White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)

The White Ibis is, well… entirely white in plumage. When spotted from a distance it can resemble a Great Egret, Cattle Egret or Snowy Egret, however the pink legs and face, along with the long, skinny downcurved bill is diagnostic. The tips of the wings are black, although that is only visible during flight. The juvenile has brown upperparts, and the neck is striped in brown and white, with gray legs and a darker bill. It is found in ponds and marshes in Guanacaste and the northern area of the country; also along the pacific coast of Costa Rica. Given its habitat, they usually wade in the shallow waters and mudflats, where pick small crustaceans and fish, just like Egrets do.

Blue-headed Sapphire (Hylocharis grayi)

The Blue-headed Sapphire is a very conspicuous hummingbird. It has an iridescent green body with brown wings and white feathers on its legs, sharing this combination of colors with many hummingbirds. However, its head is a deep blue, almost violet coloration, and it has a dark pink bill with a black tip, which makes it stand out of the crowd. It is shy in comparison with other birds that approached the feeders at Finca Alejandria, and when I first saw, it was on feeders inside the forest, in a very dark environment. It did came to a feather in the outside and perched long enough to get a good picture of it.

Green Ibis (Mesembrinibis cayennensis)

The Green Ibis is a large bird with a peculiar bill that almost looks like a sickle. The name is misleading, as most of the time this bird is found perched high in the trees early in the morning, so the lighting conditions make it look black. If you pay close attention, there is some green iridescence in the neck, and the body does look greenish, however most of the time it will resemble a Black Vulture. Their noisy call is only heard when they are flying from one tree to another one. They do come to the ground for feeding, but at the first sign of potential danger, they will fly off to safety high in a tree.

Scaled Pigeon (Patagioenas speciosa)

The Scaled Pigeon is a beautiful bird, unusually looking when compared when other species. Most pigeons are rather uniform in color, however this species has a attention-grabbing scale pattern on the belly and throat, based on brown and white coloration. I have seen this species three times now. The first time, I was just walking  by Fincas Bambuzal, in Rio Frio, when one individual appeared in the bamboo. The second time, I spotted a bird against harsh light in Boca Tapada; it looked like a silhouette, but after inspecting the picture, it revealed the colors of this species. The last time I could see it on Christmas day in Buenos Aires, perched on small branch on my grandfather’s backyard.

Sooty Thrush (Turdus nigrescens)

The Sooty Thrush is a bird similar to the Clay-colored Thrush, the national bird of Costa Rica, but with black plumage. The bill and feet are a striking bright orange, with a light blue iris featuring an orange eye ring. It can be found in the highest mountains in Costa Rica, either flying between trees, or hopping in the ground in typical thrush fashion. Its song is delivered in intervals and has a metallic, harsh quality. In Colombia, there are two species very similar to the Sooty Thrush, one called the Great Thrush and another one called the Glossy-black Thrush, however both have dark irises and yellow eye rings, and look plumpier than the Sooty.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendroygna autumnalis)

The Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is found in flocks taking residence around small ponds and lakes, becoming accustomed to people and relatively approachable. At dusk, they usually flock to the air, making circular trajectories and a lot of noise, and finally descending again into their watery home. Their calls are very high pitched and loud. Their necks are very flexible, so when resting, they normally turn their heads back and tuck they into the middle of their wings; they also like to stand up in one foot, with the other one hidden inside their belly feathers. Their bills are characteristically pink, as well as their legs. Juveniles are duller and have brownish bills instead. The Fulvous Whistling-Duck belongs to the same family and is very similar in shape, but has a different plumage coloration and gray bill and legs.

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

The Great Egret is a huge bird, measuring 1 meter from bill to feet. Its body is covered mostly on white plumage, with a bright yellow eye and bill, which is large and pointed, which helps to catch fish from rivers and ponds. Its long neck is most of the time coiled in an S-pattern. Its legs are black and very long, which helps to wade the shallow waters. Like most egrets, they inhabit the wetlands of Costa Rica, particularly at low altitude, and can be seen in rivers, ponds and small creeks. They stalk prey from the edge of shallow waters, standing still for minutes at a time while they observe their prey moving below the surface, and then launch their attack at the precise time to grab their prey.