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.
The Collared Trogon is one of the species that most closely resembles the Resplendent Quetzal. It has a red belly and green head, both matte unlike the quetzal, which looks a lot more metallic. The trogon also has a white ring that separates the green chest from the red belly. Its tail is finely striped black and white on the underside, whereas the quetzal has mostly white on this feathers, with some black feathers on top of them that may show up sometimes. They share a yellow bill, but the trogon has a red eyering and a black face, features not present on the quetzal.
Like many species of the Trogon family, they normally perch and stay motionless for minutes on the same branch, sometimes calling each other or moving their heads from side to side very slowly. Then they can burst into flight, either to change perch or to catch insects, which are part of their diet.
The Collared Inca is a large hummingbird, one we saw both at Rio Blanco Natural Reserve, and at Tatamá National Park. The bill is particularly long and thin, able to feed from deep flowers than other hummingbirds can’t. Its most striking feature is the black head with a white throat, and a body that mixes black, green and blue. The legs are light pink and it has some partially white feathers on the tail, which can be seen at times during flight. The female has less black and a lighter green coloration than the male, but size and shape are identical between both. The wing flapping speed of hummingbirds is so fast, that even at 1/1600 seconds of shutter speed, the wings are not entirely frozen.
The Rufous-collared Sparrow is a common sight in the Central Valley of Costa Rica and the surrounding mountains, and it is also common in the regions of Colombia that we visited. It can be seen hopping in the grass, on the lookout for small worms and insects. They are not shy at all of people and will enter houses and buildings looking for food that may lie on the floor. The Juvenile lacks the Rufous collar around the neck and back. Common does not mean any less fascinating, and the “Comemaiz” is one of those common birds in Costa Rica that has more than one trick down its sleeve.
The White-collared Manakin is a really exotic bird. The way you find it is by the crackling sound that they make when flapping their wings. It is amazing to see the displays of males jumping from one branch to another, trying to impress females. The combination of bright-red legs, olive rump, yellow underparts, white collar and black cap and wings results in a colorful bird, not easily confused with other birds. As is often the case in birds, the female is olive in coloration, making it more difficult to spot inside the canopy. It is common in the Caribbean, although in the Pacific there is an “equivalent” species, the Orange-collared Manakin, which has essentially the same size and behavior, just differs in the color of its throat as its name my imply. A wonderful pair of bird species to see indeed.
The Collared Aracari is very similar to the Fiery-billed Aracari, but the upper part of the beak does not have the green-yellow-red coloration found on the Fiery-billed, and the ring around the belly is darker; also the ranges do not overlap, with the Fiery-billed Aracari seen in the Central and South Pacific, and the Collared Aracari seen in the Caribbean and the Northern Pacific. Both the Fiery and Collared Aracaris have a bright red rump, which differentiates them to the Yellow-throated and Keel-billed Toucans, which have white rumps. The juveniles have a very similar coloration, however their beaks and chest are duller in appearance, and overall the plumage is fluffier. The Collared Aracari is known in Costa Rica as the Gangster, as they always come in groups, bullying other birds that may be at food sources.
I saw this little bird for the first time at the reserve called “Locos por el bosque”, which translates to “Crazy for the forest”, located in Coronado, San José. A single individual perched on a wire fence, which separated the trail from the forest area. It inhabits the mid elevation forests in Costa Rica, including the San Gerardo de Dota area, where this picture was taken. It is locally known as “Men’s friend”, due to its behavior of following people through the trails as they hike the area, potentially looking for the insects that are flushed by them. Their upperparts are entirely black, with the exception of a small red-brown crown. The face is bright yellow, featuring a black iris. The upperparts are entirely yellow, except for the underside of the tail feathers, which are white.