Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Virgen Del Socorro Part II

Ok, back to Costa Rica. I'm really taking my sweet time with this stuff I realize...we are only on day 6 of almost 3 weeks of solid birding.

Right. By far the commonest bird at Virgen Del Socorro was White-collared Swift. Huge flocks of them would descend to canopy level, decimating insects who thought they would be able to escape below the swifts' radar.

These are no puny Chaetura swifts either: in fact, you are looking at what is almost the world's largest swift. To give you an idea of how monstrous these things are, Chimney Swift has a wingspan of 11-12 inches. The wings of a White-collared Swift span about 20 inches. When soaring with their tails spread, they appear more similar to Mississippi Kites than Chimney Swifts.

I first met these birds in Mexico's EPIC Cave of Swallows a couple years was good to see them again in large numbers in Costa Rica. Amazing birds.

Ah, the Tufted Flycatcher. Oddly, this is a bird I've only seen in Arizona until now. It is the closest Empidonax come to being able to melt faces. Ryan Terrill has corrected me. It is not an Empid at all, but a member of Mitrephanes...which is something I've never heard of before now. Well, that's why I'm not Number 7 in Costa Rica... 

We found them to be fairly common at mid and higher elevation sites. Although they share the same color palate as the more northerly Buff-breasted Flycatcher (I believe there is some range overlap in Mexico), their big exuberant crest is a big advertisement of their identity.

Philadelphia Vireos are all over the place in Costa Rica. Much like Golden-winged Warbler (another widespread and common Costa Rican bird during the winter), they are bizarrely widespread and common, very different how birders experience them in the United States. I've been lucky enough to see quite a few in the states, but it was pretty sick to find actual flocks of them.

The dark lores and yellow throat and breast distinguish these from Warbling Vireos, which are comparatively rare in the country.

Not a great picture, but we were more than happy to see this Collared Trogon, the only one of the trip (aka "TOOOTT"). We killed it on trogons though, I think Orange-bellied and Elegant were the only ones we missed. I am grateful we have a trogon in the U.S. to represent such a family of facemelt.

On the way out of the area, we were stopped by an enormous pack of adorable White-nosed Coatis.

There were many.

A herd, in fact.

What is the most appropriate, natural and healthy item to feed a coati? Obviously its a bright blue jolly rancher type thing, which is perfectly shaped to balance on the tip of a coati's oddly-shaped nose. So natural and wholesome.

La Virgen was a great spot to spend a half day birding...its very close to the La Cinchona feeders and not far from the Poas area...we birded it on the way out of the Sarapiqui lowlands, so it is very centrally located. The damage from the earthquake that shut down this road for some time a couple years ago has been repaired. Aside from other previously mentioned TOOOTTs (the first Virgen post is here, in case you missed it), Black-capped Pygmy Tyrant and Kentucky Warbler were picked up here as well.


  1. Not to pile on the pointing out errors bandwagon, but White-naped Swift (Mexican endemic) is the world's largest.

    1. Crap. It could also be the Purple Needletail, now that Im looking into it. A quick half-assed search of measurements gives White-collared Swift a longer length (hmm), but shorter wingspan and much smaller mass than White-naped.

  2. Sweet stuff. One must be swift of camera to photograph Swifts.

    Coatis are like Platypus, like three or four animals put together.

  3. So, if you weren't a car what would the coatis do? I am imagining they would just hang on you and snuggle. Don't crush my dreams of this.

  4. I lost track - that's only day 6? Jeebus.

    I gotta go to Costa Rica.