More Beautiful Costa Rican Birds

After staying near Quepos and visiting Manuel Antonio National Park, we made our last road trip up to Monte Verde.  I had never been there before so I was looking forward to it.  The mountainous drive was beautiful and not too steep, with many enjoyable views.  Upon arrival, we had to make our plan for the next day and we decided to go to a private reserve known for its birding guides, called Curi Cancha.  This turned out to be a good plan.  The trails there were well kept and it was great to have a guide for our first hike.  We had been walking for a little while, and had already seen the Emerald Toucanet, (below)

fixed toucanet


when I asked our guide if there was any chance we would see a motmot, another bird I was eager to see.  I think we walked down a little slope about 50 feet; it seemed like I had hardly gotten the words out of my mouth when he basically turned around and showed me one straight away.  I was thrilled!  And we were able to get several more looks at these beautiful birds.  This one was posing for us just outside our room at Cala Lodge.


A couple other of my favorite birds in Monte Verde were this Red-legged Honeycreeper and Slate-throated Redstart, that we saw while lunching at Stella’s Bakery.



And of course the Hoffman’s Woodpecker that we saw at Cala Lodge.


Monteverde was a really great place for beautiful birds and hiking through the cloud forest.  It was one of my favorite parts of our trip, possibly because I hadn’t been there before; the birds were gorgeous, and there were many lifers for me.  I would definitely recommend it as a stop for anyone visiting Costa Rica.


For more bird blogs, try Wild Bird Wednesday  and  The Birdin’ D’Pot.


Ohio Lifers

I had to take a break from our travels in Costa Rica to make note of some interesting things happening here in Ohio.  It has been such a cold, snowy winter that I haven’t gotten out much. I have always been a back-yard birder here in Ohio and I guess I still am.  I enjoy my feeders with all of the usuals taking their turns.  My favorite chickadees as well as the cardinals, juncos, blue jays and all the rest that I can watch from the comfy warmth of the house.  Still, there are so many birds here in Ohio that I have never seen that it had to happen sooner rather than later, that I would find a new lifer.  Sometimes, it is just a matter of paying attention to something that you have never paid attention to before and it helps to have your binoculars close at hand. Nevertheless, I was super excited to see my first Lifer for Ohio in about ten years, the Horned Lark.  I was always quite eager to see one of these, and I imagine that they were always close at hand but I had never paid them any attention before and they were always too far away to identify properly (I don’t have the best eyesight).

Lifer # 621 IMG_3448


Horned Larks seem pretty easy to find this winter.  They are typically the bird that I see flying off the side of the road as cars go zooming past.  It has been fun to discover as much as I can about them.  Usually I see them where there are empty fields on both sides of the road, away from any trees, bushes or houses.  They fly low to the ground most of the time, and I don’t see them take cover in bushes but instead fly far away and land on the ground again when they have been startled.  Maybe that seems like pretty basic info to lots of people, but I know next to nothing about larks.  I grew up in the mountains and they are not really the typical bird there.

Female Horned Lark:


A week or so later, I was fortunate enough to hear from a friend about a reliable, nearby location to see a Snowy Owl.  I had seen a Snowy once when I was a child (probably between 10 and 14 years old, though I am not sure) so this wasn’t a lifer for me but since it was so close we agreed to try looking for it. (There needs to be a word in birding lingo for a bird that isn’t a lifer but is close to it.)   We went out on Wednesday afternoon and drove to the small, country airport where it was regularly seen and then drove slowly around about a two mile block surrounding it.  We had absolutely no luck.  We spent much more than an hour and decided we had better head home, figuring that it wouldn’t be long before the owl would be spotted again, and that we just happened to miss it.

I was fortunate enough on the way home to spot a hawk.  We were later able to identify it as a Rough-legged Hawk.  Ohio Lifer #2.  Another common bird that I had probably seen before but had never bothered to stop and identify. No Snowy, but I couldn’t complain when I got another lifer.


Sure enough, the next afternoon, my friend called me and told me to drop everything.  She had decided to just pass by the nearby airport and, of course, the owl was there.  Jonathan and I headed out for a quick trip to get some photos.  It was bitter cold.  I only got out of the car briefly, got a good look at the owl on the roof and then retreated back to the warmth of the vehicle.  Jonathan, on the other hand, had the unenviable position of trying to get a decent photo in high winds with temperatures only a bit above zero.


The owl sat pretty calmly for us for a good while despite several cars stopped to look at it.  Eventually a hawk came by and startled the owl.  The owl retreated to a nearby snow pile. He was much too far away now to get a decent picture, but I like how he is perfectly camouflaged on a dirty pile of snow in the pictures that we did get.


Beautiful Birds!

Red-tailed Hawk

(Taking a short break from the Costa Rica pictures.  I have just a few left.)

This juvenile Red-tailed Hawk has been hanging around our place in Ohio for most of the winter.  We have seen him catch several small mammals including squirrels.  He often comes quite close to the house, one time even landing on the umbrella pole on our back deck.  On Saturday we got to watch him hunt “close up and personal” as they say.  He was in the trees, at the edge of our lawn, just above the three bird feeders there.  He wasn’t after any other birds though.  Little did I know how many rodents my bird seed was attracting. 


He quickly dropped down and landed on something.  In the below picture he has it in his talon.


He promptly proceeded to eat his meal as we watched through our back windows.  It appears to be a mole, a vole or a mouse. None of which I am too sorry to be rid of. 


He almost immediately repeated his same hunting tactic, catching another similar rodent just about five feet further into the woods, still at the edge.  This time he flew a little ways into the woods onto a favorite branch and swallowed the little thing down in a couple bites.  I was very impressed with his hunting prowess as he was now 2 for 2.  He ruined it later in the day when I watched him try again, this time missing two in a row.  I don’t see myself as especially bloodthirsty, but I must admit that when I see a bird has caught something to eat, I am very eager to get a look at it and see what it is.

Another beautiful bird – and useful!

Waterbirds of Costa Rica

After our sojourn into the mountains and our excellent views of the quetzal, we were ready for some warmer weather.  We were originally planning to stay another night at a different lodge in the mountains, but since we already had such good success at Trogon Lodge we decided to head down to Quepos and Manuel Antonio a day earlier.  We had not packed overly well for the cold in the mountains, and it would also enable us to get laundry done at the next place. 

We had hoped to spend a whole day and more at Manuel Antonio, mostly just hanging out at the beach or hiking a trail or two.  Unfortunately we had forgotten that they are closed on Mondays so here we were in Quepos, basically at the door of the park, but couldn’t get in.  We decided to go on a Mangrove swamp tour as our outing for the day, and then had only Tuesday morning for the park before we had to move on.

From a birding perspective, this turned out pretty well, as I got a number of lifers in the swamp including Southern Lapwing:




IMG_2056 (2)


the Mangrove Black-Hawk:


as well as Mangrove Swallow, and White Ibis.  We also had lovely views of Northern Jacana, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, and Spotted Sandpiper.

After our trip to the mangrove we decided to get lunch in Quepos and walk around the shore area where the fishermen unload their catch.  Here there was an abundance of Brown Pelicans,



and Magnificent Frigatebirds. I don’t know if the numbers of these birds cause them to be a pest in any way, but I have to say that I loved watching them soaring and swooping. 


I love the shape of their wings and their gracefulness as they glide.



Beautiful, Gorgeous, Magnificent!


All Photos copyright Jonathan Moeller.