Bird Walk on Sunday, June 6

Please join us for a Bird Walk at the incomparable Finca Cántaros on Sunday, June 6 (tomorrow!). We will meet at the entrance gate at 7:30 am and have binoculars to share.

The walk will last for about an hour.

If we have more than 6 walkers, we will go in two groups and run a little competition to see which group sees the most species.

A Voluntary Donation to the new Finca Cántaros Environmental Association would be most welcome. Hope to see you there!

The Canopy Tower Today

It is still standing and an attraction for visitors to the OTS/Las Cruces Research Station and Wilson Botanical Garden.

This photo, from 10 years ago, will remind you of pre-pandemic SVBC events! The Tower requires a climb of 75 steps to reach the top.  All of the folks you see in the photo above have done it; many times. Photo by Harry Hull III.

The slender and powerful young man in this photo, however, is the only person to have made the climb in less than one minute while toting 36 pairs of binoculars, 20 birding books and 120 juice boxes … Peter Wendell, head of the SVBC, standing alone. That’s what a pandemic will do for you. Photo by Alison Olivieri.

Thank You Again!

Speaking of which, we would like take some space here to honor the major donors to the construction of this amazing gateway to another world: Wildwood Foundation, Judy Richardson, Peggy and Fred Sibley, Jean and Fred Schroeder, Patricia J. Scott, Lauren and John Royer, Theodore Wickwire Royer and Zak Zahawi.

Finally, this is how small you look from the top; photo by Peter Wendell.

May 31, an Auspicious Day

First, we want to acknowledge Memorial Day for our members in the US — the beginning of summer but a solumn day commemorating the countless soldiers who lost their lives in wars over too many years.

Closer to home, we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Canopy Tower at OTS/Las Cruces Research Station inaugurated on this day in 2011. SVBC members, supporters and friends pulled together to raise the necessary funds for this rather daunting project that began with an enormous hole in the ground.

Special thanks to Campaign Committee Members: Julie Girard and Dave Woolley; Lydia and Ernie Vogt; Michael Olivieri; Zak Zahawi, then Director of Las Cruces; Kate Allen and Patrick Desvenain for special events assistance; our architect Felix Villalobos; Jim Zook for site consulting; the entire staff of Las Cruces for encouragement; the construction crew and, finally, the two Great Tinamous that walked right up the trail to the ongoing building site and bobbed around for a bit, leading me (at least) to think it would work out in the end.

We re-dedicate the Tower to all birders — past, present and future.

Photo by Harry Hull III
From La Nacion, May 31, 2011

Finca Cántaros Environmental Association

Something great has come out of this strange and terrible pandemic: the Finca Cántaros Environmental Association. With the Class A brain of Dr. Lilly Briggs whirring and whirling while the world was at a seeming standstill, here comes a new nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental education, forest restoration and research with three key action words: “Learn. Connect. Act.”

Canada to Costa Rica and Back

Based in Canada but operating in San Vito, the FCEA will have impact and influence in the Canton of Coto Brus but also the entire country. Working with Proyecto Cerulea partners Ernesto Carman and Paz Irola, Lilly had the country’s second MOTUS tower installed and has already downloaded information on migrating Swainson’s Thrushes, originally tagged in Canada(!).

The Website

And that is just ONE of the myriad projects being worked on by Lilly’s knowledgeable and energetic team. They have just launched a new English-language website — we encourage all our members to take a look. It is beautiful and packed with information about the ongoing projects, plus you can meet the team.

The Projects

Interested in, well, birds? Of course! Weekly Bird Counts are conducted at Finca Cantaros following strict protocols. What about bats? Monthly site visits by the Monteverde Bat Jungle crew are gathering information on local bats and watching natural reforestation in action, especially in the Children’s Rain Forest of Coto Brus, just outside Cántaros’ forested area. Reforestation? There’s a Tree Nursery collaboration with Osa Conservation! Sustainable food production? Women Committed to the Earth is a program working on agroecology practices applicable to local conditions. Art and Science? What about Nature Sketch from the Robert Bateman Foundation? And finally we circle back to the SVBC sponsored program, member-supported Detectives de Aves, now being taught in local schools for the first time in almost two years.

Bird Walk Sunday, May 9

Please join us this Sunday for a free Bird Walk on the Poro Road. We will meet at 7:30 am down the hill where we leave the cars. As always, we will have binoculars to lend.

Directions: from Las Cruces toward San Vito, take the first unpaved (lastre) road to the right after the hospital. From San Vito toward the hospital, take the unpaved road to the left after Soda La Negra.

The walk will go for about an hour. If we are lucky, we might see a pair of nesting Riverside Wrens or Double-toothed Kites! We don’t have a sign-up link this time — we will be there anyway.

REMINDER: International Migratory Bird Day and a Global Big Day occur the day before, on Saturday, May 8. Don’t forget to bird around your house, along the road or at your favorite spot and submit your list to eBird.

