!Quiz Bird #5/Acertijo Aviario #5!

Sigue en espanol

This is a hard one, so get out your field guides!

Mystery Bird #5 (photo by Gail Hull)

Mystery Bird #5 (photo by Gail Hull)

Clue #1: This bird belongs to the most diverse (and some say most ‘difficult’) group in Costa Rica comprised of 78 species.

Clue #2: The photo was taken in April at the San Joaquin Wetlands just outside of San Vito on the road to Sabalito.

Clue #3: Our bird stays low in secondary growth and is often found near water.

The prize for this contest is a handy-dandy rain poncho – lightweight, compact and perfect to tuck into your pocket or birding pack — especially useful at this time of year.

Please note: if your initials are JD, JG, JR, JZ or LA you are not eligible for this game!

Espanol aqui

Este es difícil, ¡Así que saquen sus guías de campo!

Pista #1: Esta ave pertenece al más diverso (y algunos dicen que al más “difícil”) grupo en Costa Rica compuesto por 78 especies.

Pista #2: La fotografía fue tomada en abril, en los humedales de San Joaquín, en las afueras de San Vito sobre la carretera a Sabalito.

Pista #3: Nuestra ave se mantiene en la parte baja del bosque secundario y se encuentra usualmente cerca de agua.

El premio para este concurso es un poncho conveniente para la lluvia – liviano, compacto y perfecto para meterlo en su bolsillo o mochila para pajarear (especialmente útil durante esta época del año).

Por favor tome en cuenta que: Si sus iniciales son JD, JG, JR, JZ o LA , ¡Usted no es elegible para este juego!

Masked Ducks at Finca Cantaros!

A pair of Masked Ducks, Nomonyx dominicus, was seen Saturday, April 25 at Finca Cantaros, by an intrepid group from the SVBC including Roni Chernin, Jo Davidson, Peter Wendell, Nick and Mary from Colorado, and Gail Hull. These birds are often described as “secretive” and “uncommon” and can be difficult to find SO: here’s your chance!

Male Masked Duck in breeding plumage! Photo by Gail Hull (2014).

Male Masked Duck in breeding plumage! Photo by Gail Hull (2014).

Quiz Bird #2 Revealed/La Respuesta del Prueba #2!

Sigue en espanol

Quiz Bird #2 had nine entries, two of which were correct: Lesser Goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria).

Lesser Goldfinch photographed by Jo Davidson.

Lesser Goldfinch photographed by Jo Davidson.

Our Official Winner is Suzanne Gross of Piedades, Santa Ana, who came on one of our walks at the Wilson Garden last December. Due to the difficulty of mailing cookies from San Vito, Suzanne has generously donated her one dozen Chocolate Chips to our next Bird Walk at the Wilson Garden.

Other entries included two orioles, two tanagers, a vireo, a warbler and a seedeater.

Thanks for a great job Photographer Jo Davidson on making sure the bill was hidden behind a leaf: we fooled everybody except Suzanne and member Jim Zook.

Gracias a nuestra miembre Jo Davidson para su foto de un Carduelis psaltria!

Tuvimos mas respuestas este vez, pero solo dos de nueve estaban correctos.

Felicidades a Suzanne Gross de Piedades, Santa Ana: su respuesta estaba correcto: Lesser Goldfinch!

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.