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!

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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!***

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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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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)

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Watch this video of Detectives de Aves in Guatemala! Mira el video de Detectives de Aves en Guatemala!

Espanol abajo

Because Detectives de Aves is THE most exciting program sponsored by the SVBC, we decided to re-post this 7 minute video from the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology — they hit it out of the park with this short film!

In April, two of our teachers — Carla Azofeifa and Paula Mesen — went with SVBC President Peter Wendell to the highlands of Guatemala to share teaching experiences and learn from indigenous teachers Vilma, Gilda and Norma.

That visit was reciprocated in May when Tara and Rob Cahill came to San Vito in May with Vilma and Norma — all from the Cloud Forest Conservation Society — to participate with us in local schools. These travels were funded by a grant to Dr. Lilly Briggs from National Geographic. (See a report here.)

It’s just a GREAT program and we are proud to play a part. In this presentation, those of you who don’t live here will meet Carla Azofeifa and Paula Mesen, two of our wonderful teachers! Please consider sending a donation to continue this program in local schools by visiting our Support the Club page.

Ya que Detectives de Aves el EL programa más emocionante patrocinado por el SVBC, decidimos volver a postear este video, de 7 minutos, del Laboratorio de Ornitología de la Universidad de Cornell. ¡Realmente se lucieron con este corto video!

En abril, dos de nuestras maestras Carla Azofeifa y Paula Mesén, fueron junto al Presidente del SVBC, Peter Wendell, a las tierras altas de Guatemala para compartir sus experiencias de enseñanza y aprender de las maestras indígenas Vilma, Gilda y  Norma.

Vilma y Norma nos devolveron la visita en mayo, cuando vinieron junto a Tara y Rob Cahill, de la Cloud Forest Conservation Society, para participar en nuestras escuelas locales en San Vito. Estos viajes fueron financiados mediante una donación del Dr. Lilly Briggs de National Geographic (vea el reporte aquí).

Este es un GRAN programa y estamos orgullosos de tomar parte. En esta presentación, aquellos de ustedes que no vivien aquí, ¡conocerán a Carla Azofeifa y Paula Mesén, dos de nuestras maravillosas maestras! Por favor considere enviar una donación para continuar con este programa en nuestras escuelas locales, visitando nuestra página Apoye el Club

Birds on the Move/Las aves en movimiento

ESPANOL SIGUE

Female Flame-rumped Tanager, a new record for Costa Rica. Photo by Pepe Castiblanco

On a sunny morning in early November, Pepe Castiblanco and I went to look for a bird that had never been recorded in Costa Rica until it was discovered in October. Most followers of this website know Pepe but, in case you do not, he is a birder, natural history guide, musician, raconteur, photographer, baker, restaurateur and co-owner – with his wife Kata Ulenaers — of a nearby B&B.

Pepe’s friend, Juan Abel, who is dashing and works at the Organization for Tropical Studies as a forest guard, found this bird – a Flame-rumped Tanager – on his finca, consorting with a group of Cherrie’s Tanagers. He called some friends, extraordinary birders, to come take a look and so it went. Because this is private property, the search becomes a question of permission. We were grateful to have a chance to go look and got lucky with the bird.

Juan and his wife Ruth have a large, enthusiastic dog that lunged through the door as we pulled into the driveway. Before we were able to get out of the car, the dog clipped one of Juan’s sons’ legs, sending coffee dribbling all over its back, and climbed into the car onto my lap. It was an auspicious start.

We walked around the house, through a guava orchard. The trees look odd because each round, fat fruit is sequestered in a bag to stymie insects and birds. The Abels have chicken coops and banana feeders and a ring of old trees around their farm. We saw four Rose-breasted Grosbeaks taking the sun in a pine tree and heard woodpeckers and Slaty Spinetails churring from the woods.

After a bit, Hafjeth Abel, 19, joined our search party while he fed the chickens, steering us away from making hopeful glances at their banana feeder. The group of tanagers we were after apparently does not frequent the feeder but hangs around the other side of the property near the forest edge. Over we went and suddenly they arrived, sputtering and squeaking, with the Flame-rumped female in plain view, perched for Pepe’s camera. Two Yellow-billed Caciques came out of the forest — an uncommon sighting as they are more often heard than seen.

The new tanager comes with some confusing taxonomy. It has three common names: Flame-rumped, Lemon-rumped and Yellow-rumped. And two scientific names: Ramphocelus flammigerus and R. icteronotus plus a subspecies indicator like this: Ramphocelus flammigerus icternotus. You can consult the authority of your choice, but the Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica follows the American Ornithologists Union checklist so this one is being presented to the Rare Records Committee as Flame-rumped Tanager, Ramphocelus flammigerus.

Maybe another one will join it or show up elsewhere. We will try to keep ourselves updated and report back from time to time.

Juan Abel, standing back row center, found a new bird for Costa Rica in October 2017. Also pictured Pepe Castiblanco, standing right. Photographer unknown.

ESPANOL AQUI
Una mañana soleada de noviembre, Pepe Castiblanco y yo salimos a buscar un ave que nunca había sido registrada en Costa Rica, hasta que fue descubierta en octubre. La mayoría de quienes siguen este sitio web conocen a Pepe, pero en caso de que usted no lo conozcan, él es un pajarero, guía de historia natural, músico, anecdotista, fotógrafo, panadero, restaurador y co-propietario – con su esposa, Kata Ulenaers, — de un B&B de la localidad.

El amigo de Pepe, Juan Abel, quien es gallardo y trabaja para la Organización para Estudios Tropicales como guarda, encontró esta ave, Flame-rumped Tanager, en su finca, compartiendo con un grupo local de sargentos. Juan llamó a unos amigos, pajareros extraordinarios, para que vinieran a ver. Dado que esta es una propiedad privada, la búsqueda se convierte en una cuestión de permiso. Tuvimos la suerte de tener la oportunidad de ir a observar y encontrar el ave.

