Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor)

Boas are not venomous snakes, instead they are constrictors as their name implies, which means that they use their powerful muscles to wrap itself around their prey and asphyxiate them. It combines gray skin with big red blobs and yellow-black lines that form a distinctive pattern; its skin is somewhat iridescent though, showing some blue and green hues sometimes. Since the red blobs are bigger towards the tail, it is sometimes called “Red-tailed Boa”. The eye is black, with the typical vertical pupils of most snakes. They inhabit rain forests, due to their preference to stay in warm, wet places with plenty of potential prey, which includes mice, birds and amphibians. Their preferred hunting technique is the ambush, waiting for prey to get close enough before launching an attack.

All pictures taken under a controlled environment at Mirador El Pizote, Boca Tapada, Costa Rica.

The sunset was raging over San Carlos river as I was taking photos with the macro lens. The colors just amaze me.
A little bit later and the colors changed to deep blue and purple. The boa was very active, moving from one part of the branch to the other.
Almost having a universal name, the Boa Constrictor is not venomous, but kills by wrapping itself around its prey, using its powerful muscles to asphyxiate them.
The muscles in this snake are very strong, giving it a stocky appearance. It can reach a length of 4 meters, with females being larger than males.

Agami Heron (Agamia agami)

The Agami Heron is simply the most beautiful heron species to be seen in Costa Rica. It is also one of the most secretive heron species in Costa Rica, rarely seen in its territory. Luckily, a colony of up to 100 pairs are nesting each year in the Pacuare Reserve, Limon, which is dedicated to marine turtle conservation and research. The nesting spot is located in a small terrain surrounded by a lagoon that is full of crocodiles, which prevents other natural predators from eating their eggs or chicks, and the eggs are laid up in the trees, out of reach for crocs.

The throat is red with small light blue feathers that cover it forming a pattern. The head is blue with a light blue cap, which looks ike hair styled to the back. The bill is very long, with the upper mandible being black and the lower yellow. The upper parts are blue, with a few light blue feathers, while the feathers on the body are chestnut. The Juvenile is almost entirely brown.

While basking in the sun, this Agami Heron raised its wings for a bit, revealing the chestnut colors of the lower body.
It also seemed to have an itch in the head, as I saw it scratching its head repeatedly with its right leg.
From time to time, it would prun its feathers with its beak, particularly in the should area.
There it stood on that same branch for over half an hour. Vegetation around was dense, but we were lucky to have a windows to see it through.

Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, (Eupherusa eximia)

Stripe-tailed Hummingbirds are distinguished from other hummingbirds by its rufous wing patch, although that characteristic is shared with the Blue-tailed (rare in Costa Rica) and Black-bellied Hummingbirds. It has a white vent and tail underside, along with the outer two feathers of the tail being white on the upperside. The male shows a dark blue patch on the throat which continues until the chest. During flight, the wings look almost entirely rufous, with only a lining of green feathers on the shoulders. The female has a white throat and chest. Both sexes resemble the Coppery-headed Emerald, although the latter is smaller.

This male stood on a leaf as many other hummingbird species flew by at high speeds, coming and going into the feeders.

Three-wattled Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculatus)

Bellbirds are very unique birds, not easily confused with any other bird species in Costa Rica. As the name implies, the male has three protuberances on the faced called “wattles”, which by itself puts them in a category of their own. The head and throat are white, with a chestnut body, a color combination that is unlike every other bird in the country. The female is olive, with yellowish underparts that have red stripes; it could be confused with a Flycatcher, however it is a log bigger in size than the Boat-billed Flycatcher. Bellbirds in Costa Rica display altitudinal migration patterns and hence can be seen in coastal areas like Golfito, and mountainous areas like San Ramon. Males are found actively calling during the breeding season, which starts on March and ends by July. Juveniles resemble the females, but would try to sing with varied degrees of success, as they learn from their parents the delicate art.

Seeing is believing, and with the Three-wattled Bellbird it also includes hearing. Not just the protuberances in the face, but the sound of this song is unique among Costa Rica birds.
Just a few minutes after this picture, a Crested Guan landed in a nearby tree and scared this male that had been performing for a long time in front of us.

Pale-vented Pigeon (Patagioenas cayennensis)

The Pale-vented Pigeon is relatively large sized, only falling shart to the Scaled and Band-tailed Pigeons. Unlike the Band-tailed, which is found in the higher elevations of Costa Rica, it inhabits the lowlands on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts, along the northern region up to the border with Nicaragua, a range that is almost entirely shared with the Scaled Pigeon. In terms of appearance, it resembles a Red-billed Pigeon, but with a gray head, black bill and white belly and vent; also the wing has more red on the shoulder region than a Red-billed Pigeon. Like the other mentioned species, they are mostly arboreal, although when living within human settlements they can be found perched on man-made structures or walking in the ground as they grab food leftovers.

