Bird Walk this Sunday January 23 / Caminata para ver aves el próximo domingo 23 de enero

Please join us for the first walk of the New Year at the Wilson Botanical Gardens. Summer is now in full force and the mornings have been beautiful for spending time outdoors. We will meet at the Reception at 7 AM. Entrance to the Gardens and coffee are free for this event. We will have coffee in dining room after the walk, and breakfast will be available for purchase. Please fill out THIS form to let us know if your interested in coming and/or having breakfast. We look forward to seeing you!

Por favor venga al jardín botánico Wilson el próximo domingo 23 de enero para una caminata para ver aves. Ya estamos en verano puro y todas las mañanas están idóneas para quedarse afuera. Nos encontraremos al la recepción a las 7. Tomaremos un cafecito después de la caminata, y el desayuno será disponible para comparar. Por favor llene ESTE formulario para indicar si intenta asistir y/o desayunar. Las entradas al jardín y el café son gratis. ¡Espero verlos entonces!

Bird Walk this Sunday December 19 / Caminata para ver aves domingo 19 de diciembre

Please join us for an almost Christmas bird walk at the Wilson Botanical Gardens this Sunday December 19 at 7 AM. The mornings in Las Cruces have been incredibly beautiful over the last week, so come out and enjoy the beginnings of summer! There will be coffee and breakfast available after the walk. Admission, coffee and tea are free. Like last time, there will be two breakfast options as follows:

Option #1.       Complete tico Breakfast: Gallo pinto, egg (scrambled or omelet), fried plantain and local fresh cheese with hot drink (Coffee, tea or aguadulce) and season fruit for USD $8.00/C5,000.

Option #2.       Small breakfast: Egg sandwich (local cheese, bacon or ham, and egg) on  whole wheat bread with hot drink (Coffee, tea or aguadulce) and season fruit for USD $5.00/C3,000.

Please fill out THIS form to let us know if your are planning to attend and if you want breakfast. This is just to let the Garden know how much food to prepare. Or you can contact Alison or me directly.

Por favor lleve la familia al jardín botánico Wilson este domingo 19 de diciembre a las 7 AM para una caminata para ver aves. Las mañanas en Las Cruces han sido increíblemente bonitas durante los últimos días. Entonces, ¡disfrutamos juntos los primeros días de verano mirando aves! Habrá café y desayuno disponibles después de la caminata. Las entradas, café y té son gratis. Como la última vez habrá dos tipos de desayuno:

Opción 1: Desayuno grande y completo con pinto, huevos, queso, etcétera par $8 o C5.000.

Opción 2 Desayuno pequeño con un sandwich de huevos, jamón y queso y fruta aparte para $5 o C3.000

Las dos opciones incluyen café, té o aguadulce.

Por favor llene ESTE formulario para indicar su intención de asistir y desayunar. O puede contactar a Alison o a mí.

Father’s Day Bird Walk 2021

Please join us for a Bird Walk this Sunday, June 20, at the OTS/Las Cruces Research Station aka Wilson Botanical Garden. We will meet at the Reception Building at 7:30 am and have binoculars to share.

As guests of the SVBC, you will enter for free; however, if you want to make a voluntary donation, that would be most welcome. (The Entrance Fee is $10 for tourists and $3 for residents.)

Let’s look for these beautiful woodpeckers:

Lineated Woodpeckers, photo by Alison Olivieri

Bird Walk on Sunday, June 6

Please join us for a Bird Walk at the incomparable Finca Cántaros on Sunday, June 6 (tomorrow!). We will meet at the entrance gate at 7:30 am and have binoculars to share.

The walk will last for about an hour.

If we have more than 6 walkers, we will go in two groups and run a little competition to see which group sees the most species.

A Voluntary Donation to the new Finca Cántaros Environmental Association would be most welcome. Hope to see you there!

Migration Is On: Sweepstakes Early Spotting Prize to Judy Richardson!

Judy Richardson, photo by Juan Carlos Calvachi

Herewith we announce the Early Migrant Sweepstakes winner: Judy Richardson!

Wait, what? You didn’t realize we had a Migrant Sweepstakes going on? Neither did we until a minute ago. Never mind, we have it now and the first bird reported was a beautiful Orchard Oriole.

Orchard Oriole, photo by Mark Garland

Judy found him in early August at Hacienda Pino Collina, next door to the Wilson Botanical Garden; her home in San Vito where she’s been passing Covid-19 pandemic time birding, gardening, reading and cooking.

Let’s get into the swing of this people! How about we run a Migrant Spotting Contest from now until September 30? Just go outside with your phone and the two apps from Cornell, Merlin and eBird, and get started. Send your list to our Birder-in-Chief Greg Homer at: eltangeral@gmail.com by September 30, 2020 and we will see who finds the most waterthrushes, warblers, flycatchers and more.

Or, if you’re still operating like it is 1970, take a pencil, notepad and the Garrigues and Dean field guide outside and get going with those.

We will give you a prize, promise!

Judy is going to have one of her favorite desserts: Sticky Toffee Pudding with vanilla ice cream — delivered to her door. Just think what you might win?! Yum yum!

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.

Bird Walk Tomorrow: Sunday, October 27!

Northern Waterthrush: a migrant to watch for! Photo by Gail Hull

Please join us for a free Bird Walk at the Wilson Botanical Garden tomorrow morning, October 27, at 7:30 a.m.

As usual, we will meet at the Reception Building and have binoculars and bird guides to share.

Many migrants have arrived in the past several weeks so we will look for them as well as whatever other beauties we can find.

Look forward to seeing you there!

 

Welcome White-winged Doves!

We have been waiting for quite some time for these angelic-looking birds to show up in our beloved southern zone and it appears our vigil might be over.

White-winged Doves. Photo by Jim Zook

First, a pair was spotted in September near La Union de Sabalito by Jim Zook who was on the job doing bird counts for Stanford University. Shortly thereafter, one was found by Randall Jiménez Borbón, a Pajarero Del Sur member and Detectives de Aves teacher, in his garden in Linda Vista just south of San Vito on the road to Ciudad Neily.

In the Stiles and Skutch Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica (published in 1989), they were considered a ‘. . . locally abundant permanent resident in dry Pacific NW, south to Jaco.’ In more recent times, they are described as ‘. . . common resident in northern Pacific and across the Central Valley . . . ‘ by Garrigues and Dean in the second edition of The Birds of Costa Rica. You can see the trajectory; it was just a matter of time.

They are pretty easy to see if you are expecting them: Garrigues describes them as “. . . commensal with humans. . . ” and goes on to say they favor open areas and are often seen feeding along roadsides. They look a lot like Mourning Doves except for the white band down the length of the wing – this is easily seen at rest and a lovely display in flight. Further, Mourning Doves have long, tapered tails and black spots on their wings, both of which are lacking in the Whities.

From November to May, our resident populations are joined by migrants from the southwestern US. The entire range goes from Arizona, New Mexico and Texas in the US; throughout Mexico and down through Central America to western Panama, as well as throughout the Caribbean islands.

Breeding season is January to March, so we will try to keep an eye on the Sabalito pair. And, meanwhile, keep a sharp eye out as they may turn up at your house any day now!

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.

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.