Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda)

The Rufous-tailed Jacamar is an exotic bird found on both the Caribbean and South Pacific rainforests of Costa Rica. Its shape and bright colors make it resemble a very large hummingbird, but it does not fly like one. The long bill is useful to catch bigger insect and tossing them against a branch to kill them. Both the belly and underside of the tail is rufous, while the chest, back and head is blueish-green. The male has a white throat, while in the female the throat is buffy. It likes to perch in higher branches to deliver its song, a series of piercing notes that accelerate to the end.

Gartered Trogon (Trogon caligatus)

The Gartered Trogon is another relative of the Resplendent Quetzal, being part of this conspicuous family. To distinguish from other similar yellow-bellied trogon species occurring in the country (Black-throated and Black-headed), look for the yellow orbital skin in the male and fine barring on the wings in the female. The blue throat of the male can look deceivingly black inside the forest, and in juveniles might not be bright enough yet to be noticeable. Also the Black-headed is bigger to the Gartered, while the Black-throated is the same size. The pattern on the underside of the tail, likely to be seen as the birds perch relatively high, can also be a telltale sign, with the Black-headed lacking any barring on the undertail. A metallic green back completes the look of the male, while the female is duller, with gray head and back.

Grayish Saltator (Saltator coerulescens)

The Grayish Saltator belongs to the same family as the Black-headed Saltator, which at my parent’s home in Río Frío is much more common. As it name implies, its upperparts are gray, but the underparts are brownish, particularly close to the vent. The throat has a central white stripe, bordered by two black strips. It also shows a white supercilliary which ends right after the eye. The beak is strong as other Saltators. They sometimes come to fruit feeders, but are more wary that most other birds.

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.

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.

Blue-black Grassquit (Volatina jacarina)

This is a very small and nervous bird. Taking a close up picture of this bird proved to be difficult, even during sunny days with great light available. The male in low light it looks black, but in sunlight it glows in a metallic blue color. The female is rather drab, sporting a brown look. The male perches in fence wire and posts, then suddenly starts jumping while making its call, doing acrobatic maneuvers in mid air, all to attract nearby females.