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Field Guides Tour Report
Costa Rica 2016
Mar 5, 2016 to Mar 20, 2016
Jay VanderGaast, Vernon Campos, & Ernesto Carman

When it comes to tropical color, Costa Rica's many bright birds -- including this stunning male Red-legged Honeycreeper -- can't be beat. Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

Another year, another great trip to Costa Rica. You might think that after 30+ tours to this country, I'd be getting a little tired of it, but that is definitely not the case. Costa Rica is where my love of Neotropical birds was kindled more than 20 years ago, and I still love it. And this year's awesome tour has just reinforced that passion I have for this country and its birds.

We kicked things off in grand style at Virgen del Socorro on our first morning, picking up eye level views of a gorgeous pair of Barred Hawks circling over the road, then finding a fig tree laden with fruit, as well as howler monkeys and a great variety of birds: Bay-headed, Emerald, and Speckled tanagers, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Red-headed Barbet, Pale-vented Thrush, Golden-browed Chlorophonia, Crested Guan, and more. Retreating to La Paz Waterfall Gardens for lunch, we were enthralled by the numbers of cool hummingbirds at the feeders, not to mention the Sooty-faced Finches under our table, and Prong-billed Barbet, Spangle-cheeked Tanager, and Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush in the surrounding forest. It was a memorable first day in the field.

Things heated up (literally) in the Caribbean lowlands, and our time at La Selva was a whirlwind of wonderful birds: Great Curassows and a Great Tinamou strolling along the forest floor, a juvenile Gray-headed Kite gulping down a juicy green caterpillar, a White-fronted Nunbird calling noisily above the cabins, a bunch of stunning woodpecker species, including floppy-crested Chestnut-colored, and the huge Pale-billed, the latter pounding out his double-knock drum in full view of the group, swarms of parrots, including at least half a dozen gaudy Great Green Macaws, a trio of Purple-throated Fruitcrows, throats shimmering brightly in the sunlight, a tiny Black-capped Pygmy-Tyrant sitting quietly in the canopy, and others too numerous to mention here.

Rancho Naturalista was our next destination, but there were some good finds on our way there, too. A viewpoint over the endless forested slopes at Braulio Carrillo offered up scope views of a King Vulture and an Ornate Hawk-Eagle, while a White Hawk sat calmly over our heads, watching us as intently as we were watching it. The park trails held a large swirling flock of Tawny-crested and Carmiol's tanagers, and Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, the local Lattice-tailed Trogon, and a pair of minuscule Red-fronted Parrotlets delighted those that saw them. Further down the road, a roosting Great Potoo was a big hit as well. Rancho, meanwhile gave us the usual fantastic hummingbirds (Snowcap, Crowned Woodnymph, Green Thorntail), the moth cloth (White-breasted Wood-wren, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, the scarce Tawny-chested Flycatcher, etc.) and the trails (lekking White-crowned Manakins, nesting Black-headed Tody-Flycatchers, and a pair of hungry Bicolored Hawks sharing an avian meal). A little further afield, a pair of spectacular Sunbitterns feeding two fuzzy youngsters in a nest was another area highlight.

Moving up into the highlands, we had a marvelous evening foray near Orosi, with easy Mottled Owls, and slightly more difficult Bare-shanked Screech-owls, plus a bonus Gray Fox to show for our efforts. In Tapanti the next day, we enjoyed the likes of a perched Green-fronted Lancebill, a somewhat stunned (though ultimately fine) Spotted Barbtail in the hand, showy Crimson-collared Tanagers and Black-thighed Grosbeak, and the rare sight of a Sharpbill working on its nest, only the second known nest of this species in the country! Higher still in the Savegre Valley, most of the montane specialties came through for us. We had an unforgettable encounter with a shimmering male Resplendent Quetzal as the indisputable highlight, but sandwiched around that sighting were equally wonderful encounters with such charismatic birds as Spotted Wood-Quail, Scaled Antpitta, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Streak-breasted Treehunter, Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher, Wrenthrush, Collared Redstart, Yellow-thighed Finch, and plenty more.

Moving down to the Pacific coast and Carara National Park, we encountered a whole new avifauna, and new species came at an incredible rate. Gorgeous Scarlet Macaws, exquisite Turquoise-browed Motmots, beautiful Baird's Trogons, and flashy Fiery-billed Aracaris were among the more showy species to cross our paths, but it was a bunch of less colorful birds that stole the show here. That amazing army ant swarm at Carara was one of the best I've ever seen, and was easily one of the high points of this trip. Having birds like Black-faced Antthrush, Dusky, Chestnut-backed, and Bicolored antbirds, Black-hooded Antshrike, Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner, Rufous-and-white Wren, Gray-headed Tanager, and more strolling across and perching on the path was unbelievable! What an awesome experience! We finished up the birding with a morning in the dry tropical forest, complete with White-throated Magpie-Jay, Laughing Falcon, and Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, to name but a few, and a couple of days in the famous Monteverde area. Though we were short on targets by this time, we came away with things like Three-wattled Bellbird, Long-tailed Manakin, Brown-billed Scythebill, and Black-breasted Wood-Quail to round out our trip lists.

In closing, I just want to thank all of you for choosing to join me on this tour, and for being such a fun and compatible group of travelers. I love it when my job doesn't feel too much like work, and that's all down to you folks making it so easy on me. Thanks, too, to my co-leaders and friends, Ernesto and Vernon, for all their help in making this trip a great success, and to our able office staff, especially our tour manager, Caroline, for ensuring everything ran smoothly for us from the moment we hit the ground. I look forward to seeing you all on another tour sometime soon. In the meantime, get out and enjoy the spring migration. That's where I'm heading right now!

