Buff-rumped Warbler (Myiothlypis fulvicauda)

The Buff-rumped Warbler is a small, loud bird of the Caribbean and Pacific lowlands, usually found in close proximity to water streams and rivers, much like the Torrent Tyrannulet does in higher elevations. The places it inhabits are dark, hence it is difficult to see; look for two essential clues: 1) An accelerating high pitched song that seems to come from a water source and 2) a small white patch that swings from one side to the other close to the ground, which is caused by the bird’s habit to swing its tail in such a fashion. It can also be spotted as it flies away rapidly when people approach them.

Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)

The Western Wood-Pewee is part of the Contopus family, a very difficult family to identify to species level in the field. It is very similar to the Tropical Pewee and the Eastern Wood-Pewee. The best field mark is the bill, were only the base of the lower mandible is orange. This species, unlike the Tropical Pewee, is a passage migrant and will only stay in the country from mid-August to November, and from mid-March to May. In similar fashion to the Eastern Wood-Pewee (and further differentiating from the Tropical), this bird will return to the same perch after a sally, so observing the behavior can help with identification.

Cabanis’s Wren (Cantorchilus modestus)

A recent split from the Plain Wren, all three species held this name because of the lack of most field marks when compared with most other wrens. Along the Cabanis’s which can be found in the northwest region of Costa Rica, the Canebrake Wren occupies the Eastern portion (Caribbean), and the Isthmian Wren is found in southern region of the country. These small birds have a brown eye with white supercilliary, brown upperparts with the tail showing black stripes. The underparts are grayish to white. Like most wrens, the Cabanis’s is an avid songbird. Its song is complex, consisting of a variety of high notes and chirps that give away their presence. Even so, they are difficult to locate as their main habitat is dense forest edges, where they jump from branch to branch, camouflaged by the leafs and branches of bushes and trees.

Tropical Pewee (Contopus cinereus)

The Tropical Pewee is very similar to the Wood-Pewees (Eastern and Western), however the Wood-Pewees are migratory birds, found in Costa Rica only during two periods, August to November when they pass through in their journey to South America, and March to May when they return to the Northern hemisphere. They are difficult to differentiate, as their appeareance is very similar, however the Tropical is slighly smaller and has a yellowish belly, while the Wood-Pewees have a gray to white belly. Both Eastern Wood-Pewee and Tropical Pewee have a yellow lower mandible with dark tip, while the Western Wood-Pewee only has a small portion of the lower mandible being yellow. The Tropical Pewee has a darker crest than the Wood-Pewees as well.

White-browed Spinetail (Hellmayrea gularis)

The White-browed Spinetail was the only species of Spinetails we ever saw in Colombia. It inhabits the paramo at Nevado del Ruiz, at an altitude of 4,200 meters above sea level. Its body coloration is composed of brown back and head, gray belly, chest and throat, and a gray supercilliary on top of the black eye. With this colors, it might look very dull and uninteresting, however it is an amazing fact for this little bird to withstand the lack of oxygen and low temperatures of this elevation, specially during the night.

Streaked Xenops (Xenops rutilans)

The Streaked Xenops is part of the woodcreeper family, better known for their characteristic behavior: Their perch on vertical branches or tree trunks, holding themselves tight with their claws, and then start to climb while going in circles around the branch, probing with their bill for worms and insects that may hide in their crevices. It has very dull coloration, showing dark brown upperparts and light brown underparts with buffy streaking in the chest and belly. The bill is short and slightly curved up, with the lower mandible being pale from the base to half its length.

Plumbeous Sierra-Finch (Phrygilus unicolor)

Sierra-Finch is an appropriate name for this species, as they are specialized to live from 3,000 meters above sea level at higher. They are mostly seed eaters and take advantage of plants of the subparamo and paramo region. The male is gray in coloration, but sometimes looks blueish on overcast lighting. The female on the other side is streaked in a combination of brown, black and gray. While being a shy species, getting them at eye level is fairly easy, as the vegetation at such altitudes does not grow very tall, and due to the low oxygen content, they stay perched for long periods of time, presumably to conserve precious energy.

Great Thrush (Turdus fuscater)

The Great Thrush is virtually indistinguishable from the Glossy-black Thrush, as they both are black in coloration with orange bill and legs and a yellow eye ring. Both species have a large plump body, much larger than Costa Rica’s national bird, the Clay-colored Thrush. They are separated by altitude, with the Great Thrush inhabiting lower grounds below the Subparamo region. They hop on the ground in search of large insects to feed on, but when startled they take to the trees and hide within the branches.

Glossy-black Thrush (Turdus serranus)

The Glossy-black Thrush is virtually indistinguishable from the Great Thrush, as they both are black in coloration with orange bill and legs and a yellow eye ring. Both species have a large plump body, much larger than Costa Rica’s national bird, the Clay-colored Thrush. They are separated by altitude, with the Glossy-black inhabiting higher grounds in Subparamo and Paramo regions. They hop on the ground in search of large insects to feed on, but when startled they take to the trees and hide within the branches.

Brown Violetear (Colibri delphinae)

The Brown Violetear is a medium-sized hummingbird which has a violet ear patch, not surprising given its name. The body is mostly brown in coloration, with darker wing and tail feathers. The feathers covering its vent are whitish, as well as some of the throat feathers surrounding a small colorful patch in the center. It possesses a patch of green to blue iridescent feathers in the throat, something the Lesser Violetear does not possess. The black bill is relatively short and straight, which it uses to sometimes catch small insects on the flight. It is found in mid to high altitudes, particularly in humid areas where Porter Weed flowers are plentiful. Their small size and light weight let them perch in delicate branches without breaking them.