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.

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.

Torrent Tyrannulet (Serpophaga cinerea)

The Torrent Tyrannulet is a very small flycatcher; few other flycatchers are smaller like the Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher. The Torrent Tyrannulet inhabits river and torrents in the highlands of Costa Rica, which commonly feature rocks in and alongside the stream. It is rather dull, with overall white to gray body but black wings, tail and face. They catch insects in the air using acrobatic motions. They usually perch on rocks instead of branches, which means they are found close to ground or water level. While spooked easily by an approaching person, standing or sitting motionless for a while allows them to become used to a person’s presence, resulting in natural and even curious behavior. One such time, a bird perched on branch at a distance where my lens would not even focus (less than 2.2 meters away), and would look at me, like it was trying to decipher what I was.

Eastern Wood-Pewee (Contopus virens)

The Eastern 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 Western Wood-Pewee. The best field mark is the bill, which has orange lower mandible with a black tip. 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 Western 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.

Yellow-bellied Elaenia (Elaenia flavogaster)

This bird is mostly brown in the upperparts, gray head and yellow belly. The beak’s lower mandible is yellow, while the upper mandible is black. The most conspicuous feature of this bird is the raised crest, which distinguishes it from other Elaenia’s and the Tropical Kingbird. It has two characteristic sounds, one which is a single sweet note, and the other which is a series of swirling high pitched calls, more commonly heard when affirming its territory.