Migration Is On: Sweepstakes Early Spotting Prize to Judy Richardson!

Judy Richardson, photo by Juan Carlos Calvachi

Herewith we announce the Early Migrant Sweepstakes winner: Judy Richardson!

Wait, what? You didn’t realize we had a Migrant Sweepstakes going on? Neither did we until a minute ago. Never mind, we have it now and the first bird reported was a beautiful Orchard Oriole.

Orchard Oriole, photo by Mark Garland

Judy found him in early August at Hacienda Pino Collina, next door to the Wilson Botanical Garden; her home in San Vito where she’s been passing Covid-19 pandemic time birding, gardening, reading and cooking.

Let’s get into the swing of this people! How about we run a Migrant Spotting Contest from now until September 30? Just go outside with your phone and the two apps from Cornell, Merlin and eBird, and get started. Send your list to our Birder-in-Chief Greg Homer at: eltangeral@gmail.com by September 30, 2020 and we will see who finds the most waterthrushes, warblers, flycatchers and more.

Or, if you’re still operating like it is 1970, take a pencil, notepad and the Garrigues and Dean field guide outside and get going with those.

We will give you a prize, promise!

Judy is going to have one of her favorite desserts: Sticky Toffee Pudding with vanilla ice cream — delivered to her door. Just think what you might win?! Yum yum!

Bird Feeder Contest Winners! 2020

Congratulations to the following San Vito Bird Club members; winners of our Bird Feeder Contest-2020.

Category #1: Most bird species at a single location feeder—Charles and Sara Beeson-Jones (see below)! The Beeson-Joneses lured 30 different species of birds to their feeder (located at Michael and Alison Olivieri’s rental house).

(photos courtesy of Helen LeVasseur)

Category #2: Best Bird Feeder Photo

The great Julie Gerard-Woolley won with this wonderful multi-Tanager feeder photo.

Category #3: Best Feeder Photo of an Unusual Bird Species—Jo Davidson with this spectacular photo of a Red-legged Honeycreeper on a papaya.

Many thanks to all who participated.

Tree Planting Photo Essay, June 30, Concepcion

Thanks to an army of volunteers last Sunday, the Restoration Project in Concepcion on the Gamboa Property was a huge success!

Rodrigo de Sousa organized this large group for a morning of grunt work that resulted in 450 new trees planted, new fencing installed to curtail bovine wandering and reforestation to benefit the community’s future.

Troops fanned out going out and around the pasture and watershed; a morning well spent.

Even the youngest members of this volunteer group worked all morning, digging holes, staking young trees and ensuring an enhanced habitat for wildlife. Special thanks to San Vito Bird Club stalwart supporter Terry Farling for these photos!

Great Day at OTS/Las Cruces on Saturday, June 1, 2019

The SVBC activities at the Annual OTS/Las Cruces Dia de Las Puertas Abiertas were better than ever this year due to our stellar volunteers.

Here, for example, is the Bake Sale table that brought in more than $100 — the most we’ve ever made in more than five years of rustling up muffins, cookies, bird nest delicacies, cakes, cinnamon rolls and more!

Kathy Bauer, Karen Kennedy and Betty Peterson enhanced the day with painting activities including the ever-popular face painting so that by the end of the day we saw butterflies, puppies, parakeets and hummingbirds running around the trails.

Bird Walks and a mini-course on bird bill evolution were conducted by our own SVBC President Peter Wendell and Detectives de Aves Instructor Marco Mora, seen below preparing to push off with a family group. Thanks to one and all for volunteering your time and expertise.

Marco Mora, second from right, Peter on right. Photo by Jo Davidson

Bird Feeder & Bird Feeder Photo Winners: 2019

Congratulations to the following San Vito Bird Club members!

Judy Richardson: WINNER of the 2019 Bird Feeder Contest with 27 species!  What with the amazing bio-diversity of Judy’s beautiful property we can expect an even greater number of species in years to come.

