Wilson Walk Washout!

The Bird Walk scheduled for last Saturday, Nov. 2, was rained out — the first time this has happened since we began leading regular bird walks years ago. With all the rain we get annually in San Vito, it’s surprising this doesn’t happen more often!

Raining, pouring and heading your way. (Photo by Michael Olivieri.)

Raining, pouring and heading your way. (Photo by Michael Olivieri.)

We will reschedule for this coming Saturday, Nov. 9 and hope for better luck.

In the meantime, it might be fun to start listing the species that are visiting your bird feeders. Migratory species that spend the spring and summer in North America are back. Species like Baltimore Orioles, Summer Tanagers and Tennessee Warblers all readily come to fruit feeders so you should be seeing them regularly now.

Spending a few minutes each morning jotting down the birds on your bananas will sharpen your ID skills and, if we start a little competition, might encourage getting more feeders into action.

Here’s my list from the weekend, a total of 15 species including 7 tanagers (Blue-Gray, Golden-hooded, Silver-throated, Cherrie’s, Summer, Speckled and Palm), 2 toucans (Fiery-billed Aracari, Emerald Toucanet), 1 saltator (Buff-throated), 1 euphonia (Thick-billed), 1 honeycreeper (Green), 1 woodpecker (Red-crowned), 1 thrush (Clay-colored), and Blue-crowned Motmot,

We’ll be waiting for your list, so send it along by clicking here to contact us!

English Language Students Attend Bird Walk

We were happily overrun with students from the CaRob Instituto de Ingles in San Vito on a recent Bird Walk at Finca Cantaros, a change in venue from our regular twice-monthly outings at the Wilson Botanical Garden.

Lush trails at Finca Cantaros. Photo by Barbara Barton.

Lush trails at Finca Cantaros. Photo by Barb Keeler-Barton.

Alma Dionisi, one of the Instituto’s English teachers, brought her class of 10 via minibus for a two-hour bird walk followed by an English language practice session. Wendy Russell Bernstein, Barb Keeler-Barton, Roni Chernin, Caroline Torres, Susan England and Judith and Joe Ippolito were all on hand to help out – both with bird spotting and practicing conversational English.

The idea for this walk came from Wilkin, one of Alma’s students. Wilkin is a passionate birder, a friend of SVBC Member Cecilia Sansonetti’s and has birded with us several times in the past. Unfortunately he cannot attend more of our walks at the moment because his Saturday mornings are occupied with learning English!

Chatting in English in the Rancho Grande. Photo by Barbara Barton.

Chatting in English in the Rancho Grande. Photo by Barb Keeler-Barton.

It was a large group but we nonetheless managed to see 28 species of birds including one neotropical migrant, a Black-and-white Warbler, sighted by Susan England. Thanks to Alma for organizing this fun morning and also to our loyal volunteer helpers.

Birding from the Canopy Tower

On a recent Bird Walk at the Wilson Botanical Garden, our group of 10 climbed the Canopy Tower to look for returning migrants. Although we did not see any of those, we did see two Masked Tityras, spotted by Caroline Torres.

Masked Tityra. Photo by Mark W. Eaton.

Masked Tityra (Photo by Mark W. Eaton)

I’m not sure why but these birds always give me a jolt of surprise. Maybe it’s the incredible white plumage or perhaps it’s the bright pink orbital skin around the eye and face? Being close to them in the canopy was a thrill as their size is often diminished when they’re seen – typically high in the trees — from the ground. Here, on the Tower, we had the chance to view them at slightly lower than eye level, allowing us to experience them as striking-looking, big, white flycatchers.

When the Tower was inaugurated in May 2011 (click here to read more about this event), we decided to keep a list of all species seen and/or heard in the immediate vicinity. On our recent visit we added add two new ones to the Canopy Tower Bird List: Laughing Falcon (heard not seen) and Spot-crowned Euphonia.

Laughing Falcon (Photo by Alison Olivieri)

Laughing Falcon (Photo by Alison Olivieri)

The falcon’s resonant, slightly eerie call is described by F. Gary Stiles and Alexander F. Skutch in A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica, as “. . . . a long, rhythmic series of loud, hollow notes with somewhat the quality of a child’s shout.”  The local name of this raptor, Guaco, is synchronous with its call so once you learn and hear it, you can be certain it’s a Laughing Falcon. It is well known that this bird of prey’s favorite food item is any kind of snake so they are cherished by local people and those of us who wish they would visit often and eat their fill.

