Bird Walk This Sunday! / ¡Caminata para ver aves el domingo próximo!

Please join us for a bird walk this Sunday at the Wilson Botanical Gardens. We’ll we at the reception at 7 AM. Binoculares will be available. It should be a beautiful day!!

Por favor venga al Jardín Botánico Wilson este domingo para una bonita caminata para ver aves. Nos encontramos a la recepción a las 7 AM. Habrá binoculares disponibles.

Let’s Ring in 2023 with Bird Song

Join us for a New Year’s Day Bird Walk at Rio Negro! Possibilities include Bi-colored Hawk, Plain Xenops, Plain Antvireo, White-winged Tanager, Long-billed Gnatwren and more galore!

We will meet at — and depart from — Finca Cantaros at 7 am and should return by 10:00.

As we need to minimize the number of cars, please RSVP to, also letting us know if you need binoculars.

Hope to see you there 👁 Sunday, JAN. 1, 2023 👁

The trail entrance at Rio Negro. Photo by Alison Olivieri
Identify these two Rio Negro regulars and we’ll buy you a coffee. Top photo by David Rodriquez Arias. Bottom photo yours? Please let us know.

Want to support TWO great causes with ONE donation?

At this time of year we are usually clamoring for next year’s membership dues but now we have something different in mind.

We join with the Finca Cantaros Environmental Association (FCEA) to introduce a new reforestation project from our friends and distinguished colleagues Drs. Rebecca Cole and Rakan Zahawi called Hawk Hill.

This is from Dr. Lilly Briggs, FCEA Founder and Director:

Environmental education is at the core of everything we do.

Want to support TWO great causes with ONE donation? Giving Tuesday was a week ago, but you can still feed two birds with one seed. Or plant two trees with one seed. Or feed a bird AND plant a tree with just one fruit since birds are seed dispersers, which means that by eating fruits and pooping out the seeds they are critical to forests…Getting to my point: we are excited to tell you about a giving opportunity that supports two great (and interconnected) causes with one donation! Renowned research scientists Drs. Rebecca Cole and Rakan (Zak) Zahawi recently bought “Loma Gavilán” (Hawk Hill) with their personal resources here in Coto Brus, Costa Rica. They named the 40-hectare degraded farm in honour of the many birds of prey soaring above what is open pasture—for now, as Rebecca and Zak have big forest restoration goals in their sights. As they stress: “At no time in our history has protecting and restoring forest in the tropics been more important or more necessary. In addition to reducing carbon emissions, restoring these forests is our single best solution to combat climate change and conserve irreplaceable regional biodiversity.“So when Rebecca and Zak invited Finca Cántaros Environmental Association (FCEA) to partner with them on the Loma Gavilán project, we said, “you had us at hawk.”Just kidding.We recognized this was a wonderful chance to work together on achieving our shared goals of restoring degraded land back to rainforest through collaboration and community engagement.And we hope you will, too, by making a donation today.Your contribution will support key activities necessary for restoring Loma Gavilán—cultivating native tree species, creating easier access to planting sites, maintaining seedlings until they can fend for themselves, and more—PLUS help FCEA grow environmental education programs that engage local kids and their families in learning about trees and birds, and taking positive action on their behalf.SO many benefits to birds and trees, AND to the community. And your donation: one important seed.(10% of all donations to Loma Gavilán will support FCEA’s Children’s Forest of Coto Brus. Make your donation here.)
Lilly Briggs, Founder & Director, Finca Cántaros Environmental Association Donate now to support our work
First page of the informational flyer about the Loma Gavilán project. The link to the full flyer is hyperlinked above. Please email Rebecca (, Zak (, or with questions.

Bird Walk on Sunday, Please Join Us!

Let’s go out together for an Avian Ambulation at OTS Las Cruces Wilson Botanical Garden.

The date: Sunday, November 20

The time: 7:30 am

The place: Wilson Botanical Garden Reception Building

The cost: free as a bird — the SVBC will cover your Entrance Fee

We will have co-leaders Julie Girard and Alison Olivieri, along with binoculars and field guides to share thanks to Peter Wendell, a member of our Executive Committee.

Come and enjoy San Vito’s incredible natural history!

Hummingbird, Hawk, Warbler

Tell us these three species and we will buy you a coffee…..

Bird Walk This Sunday! / ¡Caminata para ver aves este domingo!

We are having a bird walk this Sunday, November 6th at the Wilson Botanical Gardens. Please join us at the reception at 7:30 AM. Julie Girard is back and will be guiding!! All of the migrants are now back, and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of Warblers, and maybe a Summer Tanager or two!. I hope to see you there!

Hay una caminata para ver aves el domingo 6 de noviembre al jardín botánico Wilson. Reuniremos a las 7:30 frente a la recepción. ¡Julie Girard está de regreso y será la guía! Todos los migrantes ya han vuelto e imagino que veamos muchas reinitas y tal vez un par de tangaras veraneras. Nos vemos entonces, espero.

On Tanagers

It is true; even we grizzled, hard-nosed, wing-bar counting, crawling through the weeds briders enjoy watching pretty birds more than we enjoy watching plain birds.  I think it’s just human nature to like bright shiny things.  Tanagers are bright…Tanagers are shiny.  Some folks even call Tanagers ‘the butterflies of the bird world’.  

How many of us, during that first trip to Costa Rica, can remember our first encounter with a Scarlet-rumped (Cherrie’s/Passerini’s) Tanager?  My first came in 1979 in a sleepy little two-hostel town called Manuel Antonio.  I still have a dusty 35 millimeter slide of that bird somewhere.  

So your family, your friends have come down to visit.  Does this sound familiar?