Charles and Sarah Beeson-Jones: 2nd Place winners.  A total of 26 species for the Beeson-Jones’, including TWO hummingbird species.  FYI: Putting a hummingbird feeder on your regular feeder may be the wave of the future!

Jo Davidson: Winner of the Bird Feeder Photo Contest.  This beautiful but somewhat sloppy Speckled Tanager is our winner!  What perfect light.

Speckled eating papaya

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 Annual Meeting 2018: A Great Success!

Over 30 San Vito Bird Club members graciously attended our Annual Meeting on Sunday, February 25th at Cascata del Bosco.  Some highlights from the meeting (with photos below):

  1. A recounting of some of the more unusual and exciting bird sightings from the previous year.  Birds such as: Lemon-rumped Tanager, Rosy Thrush-tanager, albino Black Vulture, Three-wattled Bellbird, Common Potoo and Blue-winged Warbler.
  2. A recapitulation of our VERY successful Bird Sleuth (Detectives de Aves) education program and a preview of exciting events to come in 2018.
  3. A stirring and inspirational keynote speech from SVBC member and local businessman/naturalist Pepe Castiblanco.  Pepe recounted his dedicated struggles to evolve from San Jose cab driver to San Vito naturalist/guide.  Plus, he shared some of his most recent and jaw-dropping bird photographs.
  4. Expected bird taxonomy changes coming in 2018.
  5. Winners of the 2018 Bird Feeder Contest!  First place: Gail Hull (2nd year in a row) with 25 species.  Second place: Judy Richardson with 24 species.  Third place: Jo Davidson with 23 species.
  6. Announcement of our NEW SVBC President…Peter Wendell.
  7. Recitation of moving poem by Gail Hull.
  8. A SUPERB brunch provided by the Cascata del Bosco crew.
  9. A silent auction of extraordinary artwork from some of our members.

To those of you in attendance…thank you for your continued support.  And personally, thanks very much for joining me on the Sunday bird walks.

To those members who live abroad or were unable to attend; your continued support of the San Vito Bird Club is ALWAYS APPRECIATED!

(photo courtesy of Jo Davidson: new SVBC President Peter Wendell and out-going President Greg Homer)

Jo Davidson-Peter & Greg-SVBC Annual Mtg 2018-2.jpg

(photo courtesy of Alison Olivieri: keynote speaker Pepe Castiblanco)


(photo courtesy of Alison Olivieri: SVBC artist in residence Kathy Bauer)

Alison Olivieri-Kathy Bauer at Annual Mtg 2018.jpg

Felicidades a Gail Hull: Campeon de comedor de aves!/Congratulations to Gail Hull: Bird Feeder Champion!

Nuestra buen amiga y la duena de Finca Cantaros Gail Hull es el campeon del Concurso de Comedor de aves por 2017.  Por la primera vez, en la historia del concurso tuvimos mas que 30 espeicas.  Gail tuve 31 especias de aves!


Our good friend and owner of Finca Cantaros, Gail Hull is the 2017 Bird Feeder Contest Champion.  For the first time in the history of the contest more than 30 species were recorded.  Gail had 31 species.

Lesson’s Motmot

Cherrie’s Tanager

Yellow-throated Toucan

Golden-hooded Tanager

Silver-throated Tanager


Summer Tanager

Blue-grey Tanager

Speckled Tanager

Buff-throated Saltator

Palm Tanager


Clay-colored Thrush


Gray-necked Woodrail

Orange-billed Sparrow

Costa Rican Brush-Finch


Bay-headed Tanager

Green Honeycreeper

Red-legged Honeycreeper

Thick-billed Euphonia

Gray-headed Tanager


Streaked Saltator

Black-striped Sparrow

Gray-chested Dove

Red-crowned Woodpecker

Yellow-crowned Euphonia


Yellow-faced Grassquit

Great Kiskadee

Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush

Ruddy Pigeon

Fiery-billed Aracari

Gray-tipped Dove

(photo courtesy of Jeff Worman)