-- Jay

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Tinamous tend to be shy and retiring, so finding this Great Tinamou right out in the open was a real treat. Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

Tinamidae (Tinamous)
GREAT TINAMOU (Tinamus major) – The army ant swarm at La Selva had moved on by the time we arrived, but we did get excellent looks at one of these foraging quietly near the trail in place of the antbirds we were looking for. More unusual was a bird that walked out onto the trail ahead of us at Braulio Carrillo NP. This was the first time I'd seen this species there, though I had heard them there before.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis) – A handful of birds hiding in the grass at El Tigre Marsh were the only ones of the tour.
MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata) – A couple of distant birds were on the Angostura reservoir, but we had better views of 4 birds on the river along the trail at Carara, and another male on the mudflats during our boat trip.
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors) – Usually the most common migrant duck, though we only had about half a dozen on the Angostura reservoir. [b]
RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris) – A single bird on Angostura reservoir. [b]
LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis) – Lots of them on Angostura reservoir. [b]
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
GRAY-HEADED CHACHALACA (Ortalis cinereiceps) – Widespread and seen at a number of places, though the numbers at Rancho were way down from what they once were.
CRESTED GUAN (Penelope purpurascens) – Our first ones turned up in that amazing fruiting fig tree at Virgen del Socorro our first morning, and we went on to see them numerous times. Guans have gotten much more common and easier to see since my first visit to the country.
BLACK GUAN (Chamaepetes unicolor) – Nice looks at this Chiriqui highland endemic in the Savegre valley, at Tapanti, and in the Monteverde area.
GREAT CURASSOW (Crax rubra) – Pauline spotted our first one, a male, as we walked the trails at La Selva. A few minutes later a couple of attractive female-plumaged birds joined him and all gave us great views. This was Ed's favorite bird of the trip.
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
BUFFY-CROWNED WOOD-PARTRIDGE (Dendrortyx leucophrys) – Heard calling far up the hill near Tapanti. [*]
BLACK-BREASTED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus leucolaemus) – Not everyone got a look at the quartet that scurried across the trail at Santa Elena Reserve, but we sure all heard their incredibly loud calls!
SPOTTED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus guttatus) – One of our three main targets on our final morning at Savegre, and we scored big with incredible close views of a pair feeding quietly behind the cabins.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LEAST GREBE (Tachybaptus dominicus) – A pair on a roadside pond on our way up the coast to Villa Lapas.
Ciconiidae (Storks)
WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana) – Just a couple of birds on the Rio Tarcoles mudflats during our boat trip.

Bare-faced Tiger-Herons were relatively common in the Pacific lowlands. Photo by participant Reg David.

Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – Numerous along the Pacific coast, but that female flying overhead near La Selva was pretty unexpected!
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – Surprisingly few along the Rio Tarcoles.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga) – A lone distant bird at the Angostura Reservoir was the only Caribbean slope record, but we saw quite a few along the Pacific coast.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) – Common along the Pacific coast, with impressive numbers at the mouth of the Rio Tarcoles.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
LEAST BITTERN (Ixobrychus exilis) – A bird that we flushed up out of the dense growth of water hyacinth at the Angostura Reservoir gave a good show as it flew a fair ways before dropping back out of sight.
FASCIATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma fasciatum) – Great looks at one along the Rio San Jose, then another the same day as we crossed a small stream en route to the potoo hangout.
BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma mexicanum) – A larger version of the preceding species. This one is not uncommon in the Pacific lowlands, where we saw them along the river behind the hotel as well as during the boat trip.
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) – Small numbers along the Rio Tarcoles. [b]
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – Quite a few records scattered throughout the country.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – Less numerous than the Great Egret, but we still saw quite a few at certain sites.
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea) – Widespread in small numbers.
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – About half a dozen of these attractive herons were along the Rio Tarcoles.
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Numerous in open country throughout.
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) – Surprisingly scarce, with just two seen during our boat tour.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) – First was one along the shore of the Angostura Reservoir, then another was alongside the Boat-billed Herons in the mangroves along the Rio Tarcoles.
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea) – A few birds, both adults and juveniles, along the Rio Tarcoles.
BOAT-BILLED HERON (Cochlearius cochlearius) – Quite a few of these odd, nocturnal herons were at a nesting colony in the mangroves along the Rio Tarcoles, where they offered up excellent views. [N]
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) – Fairly common along the Pacific coast.

The gang heads out. Adventure awaits! Photo by participant Greg Vassilopoulos.

GREEN IBIS (Mesembrinibis cayennensis) – Very few this year, with just one seen at dusk at La Selva, then much better views of a perched bird along the Rio San Jose.
ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja) – A few birds on the Rio Tarcoles mudflats were the only ones we saw.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – Numerous throughout.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – A little less numerous than the Black Vulture, but still seen in numbers daily.
KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa) – It may have been a mile away, but that perched adult we found at Braulio looked pretty good through the scope!
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – A couple at Angostura Reservoir, then quite a few at the mouth of the Rio Tarcoles, including a couple with fresh-caught fish. [b]
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus) – We saw one on our first morning during our pre-breakfast walk on the grounds of the Hotel Bougainvillea, and another was seen on our way from Rancho to Orosi, but that was all for the trip, surprisingly.
GRAY-HEADED KITE (Leptodon cayanensis) – A juvenile gave good views along the La Selva entrance road. At one point we watched it catch, then gobble down a large, juicy, green caterpillar.
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus) – We saw these beautiful kites regularly and well on several days in the highlands.
ORNATE HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus ornatus) – Shortly after we enjoyed our scope views of the King Vulture, I picked out a gorgeous adult of this species perched on the same hillside. Again, though it was distant, it showed well through those great, high-powered scopes.
SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis) – Unknown from the Turrialba region before the opening of the Angostura Reservoir in 1999, but now reasonably common there, thanks, no doubt, to the presence of their favorite food, apple snails. We saw at least three different birds there.
DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE (Harpagus bidentatus) – As we were rounding people up to come see the nunbird we'd found at La Selva, I spotted one of these perched in a palm near the cafeteria. Too bad it only stuck around long enough for a few folks to see it before it moved on. Luckily, we did see a couple of other birds in flight so everyone eventually did catch up.
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus) – One flew overhead as we birded the Silent Mountain Road near Rancho. [b]
COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii) – Ernesto got us on to the migrant along the Silent Mountain Road, a short while before the Sharpie put in an appearance. [b]
BICOLORED HAWK (Accipiter bicolor) – Overall this is not an easy species to find, but the pair at Rancho has been pretty reliable in the past few years. This year they were nesting near the forest feeders, and we watched as the male (presumably) presented the female with freshly caught bird which she proceeded to eat. [N]
CRANE HAWK (Geranospiza caerulescens) – Ernesto spotted our only one perched on the ridge above Villa Lapas early one morning. Scope views gave a good look at the thin red legs which are pretty unique to this species.

