Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bird Banding Bonanza in Costa Rica

A week on the avian monitoring project with the San Vito Bird Club was fantastic!  We caught hundreds of of birds in 6 days, at 3 different sites, and here are some of the highlights.  
White-ruffed Manakin
White-ruffed Manakin (Corapipo altera)
Tropical Parula
Tropical Parula (Setophaga pitioyumi)
The first day of mist-netting at Finca Sofia was our busiest day - we caught 72 individuals of 25 species - half of them were hummingbirds, mainly Green Hermits and Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds.  Other highlights from the heavily reforested Finca Sofia for the first two days were Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Slaty Antwren, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Orange-collared, White-ruffed and Blue-crowned Manakins, White-breasted Wood-Wrens, Clay-colored and White-throated Thrushes, a stunning Tropical Parula, Slate-throated Redstart, Rufous-capped Warbler, Cherrie's, Silver-throated and Bay-headed Tanagers, an Orange-billed Sparrow, 4 beautiful Chestnut-capped Brush-Finches and 2 less-common Costa Rican (Stripe-headed) Brush-Finches!
Orange-billed Sparrow
Orange-billed Sparrow (Arremon aurantiirostris)
Saltators proved to be the most challenging because of a horrible bite, and we caught both Streaked and Buff-throated Saltators.  Other hummingbirds included the tiny White-tailed Emerald, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird and Long-billed Starthroat.  Over the 2 days we caught 3 Blue-crowned Motmots, which despite an intimidating serrated bill, are incredibly calm!  Another highlight was a subtly beautiful Scaly-breasted Wren, a new capture for the San Vito Bird Club!
Blue-crowned Motmot
Blue-crowned Motmot (Momotus momota)
For the next two days, we moved the nets over to Finca Cantaros, a private property open daily to the public, who can come to walk the trails, see the gardens, enjoy picnic lunches and a lovely gift shop.  Here, there is a variety of habitats, including roadside, open areas, woodland, and a small lake.  In addition to a number of the forest birds we caught at Finca Sofia, we caught Violet Sabrewing, the tiny Stripe-throated Hermit, Olivaceous Piculet, Black-tailed and Sulphur-rumped Flycatchers, Gray-capped Flycatcher (4 in 1 net!), a pair of White-winged Becards nesting on the property, Rufous-breasted Wren, Buff-rumped Warblers, Gray-headed, Blue-gray and Golden-hooded Tanagers, Bananaquits, Variable Seedeaters, a stunning male Thick-billed Seed-Finch, Yellow-faced Grassquits, and a few Spot-crowned Euphonias!  The highlight of the day though, was a Fiery-billed Aracari that Alison grabbed as it ran through the tramels of the net (more to come on the aracari)!!
Olivaceous Piculet
Olivaceous Piculet (Picumnus olivaceus)
As Alison and I were opening the nets on the first day at Finca Cantaros, I looked across the pond and saw a white animal, which first struck me as a heron perched on an exposed log.  Then it moved its body and we could see a tail and a head, and it dove into the water, bobbed up and down a couple times and disappeared.  As it turns out, a leucistic Neotropical Otter has been infrequently seen in this pond, and we were lucky to see it!  

White-throated Spadebill
White-throated Spadebill (Platyrinchus mystaceus)
Our final station was at Alison's finca, Finca Cortesa.  Here the habitat hasn't been touched and this small property supports a lot of bird life!  The first morning here kept us busy with a constant stream of birds, including a family of Thick-billed Euphonias in the nets which provided a great identification challenge as we dealt with all ages and sexes!  This finca was also full of juvenile thrushes, both Clay-colored and White-throated.  On our last day, we recaptured a previously banded White-throated Spadebill, a wonderful little bird to see up close!  

Thick-billed Euphonia
One of 8 Thick-billed Euphonias (Euphonia laniirostris)
caught at Finca Cortesa
Overall it was a very successful session, everyone was very happy with the finds and we had a lot of fun!  I'm already looking forward to visiting the San Vito Bird Club again and hope to join another mist-netting session in the near future.  

~ Jenn 

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