Bird Walks Coming Soon as Wilson Botanical Garden Re-Opens

Violet Sabrewing, the largest hummingbird in Costa Rica. Photo by Jean-Philippe Thelliez

OTS Las Cruces/Wilson Botanical Garden re-opened to the public yesterday, Friday, June 26. New Rules due to Covid-19 preventive restrictions include mandatory reservations for any kind of visit including Bird Walks. Entrance Fees must be paid at the new Gatehouse; costs are $3 for locals and residents and $10 for non-residents. (The colones equivalent will be calculated at the daily exchange rate.) Masks and hand sanitization are required so bring your mask! Staff will have hand sanitizer at the gate and at Reception.

If you would like to go on your own, please send an email to recepcionlc@tropicalstudies.org, noting the date and time you wish to go and the number of people in your party.

Upright red with yellow trim. Photo by Alison Olivieri

In the coming weeks, we will schedule a SVBC Bird Walk with an imbedded link for you to RSVP. That way, we can make the reservation and keep numbers within an acceptable limit.

Because the pandemic has hit tourism spots very hard, SVBC members must now pay Entrance Fees – additionally, we encourage you to add a donation of whatever you can afford!

Hellzapoppin Heliconias!

Right now, the Heliconia Garden is glorious; nearly every plant is in flower and they are all amazing. As you birders know, hummingbirds are going to be busy in there – nectaring and zipping around — so you will have a double treat if you go soon.

Pendant ‘Sexy Pink’. Photo by Julie Girard

An Exquisite Visitor

Stop the presses! Male Rufous-crested Coquette debuts in San Vito. Photo by Pepe Castiblanco.

For several weeks in September, excitement ruled the birding world of San Vito as a male Rufous-crested Coquette was found feeding at an Inga tree on the road to a nearby neighborhood called Piedra Pintada. It was a THRILLING find — a new species for CR!

This captivating, tiny bird was a source of delight and fascination for the many birders who came running to see it, along with unsuspecting motorists puzzling over the crowd that suddenly appeared daily at 5:30 am clamoring out of cars and off motorcycles with telescopes, tripods, binoculars and cameras.

Look at this flare!

The RCCO has a short history here. It was reported in 2016 and again in 2018 at Rancho Naturalista in Turrialba. In the second edition of The Birds of Costa Rica by Richard Garrigues and Robert Dean it is listed in the back under ‘Rarities’. Historically, it is included in A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica by Gary Stiles and Alexander Skutch, published in 1989, that cites four male specimens taken near San Jose in 1892 and 1906. It can be found in six other countries: Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.

What about the tail?

Considered ‘uncommon’ where it occurs, it zooms around like a large bee. It has two ‘country cousins’ that share the same status of ‘uncommon’: the White-crested Coquette and the Black-crested Coquette. ‘Whitey’ is endemic to southern CR and western Panama so we are often hosting birders who hope to see it at the Wilson Botanical Garden. ‘Blacky’ can be found in the Caribbean foothills —  Arenal Volcano National Park is a good place to look — and is likewise beelike and difficult to find.

The lesson here is that you never know! It could easily appear in your garden on one of our beautiful flowering trees – Corals and Mayos will start flowering soon – and roadsides and gardens have hedgerows of Rabo de Gato (Stachytarpheta), favored by many species of hummingbirds.

Can’t have too many photos of this wonder so here is just one more.

A special thank you to Pepe Castiblanco, co-owner of Casa Botania Lodge, for these photos.