Where We Bird — the Wilson Botanical Garden

Entrance to the Wilson Garden, photo by Alison Olivieri

The San Vito Bird Club’s roots are here in the Robert and Catherine Wilson Botanical Garden at the Organization for Tropical Studies Las Cruces Biological Station — this is a long name for a magical place. Birders come from all over the world to this spot with its list of half of the country’s land birds. We have been offering bi-monthly Bird Walks here, free and open to the public since 2004, binoculars included!

In and around San Vito, we have many ‘specialties’ — birds not easily found elsewhere. Two of the most sought-after are reliably found here where you can stay in comfortable cabins with three meals a day included, a birder’s dream destination.

Ruddy Foliage-gleaner, Clibanornis rubiginosus, photo by Randall Jiménez Borbón, aka Ciccio

The Ruddy Foliage-gleaner can be found in early morning at the beginning of the Rio Java Trail. The best way to find it is to learn the call as it is usually vocalizing as the flock moves along the forest edge.

Another, smaller beauty — the White-crested Coquette — is also here in the Pollinator Garden and can be found at virtually any time of day. It is endemic to southern Costa Rica and western Panama

White-crested Coquette, Lophornis adorabilis, photo by Pepe Castiblanco

from the canopy to forest edge and gardens. You’ll have to be on your game as this exquisite creature is ‘bee-like’ in flight.

We are sure these coquettes are stealing your heart and reminding you to clean your binoculars.

And the female White-crested Coquette in this lovely photograph by Yeimeri Badilla

 

Continue to scroll down from here to see just a few more photos from of this special site. The lovely garden vista was designed by Roberto Burle-Marx, a renowned Brazilian landscape designer who was a board member of the Wilson  Garden in its very early days.

This is followed by the Canopy Tower donated by the SVBC in 2011. If you get lucky up there, you might even see a field mark on a fast-flying swift.

Meeting spot at The Wilson Botanical Garden, photo by Alison Olivieri

The Canopy Tower at Las Cruces, photo by Harry Hull III

The last beauty shot of the Wilson Garden Mirador, photo by Alison Olivieri

Zooming With Owls — Part 4

Tropical Screech-Owl, Megascops choliba, photo by Randall Jiménez Borbón, aka Ciccio

Of the five species of Screech-Owls in Costa Rica, we are lucky to have two in our corner of the southern Pacific: Tropical Screech-Owl and Chocó Screech-Owl. Fairly commonly heard (and seen) in San Vito is the Tropical, with two color variations. Seen here is the gray version (of four sightings spread over 20 years, the author claims three of them were the rarer rufous morph). An important field mark is the facial disk outlined in black.

These endearing creatures are small, about 9″, and can be found in forested areas along with gardens and city parks. They pounce on prey from bare, low branches favoring large insects, spiders and scorpions (!).

Chocó Screech-Owl, photo by Pepe Castiblanco

Chocó Screech-Owl (Megascops centralis) is harder to find and was formerly known as Vermiculated Screech-Owl. With some perseverence, you might find one a little lower down the ridge toward Cuidad Neily. A good field mark for the Chocó is its lack of a distinct facial disk and less vertical streaking on the breast.

When we asked the Screechies if they found it difficult to sleep during the day, the Tropical said (click here and press play to listen), “Yes, because you humans are constantly taking pictures of us” — in Owlish, of course. On the other hand, the Chocó (click here) said, “No, because we know where to hide.”