Two of the Country’s Five Jays Have Hit Our Patch!

Brown Jay, photo by Jo Davidson.

Suddenly we have two species of jays to be pursued in San Vito: the garrulous Brown Jay and the far more flamboyant Black-chested Jay.

Brown Jays have been with us for some time now – not in great numbers as in the rest of the country but every so often one or two pop up, giving their “piyah, piyah” call. This usually brings us up short and, as we struggle to place it, this unmistakeable fellow glides into view.  Traveling in “Boisterous parties” is how they are described in the second edition of The Birds of Costa Rica by Garrigues and Dean.

Black-chested Jay. Photo by Pepe Castiblanco.

Meanwhile, Black-chested Jays are far less common with a range formerly restricted to southern Caribbean lowlands. They have been seen sporadically over time in and around Coto Brus; for example near the Panama border at Canas Gordas.  In contrast to their brown cousins, they are described as “. . . a bit more furtive.” But now we have a small flock up in Concepcion, above the Wilson Botanical Garden/Las Cruces, that can often be seen in early morning near the open-on-weekends restaurant Los Jilgueros. In fact, Sr. Gamboa, the owner, is quite attuned to these handsome birds and can often point a hopeful birder in the right direction.

Jays fascinate us for many reasons. They are loud and have a big presence — when you are near a jay you know it. They have personalities with definite likes and dislikes, complex social systems, tight family bonds and some species are good mimics. They’re smart and can solve problems posed by researchers like their fellow corvids, crows and ravens. Often Costa Rican birders who visit the United States come back with the North American Blue Jay at the top of their Favorite Bird list.

October Big Day: Join Us in the Field on Saturday the 19th!

How to participate

  • Get an eBird account: eBird is a worldwide bird checklist program used by millions of birders. It’s what allows us to compile everyone’s sightings into a single massive October Big Day list—while at the same time collecting the data for scientists to use to better understand birds. Sign up here. It’s 100% free.
  • Watch birds on 19 October: It’s that simple. You don’t need to be a bird expert, or go out all day long. Even 10 minutes in your backyard will help. October Big Day runs from midnight to midnight in your local time zone. You can report birds from anywhere in the world.
  • Enter what you see and hear on eBird: You can enter your sightings via our website or—even easier—download the free eBird Mobile app. You can enter and submit lists while you’re still out birding, and the app will even keep track of how far you’ve walked, so you can focus on watching birds. While you’re downloading free apps, try out the Cornell Lab’s Merlin Bird ID app for help with identification. Please enter sightings before 23 October to be included in our initial results announcement.
  • Watch the sightings roll in: During the day, keep an eye on how the lists are growing in different parts of the world. Follow along with sightings from more than 150 countries. Stats will be updated in real-time on our October Big Day page.

Hello and Goodbye: Please Welcome Dr. Lilly Briggs!

Most of our readers are familiar with the beautiful Finca Cantaros, a public center of activity in San Vito that until recently was owned and operated by Gail Hewson Hull and Harry Hull. This magical place has hosted many of our bird walks, research projects by international scientists, educational opportunities and other events that SVBC-ers cherish and, yes, we all cried at the Hull’s Farewell Party.

In her element. Photo by Michael Olivieri

But please join us in welcoming the new owner of Cantaros, Dr. Lilly Briggs from the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. With Jennifer Fee, of the Laboratory of Ornithology Education Department, Lilly is the co-author of the BirdSleuth-International (aka Detectives de Aves) curriculum with which SVBC members work daily and happily!

After earning her PhD in 2016 at the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell, Lilly now works as a Postdoctoral Associate in Education and Citizen Science Programs. To learn more about Lilly’s career and see her publication list, visit this page.

Their legacy lives on in San Vito; we send every good wish to the Hulls.

‘Goodbyes’ are hard — sob, sniff — we miss the Hulls and wish them well in their new desert habitat in New Mexico.

‘Hellos’ are fun — whoo hoo! — please join us in a warm welcome and a huge hello to Lilly!



Please Join Us for 2019/Afiliarse con nosotros 2019!

Birding with the Pajareros Del Sur at the Wilson Botanical Garden. Photo by Jo Davidson

It is time to join the San Vito Bird Club for the first time OR to renew your membership for 2019!

Benefits of membership include bi-monthly Bird Walks at the Wilson Garden/OTS Las Cruces Biological Station, invites to the members-only Annual Meeting at Cascatas Del Bosque, day trips in and around the Coto Brus Valley and occasional overnight jaunts throughout Costa Rica in search of rarities like the Lanceolated Monklet. Plus your membership support helps us bring BirdSleuth-International, an environmental education program from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, to local schools as “Detectives de Aves”. Please read President Wendell’s post about the Detectives de Aves year 2018 here.

