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House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)

The House Wren is very common throughout Costa Rica, found in many habitats from plantain crops to open pastures; indeed as its name implies, they frequently approach homes and even construct their nests under the ceilings. It almost has not distinctive features, being brown overall with very fine barring on the wings. Its song is high pitched and composed of a great variation of chips and whistles, a delight to hear such a complex melody. They usually jump from one place to another very rapidly, not remaining in a single place for long.

Black-striped Sparrow (Arremonops conirostris)

This sparrow has a very peculiar song. It starts with a pair of very high and a lower note, just about a second apart, and the pair is repeated a few times. Then it starts to do a third note, and repeats it many times, in an accelerating fashion, until it stops and becomes silent. Then the song starts again. It is found in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica, in areas of dense vegetation cover. Its underparts are gray, while the upperparts are olive in color. It has two black stripes on its head, one on each side, separated by a gray stripe on the center. It also has a black line that passes through the eyes and almost reaches the neck.

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)

The Baltimore Oriole is a colorful, migratory bird that can be seen all around the country during migration season. With such bright orange body and black head and wings, the male almost looks like a very poisonous beetle, but no bird species is poisonous to the extent of my knowledge. The female is duller, and does not have a black head as opposed to the male. The juvenile bird is even duller or pale when compared with both adults, though in low light it can be confused with the adult female.

This species comes from North America during late autumn and winter to escape the harsh, cold weather and find the abundance of the Costa Rican Tropical Rain Forest every year. I have seen it in various places, including Ciudad Colón, Río Frío, Sarapiquí and now Boca Tapada, where a lot of individuals were feasting on the fruit that the lodge administrator puts on the feeders. They can be seen fighting for the best feeding spots with Tanagers and Honeycreepers.

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)

As most warbler species, the Yellow Warbler moves very fast and frantically while foraging in small trees, giving out its characteristic “chip” song, which it repeats at length. It is very difficult to keep the bird in focus as it moves from place to place. It becomes a very common sight near home during September and October, when they migrate to the south, and during March and April when they return back to North America. The eye is deep black, which contrasts very nicely with the bird´s all-yellow body.

Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma)

The Montezuma Oropendola may not be the prettiest, but they nests are amazing. Typically a colony of these birds construct their long hanging nests in the same tree. Their display is also intriguing. Not only the metallic quality of their song is unique, but the way they hang themselves from the branch, spreading wings and then returning to their upright position is impressive.

Black-cowled Oriole (Icterus prosthemelas)

The Black-cowled Oriole is one of three similar resident species in Costa Rica, the other ones being Spot-breasted Oriole and Streak-backed Oriole, however both of those have markings as their name indicate, while the Black-cowled has black chest and head, along with the back and wings. They look bigger than Tanagers due to their long tail. In poor light, they can be confused with the Baltimore Oriole, but the Baltimore is migratory (does not occur from May to September) and the Black Cowled is only frequently observed in the north plains and the Caribbean side (Baltimore turns up anywhere in the country during migration).

I personally have seen this species once at Fincas Bambuzal, Rio Frio, and also at Laguna del Lagarto Lodge, Boca Tapada. Adults shared the feeder with Honeycreepers, Tanagers and the Baltimore Oriole. All of them abandoned the feeder when the Toucans arrived, or when any bird sounded the “Hawk” alarm call.

Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi)

The national bird of Costa Rica, known locally as “Yigüirro”, has a beautiful song and can be found almost anywhere in the territory. It is said that their song marks the start of the rainy season, so in past century, farmers would schedule their crops accordingly. It is now known that males sing to attract females for mating, and that the start of the rainy season just coincides with the start of the breeding season for this bird. They like to eat insects, but also eat fruit like papaya and banana. They are most fond of the ground, where they move along by hopping instead of walking.