Gray-necked Wood-Rails tend to be a bit more confiding than most members of their family. Photo by participant Reg David.

COMMON BLACK HAWK (MANGROVE) (Buteogallus anthracinus subtilis) – Pretty common around the mouth of the Rio Tarcoles, where we saw several, including the head of one just visible from a large stick nest. [N]
BARRED HAWK (Morphnarchus princeps) – A pair of these gorgeous hawks circled around at about eye level in excellent lighting conditions giving us unbeatable looks as we approached Virgen del Socorro on our first morning.
ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris) – Just a few records of this common species in disturbed areas, appropriately always when we were in the bus.
WHITE HAWK (Pseudastur albicollis) – Good lighting and a dark backdrop made this bird show up beautifully as it circled over the Sarapiqui River valley below Cinchona. This would have been good enough, but then we found another perched above the highway at Braulio Carrillo, and had amazing close views as it sat and glared down on us when we pulled up underneath it.
GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus) – A few birds along the roadside as we drove north along the coast.
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus) – A common wintering an migrant species. We saw plenty, but most impressive was the large group of migrating birds kettling above the Savegre Valley one morning! [b]
SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus) – Just a couple of light morph birds were seen, one soaring over a clearing as we walked the trails at Carara, the other as we drove down the road from Monteverde on our final day.
SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni) – Our only bird was part of a huge flock of migrating Turkey Vultures, and was easy to pick out as it was the highest bird in a kettle that contained several hundred vultures. [b]
ZONE-TAILED HAWK (Buteo albonotatus) – Luis, our boat operator on our river trip, pointed out one of these soaring over the mouth of the Rio Tarcoles. Though quite similar to a Turkey Vulture overall, we could clearly make out the tail bands and slimmer build that distinguish this bird.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis) – Our first along the Silent Mountain Road appeared to me to be a northern migrant. Our other one, a gorgeous bird perched along the InterAmerican highway, was clearly one of the resident form B. j. costaricanesis, which is endemic to the highlands of CR and Panama.
Eurypygidae (Sunbittern)
SUNBITTERN (Eurypyga helias) – One feeding quietly along a forest stream at La Selva was a nice surprise (first one I've seen there) and would have been enough, but that nesting pair at La Mina was even better. There we had several wonderful views of the spectacular wing pattern as well as scope looks at a couple of fuzzy chicks in the nest! All these sightings convinced Bill to choose Sunbittern as his top bird of the trip. [N]
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
WHITE-THROATED CRAKE (Laterallus albigularis) – Heard a couple of times, but we were never in a good position to try to lure one in. [*]
GRAY-NECKED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajaneus) – Excellent looks at a ridiculously tame one at Cope's feeders were our best, but the more interesting sighting was one Wendy spotted during the boat trip. That bird was aggressively chasing off a White-tipped Dove that kept trying to land on the mudflat for a drink. The rail obviously didn't want it there, but who knows why the dove was so unwelcome?
PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinicus) – A few at the Angostura Reservoir and along the Rio Tarcoles.

Finding a Sunbittern on its nest (complete with two fluffy youngsters) was one of the highlights of the trip. Photo by participant Reg David.

Aramidae (Limpkin)
LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna) – Another species that has benefitted by the construction of the Angostura Reservoir and the introduction of apple snails. These and the Snail Kites have self-introduced to the area and are now regular inhabitants of the reservoir area. We saw just one Limpkin here.
Burhinidae (Thick-knees)
DOUBLE-STRIPED THICK-KNEE (Burhinus bistriatus) – A nocturnal owling foray near Jaco turned up several owls, but also a pair of these birds in a bare field along with half a dozen lapwings.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) – About 8 birds on the mudflats along the Rio Tarcoles. [b]
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis) – The 18+ birds seen at El Tigre marsh was the biggest group I have yet seen in the country.
WILSON'S PLOVER (Charadrius wilsonia) – A lone bird among several Semipalmated Plovers was a difficult to locate from the moving boat, so only a few folks got it before all the birds flushed.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – Quite numerous on the Rio Tarcoles mudflats. [b]
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus) – One was found in a scrubby field near Cartago while I was busy stocking up on cold drinks and ice in the adjacent supermarket. [b]
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa) – Common in appropriate habitat on both slopes.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – Seen in small numbers along rivers in the Caribbean lowlands and along the Pacific coast. [b]
WILLET (Tringa semipalmata) – A few birds seen during the boat trip. Note these birds belong to the western race, inornatus. [b]
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – Not uncommon on the Rio Tarcoles shoreline. [b]
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres) – Two birds at the mouth of the Rio Tarcoles. [b]
SANDERLING (Calidris alba) – I think Reg was the only one who saw these birds on the boat trip. [b]
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla) – The most numerous peep on the mudflats. [b]
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (Calidris pusilla) – Just a few of these were seen among the Least Sandpipers. [b]
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
LAUGHING GULL (Leucophaeus atricilla) – The default gull in the country. There were plenty at Puerto Caldera, including a few in breeding plumage.
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) – Usually the most common gull on the Pacific coast, and this year was no exception with quite a few among the gulls at Puerto Caldera.
SANDWICH TERN (Thalasseus sandvicensis) – The only non-Royal Tern we picked out at Caldera was a single one of these.