‘Oooohhh, what’s that black and red bird?’

‘Oh, I just love those sky blue birds!’

‘Oh my god!  That bird on your feeder…it must have seven different colors!  What is it?’

Charismatic, those Tanagers are.

I even named my entire property after Tanagers, using the made up name ‘EL TANGARAL’; which means, (because I say so), the place of Tanagers; or more specifically a menagerie of Tanagers.

FYI: If you’re interested in some truly fantastic musings on Tanagers, I recommend you find a copy of ‘The Life of the Tanager’ by the speedy and powerful Alexander Skutch (also known as the Audubon of Central America).

Here then are my thoughts on a few of our southern zone Tanager species.

#1: Shark’s Eyes

One of our less brightly-colored Tanagers is the Palm Tanager.  The Palm Tanager looks quite similar to our Blue-Gray Tanager but is colored a soft, dusty olive green with a dark patch on the primary wing.  Appropriately named, the Palm Tanager seems to prefer hanging out in palm trees, usually up rather high.  I start off with Palmy for this reason; I consider the Palm Tanager to be ‘King of the Tanagers’ and I’ll tell you why.  Back when we all had bird feeders and bird feeder contests I noticed there was a distinct bird feeder hierarchy.  Species-A chases off Species-B and is then chased off by yet another, Species-C.  Usually this hierarchy is simply based upon size.  Bigger birds chase off smaller birds.  I’ll bet you’ve noticed this.  But Palmy…Palmy with those black shark-like eyes, I noticed would invariably stand up to bigger birds like the Clay-corored Thrushes, Saltators, and even Woodpeckers; Palmy would just stare down those bigger birds and continue dining on banana.  We all knew a kid in school like this; not the biggest or strongest or smartest kid but there was something deep-down in this kid’s eyes (boy or girl) that made us slowly back away.  That’s who the Palm Tanager is.

#2. The Opportunist

Here’s some good advice.  If you want to succeed in life…learn how to do a variety of things other people can’t or won’t do, be willing to try new things, don’t get stuck in a rut.  Do this and you’ll succeed.  This philosophy describes our previously mentioned Scarlet-rumped Tanager (the black and red one)…(but the female is brown and orange).  You’ll find Scarlet-rumped Tanagers making a living in a variety of ways…eating seeds, fruits and insects on the ground, eating seeds, fruits and insects in the trees (at all levels), and they are also quite adept at flycatching,   In many areas of Costa Rica the Scarlet-rumped Tanager is the most commonly seen and numerous Tanager…maybe even bird.  Very strong family values these birds have.  Early hatchling birds have no problem helping out their parents with the feeding and care of late season hatchlings.  Here’s another good skill they’ve developed; they don’t seem to mind living around people and if you haven’t noticed we people are almost everywhere.

#3.  Ooh-Aah

Private and somewhat of a feeding specialist, the Bay-Headed Tanager never fails to elicit a deep-throated ‘Ooohh, aaahh’ from birders and non-birders alike when spotted.  Bright green, bright blue with a brownish/red (bay) head the Bay-headed Tanager just seems to LOVE eating melastome berries.  Bay-heads also glean insects but berries are the dominant food.  Ask any bird bander…if you hold many Bay-headed Tanagers in your bare hand by the end of the day you’ll look like you’re wearing purple gloves.

Of course we have many more Tanagers down here; plus the closely related and spectacularly colored Honeycreepers, Dacnis and the Euphonias.  Easy on the eyes; truly fun to watch.

*Please do me a favor and don’t mention that I said that Euphonias are closely related to the Tanagers to any Bird Taxonomists.  Apparently they’re not that closely related and even though most Bird Taxonomists are slight, frail and myopic…they can also be wretched and spiteful when angered.  I’ll bet a lot of Bird Taxonomists have Palm Tanager eyes.*

The Event Tomorrow is Cancelled / El evento de mañana está suspendido

We have decided to cancel the event of tomorrow due to the potentially dangerous weather. We will reschedule it soon! Please let anyone you know who was planning to come. Stay safe!

Decidimos suspender el evento de mañana por el huracán y las consecuencias potenciales de las inundaciones. Lo reprogramaremos pronto. Por favor avise a otras personas que intentaron venir. ¡Cuídense!

A Special Bird Walk Sunday, October 9! / ¡Habrá una caminata de celebración el domingo 9 de octubre!

Please join us for a members only event on Sunday, October 9th at the Wilson Gardens at 7:30AM. At the invitation of the Finca Cántaros Environmental Association we will be getting together to celebrate the return the migratory birds, and years of mutual collaboration and support both past and future. If you are planning to come, please fill out THIS form. I hope to all of our members that are in San Vito next Sunday!!!

La Finca Cántaros ha invitado a todos los miembros del Club de Aves venir al jardín botánico Wilson el domingo 9 de octubre a las 7:30 AM. Celebraremos juntos la llegada de las aves migratorias, además de varios años, pasados y futuros, de colaboración con la Asociación Ambiental Finca Cántaros. Si intenta venir, por favor llene ESTE formulario. ¡¡¡Espero ver a toda la membresía del Club el domingo próximo!!!

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

Your Bi-Weekly–‘Tiny Moment’

From SVBC Member Judy Richardson

Now that the tomatoes are ripening, I set my “Have a Heart” trap daily to catch the naughty Chipmunks. 

So far this year, I’m up to ten that I take on a ride to a new, grassy home across town!

I’ve caught two naughty Red Squirrels, but they are so darn cute that I just release them.

But checking the trap is always a surprise! Yesterday there was a Song Sparrow, and last week there was a Catbird! They obviously loved the bait…peanut butter! Who knew?!