Our female Spot-crowned Euphonia perched quite close to the Tower, affording some of the group excellent looks at her distinctive field marks of rufous forecrown and belly. Identifying this species is easy if you are prepared to do a little work with your field guide. The males are the only euphonia with yellow spots on the crown patch but, if you are looking from below, it is often easier to identify the female. This is a puzzle where the range maps in the Garrigues and Dean field guide (The Birds of Costa Rica) really come in handy. You’ll quickly see another species with similar markings on the female, Olive-backed Euphonia, but a glance at the map will tell you the Olive-backed is found on the Caribbean side and Spot-crowned is the bird you see here.

To date we have 67 species on this list and 10 birders have contributed sightings. If you are curious and would like a copy, don’t hesitate to contact us. Likewise, please let us know if you see or hear a species we are missing.

Thanks to Caroline Torres, Roni Chernin, Jeff Wick, Barb Barton, Judith and Joe Ippolito, Donna and Tony Pagano and their surrogate grandson Rolando for joining us on this walk.

Oropendola Colony Found in San Vito/Colonia de Oropéndolas encontrada en San Vito

Sigue en espanol

Sharp-eyed member Wendy Bernstein reported a new oropendola colony at the San Vito air strip.

Oropendola nests. Photo by Monique Girard.

Oropendola nests. Photo by Monique Girard.

If you drive from San Vito toward Sabalito, the pendant nests can be seen across the air strip about one-third of the way down the runway. They are hanging on the left side of a tree with the common name ‘Poro’ that attracts orioles, warblers, bananaquits, hummingbirds and more when it flowers.

We need to do a stake-out to be sure the birds are Crested Oropendolas! This species was first recorded here in 1999 having expanded its range from nearby Panama. Historically, San Vito had a population of Chestnut-headed Oropendolas but the newcomers routed them and are now the only species found in the southern Pacific region.

Nuestro miembro de excelente vista Wendy Bernstein nos ha reportado una nueva colonia que se ha establecido en la pista de aterrizaje de San Vito.

Si ud. viaja de San Vito a Sabalito los nidos colgantes pueden ser observados al otro lado de las pista aproximadamente a una tercera parte de la pista. Los nidos están colgando al lado izquierdo de un árbol comúnmente conocido como “Poro” que atrae además a orioles, reinitas y bananaquits, colibríes y muchos mas cuando esta en época de floración.

Necesitamos comprobar que estos nidos corresponden a Crested Oropendolas, una especie que fue primero contabilizada en 1999, habiendo expandido su rango de distribución  del contiguo país Panamá. Históricamente, San Vito tenia una población de Chestnut-headed Oropendolas pero los recién llegados las han desplazado y hoy por hoy son la única especie encontrada en el Pacifico Sur .




Mystery: a Missing Colony?

Sigue en espanol

On a recent birding trip to Rio Negro, we drove home through Sabalito, looking for activity in a site where we have reliably seen Crested Oropendulas nesting in the past.

Oropendula nests. Photo by Monique Girard.

Mysteriously, all the nests have vanished and not a bird was found.

More recently, three sightings of a flock of these beautiful and conspicuous birds have been reported in San Vito — one at Casa Botania, one at Finca Cantaros, and one flying over the Linda Vista bus stop. As many as 14 birds were counted, and in two of the sightings, several were carrying nesting material in their bills. A flock was seen in Sabalito, too, near the town center.

Our question is: where are they building their new colony? Please keep your eyes and ears open, and if you find them, please CONTACT US.

Espanol aqui

En un reciente viaje a Rio Negro, manejamos a casa pasando por Sabalito, buscando actividad en el sitio donde siempre estaban las Oropéndolas anidando en el pasado. Misteriosamente, todos los nidos han desparecido y ningún ave fue encontrada.

Crested Oropendula. Photo by Alison Olivieri.

Mas recientemente, tres avistamientos de estas hermosas y conspicuas aves han sido reportados en San Vito — uno en Casa Botania, uno en Finca Cantaros y otra en la parada de buses de Linda Vista divisada mientras pasaba volando por el lugar. Al menos 14 aves han sido contabilizadas y varias cargaban material para los nidos en sus picos. Una bandada fue vista en Sabalito, también, cerca del centro del pueblo.

Nuestra pregunta es: donde están construyendo su nueva colonia? Por favor mantengan sus ojos y oídos abiertos y si las encuentran, por favor déjenos saber pulsando este link: CONTACT US.