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

Because this 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, our team went to the highlands of Guatemala to learn from indigenous teachers there and they came to San Vito in May to participate with us. 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 using the link on our Home Page.

Birds on the Move/Las aves en movimiento


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.

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
●Clapper Rail (Rallus crepitas) is now Mangrove Rail (Rallus
●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

Emerald 1.jpg

Talamanca 2.jpg

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.


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


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


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


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



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:

Who are “The Taxonomists” (and what have they been up to lately)?/¿Quiénes son “los taxonomistas” (y qué han estado haciendo últimamente)?

After reading a previous article on this site about name changes for some of our Costa Rican birds, you are probably either cursing taxonomists or wondering who they are and what they do. Although we can’t help you control the first reaction, we can at least shed a little light on the second.

A taxonomist is a scientist who classifies organisms into various categories. Carolus Linnaeus developed the taxonomy for animals in 1758, and we are still using his system of seven levels today: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, species. As science and methodologies become more advanced, researchers find new information (through DNA testing, for example) that may change a species’ place in the taxonomic structure.

In the case of birds, researchers submit their proposals for taxonomic changes to the American Ornithology Union. The North American Classification Committee (NACC) for North and Middle American Birds is a group of taxonomists within that organization. NACC members review every proposal and determine which have sufficient merit to warrant actual changes to the taxonomy. Those changes are published once a year. We sometimes may be a bit perplexed by a name or classification change, but now at least we know that actual science is behind each decision.

Here are the changes to English and scientific names approved this year for Costa Rican birds:

Plain Wren has been split into three separate species.

  • Isthmian Wren (Cantorchilus elutus).
  • Cabanis’s Wren (Cantorchilus modestus)
  • Canebrake Wren (Cantorchilus zeledoni)

Gray-necked Wood-Rail is now Gray-cowled Wood-Rail

Three-striped Warbler is now Costa Rican Warbler (Basileuterus melanotis).

Blue-crowned Motmot is now Lesson’s Motmot (Momotus lessoni).

Green Violetear. is now Lesser Violetear (Colibri cyanotus).

Only the scientific names of the following species have been changed.

  • Pink-footed Shearwater (Puffinus creatopus) is now Ardenna creators
  • Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus pacificus) is now Ardenna pacifica
  • Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) is now Ardenna grisea
  • Short-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris) is now Ardenna tenuirostris
  • Dusky Antbird (Cercomacra tyrannina) is now Cercomacroides tyrannina
  • Tawny-crowned Greenlet (Hylophilus ochraceiceps) is now Tunchiornis ochraceiceps
  • Lesser Greenlet (Hylophilus decurtatus) is now Pachysylvia decurtata


(From SVBC Taxonomy reporter Jo Davidson)


Después de haber leído un artículo previo en este sitio sobre los cambios de nombre de algunas de nuestras aves en Costa Rica, usted estará probablemente maldiciendo a los taxonomistas o preguntándose quiénes son y qué es lo que hacen. Aunque no podemos ayudarle a controlar la primera reacción, podemos al menos ayudarle con la segunda.

Un taxonomista es un científico que clasifica organismos en varias categorías. Carolus Linnaeus desarrolló la taxonomía para animales en 1758, y aún estamos utilizando su Sistema de siete niveles hoy: Reino, Filo, Clase, Orden, Familia, Género, Especie. Conforme la ciencia y los métodos avanzan, los investigadores encuentran nueva información (a través de pruebas de ADN, por ejemplo) que puede cambiar el lugar de una especie en la estructura taxonómica.

En el caso de las aves, los investigadores envían sus propuestas para cambios en la estructura taxonómica a la American Ornithology Union (Unión de Ornitólogos Americanos). El North American Classification Committee (NACC) (Comité de Clasificación de América del Norte) para aves del norte y del centro de América es un grupo de taxonomistas dentro de esa organización. Los miembros del NACC revisan cada propuesta y determinan cuales poseen suficiente mérito para provocar cambios en la taxonomía. Tales cambios se publican una vez al año. Ocasionalmente puede que un cambio de nombre o clasificación nos deje perplejos, pero al menos sabemos que es la ciencia la que está detrás de cada decisión.

Aquí están los cambios en inglés y nombres científicos aprobados este año para aves en Costa Rica: Plain Wren ha sido dividida en tres especies separadas.

• Isthmian Wren (Cantorchilus elutus) (Soterrey de Panamá)

• Cabanis’s Wren (Cantorchilus modestus) (Soterrey Chinchirigüí)

• Canebrake Wren (Cantorchilus zeledoni) (Soterrey de Zeledón)

El Gray-necked Wood-Rail es ahora Gray-cowled Wood-Rail. Mantiene su nombre en español (Rascón Cuelligrís).

El Three-striped Warbler es ahora Costa Rican Warbler (Basileuterus melanotis) (Reinita Costarricense).

El Blue-crowned Motmot es ahora Lesson’s Motmot (Momotus lessoni). Mantiene su nombre en español (Momoto Coroniazul).

El Green Violetear es ahora Lesser Violetear. Mantiene su nombre en español (Colibrí Orejivioláceo Verde). Solo los nombres científicos de las siguientes especies han cambiado.

• Pink-footed Shearwater (Puffinus creatopus) (Pardela Blanca Común) es ahora Ardenna creators

• Wedge-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus pacificus) (Pardela Colicuña) es ahora Ardenna pacifica

• Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus) (Pardela Sombría) es ahora Ardenna grisea • Short-tailed Shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris) (Pardela Colicorta) es ahora Ardenna tenuirostris • Dusky Antbird (Cercomacra tyrannina) (Hormiguero Negruzco) es ahora Cercomacroides tyrannina

• Tawny-crowned Greenlet (Hylophilus ochraceiceps) (Verdillo Leonado) es ahora Tunchiornis ochraceiceps

• Lesser Greenlet (Hylophilus decurtatus) (Verdillo Menudo) es ahora Pachysylvia decurtata

Referencias (inglés): Referencias (español):

(Desde Jo Davidson; especialista de taxonomia por SVBC.)

What Was That Name Again?/Qual es su nombre otra vez?

We have new names for some of our familiar Coto Brus birds.

  1. Next time you see a Blue-crowned Motmot be sure you call it a Lesson’s Motmot.
  2. When you see a Plain Wren in Coto Brus, call it an Isthmian Wren. But if you’re up in Guanacaste, call it a Cabanis’s Wren and call it a Canebrake Wren when you’re birding over on the Caribbean coast.
  3. The Three-striped Warbler still has three stripes but we must now call it the Costa Rican Warbler.
  4. When you spot a Green Violetear hummingbird, you’re now actually looking at a Lesser Violetear.

More to come on WHY these changes occur. Stay tuned.

(From SVBC Taxonomy reporter Jo Davidson.)


Tenemos nombres nuevos de algunes aves de Coto Brus.

  1. El Motmot capa azul; ahora es el Lesson’s Motmot.
  2. El Plain wren? Ahora es el Isthmian wren aqui en Coto Brus; pero en Guanacaste es diferente—es el Cabanis’s wren y en el lado Caribe es Canebrake wren.
  3. El Reinita de tres rayas, toda via tiene tres rayas pero su nombre es el Costa Rican Warbler.
  4. Y el colibri Green Violetear—ahora su nombre es Lesser Violetear.

Porque los cambios? Mas vience pronto. Gracias.

(Desde Jo Davidson; especialista de taxonomia por SVBC.)IMG_2892.JPG