Juan y su esposa, Ruth, tienen un perro grande y entusiasta que se lanzó a través de la puerta mientras nos parquéabamos. Antes de que pudiéramos salir del carro, el perro atrapó una de las piernas de un hijo de Juan, echándose el café sobre el lomo, y se encaramó en el carro hasta llegar a mi regazo. Un prometedor comienzo.

A guava, bagged to exclude insects and birds. Photo by Alison Olivieri

Caminamos por la casa, hasta llegar a una plantación de guava. Los árboles se ven extraños porque secuestran su fruto en una vaina, para protegerlos de aves e insectos. Los Abels tienen gallineros y alimentadores de aves, y un anillo de árboles viejos alrededor de su granja. Vimos varios Picogrueso Pechirrosado (Calandrias) tomando el sol en un pino y escuchamos carpinteros y Arquitectos Plomizos en el bosque.

Después de un rato, Hafjeth Abel, de 19 años, se unió a nuestra búsqueda mientras alimentaba las gallinas, alejándonos de echar miradas esperanzadas al alimentador. Aparentemente, el grupo de tangaras que estábamos buscando no frecuenta el alimentador, sino el otro lado de la propiedad, cerca del lindero del bosque. Fuimos ahí y llegaron, chillando y revoloteando, con la hembra Flame-rumped a plena vista, en una posición privilegiada para la cámara de Pepe. Dos Caciques Picoplata salieron del bosque, una observación entraña, ya que frecuentemente se los escucha más de lo que se los ve.

La nueva tangara viene con una taxonomía confusa. Tiene tres nombres comunes: Flame-rumped, Lemon-rumped y Yellow-rumped; dos nombres científicos: Ramphocelus flammigerus y R. icteronotus; y un indicador de subespecie: Ramphocelus flammigerus icteronotus. Usted puede consultar con la autoridad de su escogencia, pero la Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica sigue el listado de la American Ornithologists Union, así que esta especie está presente en el Comité de Registros Raros como Flame-rumped Tanager, Ramphocelus flammigerus.

Quizá otra se le unirá o aparecerá en otro lugar. Trataremos de mantenernos al tanto y reportarle de cuando en cuando.

Taxonomy Update: from SVBC Taxonomy Tsar, Jo Davidson

The American Ornithology Union has recently released the taxonomy
changes for 2017. In addition to changes to the names of two birds
that may be encountered most often by local members of the San
Vito Bird Club, there are also changes in the English names of two
other Costa Rican birds, as well as in the scientific names for a few
others. Let’s deal with the two most locally significant (and quite
sensible) changes first.

A bird that those of us in San Vito are very familiar with,
Aulachohrynchus prasinus, or Emerald Toucanet, is now called the
Northern Emerald-Toucanet. (Note that there is now a hyphen!)
This species was split from what is now called the Southern
Emerald-Toucanet, which occurs mainly in South America and lacks
the obvious blue patch on the throat.

Meet the Talamanca Hummingbird! This beautiful hummingbird
was, until recently, called the Magnificent Hummingbird, or Eugenes
fulgens. The species was split. Its new scientific name is Eugenes
spectabilis, and its new English name was derived from its home
range in the Talamanca Mountains. E. fulgens, which is now called
Rivoli’s Hummingbird, is found from Nicaragua north as far as the
United States.

The English names have also changed for the following Costa Rica
species:
●Clapper Rail (Rallus crepitas) is now Mangrove Rail (Rallus
longirostris).
●Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow (Melozone biarcuata) is now
Cabanis’s Ground-Sparrow (Melozone cabanisi).

Scientific name changes are important to know, especially for those
SVBC members who post photos to the Asociación Ornitológico de
Costa Rica Facebook page. These include:

●Anas americana, American Wigeon, is now Mareca americana
●Anas discors, Blue-winged Teal, is now Spatula discors
●Anas cyanoptera, Cinnamon Teal, is now Spatula cyanoptera
●Anas clypeata, Northern Shoveler, is now Spatula clypeata
●Circus cyaneus, Northern Harrier, is now Circus hudsonius
●Sturnella militaris, Red-breasted Blackbird, is now Leistes
militaris

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Identifying Coto Brus Woodcreepers: Appearance and Song/Como identificar los Woodcreepers de Coto Brus: apariencia y canción

  1. Our most common woodcreeper./Nuestra woodcreeper lo más común.–Streak-headed Woodcreeper.  (All photos from SVBC members)
  2. streakySong/cancion

2. The closely related Spotted Woodcreeper with a very different song./Muy simlar, es el Spotted Woodcreeper con una canción muy diferente.

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3. The remarkable Brown-billed Scythebill./El woodcreeper increible; Brown-billed Scythebill.

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4. The very active Olivaceous Woodcreeper./El Woodcreeper con mucho energía; Olivaceous Woodcreeper.

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http://www.hbw.com/ibc/sound/olivaceous-woodcreeper-sittasomus-griseicapillus/solitary

5. The Wedge-billed Woodcreeper./El Wedge-billed Woodcreeper.

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6. The very similar Plain Xenops. El Plain Xenops, muy similar.

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A global network for monitoring the sounds of nature!

Please see the attached link below.  This is an exciting new project to expand the Automated Remote Biodiversity Monitoring Network around the world and listen to the sounds of nature in real-time.  One of the proposed sites is our very own Las Cruces Biological Station (Wilson Garden), along with sites in Peru and Madagascar.  There is a Kickstarter element to this project as well.

Please check out the link below and send your comments, thoughts and input to:

executive_committee@sanvitobirdclub.org