Our new nightbirding spot near Orosi proved very productive, with a Mottled Owl popping in to check things out when we squeaked for a passing fox. Photo by participant Reg David.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Common in towns and cities. [I]
PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis) – Quite common in the lowlands. Best views were of a timid pair at Cope's feeders.
RED-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas flavirostris) – The common large pigeon in many of the upland regions.
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata) – Just a few small flocks in the highlands at Tapanti and the Savegre valley.
RUDDY PIGEON (Patagioenas subvinacea) – Heard a few times, including at Rancho where they overlap with the nearly identical Short-billed Pigeon. Also see in the oak forest at Savegre, where there are no such identification issues.
SHORT-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas nigrirostris) – A common lowland species by voice, though we only saw them on a single day at La Selva.
INCA DOVE (Columbina inca) – Quite numerous in drier regions, including (since fairly recently) the area around the Bougainvillea.
COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina) – Seen in small numbers in the dry Guanacaste scrub along the Guacimo road.
RUDDY GROUND-DOVE (Columbina talpacoti) – A common and widespread small dove.
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) – More widespread and less of a forest bird than its congeners, and thus easier to see. We had them at a number of sites.
GRAY-CHESTED DOVE (Leptotila cassinii) – A few sightings inside the forest at Carara. Best seen by the folks who initially found the large army ant swarm. The race here, rufinucha, is quite distinctive and could be a candidate for splitting.
BUFF-FRONTED QUAIL-DOVE (Zentrygon costaricensis) – A very dark quail-dove below the restaurant at Savegre was initially a puzzle, but we eventually worked out that it was an immature of this species.
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica) – This species has expanded greatly in the country in recent years and is now quite numerous in many areas it was previously not present. We saw plenty at a number of sites.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana) – More often heard than seen, but we had some good views of this large cuckoo a number of times at La Selva, Rancho, and Carara.
LESSER GROUND-CUCKOO (Morococcyx erythropygus) – An awesome, beautiful bird that can be tough to find when not vocal. Luckily, we heard one early on along Guacimo Road and quickly had smashing views of it as it called from a shrubby mound near the road.
GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris) – Surprisingly scarce this trip, and we really didn't find many until we got to the Pacific coast.
Tytonidae (Barn-Owls)
BARN OWL (Tyto alba) – A day-roosting bird on the trunk of a large palm at Cartago was wonderful, then we also added one on our night drive near Jaco.
Strigidae (Owls)
TROPICAL SCREECH-OWL (Megascops choliba) – It took a while to fire this one up, but we ultimately had superb views of one just before our final dinner, making it the last new bird of the tour and our 9th owl species seen!
VERMICULATED SCREECH-OWL (VERMICULATED) (Megascops guatemalae vermiculatus) – Good scope views of a day-roosting pair in a thick tangle of vegetation at La Selva.
BARE-SHANKED SCREECH-OWL (Megascops clarkii) – A new site near Orosi was golden for this highland owl, and we had fantastic looks at a calling bird in typical droopy-winged posture.
CRESTED OWL (Lophostrix cristata) – Heard near Jaco, but it moved away once we started playback. [*]
SPECTACLED OWL (Pulsatrix perspicillata) – We were about to give up on finding this species on a day roost when Greg spotted one in a dense vine tangle right over the trail at Carara! Nice spotting Greg! Danette chose this beauty as her favorite bird of the tour.
COSTA RICAN PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium costaricanum) – We just couldn't get that calling bird to budge! [*]
FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) – We left it pretty late, but finally caught up with several of these tiny owls along the Guacimo Road.
MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata) – This one was dead easy at our new site at Orosi. We first spotted one from the bus and got great looks at it. A short while later a Gray Fox ran across the road, and when I tried to squeak it in, both the fox and another owl popped in for a look! Finally, we stumbled onto a day-roosting pair right next to the trail at the Ecological Sanctuary at Monteverde on our final morning.
BLACK-AND-WHITE OWL (Ciccaba nigrolineata) – As we tried to lure in the Crested Owl near Jaco, Doug spotted a shadow fly into the canopy overhead. A careful search with the spotlight revealed it to be this gorgeous owl, which sat nicely for some great views. In part since he found it himself, Doug picked this as his top bird of the trip.
STRIPED OWL (Pseudoscops clamator) – Spectacular views of one perched on a roadside wire near Jaco one night. After the bird flew off and disappeared, we turned the bus around and were headed back when we refound the owl, this time with a large rat grasped in its talons.

Lesser Ground-Cuckoos can be tough to find if they're not singing; fortunately, this one was serenading the neighborhood from a shrubby mound right near the road. Photo by participant Reg David.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
LESSER NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles acutipennis) – A few birds were seen flying over the mangroves at dusk near Tarcoles.
SHORT-TAILED NIGHTHAWK (Lurocalis semitorquatus) – It took some patience but we were eventually rewarded with great looks at one of these uniquely shaped nightjars flying about overhead at dusk at La Selva.
COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis) – The most common nightjar in the country. We saw them well several times beginning with one that landed nearby and began singing as we watched for Short-tailed Nighthawks at La Selva.
DUSKY NIGHTJAR (Antrostomus saturatus) – Fabulous quick response and views of a singing bird in the upper Savegre valley one evening.
Nyctibiidae (Potoos)
GREAT POTOO (Nyctibius grandis) – A staked out day roosting bird along the Rio Danta road in the Caribbean lowlands was a real treat.
Apodidae (Swifts)
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris) – Large flocks were seen several times, with our first ones coming on day 1 at Virgen del Socorro.
VAUX'S SWIFT (Chaetura vauxi) – A few of these small swifts were with a flock of White-collared Swifts over the Savegre valley.
COSTA RICAN SWIFT (Chaetura fumosa) – A big noisy group of these chattered overhead early one morning at the Villa Lapas hotel.
GRAY-RUMPED SWIFT (Chaetura cinereiventris) – Quite numerous in the Caribbean lowlands and seen regularly over La Selva.
LESSER SWALLOW-TAILED SWIFT (Panyptila cayennensis) – A single bird flew amidst the Gray-rumped Swifts over La Selva. The distinctive shape made it pretty easy to pick out.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora) – Especially common at Rancho, where they are one of the most numerous visitors to the feeders.
BAND-TAILED BARBTHROAT (Threnetes ruckeri) – Fantastic close views of one perched low along the trail at Carara.
GREEN HERMIT (Phaethornis guy) – Occurs at higher elevations than other hermits, and a frequent visitor to feeders at Rancho, La Paz, and Monteverde.
LONG-BILLED HERMIT (Phaethornis longirostris) – Best seen at Cope's place, with one visiting the feeder there giving us wonderful views.
STRIPE-THROATED HERMIT (Phaethornis striigularis) – A common bird, but small, stealthy, and easily overlooked. Still we had several sightings including at Cope's feeders and the flowering verbena hedge at Rancho.
GREEN-FRONTED LANCEBILL (Doryfera ludovicae) – An active nest was under a bridge at Tapanti, and though we couldn't see the nest, we had amazing views of one perched nearby over the stream. [N]
BROWN VIOLETEAR (Colibri delphinae) – A lone bird put in an appearance or two at Rancho's porch feeders.
GREEN VIOLETEAR (Colibri thalassinus) – Numerous in the highlands, and seen regularly at Savegre and Monteverde.
PURPLE-CROWNED FAIRY (Heliothryx barroti) – Widespread, but, as it doesn't visit feeders and doesn't guard flower patches, it is hard to pin this bird down. Still, we usually stumble across them several times a tour, as we did this year, with sightings on five different days and on both slopes. The one at Rancho's hummingbird pools was arguably the most memorable.
GREEN-BREASTED MANGO (Anthracothorax prevostii) – A female near the Bougainvillea on our first afternoon was officially our first hummer of the tour, an honor usually taken by the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird. Later we saw a few at Rancho's feeders.
GREEN THORNTAIL (Discosura conversii) – At the feeders at both La Paz and Rancho.

