting the Detectives de Aves teachers who are spreading out all over Coto Brus. From Chánguena to Mellizas, from Agua Buena to La Casona, this talented and dedicated group is on the move and it is expensive!

Nancy and Dan have been volunteers, members and supporters of the SVBC since our mist netting project that ran from 2003-2013 and the Detectives de Aves program from then until now. That is what? About 20 years of generous help? So, when they asked how they could help this year we said, “Please buy us a car!”

No, we didn’t really say that — but we did plead for money to provide gas and expense reimbursement for one teacher who has a car and funds to help the others with bus fares, ride sharing and occasional taxis.

Here’s where you come in: could you match some of these funds? Nancy and Dan donated $1,000+. Two anonymous donors have stepped in with $100 apiece so now we have $1,300+ tucked safely into the budget. If we could leverage Nancy and Dan’s gift to $2,000 we would have no transport worries for some time to come.

Nancy and Dan, SVBC Transport Heroes!

Bird Walk at Pino Colina, Sunday, January 9 at 7:00 am

Please join us for the first walk of 2022 at Hacienda Pino Colina, next door to the Wilson Botanical Garden/Las Cruces.

Judy Richardson has kindly invited us to visit her beautiful homestead where we have seen nesting Rufous Jacamars, White- crested Coquettes, White-winged Tanagers and more, so much more!

Rufous-tailed Jacamar, photo by Yeimiri Badilla

Drive through the open gate to the right (just north) of the main Pino Colina gate at 7 am. Follow the road down the hill and park near the bodega. Judy will meet us there; as always, we will have binoculars and guides to share.

Here is a photo of our last walk of 2021 at Las Cruces/Wilson Botanical Garden.

From left to right: Petra Heck, Judy Richardson, Peter Hulsinck, Tomas Wilkinson, Steffano from New Zealand, Tom and Portia’s granddaughter Ada, Portia Wilkinson and Julie Girard Woolley — photo by Alison Olivieri

Hope to see you there for fabulous birds and gorgeous gardens — it will be a real treat!

Little Bit of Heaven

Pop Quiz: if you are drinking your morning coffee at first light and you see a Northern Waterthrush, Common Black Hawk, Brown Pelicans and House Wrens, where are you?

Answer: Cabinas Los Cocos at Playa Zancudo, where else?

The waves are calling you, not to mention the River Cruise, for which Los Cocos is justifiably famous. Recent highlights included soaring King Vultures, Grey-lined Hawk, Mangrove Hummingbird and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, photo by Julie Girard Woolley

It is a total bird show there, from the river to the beach to the rice fields (where Red-breasted Meadowlarks, grassquits, seedeaters and Fork-tailed Flycatchers steal the show).

Great Egret, photo by Julie Girard Woolley

Just in case Susan England, boat captain and owner of Los Cocos, decides not to run her boats this coming high season, we had a good run with Captain Erick Chavarria who is not accustomed to birders but did a great job backing up, turning around for better views, etc. His boat is comfortable, he speaks English, is reasonably priced and on WhatsApp at 8638 7712.

River Cruise November 30, 2021

If you need to be reminded about Cabinas Los Cocos, here you go:

Cabin at Los Cocos, photo by Alison Olivieri
Playa Zancudo, photo by Alison Olivieri
Captain Susan and Captain Erick, photo by Alison Olivieri

Save the Date!

Please go find a 2022 calendar and mark February 27 as the date for the SVBC Annual Meeting.

You’ll not want to miss this one as we plan to have the famous Tico Breakfast at Las Cruces/Wilson Botanical Garden PLUS speakers, birdy games and prizes.

This event is for members only so please remember to pay your dues! Any executive committee member will be happy to accept them. The dues will entitle you to a Membership Card that you can use to receive entrance to Las Cruces at the lower price for nationals and residents, $3 or 1,800 colones per person.

Membership Dues are as follows:

Local individual = $25 or 18,000 colones

Local family, defined as two adults and two children = $50 or 35,000 colones

International Individual = $20

International family = $40