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

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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)

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(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.



Photo Fun from Annual Meeting 2016/Fotos Divertidas del Reunion Anual 2016

New Officers for 2016, elected February 13, 2016: President Greg Homer, Vice President Peter Wendell, Secretary Lydia Vogt and Treasurer Fred Schroeder. The following were named to serve by President Homer: Alison Olivieri, President Emeritus, and Harry Hull, Communications Chair. To view all the photos, just scroll on down:

Helen LeVasseur with her new Prez, photo by Jo Davidson

Helen LeVasseur with her new Prez, photo by Jo Davidson.

Peter Wendell, new Vice-Prez, photo by Jo Davidson

Peter Wendell, new Vice-Prez, photo by Jo Davidson.

Pablo Elizonda, Director of Costa Rican Bird Observatories. Photo by Gail Hull

Pablo Elizonda, Director of Costa Rican Bird Observatories. Photo by Gail Hull.

Liz Allen: photographer, author and designer of the new book Pura Mariposa, 88 Butterflies of Southern Costa Rica, photo by Jo Davidson.

Liz Allen: photographer, author and designer of the new book Pura Mariposa, 88 Butterflies of Southern Costa Rica, photo by Jo Davidson.

Communications Chairman Harry Hull, photo by Alison Olivieri.

Communications Chairman Harry Hull, photo by Alison Olivieri.

President Emeritus Alison Olivieri, photo by Harry Hull.

President Emeritus Alison Olivieri, photo by Harry Hull.

George Alcock, Greg Homer and Fred Schroeder, photo by Jean Schroeder.

George Alcock, Greg Homer and Fred Schroeder, photo by Jean Schroeder.

Secretary Lydia Vogt, hard at work, photo by Alison Olivieri.

Secretary Lydia Vogt, hard at work, photo by Alison Olivieri.

Photographer Jo Davidson and VP Peter Wendell, photo by Alison Olivieri.

Photographer Jo Davidson and VP Peter Wendell, photo by Alison Olivieri.

Quiz Bird #3 Revealed/La Respuesta del Prueba!

The winner of Bird Quiz #3 is TERESA BUENO of Atenas, CR, who is fast on her feet, quick with her fingers and good at telling a tale! Congratulations, Teresa! We will find a way to send your binocular cleaning cloth to Quepos, if we have to deliver it ourselves: hmmm, that’s a thought.

The answer is Spotted Sandpiper, Actitis macularia. We had a total of five correct answers, of which Teresa’s was the first received, and one wrong response.

Spotted Sandpiper from Wikepedia.

Spotted Sandpiper from Wikipedia.

Mind you, this was an easy one. We could have tricked you with a photo of this species in non-breeding plumage like the one accompanying this post.

Thank you to all participants!

La respuesta es Spotted Sandpiper, Actitus macularia. Tuvimos seis respuestas este vez, solo uno era incorrecto!

Felicidades a TERESA BUENO de Alajuela de Atenas, Cosa Rica! Su respuesta estaba la primera recibido! Gracias a todos los participantes!

Special Guest Robert Dean at Annual Meeting 2015

Pepe Castiblanco, naturalist guide and co-owner of Casa Botania, with Robert Dean (photo by Harry Hull).

Pepe Castiblanco, naturalist guide and co-owner of Casa Botania, with Robert Dean (photo by Harry Hull).

Illustrator of The Birds of Costa Rica and The Birds of Panama, Robert Dean was the featured guest at the SVBC Annual Meeting 2015.

Robert led a Bird Walk at the Wilson Botanical Garden on the morning of the meeting, Saturday, Feb. 21, that ended with an all-time high species count of 65!

Following the walk, members adjourned to Cascata del Bosco for a mid-morning brunch. At the business meeting, President Alison Olivieri summed up club activities in 2014, Treasurer Fred Schroeder gave a financial report for fiscal year 2014, BirdSleuth-International Teacher Roni Chernin provided a detailed report on the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology Education Program in local schools and Communications Chairman Harry Hull reported statistics from our website.

Brunch dessert! (Photo by Jean Schroeder)

Brunch dessert! (Photo by Jean Schroeder)

Big Bird Feeder Competition

A Consolation Prize was given to Gail and Harry Hull of Finca Cantaros for the unhappy appearance of Species #27and #28 two days after the official closing date. Wendy Russell took Second Runner Up with 25 species. The feeders at El Tangaral made Greg Homer First Runner Up with 28 species but Roni Chernin swept First Place with her bananas from Finca Paz y Flor! Congratulations to all and let’s beat Roni’s 28 in 2016!

Additionally, members faced a challenging Bird ID Quiz created by Member Jo Davidson featuring her photos of 40 species commonly seen in and around San Vito. ONLY our guest, Mr. Dean, correctly identified 100% of the birds!

Robert then spoke about his role in creating a new field guide, The Birds of Costa Rica, with Richard Garrigues nine years ago. The newly revised edition published in January  was available for members so Robert finished the day by sharing his unpublished artwork and signing books, new and old!