A Great Potoo on its dayroost demonstrates its top-notch imitation of a tree stump. Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

GREEN-CROWNED BRILLIANT (Heliodoxa jacula) – A common hummer of middle elevation forests, though without the help of feeders, we might not have seen this species.
MAGNIFICENT HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes fulgens) – One of the larger hummers in the country; this species was numerous in the Savegre valley.
PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster constantii) – One made a brief appearance, buzzing around the head of our first Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl along Guacimo Road, but it didn't stick around long enough for everyone to get on it.
FIERY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Panterpe insignis) – This spectacular Chiriqui specialty is very common in highland forests, though that fiery throat is tough to see away from feeders. Luckily for us there were some seen at feeders.
WHITE-BELLIED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis hemileucus) – This species occupies a fairly narrow elevational range on the Caribbean slope, and is potentially missable on the tour, though we saw at least three birds well at the La Paz feeders, and had a few also in natural situations at Tapanti.
PURPLE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis calolaemus) – A numerous species at the feeders at La Paz and Monteverde. Males and females are strikingly different from each other.
WHITE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (GRAY-TAILED) (Lampornis castaneoventris cinereicauda) – Replaces the preceding species at higher elevations. We saw a few of these lovely birds in the Savegre valley.
MAGENTA-THROATED WOODSTAR (Calliphlox bryantae) – The last of our 38 hummingbird species for the trip. A few males of these lovely little birds were at the feeders at Monteverde.
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris) – A few folks glimpsed on in the Ujarras valley on our way to Orosi, and then we found a few at some roadside flowers along the dusty road down from Monteverde. [b]
VOLCANO HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus flammula) – This tiny bird occupies the highest elevations in the country, including the paramo scrub up above 11,000 feet. We saw a few in the Cerro de la Muerte region.
SCINTILLANT HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus scintilla) – Overlaps with the very similar Volcano Hummingbird, though this one is mainly at lower elevations. It was great to be able to compare the females side by side at the Savegre feeders. This one is slightly smaller, and shows much more rufous on the flanks and tail.
VIOLET-HEADED HUMMINGBIRD (Klais guimeti) – Scarce this trip, with our only one being seen at Cope's feeders.
SCALY-BREASTED HUMMINGBIRD (Phaeochroa cuvierii) – A few of these were hanging around the big patch of flowering heliconia at Carara, though they were a bit nervous and pretty hard to pin down.
VIOLET SABREWING (Campylopterus hemileucurus) – An unmistakeable large purple hummingbird, readily seen at the feeders at La Paz, Rancho, and Monteverde.
BRONZE-TAILED PLUMELETEER (Chalybura urochrysia) – Never common, but we had good views of this bird, red feet and all (I still prefer the name Red-footed Plumeleteer) at the feeders at Cope's and Rancho.
CROWNED WOODNYMPH (Thalurania colombica) – Quite numerous at Rancho, with plenty visiting the hummingbird pools in the late afternoon.
STRIPE-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Eupherusa eximia) – A single bird was at the feeders at Savegre, then quite a few more at Monteverde.
BLACK-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Eupherusa nigriventris) – Seen only at the feeders at La Paz , where we had great views at several beautiful males.
WHITE-TAILED EMERALD (Elvira chionura) – Of the two main target hummingbirds at Bosque del Tolomuco, this is usually the toughest, but a female was feeding regularly on the flowers around the lodge, and we had ample time to enjoy her. Surprisingly, the "easier" target, Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, was absent during our visit.
COPPERY-HEADED EMERALD (Elvira cupreiceps) – We saw this tiny Costa Rican endemic only on either end of the tour, with birds at feeders at both La Paz and Monteverde. [E]
SNOWCAP (Microchera albocoronata) – A Rancho specialty, and we had some great looks at this unique and stunning hummingbird there, including a couple of males visiting the hummingbird pools for a dip.
BLUE-CHESTED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia amabilis) – Excellent looks at our only one, a male, at Cope's feeders. The blue chest is often tough to discern in normal situations, so it was nice to see it so well here.
CHARMING HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia decora) – A single bird paid a quick visit to a flowering tree in front of the rooms at Villa Lapas, but the lighting was pretty poor at that early hour.
MANGROVE HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia boucardi) – Another country endemic, and very localized in the mangroves along the Pacific coast. We got lucky when our boatman spotted a female during our Rio Tarcoles boat tour, and it stuck around long enough for everyone to get a good view. That's not usually an easy task from the boat! [E]
STEELY-VENTED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia saucerottei) – One at the same flowering tree at Villa Lapas that our Charming Hummingbird was feeding at, and another catching insects over the parking lot at the Finca Ecologica.
RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia tzacatl) – A very common species of lower elevations, and recorded on more days than any other hummingbird species. [N]

A female Purple-throated Mountaingem doesn't even bend the edge of the leaf she's sitting on. Photo by participant Reg David.

