Local Students Experience Avian Science in Action/ Estudiantes locales viven la experiencia de la Ciencia de Aves en acción

Pablo ‘Chespi’ Elizondo (long time friend and colleague of the San Vito Bird Club) and his team of bird-banders gives local students a real science experience; one they will always remember.

  • Location: Finca Cantaros
  • Field Trip Leader: Eugenio Garcia
  • Photo: Harry Hull


Pablo ‘Chespi’ Elizondo (un viejo amigo y colega del Club de Aves de San Vito) y su equipo presentan el proceso real de la ciencia ornitológica a estudiantes.  Una experiencia siempre recordaran.

  • Lugar: Finca Cantaros
  • Profesor de viaje de campo: Eugenio Garcia
  • Foto: Harry Hull
SVBC-harryhull-8958F-banding demo for students-R.jpg

Photo: Harry Hull

Mist Netting Highlights: March 2012 Session

No less than four new species turned up at this session! At Finca Cantaros we caught a Squirrel Cuckoo, surely one of the most striking birds in the country with a glamorous black and white tail. Often, Squirrel Cuckoos give loud wolf whistles when they land on a tree branch and they are known for scurrying through trees like squirrels. At 18”, they are two inches longer than Blue-crowned Motmots.

At Finca Sofia, we netted an Emerald Toucanet; however, we did not have the correct band size for this species. Alas, we had to release it unbanded after all appropriate data were taken. Another one remained above the banding station, calling incessantly, while we worked. We cannot help but conclude this was a mated pair!

At Finca Corteza, we netted two new species. The first was a bird that has had both common and scientific names changed recently. In the original Stiles and Skutch field guide, it was called Whistling Wren (scientific name: Microcerculus luscinia). This changed to Scaly-breasted Wren (scientific name: Microcerculus marginatus) in the more recent Garrigues and Dean guide although the author points out the Costa Rican race has no scaling on the breast. The song is described as “remarkable” in S&S with short, fast ascending notes followed by a long (2-4 minutes) series of piercing whistles. Once heard, it is unmistakable.

Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager (Photo: Julie Girard)

Finally, to our surprise, we caught a Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager, a Costa Rican endemic with a limited range restricted to the Golfo Dulce and Osa Peninsula region. Interestingly, Stiles and Skutch had this to say, “. . . increasingly scarce as its forest habitat is reduced; still fairly common . . . where forest remains , but within a few years the entire population may be confined to Parque Nacional Corcovado.”  Those familiar with the southern Pacific lowlands will realize what an altitudinal change it represents to go from sea level there to approximately 4,000’ in San Vito. Consequently, we plan to write a short paper on this discovery for submission to the Asocacion Ornitologica de Costa Rica’s journal, Zeledonia.

Finally, we netted four “foreign recaptures”. These are birds banded by other researchers. Two of them, a Violet Sabrewing and a Green Hermit were caught at Finca Cantaros. Another Violet Sabrewing was captured at Finca Sofia and the last one, an Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, came from Finca Corteza. We have sent the band numbers, date, location and species name to the Stanford University study group and will also report this information to the Banders Network of Costa Rica.

As always, we want to express our thanks to our Principal Investigator Steve Latta, project founder Judy Richardson and our San Jose-based team of trainers including, at this session, Jorge Leiton and Sara Estrada.

Mist Netting Highlights: January 2012 session

Three new species were captured during the week: Gray-chested Dove (at Finca Cantaros), Violet-crowned Woodnymph and Spotted Woodcreeper (both at Finca Sofia)! We are always excited to have a “first” capture so to have three in one session was a thrill.

We found three banded birds that we record as “foreign recaptures”. This means they were banded by another research team that uses different sites and different band numbers. It is always fascinating to catch “someone else’s” bird and much can be learned from these data points. Of course, we will submit the records to see where the birds were originally banded.

The first was a Green Hermit that we know was originally banded by Stanford University researchers as a juvenile in March of 2011 because this was the second time we have caught it! The Stanford team captured this individual in Melissa’s Meadow, an area across the Rio Java in the Las Cruces forest that has served as a reforestation study site for many years. We caught it for the first time on November 27, 2011 at Finca Cantaros and again on January 22, 2012 at the same site. We feel now that this bird (band #A55817) is an old friend and we look forward to seeing it again!

The second foreign recapture was another hummingbird — a Snowy-bellied Hummingbird — with the band #A48431, netted on January 24 at Finca Sofia.

Finally, we caught an Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush with the band code CSIB1616, at Finca Corteza on January 27, 2012.

At this session we welcomed participants new and old, including a group from Connecticut Audubon Society Birdcraft Museum: Faithful-Returner Judy Richardson and Somewhat-Less-Faithful-But-Nonetheless-A-Returner Patty Scott, plus a new bander, Julian Sproule. Judy runs the banding station at Birdcraft (the oldest, continually-run banding station in the state) and Patty and Julian are among her crew there.

Finally, I am happy to report our Principal Investigator Dr. Steve Latta of the National Aviary attended this session as did our supporters and trainers from San Jose, Juan Pablo Elizondo and Jorge Leiton. Steve has started working closely with us on compiling data that will be used to write several papers about the project. Needless to say, we are eager to help him accomplish this!