Bay-headed Tanager (Photo by Jeff Worman)

Bay-headed Tanager (photo by Jeff Worman)

Santa Cecilia Students Apprentice with CRBO/Los Estudiantes de Santa Cecilia Aprenden con CRBO

Ever held a hummingbird in your hand and felt it’s heart beating at close to 1000 beats per minute? This week students from Santa Cecilia School had that very experience under the watchful and experienced eye of Pablo ‘Chespi’ Elizondo and his team of skilled mist netters from the Costa Rica Bird Observatory (CRBO).

Chespi Elizondo and CRBO conduct regular monitoring of bird species throughout the country using a technique known as mist netting. In mist netting, birds are humanely captured and collected after they become entangled in delicate and lightweight 10-meter long nets. The birds are gently removed from the nets and then taken back to a data collection station where they are weighed and measured. Santa Cecilia school students not only watched these scientific endeavors but also took part!

The young scholars also helped the CRBO crew in gathering more scientific data, such as each bird’s age, sex (if possible), breeding status and general health. The birds are also given a numbered band, which is attached to the leg. Not surprisingly, a significant number of the mist netted birds show up with a numbered band already in place! Collection of data from these previously tagged birds can provide great insight into bird migration patterns and longevity.

Earlier this year these same Santa Cecilia School students successfully completed the Detectives de Aves curriculum with instructor Eugenio Garcia and assistant Helen LeVasseur. But mist netting with CRBO has allowed the students that rare opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Costa Rica’s most beautiful and delicate bird species and to be a part of actual science in action.

A rare opportunity was also afforded the San Vito Bird Club, Pablo ‘Chespi’ Elizondo and his CRBO team of mist netters…the opportunity to observe that look of awe and wonder that shines in the eyes of a child.


¿Alguna vez sostuvo un colibrí en sus manos y sintió que su corazón palpitaba a 1000 latidos por minuto? Esta semana, estudiantes de la Escuela de Santa Cecilia tuvieron esa misma experiencia bajo la mirada experta y vigilante de Pablo ‘Chespi’ Elizondo y su equipo de hábiles colocadores de redes del Costa Rica Bird Observatory (CRBO).

Chespi Elizondo y CRBO condujeron un monitoreo regular de las especies en el país utilizando una técnica conocida como “redes de niebla”. En las redes, los pájaros son capturados de manera humana y recolectados cuando quedan atrapados en la delicada y liviana red de 10 metros. Las aves son gentilmente liberadas de las redes y luego llevadas a una estación de recolección de datos, donde son medidas y pesadas. Los estudiantes de la Escuela de Santa Cecilia no solamente observaron estos esfuerzos, sino que ¡además tomaron parte en ellos!

Los jóvenes intelectuales ayudaron también al equipo de CRBO a recoger más datos científicos, como la edad de las aves, el sexo (cuando fue posible identificarlo), status reproductivo y salud general. Las aves fueron identificadas con un brazalete numerado, que se coloca en una de sus patas. Como era de esperar, ¡una cantidad significante de pájaros aparecían con un brazalete ya en su pata! La recolección de datos sobre estas aves previamente catalogadas puede aportar información sobre patrones de migración y longevidad.

Más temprano este año, estos mismos estudiantes de la Escuela de Santa Cecilia finalizaron exitosamente el currículo de Detectives de Aves con el instructor Eugenio García y su asistente Helen LeVasseur. Pero trabajar con las redes de niebla ayudó a los estudiantes a tener un acercamiento personal con algunas de las especies de aves más bellas y delicadas de Costa Rica, a la vez que toman parte de una empresa científica.

Una experiencia poco común fue también dada al San Vito Bird Club por Pablo ‘Chespi’ Elizondo y su equipo de CRBO, la oportunidad de observar esa mirada de sobrecogimiento y el brillo en los ojos de un niño.