Detectives de Aves teachers Carla Azofeifa and Paula Mesen with SVBC President Peter Wendell. Photo by Alison Olivieri

Part of your membership dues will be donated to the Organization for Tropical Studies Las Cruces Biological Station that provides us with an exciting place to bird and free coffee and camaraderie after the walks.

We are keeping dues at 2018 rates: C11,000 or $20 per person for International Members and C14,000 or $25 per person for residents of Costa Rica. Family membership are priced for two people but always include children.

Without you, we are nothing so please join today! You can give your dues to Peter at the Bird Walk on December 9 or to Randall Bourbon Jimenez or to any other executive committee member: Greg Homer, Alison Olivieri or Harry Hull.

Quiz Bird #7 = Yellow Tyrannulet!/Mosquerito Amarillo!

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Photographed in Linda Vista by Jo Davidson, here is our Yellow Tyrannulet

Photographed in Linda Vista by Jo Davidson, here is our Yellow Tyrannulet.

Congratulations to Mike Judd of North Carolina for promptly and correctly identifying our Yellow Tyrannulet. He will receive an original Liz Allen design greeting card in person in March when he arrives in San Vito!

Thanks to everyone for submitting their guesses: we received four this time of which three were correct.



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Felicidades a Mike Judd de el estado North Caroline por identificar de forma pronta y correcta nuestro Mosquerito Amarillo. El recibirá una tarjeta original diseñada por la miembro Liz Allen cuando llegará a San Vito en marzo.

Muchas gracias a todos por enviar sus estimaciones: Recibimos cuatro en esta ocasión, tres de las cuales fueron correctas.



Quiz Bird #7/Acertijo Aviario #7

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Mystery Bird photo by Jo Davidson

Mystery Bird photo by Jo Davidson

What bird is this? A resident bird of some difficulty, found on both Caribbean and Pacific slopes. Members of a large family with 78 representatives here, these charmers are excitable, often vocalizing, and prefer brushy understory.

The prize will be an arresting butterfly greeting card — one of member Liz Allen’s original designs — so send your answer pronto to:

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Cual ave es? Un ave residente con cierta dificultad, que se encuentra tanto en la costa Pacífica como Caribe. Parte de una gran familia, de 78 miembros acá, estos encantos son nerviosos, frecuentemente vocalizando, y prefieren el sotobosque cubierto de maleza.

El premio será una llamativa tarjeta — uno de los diseños originales de la miembro Liz Allen – así que envíe pronto su respuesta a:

Hummingbird Workshop Sunday, Oct. 4/Taller sobre Colibríes el domingo 4 de octubre

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What hummingbird is this? Photo by Jo Davidson.

What hummingbird is this? Photo by Jo Davidson.

Birders and photographers: please come to a Hummingbird Workshop at Lydia Vogt’s property, Finca Sofia, at 8:00 am this Sunday (Oct. 4)!

You will find this beautiful and “birdy” property on the road to Los Angeles, just past the large AyA water tank on the left. The gate will be open a little before 8:00 am and you will see the sign for “Finca Sofia”. Park inside the gate; please bring something to sit on plus a hat or sunscreen.

We will spend an hour or so sitting by the “Pavo” and “Rabo de Gato” bushes watching and identifying hummingbirds feeding on and guarding these food sources. Last week on our bird walk there we had 8 species of hummingbirds in as many minutes!

As usual, we will have binoculars and bird books to share. This will be a good opportunity to learn these beautiful but difficult-to-identify birds!

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Pajareros y fotógrafos, ¡por favor únansenos en un Taller sobre Colibríes en la propiedad de Lydia Vogt, Finca Sofia, este domingo (4 de octubre) a las 8 am!

Encontrarán esta hermosa y “pajarera” propiedad en la carretera a Los Ángeles, después de pasar el tanque grande de agua del AyA a la izquierda. El portón estará abierto poco antes de las 8:00 am y usted verá el letrero de “Finca Sofia”. Parquéese dentro del portón; por favor traiga algo sobre lo cual sentarse y un sombrero obloqueador solar.

Vamos a pasar más o menos una hora sentados junto a los arbustos de “Pavo” y “Rabo de Gato” viendo e identificando colibríes alimentándose y resguardando estas fuentes de alimento. La semana pasada, en nuestra caminata para pajarear allí, ¡vimos 8 especies de colibríes en la misma cantidad de minutos!

Como siempre, tendremos binoculares y guías de campo para compartir. ¡Ésta será una buena oportunidad para aprender sobre estos pájaros hermosos pero difíciles de identificar!

Field Trip to the Sphere Museum/¡Excursión de un día a la Finca Seis!