CINNAMON HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia rutila) – A couple of these gorgeous birds were seen well along Guacimo Road.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
RESPLENDENT QUETZAL (Pharomachrus mocinno) – Though we had good views of a male along the road early on in the Savegre valley, they were easily topped by our encounter with another male along the Sendero Quebrada. That one posed beautifully out in the open for a long period, as we stood there drinking him in without a huge crowd of other tourists! Quetzal won the bird of the trip voting wings down, with Paul, Wendy, Greg, and Diane all choosing it as their favorite bird overall.
LATTICE-TAILED TROGON (Trogon clathratus) – It took a fair bit of patience and waiting around, but the group with me on the trails at Braulio were eventually rewarded with nice views of a pair of these very local trogons. Unfortunately the birds had moved on by the time Ernesto's group showed up a couple of minutes later.
SLATY-TAILED TROGON (Trogon massena) – Nice sightings of this large trogon at both La Selva and Carara.
BLACK-HEADED TROGON (Trogon melanocephalus) – A male at Carara was partially hidden, so the better views along Guacimo Road were certainly appreciated.
BAIRD'S TROGON (Trogon bairdii) – This lovely trogon is one of several species endemic to the Pacific lowlands of southwestern CR and western Panama, and is one of the big targets at Carara, where we had wonderful views of a couple of males not far from our amazing army ant swarm.
GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus) – The most commonly seen trogon on the trip, with several good sightings on both slopes.
BLACK-THROATED TROGON (Trogon rufus) – First seen during our night walk at La Selva where we found a sleeping pair just above the trail. Daytime views the next morning and again at Carara allowed us to see that they actually do have heads.
ORANGE-BELLIED TROGON (Trogon aurantiiventris) – Good looks at a female perched on a light post at the Santa Elena Reserve, then a male the following morning at the Finca Ecologica. I'm still not convinced this is anything more than just a pale color morph of Collared Trogon.
COLLARED TROGON (Trogon collaris) – Apart from 4 birds together at Tapanti, we only heard this species a few times at Rancho and Savegre.
Momotidae (Motmots)
BLUE-CROWNED MOTMOT (LESSON'S) (Momotus coeruliceps lessonii) – A pair on the grounds of the Bougainvillea the first morning started the tour off in style, but our next sighting wasn't until about 10 days later when we saw a pair at the army ant swarm at Carara, after which we had daily sightings at Monteverde.
RUFOUS MOTMOT (Baryphthengus martii) – Danette spotted our first of several at La Selva, showing nicely along the trail behind the soccer field. I was particularly pleased, though, to see these birds at Rancho, where they seem to have bounced back after being kind of scarce there in the last few years.
BROAD-BILLED MOTMOT (Electron platyrhynchum) – Excellent looks at a couple of pairs at La Selva.
TURQUOISE-BROWED MOTMOT (Eumomota superciliosa) – Arguably the most spectacular of the motmots, these gorgeous birds gave us multiple opportunities to ogle them in the Carara region.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata) – We had a few sightings on both slopes, with 4 during the boat tour being the highest count of all.
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon) – We saw a couple along the Rio Tarcoles during our afternoon boat trip. [b]
AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona) – Our first was along the Rio Platanillo on our way up the Silent Mountain Road, and we also saw a couple in the Pacific lowlands, including a lone one during the boat trip.
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana) – Common along the Rio Tarcoles. where we saw about 10 during the boat trip.
AMERICAN PYGMY KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle aenea) – Low water was a bit of a problem during the boat trip, but it sure made it easier to find these birds, and we had incredible views of a pair along the canal. We even got to watch the female dive in and catch a small fish just a few feet away from us!

The dapper White-necked Jacobin is typically one of the feistier birds around the feeders. Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

