Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina)

The Common Ground-Dove is very similar to related species Ruddy and Plain-breasted Ground-Doves, however the Common is lighter in coloration, with a pink bill that is diagnostic; it also shows a scaled pattern in the throat and neck, which is missing from the other ground doves. Also similar to these species is the Inca Dove, which even behaves similarly as it forages most of the time on the ground, however the scaled appearance in the whole body should preclude any confusion. The male is ligher than the female, which looks grayish. All ground doves feature dark spots in the tips of primaries and secondaries, which look like a curved line when the wings are closed, although the Common’s should area spots are more numerous and do not form a line.

Common Black Hawk (Buteogallus anthracinus)

The Common Black Hawk is one of Costa Rica’s predatory birds. With an almost entirely black body (only interrupted by a white tail band), it can look similar to a Black Vulture, however the yellow bill with hooked black tip sets it apart. The common name in Spanish is derived from their diet, which is mainly crabs and crustaceans. This means it is more common to find them at beaches or near a river’s mouth, where crabs are found in great numbers. We watched this hawk as it grabbed small crabs from the beach, then flying away and landing in nearby palm trees to eat them. While soaring, they resemble a Black Vulture, except for the white tail band, so it is better to look closely when a group of Black Vultures are flying overhead.

Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis)

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.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl)

The Rufous-tailed Hummingbird is very common throughout the country and likes to forage at eye level in nearby gardens. They are very numerous around Porter Weeds, which is a prolific bush that grows in the low and mid elevations. They are territorial and known for being a bully against other hummingbirds, fighting with them and driving them out of their feeding zone frequently. It has a medium size and brilliant green colors in the chest, while the bill is red and the tail is reddish. It bears some resemblance to the Coppery-headed Emerald, however the latter species is smaller and has iridescent copper hues on the head as its name implies, and the Rufous-tailed has a red bill instead of black.