SVBC Bird Feeder Contest: 2019!

As soon as you read this you may begin the 2019 San Vito Bird Club Bird Feeder Contest!

Here are the ridiculously simple rules for this year’s contest:

  1. Count the number of species of birds that come to your bird feeder from…NOW…until 8am Sunday, March 3rd.
  2. Your feeder(s) must be viewable from one single location.  In other words, you cannot count species from feeder #1 near your house and feeder #2 which is out in the pasture.
  3. All bird species may be counted that eat directly from the feeder or directly below the feeder.
  4. What food items you put on the feeder is up to you!
  5. Bring a paper copy of your bird feeder list to the SVBC Annual Meeting no later than 8:30 am on Sunday, March 3rd.  Meeting to be held, as usual, at Cascata del Bosco.
  6. Your list is subject to review.  For example, if you claim to have seen an Emperor Penguin, Chilean Flamingo or Archaeopteryx on your feeder we will probably need to have a talk.

There will be three winners this year:

  1. Greatest number of bird species.
  2. Second greatest number of bird species.
  3. And a new category; best bird feeder photograph.  To win this category you MUST send a digital copy of your best photograph to me (Greg Homer) NO LATER than midnight, Feb. 28th of this year.  Please do not send more than one photo; only your first photo will be judged.  Judging and selecting the winning photograph will be done by three of our premier Pajareros del Sur.  Send your photo to:

Good luck all.  More to come about the annual meeting very soon.


(photo courtesy of Helen LeVasseur)

A correction: that last notice you just received had an incorrect date, so here we go again:

Please join us this Friday, September 21 at the Inauguration of the new Environmental Education Room at Las Cruces. Several members of the SVBC contributed time, talent and energy to this project under the guidance of Carla Azofeifa, one of our Detectives de Aves/BirdSleuth-International teachers. Club Secretary Lydia Vogt painted the oropendolas; local artist Kathy Bauer created the agouti family and Helen LeVasseur produced about 100 leaves: wait ’til you see! Starting at 9:30 a.m., we look forward to seeing you there!

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

Teacher Exchange: What Fun–What Success!

A Detectives de Aves (BirdSleuth-International) teacher exchange program between San Vito Bird Club (San Vito, Costa Rica) and Community Cloud Forest Conservation in the highlands of Guatemala recently concluded, with bilateral reports of great success, good fellowship and a promise for the future of Detectives de Aves.

Our San Vito Bird Club education team–Paula Mesen, Carla Azofeifa and SVBC President Peter Wendell–returned from the beautiful highlands of Guatemala in April after spending a week observing and learning from their Guatemalan counterparts. Also attending the visit was Dr. Lilly Briggs from Cornell University, coordinator and leader of  this very special project.

In early May, the Guatemalan education team reciprocated by visiting us and participating in our local classes.  Again, many, many thanks to Dr. Briggs for her guidance and vision.

Based on reports from the Detectives de Aves teachers from both San Vito and Guatemala, this exchange of teaching techniques and styles proved very valuable to all involved and we hope that more of these international visits will become available in the future.

As always, your generous donations to the SVB and the Detectives de Aves classes are much appreciated.



SVBC Bird Feeder Contest: Rules Reminder

Are you competing in this year’s San Vito Bird Club Bird Feeder Contest?  If so, here are the rules and regulations once again:

Rules—1. Your bird feeder(s) must be viewable by you, and if you have more than one, all must be viewable from a single spot.  In other words, you can’t have one here and one way out on the other side of the barn.  2. The birds must consume food from your bird feeder or around the bottom of your bird feeder.  3. Whatever food you put on the feeder(s) is up to you.  4. We use the honor system.  If you say you had a Laughing Kookaburra on your feeder, we’ll accept it.  But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE…be sure you are correctly identifying your birds.  5.  Submit your list to Greg Homer on or before our Annual Meeting on Feb. 25th.  6. First, second and third place submissions receive a prize!

To be eligible for the Bird Feeder Contest:

  1. You must be a member of the San Vito Bird Club with your 2018 dues paid in full. You may pay at the door.
  2. You must bring a paper copy of your list to the Annual Meeting at Cascata del Bosco no later than 8:45am on Sunday, Feb. 25th; hand it to me (Greg Homer).


(Photo courtesy of Helen LeVasseur)

SVBC Members: Annual Meeting on Sunday, Feb. 25th/Miembros de Club de Aves: Reunion anual a 25 de febrero

SVBC members; please join the San Vito Bird Club for our Annual Meeting on Sunday, Feb. 25th at Cascata del Bosco.  Coffee and social time begins at 8:30am.  Meeting begins at 9am.  Following the meeting, another delicious full brunch from Cascata is offered for c6000 (including BLUEBERRY MUFFINS!) and begins at 10:30am.

To attend the Annual Meeting you MUST have your 2018 dues paid in full.  You may do so, if necessary, at the door when you arrive for the meeting.

Aside from regular SVBC business and reports, we will have an excellent and local Keynote speaker, a silent auction of original artwork from SVBC members and an awards ceremony for the Bird Feeder Contest!

Please join us for a fun and informative morning.

Greg Homer–President of the San Vito Bird Club


Photo by Jo Davidson

It’s That Time Again! The 87th Annual SVBC Bird Feeder Contest

What is it?—The San Vito Bird Club Bird Feeder Contest.  Whoever has the most species of birds come to their bird feeder wins.

When is it?—Begins February 1st and ends 8am on Sunday, February 25th (the day of our Annual Meeting).

Rules?—1. Your bird feeder(s) must be viewable by you, and if you have more than one, all must be viewable from a single spot.  In other words, you can’t have one here and one way out on the other side of the barn.  2. The birds must consume food from your bird feeder or around the bottom of your bird feeder.  3. Whatever food you put on the feeder(s) is up to you.  4. We use the honor system.  If you say you had a Laughing Kookaburra on your feeder, we’ll accept it.  But PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE…be sure you are correctly identifying your birds.  5.  Submit your list to Greg Homer on or before our Annual Meeting on Feb. 25th.  6. First, second and third place submissions receive a prize!

Good luck one and all.  Any questions, contact me (Greg Homer) at

(photo courtesy of Helen LeVasseur)


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.

SVBC Bird Feeder Contest: Reminder

I will announce the winners of the 2017 San Vito Bird Club Bird Feeder Contest this coming Saturday morning at our Annual Meeting.  These are birds you have seen feeding ON or immediately BELOW your feeder–from Feb. 1-28, 2017.

To be eligible, you may give me a paper copy of your list at the meeting no later than 8:55 am on Saturday; or you mail email it to me no later than 6am on Saturday.

Email to:

Good luck.

(photo courtesy of Helen LeVasseur)