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Brown-hooded Parrot (Pyrilia haematotis)

The Brown-hooded Parrot is a noisy species of parrot that travels in groups of 10 or more. I have seen them at Laguna del Lagarto Lodge, in Boca Tapada, which is located very close to the border with Nicaragua. They arrive to the fruit feeder in big numbers and compete with other birds for the food. Their defining mark is the head, which is brown, showing also red to rose cheeks and a white mask. Once they come to the perch, they move slowly through it, sometimes aided by their beak, which serves as a third limb to prevent falling. Compared with other species of parrots, it is medium sized, being much larger than the Orange-chinned Parakeet, and smaller than the Scarlet and Great Green Macaws.

Black-billed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus gracilirostris)

This small bird inhabits the highlands in Costa Rica. Its plumage is drab like most of the birds in its family, but its song is melodious, flute-like with a metallic quality. The belly and face are gray, with the upperparts being brown. While this colors are very similar to other birds in its family, it is identified by the black bill and the brown collar around the throat that separates the face from the belly. It perches in the understory of oak forest and can be found also hoping on the ground or through trails, in places where light is scarce. With enough patience, they will perch at eye level and remain motionless long enough for a good picture.

White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi)

The White-tipped Dove is so similar to the much more common White-winged Dove, that at first glance I doubted I was seeing another species, however upon closer inspection, the lack of white in the wings discards the White-winged; even the juvenile White-winged Dove has the white markings on the wings. Although not shown in the pictures, it has white markings on the tips of the tail that give this species its name. Another key difference is their behavior: White-tipped Dove tend to forage most of the time on the ground, and will climb onto trees only when startled, whereas the White-winged Dove is more arboreal and will come to the ground occasionally to feed on fallen fruit. White-winged Doves are a lot more confident in human presence, while the White-tipped becomes very nervous as people close in and will fly away of danger any time.

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.

Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa)

The Northern Jacana is a waterbird that inhabits swamps and marshes, where the water is not too deep. The bird walks in the shallows, looking for small fish and crustaceans. It can even walk over some water plants whose leafs are big enough to sustain this delicate bird, thanks to very long toes that help to distribute the weight across a greater extent of water surface. Another unique behavior is its polyandrous nature, meaning that females will mate with many males, and it is the males that prepare the nest and care for the eggs and chicks. It is brown overall with black throat and head, with a yellow shield on the front (Wattled Jacana’s and Common Gallinules have a red shield). The juvenile has white underparts and lacks the shield seen in the adult.

Yellow-faced Grassquit (Tiaris olivaceus)

The Yellow-faced Grassquit is a seedeater found on grasslands. I have seen this species a few times at Fincas Bambuzal, Rio Frio where my parents live. The yellow face is diagnostic when trying to identify versus other seedeaters that may inhabit the same zone. They like to perch both on grass branches and in fence wires at the edge of trails and gravel roads; they will usually share space with Variable Seedeaters and Thick-billed Seed-Finches, although they are not confused easily with those species. Small juveniles take the risk to abandon the nest and call for their parents to feed them. It is very difficult to locate them in the tall grass.

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)

The House Wren is very common throughout Costa Rica, found in many habitats from plantain crops to open pastures; indeed as its name implies, they frequently approach homes and even construct their nests under the ceilings. It almost has not distinctive features, being brown overall with very fine barring on the wings. Its song is high pitched and composed of a great variation of chips and whistles, a delight to hear such a complex melody. They usually jump from one place to another very rapidly, not remaining in a single place for long.

White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis)

The first time I saw this bird, it was in Fincas Bambuzal, Río Frío on November 6th, 2016. I was walking around the area, looking for the Laughing Falcon, when this bird suddenly arrived and perched in a bamboo branch, in one of the lots that is still covered by dense jungle vegetation. It was dark, and I had not enough time to change settings, so the pictures looked dark and noisy, however I conserved them because of how fortunate I felt of having seen that bird. Fortune would smile at me later, so I got better pictures now.

Fast forward to July 24th, 2018. I was at the same location, riding my mountain bike along the trails, when suddenly I saw a brown bird fly away from the trail. At first I thought it was a Clay-colored Thrush, but I decided that I would not lose anything by investigating. And there it was, a male perched on the bamboo with a green stinging nettle on its beak.

White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica)

The White-winged Dove has pretty much colonized Costa Rican cities; every few meters you can hear an individual with its characteristic “Who-cooks-for-you” call. I have seen them perched in utility wires, as well as in any kind of tree. It is also interesting that as they sing, they display by raising their wings and then returning to the normal position. This is the only dove that I know makes a display together with its call. It is very similar to the White-tipped Dove in terms of size and body shape, however the White-tipped does not have white feathers on the wings, has lighter underparts and its tail feathers display white tips, from which it gets its name. The iris is red, with blue orbital skin that contrast very nicely with the dull feather pattern.

Ruddy Ground-Dove (Columbina talpacoti)

The Ruddy Ground-Dove is a small dove that as implied by the name, forages primarily in the ground, and uses perches when startled or to roost. It is found almost all around the country. The male is distinctive with its reddish color, while the female is a lot duller, nearly gray in coloration. They are very wary of people and will start walking hurriedly if one approaches, then fly away very fast if one is getting too close to be comfortable.