Monday, February 4, 2013

Birding La Selva Biological Station Part I: Hainers Gonna Hain

White-necked Puffbird!!!! All photos today from La Selva.

La Selva Biological Station is world famous for the research that gets done in the huge tract of primary forest there...but aside from that important fact, the birding is epic and that is why you and I know it. In fact, the birding here is considered legendary in some circles, so we were really excited to hut the trails here. Upon arriving, we were initially disappointed to find out that A) It costs $32 to get in and B) All that gets you is a guided tour. In retrospect, it might just be worth it to spend a couple nights there to get full access to the extensive trail system (as well as get all your meals on site)...but we bit the bullet, and just hoped that our guide would be a deec birder.

We lucked out; we got a Jedi birder Tico (whose name was pronounced "Hainer"...Tico names were generally not familiar sounding to us) who did an ace job catering to our birdnerd group. Hainer really knew how to spot wildlife deep in dense foliage, much to our amazement, especially birds. By the time we left, we agreed that the birding was so good that it was worth the cost; it turned out that La Selva's entrance fee was the most we paid for the whole trip.

This puffbird was one of my favorite birds of the trip. Look how lovable it is.

Hainer was actually so good that after that morning we began using his name to describe miraculous bird sightings, i.e. "Dude, I can't believe you Hainered that parrot. How the fuck did you even see it? Jesus Christ." Hainers gonna hain, know what I'm saying?

One of the highlights of the trip was when Hainer left us at the end of the morning and we were thanking him for getting us on so many birds. Frank gushed to him, "Hainer, you have amazing eyes.", which totally made Hainer think Frank was coming on to him. Many laughs were had at Frank's expense for the rest of the trip.

More La Selva birds to come soon!

Puffbirds really have a unique bill shape...anyone know what their favorite foods are?

Crested Guan. Lots of these huge, prehistoric monsters roam around La Selva, be it in the deep woods or next to the cafeteria.

Guans know how to cut a pretty sweet profile.

Crested Guan bomb.

I guess its about time I posted a picture of a parrot, since this is the rainforest and all. This is a Red-lored, a very common and widespread Amazona parrot that goes all the way north into northeastern Mexico.

Frank and Stilt get crowded by a Brit photographer. This is the awesome suspension bridge that runs over the river.

La Selva was where we finally ended the trogonless segment of the trip. This is a female Slaty-tailed Trogon, probably the easiest trogon to identify in the country.

After Gartered Trogon (formerly known as Violcaceous Trogon), Slaty-tailed was the most abundant trogon of the trip.

Rufous Mourner. It looks a lot like a Rufous Piha.  Both are cool birds that are really good at just sitting around for long periods of time. Being rufous.

There it is.

You might recognize this creature better in this position, instead of hanging like a bat. It's a Two-toed Sloth.

Dipper Dan may look like he is noticing a third nipple for the first time, but its actually a tick embedded in his chest. I've been in many worse places for ticks, mosquitoes and biting flies in the U.S., but expect more than a little of your blood to be sucked out while in the tropics.


  1. I once saw a Pied Puffbird brutally assassinating a huge cicada in Panama; your puffbird's bill looks pretty similar!

    1. God, I couldn't believe how loud the cicadas were at a couple places in CR...they made my ears ring. I could definitely imagine a puffbird crushing a cicada with no problem.

  2. Sweet stuff. $32 is about the steepest entry fees I've ever heard of for a nature preserve. That must keep out all but the most devoted and die hard nerds.

    I'm continually surprised by how much light you're getting in your shots, despite this all being in canopy jungle. Very impressive.

    That Piha is maybe my favorite.

    1. Thanks Laurence. I was generally shooting at high ISOs to deal with the low light, although I was happy that the puffbird was actually in good sun. It also helps when birds are absurdly close to you.

  3. SLOTH!!!!! Fuckin a. The amazing eyes comment cracked me up. I just thought about it and it cracked me up again. Good anecdote. I can't even comment on the birds.

    1. It was really funny. You could see Hain's eyes go from amazing to deeply disturbed in a matter of seconds.

  4. Yeah, just what does that puffbird eat? Probably giant bugs that lurk in the canopy or baby sloths.