A very common pigeon in Tortuguero National Park. We saw many of these pigeons around the town.

Brown-crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus tyrannulus)

The Brown-crested Flycatcher is a resident species, member of the Myiarchus family, which is notably difficult to identify at a species level. The Brown-crested is found only in the northern Pacific area, up to about the Tarcoles river. It shares distribution with the Nutting’s Flycatcher, and are difficult to differentiate given its essentially equal coloration except for the rump; their song is an important trait to identify them. The Brown-crested is also found in mangrove forest edge, whereas the Nutting’s is not.

A small flycatcher with the usual yellow belly look. It was interesting to see this individual raising its crest, most probably a display to let us know we were in his/her territory.

Nicaraguan Seed-Finch (Sporophila nuttingi)

The Nicaraguan Seed-Finch is one of Costa Rica’s biggest finches species, only surpassed by the Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch, which is even rarer and has a longer tail. It looks similar to the Thick-billed Seed-Finch, with the male being uniformly black and the female uniformly brown, albeit with a bigger size. Their bills are undoubtely specialized for breaking down seeds and the male’s bill is particularly conspicuous, given its pink coloration. In Costa Rica, it can be found in lowland areas of the northern area, near the border with Nicaragua, and in a thin strip along the eastern coast of the Caribbean.

A number of times, this female stood on the fence wire. It was like a cat and mouse game, with us approaching and she escaping most of the times.
A sought-after bird in the northern area of Costa Rica, we also saw the male, however the female cooperated the most. They inhabit tall grass lands and are found in the company of other seedeaters like the Collared and Variable Seedeaters.

Olivaceous Piculet (Picumnus olivaceus)

The Olivaceous Piculet is the smallest bird species in the Woodpecker family. Its sound as it pecks on vines resembles that of the Telegraph, hence its common Spanish name, “Telegrafista”. Both male and female show very small white dots all over the crown, with the male also sporting bright orange feathers on the front of the head. The flanks of both sexes look faintly streaked in light brown and white, while the upperparts are dark brown. The center feathers that cover the tail’s upper side are white. Its range is restricted to two main zones, one in the northern part of Costa Rica up to San Juan river, and another in the southern region, from Quepos down to Ciudad Neily and Rio Jimenez.

This male hanged from a thin strand of a parasitic plant. Both male and female held acrobatic positions for a while and let us become very close without any sign of disturbance.
A pair of this diminute woodpecker species gave us a show just by the side of the road, in Boca Tapada. They perched in low branches, and let me get very close for this picture.

Cabanis’s Wren (Cantorchilus modestus)

A recent split from the Plain Wren, all three species held this name because of the lack of most field marks when compared with most other wrens. Along the Cabanis’s which can be found in the northwest region of Costa Rica, the Canebrake Wren occupies the Eastern portion (Caribbean), and the Isthmian Wren is found in southern region of the country. These small birds have a brown eye with white supercilliary, brown upperparts with the tail showing black stripes. The underparts are grayish to white. Like most wrens, the Cabanis’s is an avid songbird. Its song is complex, consisting of a variety of high notes and chirps that give away their presence. Even so, they are difficult to locate as their main habitat is dense forest edges, where they jump from branch to branch, camouflaged by the leafs and branches of bushes and trees.

Wrens are always difficult to photograph, but this individual cooperated more than expected. They are easy to locate due to their loud song, but very difficult to see as they stay inside dense vegetation most of the time. We spotted this one in Boca Tapada, just by the side of the road.

White-collared Seedeater (Sporophila torqueola)

The White-collared Seedeater is very similar in shape to the common Variable Seedeater, and the male particularly resembles the Pacific race of the latter species. As with most seedeaters, the female is brown, but with a lighter color than other species. The male has a wide white collar around the neck, while the Pacific race of the Variable Seedeater has a thin line that does not join in the back of the neck and shows a black throat. The White-collared has wing bars, which no other seedeater in Costa Rica posses. Both species can be readily found in open pastures, where they share their main habitat and compete for food, specially grass seeds.

Seedeaters tend to not gain the attention of most birders, but I believe this is the most beautiful seedeater species that we can see in Costa Rica. This individual stood on the fence wire as we drove through Boca Tapada; the picture was taken from the car window.