Zooming With Owls — Part 5, the End

What is the first thing you do when planning a birding trip? Buy or borrow a bird book and note the ones you really want to see. In the case of your trip to Costa Rica, who didn’t include the Crested Owl?

Crested Owl at Finca Cantaros, photo by David Rodríguez Arias, Biólogo Regente de Vida Silvestre at Finca Cántaros

So, we’ve saved the ‘best’ for last and we’re saying ‘best’ because this owl is San Vito’s Most Distinguished Avian Visitor of 2019-20. For the past two years, one — and sometimes two — of them have spent the green season right here, in a huge stand of bamboo near the lake at Finca Cántaros: arriving in June and departing in December.

We have many questions, not the least of which is ‘where do they go’? And ‘why’? Thirty years ago, when the definitive book A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica by F. Gary Stiles and Alexander F. Skutch was published, not a huge amount of this species’ natural history was known. Their diet was described as “. . . beetles, orthopterans, roaches, caterpillars.” But, as one of their habits was said to be “. . . daytime roosts, especially at gaps and edges and along streams. . . “, what do you want to wager the diet included aquatic insects, frogs, small fish?

So here is the question we asked this beguiling owl, “Where do you go when you leave Finca Cántaros?” and the owl said, click here and hit ‘play’ to hear its answer.

Roughly translated, this means, “. . . to Guanacaste, like everybody else!” Just kidding, we have no idea what this Crested Owl was saying but it was recorded by Costa Rica’s own Patrick O’Donnell (Google him, if you haven’t already).

And now, we are sorry to say, it is time to ‘End Meeting for All’. 

 

Zooming With Owls — Part 3

Striped Owl, photo by Randall Jimenez Borbón, aka Ciccio

The Striped Owl is a favorite — just look at that photo! Considered “local” and “uncommon” in the Coto Brus-Terraba region, they can be found perched on roadside utility wires at night. Let’s say, for example, you are driving home to San Vito after a weekend at Manuel Antonio National Park. You see an upright figure on a wire ahead and it’s getting dark so you slow down to see what this might be: a Striped Owl! What a prize!

The ear tufts are reminiscent of Long-eared and Short-eared Owls of North America but hunting techniques differ in that the northern birds tend to fly over large, open areas like salt marshes whereas ‘Stripeys’ favor roadside edges of forest or rice or palm plantations, often near lights, where they can dive for prey that includes small mammals, large insects, amphibians and occasionally small birds. 

We wanted to know more about “owl pellets”, so fascinating to nature centers around the world, so we decided to ask ‘Stripey’: why do you all cough up those (potentially) gross detritus-y balls of ??? and this is the answer (click here and click play). The bird didn’t really answer the question but we were happy to hear a recording from so close to home.

This Striped Owl comes to us from the extensive nature photography collection of Randall Jimenez, a Detectives de Aves teacher, who works at Finca Cántaros as the Coordinador de Alcance Comunitario, i.e., the public face of the new Asociación Ambiental Finca Cántaros.

Randall can be found on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms and, should you wish to visit Cántaros, please contact him.