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.

Gray-capped Flycatcher (Myiozetetes granadensis)

The Gray-capped Flycatcher is one of the birds with yellow chest that can easily be mistaken by one another. Size and a gray cap (as the name implies) are the main identification marks, tough it can be difficult to recognize the gray cap if the bird is perched above eye level. They look very similar to the Social Flycatcher, although it is more streamlined and the gray head is diagnostic, along the song more similar to the Great Kiskadee’s. It also resembles both the Great Kiskadee and Boat-billed Flycatcher, but both of those species are bigger and stockier, featuring different songs as well. The Tropical Kingbird is also similar, given its gray head, but it is bigger and has grayish upperparts, while the Gray-capped’s upperparts are brownish.

Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)

The Great Kiskadee is a very common bird in most of Costa Rica’s territory; many people can identify it based on its plumage or song, and indeed they can be very noisy. In particular, groups of up to five individuals may perch in branches while rapidly agitating their wings and calling each other with a high-pitched “Kiskadee” song, from where the English name is taken. My grandfather used to say that he would knew when I was coming, because this bird would start to call “Christopher, Christopher”. Of course I believed him, until I was old enough 🙂

Locally it is known as “Pecho Amarillo”, though some people call that name to the also common Tropical Kingbird. There are a few species that are very similar to the Great Kiskadee, like the Social Flycatcher and the Boat-billed Flycatcher, but they can be differentiated by size, song or range; also the rufous on the wings is diagnostic. It is a very common and noisy species under the rain. These bold birds will fight with hawks and toucans in flight, defending their eggs or chicks from predators.