Where We Bird — Rio Negro

The trail entrance at Rio Negro. Photo by Alison Olivieri

Walk with us into the tunnel of ‘To-le-do’, the song of the Lance-tailed Manakin. A superstar of San Vito birding, this active and beautiful bird also makes a mewing, catlike call. The red cap, blue back, tiny tail and orange legs make males unmistakeable; females are greenish, as are all the lady manakins, but she does have that tail! Here, they are only found at our southern Pacific border with western Panama but their range extends from Costa Rica to

See the tail? Photo by Pepe Castiblanco

Venezuela. Inhabiting the humid and second growth forests, Chiroxiphia lanceolata males are active at leks from Janury to March. Excellent and acrobatic dancers, you can find them on YouTube but, really, why not come here and see for yourself?

Bicolored Hawks can be found all around Costa Rica but they are categorized as ‘rare’. Luckily for us, they are regularly seen at this site or from the car on the way! The rufous thighs are diagnostic in adults but the juveniles are easily confused with forest-falcon species.

Juvenile Bicolored Hawk, Accipiter bicolor, photo by Jo Davidson

These raptors prey on birds, diving after them from perches at any height in mature, wet forests and tall secondary growth — even forest edges and gardens. They are in the same genus with Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks in the north.

Finally, we come to a bird found at lower levels of the forest following ant swarms: Bicolored Antbird. Plump and endearing with a big, blue eye-ring, it’s hard not to want to scurry after them. This species is said to have been the favorite of Dr. Alexander Skutch, author of ‘A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica’ with F. Gary Stiles.

Bicolored Antbird, Gymnopithys leucaspis, photo by David A. Rodriguez Arias

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’.