Bucconidae (Puffbirds)
WHITE-NECKED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus hyperrhynchus) – A hot, and rather slow morning at La Selva was livened up by a couple of these large, predatory puffbirds.
WHITE-WHISKERED PUFFBIRD (Malacoptila panamensis) – An inconspicuous and easily overlooked species, though we had good karma with them this trip and had daily views in the Carara region.
WHITE-FRONTED NUNBIRD (Monasa morphoeus) – It's been a number of years since I've seen this species at La Selva, so I was pleased and surprised to hear one near the cafeteria, and more so when Ernesto tracked it down for some great looks.
Galbulidae (Jacamars)
RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda) – These birds somehow eluded us on the Caribbean slope, but our persistence at Carara eventually led us to good studies of a lovely pair.
Capitonidae (New World Barbets)
RED-HEADED BARBET (Eubucco bourcierii) – Greg spotted a male in the bird-filled fig tree at Virgen del Socorro our first morning, but only a couple of folks managed to see it before it gave us the slip. Luckily, we all caught up with a female in a mixed flock along the trails at Savegre, and then a gorgeous male the next day at Bosque del Tolomuco.
Semnornithidae (Toucan-Barbets)
PRONG-BILLED BARBET (Semnornis frantzii) – These great birds performed well for us the first day at La Paz, then showed even better on the feeders at Cinchona. These were our only sightings, though we heard them a few times subsequently.
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
EMERALD TOUCANET (BLUE-THROATED) (Aulacorhynchus prasinus caeruleogularis) – That pair sunning themselves near the feeders at La Cinchona were spectacular, and though we saw them a few more times at Savegre and Monteverde, I don't think any of our other sightings were able to top that one.
COLLARED ARACARI (Pteroglossus torquatus) – Overall I found toucans to be a little less conspicuous than usual in the Caribbean lowlands, though we still had quite a few good sightings of these birds at La Selva.
FIERY-BILLED ARACARI (Pteroglossus frantzii) – Another specialty of the south Pacific slope. We had excellent looks at a pair of these beauties in the early morning on the grounds of the Villa Lapas.
YELLOW-THROATED TOUCAN (CHESTNUT-MANDIBLED) (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii) – Seems like this species has a new name every year, but hopefully this one will stick for a while. We saw them daily in the Caribbean lowlands (though far fewer than normal) and had a few sightings also at Carara.
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus) – Scarce at La Selva this year, though we made up for that with multiple sightings at Rancho (with about a dozen together seen from the porch) and a few in the Monteverde area as well.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
OLIVACEOUS PICULET (Picumnus olivaceus) – A roadside stop at a small wetland on our way north along the Pacific coast paid off with a number of good birds, but I was especially happy to hear and see this tiny woodpecker there. It's pretty tough to find on this tour route, and this was the first I'd seen at this site, so it was a pretty lucky find.
ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus) – Common and conspicuous in the highland oak forests of the Savegre valley.
GOLDEN-NAPED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes chrysauchen) – Though we had heard them a couple of times at Carara, we had pretty much written off seeing this lovely south Pacific specialty, but we got extremely lucky when we heard one calling nearby in the heat of the day, shortly before we were packing up to leave, and soon had fantastic scope views of it, much to the delight of all, especially woodpecker fanatic Reg!
BLACK-CHEEKED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes pucherani) – A common and oft-seen species in the Caribbean lowlands.
RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus) – No pure birds were seen, though those Melanerpes on the grounds of the Villa Lapas all show evidence of being hybrids between this species and Hoffmann's.
HOFFMANN'S WOODPECKER (Melanerpes hoffmannii) – Common around the Bougainvillea, as well as on the Pacific coast in the Carara region. Though the birds at Villa Lapas all appear to be hybrids, in the mangroves and along the Sendero Meandrico most appear to be pure Hoffmann's.
SMOKY-BROWN WOODPECKER (Picoides fumigatus) – Heard a couple of times at the Santa Elena Reserve, but we never laid eyes on this species. [*]
HAIRY WOODPECKER (Picoides villosus) – This small, brownish, resident form was seen a couple of times in the Savegre valley and at the Santa Elena Reserve.
RUFOUS-WINGED WOODPECKER (Piculus simplex) – The lighting was a little harsh, but we eventually got some reasonable views of our only one along the entrance road at La Selva.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus) – Oddly it took us until our final venue to finally catch up with this woodpecker, which is not usually too hard to find. Ultimately we had awesome views of a male just outside our rooms at Monteverde.
CINNAMON WOODPECKER (Celeus loricatus) – Pretty decent scope views of our lone bird at La Selva, but I wish we could have moved that one branch out of the way!
CHESTNUT-COLORED WOODPECKER (Celeus castaneus) – We had a few nice encounters with these wonderful, floppy-crested woodpeckers at La Selva, where one bird in particular showed beautifully as it fed in a patch of heliconia flowers next to the administration building.
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) – Our first was seen during our first afternoon's walk near the Hotel Bougainvillea. All three of our subsequent sightings were of the same bird at the same nest hole along the Rancho Naturalista driveway. [N]
PALE-BILLED WOODPECKER (Campephilus guatemalensis) – We saw a good number of these this trip, but it was hard to beat that first one, rapping out his distinctive double knock at close range along the La Selva entrance road.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway) – Pretty common in the Pacific lowlands, and we also saw a couple in the Caribbean lowlands, where their numbers have been increasing in recent years.

When you get a close look, it's easy to see how the Green Violetear got its name! Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima) – A few birds in the Carara region, often seen patrolling the highway for road killed reptiles in the early morning.
LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans) – We finally caught up with this fantastic, snake-eating falcon at the far end of the Guacimo Road, and had a wonderful, walk away scope views of it.
BAT FALCON (Falco rufigularis) – Superb scope views of one teed up in a dead tree near Virgen del Socorro was a nice bonus on our impromptu stop for the Barred Hawks.
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – One zoomed by overhead in the late afternoon at La Selva, and another was perched up briefly at the mouth of the Rio Tarcoles, though it took off almost as soon as we spotted it. [b]
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
RED-FRONTED PARROTLET (Touit costaricensis) – We kept hearing these tiny, scarce parrots above us along the trail at Braulio Carrillo, but we just couldn't spot them at first. Finally, I pointed out the tree I was sure they were in, and Greg spotted a pair among the similar-sized leaves. Unfortunately they didn't stick around, and many of the group only saw a couple of tiny green shapes zip off. We also heard these parrots in the oak forest at Savegre.
BARRED PARAKEET (Bolborhynchus lineola) – A typical high-flying flock of about 20 birds whizzed past overhead as we birded along the Providencia Road in the late afternoon.
ORANGE-CHINNED PARAKEET (Brotogeris jugularis) – Quite common in the lowlands on both slopes. Though usually seen only in flight, we did have a couple of views of perched birds at La Selva.
BROWN-HOODED PARROT (Pyrilia haematotis) – Widespread on both slopes, though generally in small numbers. We had excellent views of these birds at La Selva.
WHITE-CROWNED PARROT (Pionus senilis) – There seemed to be fewer than usual this trip, but we still saw them most days on the Caribbean slope, and had especially good views of a few along the La Selva entrance road.
RED-LORED PARROT (Amazona autumnalis) – A few birds were seen well at La Selva.
YELLOW-NAPED PARROT (Amazona auropalliata) – Pretty good looks at a pair at the mouth of the Rio Tarcoles during our boat trip. Though they were flying over, the yellow nape was clearly visible when they banked over the mangroves.
WHITE-FRONTED PARROT (Amazona albifrons) – The smallest of the Amazona parrots in the country, and mainly restricted to the dry northwest. We had some very nice views of these birds during our morning along Guacimo Road.
MEALY PARROT (Amazona farinosa) – And this is the largest of the country's Amazonas. We saw them daily around La Selva, with the first one, flying just over our heads, then landing nearby along the entrance road, being our most memorable and best seen.
SULPHUR-WINGED PARAKEET (Pyrrhura hoffmanni) – At least 8 of these flashy parakeets flew over several times along Silent Mountain Road, becoming Doug's 3000th life bird in the process. Congratulations, Doug! We also saw these birds regularly around Savegre Lodge.
OLIVE-THROATED PARAKEET (AZTEC) (Eupsittula nana astec) – Only in the Caribbean lowlands, where we had them regularly around La Selva.
ORANGE-FRONTED PARAKEET (Eupsittula canicularis) – Another specialty of the dry northwest, where we saw plenty along Guacimo Road. There were also quite a few flocks flying up the Rio Tarcolitos valley over Villa Lapas early each morning, which is not something I've ever noted here before.