Please Buy Virtual Cookies and Cake . . .

As part of the Finca Cantaros Environmental Association’s Earth Day Celebration, SVBC members’ ovens were fired up for a Bake Sale. Take a look at the yummies below and place your order via PayPal. It’s easy as pie (!) — all you do is go to your PayPal account and search for ‘Finca Cantaros‘ or ‘info@fincacantaros.org‘ to make your donation.

Galletas de Dulce by Pedro

Now for the Strawberry Cake:

Queque Rosada de Fresa

And, while you are at it, please go to the brand new English-language website of the Finca Cantaros Environmental Association: www.fincacantaros.org — prepare to be impressed and proud to participate!

Watch this space for an article about this new nonprofit organization. We are so excited to have these wonderful neighbors and when you meet the team, learn the vision and hear about ongoing events and activities, you will be too.

Oh, wait, if you really DO want cookies or cake, email us and the next time you are near we will see that you have some.

Celebrate Earth Day 2021 on Saturday, April 24 at Finca Cántaros

Join us on Saturday, April 24 for an Earth Day Festival at the Finca Cántaros Environmental Association from 9 am to 3 pm.

As you can see from the posters below, the team has created all kinds of activities including guided walks, workshops (How to Make a Vegetable Garden, Exploring Nature) and two science talks, one about bats and one about bird migration (The MOTUS Tower) PLUS the 1st Annual Science Fair for elementary school students!

Meet your new neighbors! Practice your Español! Bring your recyclable glass to trade for a glass! Buy treats at the Bake Sale* and enjoy live music and art presentations!

All activities will be outside and adhere to Covid protocols. This will be a fun-filled day in a strange and difficult time so please treat yourself by visiting the AAFC — Asociación Ambiental Finca Cántaros!

And here is the schedule:

*If you would like to buy virtual cookies and make a donation to the new Asociación, please go to your PayPal account and enter ‘Finca Cantaros’ or info@fincacantaros.

Tomorrow’s Bird Walk Postponed!

We are sorry to report we had no sign-ups for tomorrow’s Bird Walk at Las Cruces/Wilson Botanical Garden, so it is officially cancelled.

In two weeks, we will schedule a free Bird Walk at a different location and hope you will join us!

Meanwhile, Finca Cantaros will host an Earth Day Celebration next Saturday, April 24! We urge you to attend and meet the new team — your new neighbors. Details of the event will be posted here on Wednesday.

San Vito from the Finca Cantaros Mirador, photo by Alison Olivieri

Bird Walk Sunday April 18

Please join us for a Bird Walk at the Las Cruces Wilson Botanical Garden this Sunday, April 18. We will meet at the Entrance Gate at 730 a.m. and observe the following Covid-19 protocols:

  1. Wear a mask
  2. Wash your hands at the sink
  3. The guard will take your temperature
  4. Record your name, national ID, phone number and temperature
  5. Pay the Entrance Fee: $3 residents/nationals, $10 visitors

Maybe we’ll see these top-heavy flycatchers building a nest outside the Reception Building. And we’ll do three stops at the Heliconia, Maranta and Pollinator Gardens.

Please click here to sign up — we look forward to seeing you there!

Where We Bird — Rio Negro

The trail entrance at Rio Negro. Photo by Alison Olivieri

Walk with us into the tunnel of ‘To-le-do’, the song of the Lance-tailed Manakin. A superstar of San Vito birding, this active and beautiful bird also makes a mewing, catlike call. The red cap, blue back, tiny tail and orange legs make males unmistakeable; females are greenish, as are all the lady manakins, but she does have that tail! Here, they are only found at our southern Pacific border with western Panama but their range extends from Costa Rica to

See the tail? Photo by Pepe Castiblanco

Venezuela. Inhabiting the humid and second growth forests, Chiroxiphia lanceolata males are active at leks from Janury to March. Excellent and acrobatic dancers, you can find them on YouTube but, really, why not come here and see for yourself?

Bicolored Hawks can be found all around Costa Rica but they are categorized as ‘rare’. Luckily for us, they are regularly seen at this site or from the car on the way! The rufous thighs are diagnostic in adults but the juveniles are easily confused with forest-falcon species.

Juvenile Bicolored Hawk, Accipiter bicolor, photo by Jo Davidson

These raptors prey on birds, diving after them from perches at any height in mature, wet forests and tall secondary growth — even forest edges and gardens. They are in the same genus with Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks in the north.

Finally, we come to a bird found at lower levels of the forest following ant swarms: Bicolored Antbird. Plump and endearing with a big, blue eye-ring, it’s hard not to want to scurry after them. This species is said to have been the favorite of Dr. Alexander Skutch, author of ‘A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica’ with F. Gary Stiles.

Bicolored Antbird, Gymnopithys leucaspis, photo by David A. Rodriguez Arias