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.

Tree Planting Photo Essay, June 30, Concepcion

Thanks to an army of volunteers last Sunday, the Restoration Project in Concepcion on the Gamboa Property was a huge success!

Rodrigo de Sousa organized this large group for a morning of grunt work that resulted in 450 new trees planted, new fencing installed to curtail bovine wandering and reforestation to benefit the community’s future.

Troops fanned out going out and around the pasture and watershed; a morning well spent.

Even the youngest members of this volunteer group worked all morning, digging holes, staking young trees and ensuring an enhanced habitat for wildlife. Special thanks to San Vito Bird Club stalwart supporter Terry Farling for these photos!

Friends From Afar — We’ve Got Mail!

Greetings, members of the SVBC:

We wish to convey to you all our sincere thanks for the welcome that the SVBC members extended to us during our recent visit to San Vito this past March. Our little group of six was comprised of short term visitors (a few days for four of us; an additional couple of weeks for two of us). Although there was only one formal SVBC member among us, we were all treated as regulars and included in a delightful variety of birding adventures: the walk and brunch at Cecilia Sansonetti’s beautiful finca; the walks at Cántaros (with the opportunity to meet new owner, Lilly, and managers, Yei and Marylin); the tense photo competitions, the awards, the refreshments, etc.

Greg Homer took two of us on an early morning walk to Tres Rios in search of, among other birds, the albino vultures. Peter Wendell gave us a primer on using eBird. Alison Olivieri gave us perfect directions to Rio Negro. And everyone else was equally gracious. We were also impressed with the club’s industriousness—from its nascent effort to merge with the Pajareros del Sur, to the continuing inclusion of young birders, the involvement with the local schools and the Detectives de Aves education progam. You folks gave us all great memories of San Vito, its birds and its birders. Thank you! 

David and Audrey Fielding, on our own behalf and on behalf of our friends: David Rorick, Sandra Braden, John Denvir and Miriam Rokeach.

David and Audrey Fielding, members from San Francisco

 

PS – It must be about time to renew our membership, so for David & Audrey Fielding, our check is in the mail (via Paypal).

The SVBC responds: this is the nicest news we’ve had in forever, so thank you both for your note and your Membership Renewal.

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

Espanol sigue

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.

 

 

Espanol aqui

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

Sigue en espanol

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: sanvitobirdclub@gmail.com.

Espanol aqui

 

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: sanvitobirdclub@gmail.com.

!Bird Count on the Osa/Conteo de Aves en la Osa!

Espanol sique

We have received an invitation from the organization Osa Birds: Research and Conservation, Inc. to participate in its Audubon Bird Count Satuday, December 19.

Scarlet Macaw from hgwallpaperscool.com

Scarlet Macaw from hgwallpaperscool.com

As many of you know, Audubon Bird Counts have been going on in the US and Canada since Christmas Day of 1900 and, needless to say, the data generated is invaluable: this is Citizen Science in action!

Costa Rica has more than nine official counts — more than any other Latin American country. The counts begin in early December and end in early January.

For more information on how you can participate, please call Karen Leavelle, Director of Osa Birds, at 8969-2817 or email her: karenleavelle@osabirds.org.

And for more information about the work of Osa Birds, visit its Instrument Campaign here. The organization’s mission is Conserving birds and their habitats on the Osa Peninsula through research and education.

Espanol aqui

Hemos recibido una invitación de la organización Osa Birds: Research and
Conservation, Inc. para participar en su Conteo de Aves de Audubon el sábado 19
de diciembre.

White Hawk (photo by Ryan Phillips)

White Hawk (copyright Ryan Phillips, all rights reserved)

Como muchos de ustedes saben, los Conteos de Aves de Audubon han ocurrido en
EEUU y Canadá desde el Día de Navidad del año 1900, está de más decir que la
información generada es invaluable: ¡esta es Ciencia Ciudadana en acción!

Costa Rica tiene más de nueve conteos oficiales – más que cualquier otro país
latinoamericano. Los conteos inician durante las primeras semanas de diciembre y
terminan al inicio de enero. Para recibir más información sobre cómo puede usted participar, por favor llame a la Directora de Osa Birds, Karen Leavelle, al 8969-2817 o envíele un correo electrónico a karenleavelle@osabirds.org.

Y para obtener más información acerca del trabajo de Osa Birds, visite su CampañaInstrumentl aquí. La misión de la organización es Conservando las aves y sus hábitats en la Península de Osa, a través de la investigación y la educación.