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Photo of stone spheres from website:

Photo of stone spheres from website:

Please join us, Saturday, August 29th for a special San Vito Bird Club field excursion to the Museum of the Stone Spheres near Palmar Norte. As always, please try to car pool.

We will meet at the entrance to the Wilson Botanical Garden, for a 7:00 am departure. The drive is about 1½ hours. We can have lunch in Palmar following the Museum visit and a bird walk around the grounds.

Bring water and hat; weather can be quite hot. Return expected to be 2-3 pm. Hope you can join us!

If you have questions or want more information, please contact Greg Homer at

For more information on the Stone Sphere Museum:
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Por favor acompáñenos el sábado 29 de agosto en una excursión especial del San Vito Bird Club a El Sitio Museo Finca 6 [Museum of the Stone Spheres] cerca de Palmar norte. Como siempre, por favor intente compartir su carro.

VP Greg Homer (photo by Helen LeVasseur).

VP Greg Homer (photo by Helen LeVasseur).

Nos reuniremos en la entrada del Jardín Botánico Wilson y saldremos de allí a las 7:00 am. El trayecto es de alrededor de 1 ½ horas. Podemos almorzar en Palmar después de la visita al Museo y una caminata para pajarear alrededor de los jardines.

Traiga agua y sombrero; el clima puede ser algo cálido. Esperamos regresar alrededor de las 2–3 pm. ¡Ojalá nos pueda acompañar!

Si tiene preguntas o desea más información, por favor contacte a Greg Homer en la dirección: Usted puede encontrar más información sobre El Sitio Museo Finca 6 [Stone Sphere Museum] en o en

Ta-daa: Quiz Bird #6!/¡Acertijo Aviario #6!

Congratulations to Nilanthi Kelsey of London (yes! UK!) for correctly and speedily identifying this Prothonotary Warbler, Protonotaria citrea.

Prothonotary Warbler (photo by Bill XXXX).

Prothonotary Warbler (photo by Bill Batsford).

Nilanthi kindly declined her prize so we will send our tee shirt to Linda Threatte, (first runner up) of Pisgah Forest, NC!

We had 9 entries for this contest; 7 of which were correct. Congratulations to: Mike Judd, Wendy Russell, Patty Scott, Dave Janas and Nic Korte!

Again, special thanks are extended to Bill Batsford of New Haven, CT for permission to use this photo, taken in April 2015 at the Connecticut Audubon Larsen Sanctuary in Fairfield, CT.

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Felicitaciones a Nilanthi Kelsey de Londres (si! Angleterra!) por identificar rápida y correctamente a la Reinita Cabecidorada.

Pronotonaria citrea (foto de Bill Batsford)

Pronotonaria citrea (foto de Bill Batsford).

Nilanthi rechazo su premio debido al costo de correo; entonces vamos a enviar la camiseta a Linda Threatte, la subcampeona, en el estado de North Carolina.

Tuvimos 9 entradas para este concurso; 7 de las cuales fueron correctas.

Nuevamente extendemos un agradecimiento especial a Bill Batsford de New Haven, CT, por su permiso para utilizar esta foto, tomada en abril de 2015 en el Connecticut Audubon Larsen Sanctuary en Fairfield, CT.

!Quiz Bird #6/Acertijo Aviario #6!

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Quiz Bird #6!

Quiz Bird #6!

Here is a Mystery Bird of medium difficulty:

Clue #1: During the breeding season (April-August), we notice the absence of shorebirds, thrushes, flycatchers, warblers, orioles and tanagers; about 25% of our total species migrate to North America to breed.

Clue #2: This photo was taken in April in the small state of Connecticut.

Clue #3: In Costa Rica, it is usually found within 6 meters of the ground and favors thickets near water.

Please send your answer ASAP to The prize for this contest is a black SVBC tee shirt, women’s size 14.

We extend our thanks to Bill Batsford for permission to use this beautiful photo.  Please note: if your initials are JR, JZ or FS you are not eligible for this game!

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Quiz Bird #6

Acertijo Aviario #6

Aquí hay un Pájaro Misterioso de mediana dificultad.

Pista #1: Durante la temporada de cría de abril – agosto, notamos la ausencia de aves playeras, zorzales, mosqueros, reinitas, bolseros y tangaras; cerca del 25% del total de nuestras especies migran hacia América del Norte para criar.

Pista #2: Esta foto fue tomada en el pequeño estado de Connecticut en abril.

Pista #3: En Costa Rica, usualmente se encuentra bajo los 6 metros al suelo y prefiere los matorrales cercanos al agua.

Por favor envíe su respuesta tan pronto como le sea posible a este correo electronico: El premio para este concurso es una camiseta negra del SVBC talla 14 femenina.

Un agradecimiento especial a Bill Batsford por su permiso para utilizar esta hermosa foto.