Thursday, May 9, 2013

Geri Birding At It's Best: More From La Cinchona

This Emerald Toucanet gave point-blank, facemelting views at La Cinchona...after this day, things have never been the same.

Geriatric birding first really came to light some years ago in Southeast Arizona. As birders who have visited may know, the area is ridden with people who willingly invite birders into their yards and property to watch the birds attracted to their feeders. In fact, these generous folks often provide the best places to see certain species in the entire country, i.e. White-eared Hummingbird and Berylline Hummingbird in Miller Canyon, Lucifer Hummingbird in Ash Canyon, etc. The birding at these sites is practically effortless; you just plop down in a chair and watch the bird show unfold at the feeders in front of you.

For reasons that I probably do not need to explain to you, many denizens of these publicly-accessible feeding stations are quite elderly, and thus the phrase "gereatric birding" was born. It was immediately abbreviated to "geri birding"...I'm not sure who coined the term originally, probably the one they call "Stilt". Or maybe it was the "Cassowary"?

I have strong feelings for this bird. What an amazing bill/face pattern.

As Red Phalarope Man has mentioned in the past, a study has already demonstrated Emerald Toucanet to actually consist of multiple species. One day, the AOU will likely accept the splits, and this Costa Rica bird will be (universally) known as Blue-throated Toucanet.

Geri birding is, of course, awesome. You just sit there and wrack up the birds, and are often provided with fantastic opportunities to crush them. While the geri birding scene in southeast AZ may be very good, Costa Rican geri birding is downright insane. Costa Rican geri birding spots are often just places with simple fruit feeders or a set of hummingbird feeders, but the La Cinchona Mirador (northeast of Volcan Poas) provides both. The original La Cinchona was destroyed by an earthquake several years ago, but this smaller-scale, newer version did not fail to completely melt my face off. The birding was incredible...our group of nerds all wracked up multiple lifer hummingbirds, including the mesmerizing Green Thorntail, which I failed to get a picture of. I highly recommend stopping by if you are in the area, the food is good too!

In case you missed it, here is the first post from La Cinchona.

Next up from Costa Rica...Volcan Poas!

Prong-billed Barbet was another great bird that came in to the fruit feeders. They seemed to move around rather slowly, and with great deliberation, unlike the one Red-headed Barbet I saw on the trip that was ravaging primary rainforest as part of a massive mixed flock.

As you can see, Prong-billed Barbets (and, allegedly, Red-headed) are partial to fruit feeders. What I won't tell you is how long I was watching this bird for, thinking it was an entirely different (and unrelated) species.

Green-crowned Brilliant really left its mark on me. Not only a large hummingbird, but one that looks stretched out as well...look how long its neck is!

This species lives up to its name. The iridescence the male can put off was previously unfathomable to me...if I found out the bird was radioactive, I would not be surprised. That's a female on the right side of the feeder.

Check out this male Coppery-headed Emerald...what a bird. I dig the dark teardrop around its eye.

This is one of those birds that, when seen at close range and in the right light, just completely resets your brain. For just a moment, the rest of the world does not exist. All of reality is comprised of a hummingbird.

White-bellied Mountain-Gem. Not the most glamorous species, but I like how this image came out. If you ever want to test your patience, try photographing hummingbirds mid-flight without a feeder anywhere in the frame. Not easy!

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird is familiar to anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes birding in most of Costa Rica. With the exception of high elevation sites, they are the commonest hummingbird almost everywhere you go.

Violet Sabrewing. A hulking beast of a hummingbird, a monument to facemelt. The awesome mass this bird possesses makes me wonder how the laws of physics allow this bird to still function in the form of a doubt, it was a gruesome and bloody accident that led to this bird being dubbed "sabrewing".


  1. Nice shots. I picked up Lucifer and Blue-throated Hummingbirds near Big Bend this weekend while geri birding.

    1. Sick. I really want to check out Big Bend someday...if only I could spend an April birding Texas!

  2. The term is actually pre El Centro material. It was coined at Patagonia Lake State Park, AZ, springtime, in front of an Elegant Trogon, originally out of exasperation. I think shortening of the term and some BBandB publicity will help it gain the widespread popularity it deserves! Geri birding rules!!!

  3. Some seriously sweet shots you have here. Geri birding sounds like the way to go!

  4. Wow.

    Major case of crushing these Seagull! I am going to have to get a facelift to repair my facemelt!