A Bird Walk led by Robert Dean, top step with Julie Girard, kicked off the Annual Meeting 2015 (photo by Harry Hull).

A Bird Walk led by Robert Dean, top step with Julie Girard, kicked off the Annual Meeting 2015 (photo by Harry Hull).

Ernie Vogt 1942-2015

The Man Who Loved and Planted Trees

The SVBC Annual Meeting 2015 was dedicated to Member Ernie Vogt who never failed to encourage and generously support the Club’s activities during his and Lydia’s time here with us in San Vito.

ERNIE VOGT 1942-2015

ERNIE VOGT 1942-2015

While the rest of us were walking around, peering through our binoculars, oohing and aahing: “Oh, it’s a White-throated Spadebill” and “Ooooo, look, a Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant”, Ernie was busy planting trees. We understand, after talking with Lydia about this on several occasions, that Ernie was always fascinated by trees. Many of you know they had an avocado orchard in California. Many of you also know that Ernie started planting trees the year they arrived – 2009 – and that year managed to put 500 new trees into the forest at Finca Sofia. Eventually, the number of trees he planted grew to 2,000.

Ernie appreciated birds and even got excited about them. But Ernie knew that birds need trees – and he knew they’re not alone. We all need trees: insects, mammals, birds, reptiles and even rain forest fish need trees to survive. So, please raise your coffee cups to Ernie who understood the Big Picture in a way many of us do not. And let’s all plant trees this year and think of Ernie.

Lydia and Ernie birding at the Wilson Botanical Garden (photo by Alison Olivieri).

Lydia and Ernie birding at the Wilson Botanical Garden (photo by Alison Olivieri).

1st Annual Volunteer Thank You Lunch/Primer Almuerzo de Agradecimiento a los Voluntarios

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As the rainy season draws to a close we decided it was time to thank members who’ve volunteered time, energy and supplies over the past several years with a special Volunteer Thank You Lunch at OTS Las Cruces!

Whether it was painting faces at the Festival Eco-Cultural and the Feria Brunka Emprende, baking and selling for our fund-raiser bake sales, contributing expertise to the Detectives de Pajaros community projects or anything else, we are extremely lucky to have these members who consistently, year after year, help the SVBC participate in community-based special events.

Horticulturist Dave Janas leading the Garden Walk November 8, 2014. Photo by Liz Allen.

Horticulturist Dave Janas leading the Garden Walk November 8, 2014. Photo by Liz Allen.

We have bird walks all the time but just prior to our lunch on Saturday, November 8, Dave Janas led us on a Garden Walk to the Cactus Garden, Cycad Hill, the Economy Garden and the Hummingbird Garden, pointing out interesting plants and answering all kinds of questions along the way. A trained horticulturist, Dave is new to the Wilson Botanical Garden — we all hope he will be here for some time to come!

Many of the “lunchees” signed up to help Dave twice a month with gardening projects that will renovate and beauty-up the botanical grounds. With a garden of this immense size, projects and needs for equipment and supplies never end so if you have time and energy to contribute, please contact Dave at or click here to contact us or just send an email to

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Attendees at the SVBC Volunteer Thank You Lunch in November 2014. Photo by Liz Allen

Attendees at the SVBC Volunteer Thank You Lunch in November 2014. Photo by Liz Allen

Conforme la estación lluviosa se acerca a su fin, decidimos que era tiempo de agradecer a aquellos miembros que han aportado tiempo, energía y suministros durante los últimos años con ¡Un Almuerzo de Agradecimiento especial en la OET Las Cruces!

Ya fuese pintando caritas en el Festival Eco-Cultural y la Feria Brunka Emprende, horneando y vendiendo para nuestra venta para recaudar fondos, aportando experiencia a proyectos comunales de los Detectives de Pajaros o cualquier otra cosa, tenemos muchísima suerte de tener a estos miembros que consistentemente, año tras año, ayudan al SVBC participar en eventos especiales enfocados en la comunidad.

Tenemos caminatas para pajarear todo el tiempo pero, justo antes de nuestro almuerzo el sábado 8 de noviembre, Dave Janas nos guió en una Caminata de Jardín por los Jardines de Cactus, la Colina de las Cícadas, el Jardín de la Economía y el Jardín de Colibríes, señalando plantas interesantes y respondiendo toda clase de preguntas durante el camino. Dave es un horticultor entrenado nuevo en el Jardín Botánico Wilson ¡Todos esperamos que esté aquí por un tiempo más todavía!

Muchos de los “almorzadores” se inscribieron para ayudar a Dave dos veces al mes con proyectos de jardinería que van a renovar y embellecer los terrenos botánicos. Con un jardín de este inmenso tamaño, los proyectos y las necesidades de equipo nunca terminan. Así que, si usted tiene tiempo y energía para contribuir, por favor contacte a David a la dirección o haga click aquí para contactarnos o envíe un correo electrónico a la dirección