The Barred Antshrike is a beautiful bird. The male for one part is entirely barred, with white and black lines covering the whole body. The female is not barred, but the brown coloration is pretty in itself, with a tuft that looks the most elegant. I have seen them in Rio Frio and also in El Rodeo, near Ciudad Colón. Their song is also very intriguing, with a series of accelerating, high-pitched chirps that then end abruptly on a harsher note. While they sing, they also incline their bodies up and down, presumably on a display to show ownership of their territory.
The Black-and-white Owl is very big, and usually perches high up in the trees. The face of the owl is black, with an orange beak and large black eyes, which enable the bird to hunt effectively during the night. From the throat to the vent, it shows fine barring in black and white, hence the name. We usually hear its call at my parent’s home during the evening, however this was the first time I saw it resting inside a bamboo forest during the day. I was riding my bicycle when I saw a dark blob in the bamboo, which at first I thought it was a vulture. Luckily I was carrying my camera on the backpack and when I came closer to inspect, I saw the owl.
There are three species of Tiger-Heron occurring in Costa Rica, and they resemble each other, which means identification is difficult. All three birds are very big in size and not probable to be confused with other wetland birds. The first time I saw this species as on August 20th, 2017 in Rio Frío, Sarapiquí. At first my parents told me that they had seen a very big, barred bird walk past their home a few days before that, but they could not describe the bird detailed enough to identify it. The sighting was a great treat for the day. I have been able to see many individuals since that time, wandering across small streams and even approaching the garden at my parent’s home.
Tiger-Herons are found on swamps and rivers, where they stalk fish from the edge or shallows. They move very slowly and silently to ensure prey don’t even notice their presence. They also stay motionless for quite some time, waiting for the prey to be in short range, before sending their long beaks in lightning fast action as a spear. The long neck provides plenty of muscle power, as well as the possibility to grab prey from a distance. This species can also forage outside the water environment, something I have witnessed a lot of times at my parent’s home, where they walk looking for prey through the farmlands.