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

Wilson Walk Washout!

The Bird Walk scheduled for last Saturday, Nov. 2, was rained out — the first time this has happened since we began leading regular bird walks years ago. With all the rain we get annually in San Vito, it’s surprising this doesn’t happen more often!

Raining, pouring and heading your way. (Photo by Michael Olivieri.)

Raining, pouring and heading your way. (Photo by Michael Olivieri.)

We will reschedule for this coming Saturday, Nov. 9 and hope for better luck.

In the meantime, it might be fun to start listing the species that are visiting your bird feeders. Migratory species that spend the spring and summer in North America are back. Species like Baltimore Orioles, Summer Tanagers and Tennessee Warblers all readily come to fruit feeders so you should be seeing them regularly now.

Spending a few minutes each morning jotting down the birds on your bananas will sharpen your ID skills and, if we start a little competition, might encourage getting more feeders into action.

Here’s my list from the weekend, a total of 15 species including 7 tanagers (Blue-Gray, Golden-hooded, Silver-throated, Cherrie’s, Summer, Speckled and Palm), 2 toucans (Fiery-billed Aracari, Emerald Toucanet), 1 saltator (Buff-throated), 1 euphonia (Thick-billed), 1 honeycreeper (Green), 1 woodpecker (Red-crowned), 1 thrush (Clay-colored), and Blue-crowned Motmot,

We’ll be waiting for your list, so send it along by clicking here to contact us!

Kansas Students Invade Finca Cantaros

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Bird banders Julie Girard and Alison Olivieri gave a Mist Netting Demonstration on January 22, 2013 for students in Professor Jon Piper’s biology course at Bethel College in North Newton, KS, the landscape of which could not possibly be more different than San Vito!

Bethel College students at Finca Cantaros.

Bethel College students at Finca Cantaros.

The 16 students have been traveling in Costa Rica since January 3 and their stay here at the Las Cruces Biological Research Station gives them an OTS hat-trick for visiting all three stations, including Palo Verde and La Selva. Their interest in birds and, we hope, bird study, was piqued by close-up looks of at a handsome White-throated Robin, Speckled Tanager, one male and one female Rufous-tailed Hummingbird and two neotropical migrants, an Ovenbird and a Northern Waterthrush.

Over many years, Jon has been bringing groups of students to Costa Rica in January where they become familiar with the many different habitats in this tiny country. They participate in biological study projects, are continually quizzed and challenged and eventually have their final exam.

Beth Piper, seen at right.

Beth Piper, seen at right.

Several years ago, the Piper family came to live in San Vito during a sabbatical year for Jon and they have been missed by all of us associated with Las Cruces/ Wilson Botanical Garden ever since. It was good to have Jon’s wife Beth with him this year — if only for a moment!  We look forward to more Piper-style visits with curious, funny and bright students in years to come.

Las Anilladoras Julie Girard y Alison Olivieri dieron una demostración con redes de niebla el pasado 22 de Enero, 2013 para estudiantes del profesor Jon Piper del curso de biología del instituto  Bethel al norte de Newton KS, en donde el paisaje no podría ser mas diferente que el de San Vito.

Los 16 estudiantes han estado viajando por Costa Rica desde Enero 3 y su estadía aquí en la Estación Biológica Las Cruces completa el triplete perfecto luego de visitar las otras dos estaciones de la OTS en Costa Rica, una localizada en Palo verde Guanacaste y la otra en la Selva en Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí. Su interés en aves y esperamos sus futuros estudios en esta rama, se hayan acentuado después de observar a muy corta distancia un White-throated Robin, Speckled Tanager, un macho y una hembra de Rufous-tailed Hummingbird y dos migrantes neotropicales: un Ovenbird y un Northern Waterthrush.

A Piper-style Pop Quiz -- answer: Mulberry bush!

A Piper-style Pop Quiz — answer: Mulberry bush!

Por varios años, Jon ha traído grupos de estudiantes a Costa Rica en Enero donde el grupo se familiariza con los muchos y diferentes ecosistemas que ofrece este pequeño país. Los estudiantes participan en proyectos de estudio biológicos, son continuamente evaluados con exámenes cortos y desafiados con la materia, eventualmente también son examinados al  final de curso.

Hace algunos años atrás , la familia Pipier vino a vivir a San Vito durante un año Sabático para Jon y han sido extrañados por todos los que tenemos relación con las Cruces/Jardín Botánico Wilson desde entonces. Fue grandiosos el tener a la esposa de Jon (Beth) con el este año—al menos por un momento! Esperamos con ansias mas visitas al estilo Pipier con mas estudiantes curiosos , graciosos y brillantes en los años por venir.

First Publication from the Avian Monitoring Project

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As the holiday lull draws to a close, we are pleased to ramp up to 2013 by posting the first publication resulting from our Avian Monitoring Project.

After seven years of work, we have had some interesting captures and re-captures but none as exciting as finding a Black-cheeked Ant-tanager in San Vito.

Please read our short paper, published in the Boletin Zeledonia 16:2 under “Comunicaciones” (http://avesdecostarica.org/page27.html). The Zeledonia is the ornithological journal published twice a year by the Asociacion Ornitologica de Costa Rica. You can find both English and Spanish versions, by clicking here.

En vista que los días festivos están llegando a su fin, estamos complacidos en comenzar el 2013 con nuevos bríos mostrándoles nuestra primera publicación del proyecto de anillado de aves del club de aves de San Vito.

Después de 7 años de trabajo, tenemos algunas capturas y recapturas  muy interesantes, pero ninguna tan única como el encontrarnos a un Black-cheeked Ant-tanager en San Vito.

Por favor lea nuestra pequeña publicación en el Boletin Zeledonia 16:2 bajo “Comunicaciones” (http://avesdecostarica.org/page27.html). Zeledonia es una revista de ornitología publicada dos veces al año por la Asociacion Ornitologica de Costa Rica. Ud podrá encontrar ambas versiones en ingles y español: haga click aqui.