It's clearly hard work being a Scintillant Hummingbird! Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

GREAT GREEN MACAW (Ara ambiguus) – The population of these magnificent birds has been increasing in CR in recent years, and where we used to regularly miss it on tour, now we expect to see them, which is great. This year we saw at least 6 birds, though probably more, and had smashing looks through the scope at a couple near Puerto Viejo after a bit of a chase. A little later the same afternoon we had another pair fly low over our heads at El Tigre marsh, the first I've seen there.
SCARLET MACAW (Ara macao) – It's be hard to miss these birds in the Carara region these days. They're big, colorful, noisy, and quite numerous. We had loads of great looks, including a bird in a natural nest cavity (as opposed to the artificial ones they often use) above the Quebrada Bonita. [N]
CRIMSON-FRONTED PARAKEET (Psittacara finschi) – These big noisy parakeets are abundant in many parts of the country, especially so around the Hotel Bougainvillea, and we probably saw more of these than any other parrot species.
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
FASCIATED ANTSHRIKE (Cymbilaimus lineatus) – Great close views of a male feeding low next to the trail at La Selva one afternoon.
BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus) – Did we really just see one pair of these? At least we had good views of them at Carara.
BLACK-HOODED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus bridgesi) – Fairly common in Carara, and generally pretty easy to see for an antbird, as was the case this year. Especially nice was the female at the army ant swarm that kept posing on the railing alongside the trail.
RUSSET ANTSHRIKE (Thamnistes anabatinus) – We saw these arboreal antshrikes only at Rancho, but there we had good scope studies of a pair working on a nest above the trail near the White-crowned Manakin lek.
PLAIN ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus mentalis) – Our only ones were early morning visitors to the moth cloth at Rancho.
STREAK-CROWNED ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus striaticeps) – Man this was frustrating-- we had one calling so close to the trail for several minutes at Braulio, but we never could figure out where it was. [*]
CHECKER-THROATED ANTWREN (Epinecrophylla fulviventris) – Brief looks at our only one with a mixed flock near the hummingbird feeders at Rancho, before we split the group into two.
SLATY ANTWREN (Myrmotherula schisticolor) – We encountered these antwrens several times at Rancho, Tapanti, and Carara, but none was all that cooperative and most of our views were rather brief.
DOT-WINGED ANTWREN (Microrhopias quixensis) – Occurs regularly with mixed flocks at Carara, where we saw them several times. At one point I was trying to point out a bird that was only about three feet from me, fussing around in a tangle of dead leaves right next to the trail! Though both sexes are pretty nice, I think most folks agreed that the female was easily the more attractive of the two.
DUSKY ANTBIRD (Cercomacroides tyrannina) – Common on both slopes, but far easier to see at Carara then elsewhere (though we did see one briefly at Rancho, too). Especially cooperative were the ones at our fantastic army ant swarm.
CHESTNUT-BACKED ANTBIRD (Myrmeciza exsul) – A common understory bird in Carara, where they are pretty unwary and easy to see.
DULL-MANTLED ANTBIRD (Myrmeciza laemosticta) – An unresponsive bird was heard at Braulio. [*]
ZELEDON'S ANTBIRD (Myrmeciza zeledoni) – A male near the bottom of the road at Virgen del Socorro was reasonably cooperative, and I think everyone got some kind of look at it. Some folks saw another male at Rancho.
BICOLORED ANTBIRD (Gymnopithys bicolor bicolor) – A pair near the army ant swarm (that we just missed) at La Selva was moving away quickly, and only Bill and Diane got a look at them. But then we came across that amazing ant swarm at Carara and wound up with incredibly views of several as they fed quite boldly next to the trail!
Grallariidae (Antpittas)
SCALED ANTPITTA (Grallaria guatimalensis) – I was surprised to hear that one of these antpittas was being seen regularly behind the cabins at Savegre as it was the first one I've heard of at that site. It was one of our three tricky targets on our final morning before leaving there, and it didn't take long before Vernon spied it hopping around next to the trail in the early morning gloom. This is always a tough bird, so it was a real coup getting the whole group a view of it!

Its easy to see why Resplendent Quetzal won the "bird of the trip" honors, hands down. What a stunner! Photo by participant Greg Vassilopoulos.

Rhinocryptidae (Tapaculos)
SILVERY-FRONTED TAPACULO (Scytalopus argentifrons) – We tried, and tried, and tried for this skulking bird over and over, and just couldn't find a responsive one at first. Finally, we got one to respond at Savegre, but it was less than cooperative and was only seen by a couple of folks. But luckily another bird at Santa Elena was much more friendly, and gave pretty darned good views to all. Some folks even got a glimpse of the silvery brow!
Formicariidae (Antthrushes)
BLACK-FACED ANTTHRUSH (Formicarius analis) – The views we had our first afternoon at Carara would have been good enough, but they didn't beat the encounter with those birds at the army ant swarm that paraded around on the trail over and over again!
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
TAWNY-THROATED LEAFTOSSER (Sclerurus mexicanus) – Heard at Rancho's hummingbird pools, but we never saw it come in to bathe. [*]
OLIVACEOUS WOODCREEPER (Sittasomus griseicapillus) – One at La Paz our first day was our first woodcreeper species. Other singles were seen at Rancho and Monteverde. Note that this species will likely be split into a number of different ones someday, so keep track of where you've seen them.
TAWNY-WINGED WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla anabatina) – The woodcreepers in this genus are avid ant swarm followers, and we had our only one at the big ant swarm at Carara.
PLAIN-BROWN WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla fuliginosa) – Seen a few times on the Caribbean slope, with our best views coming at Rancho, where one was a regular visitor to the moth cloth.
WEDGE-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Glyphorynchus spirurus) – The smallest of the woodcreepers, and one of the most widespread. We saw them a number of times on both slopes and from lowlands on up into the cloud forest at Tapanti.
NORTHERN BARRED-WOODCREEPER (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae) – This big woodcreeper is fairly common at lower elevations on both slopes, and we had good looks at a pair at La Selva, then even better views of a couple at the army ant swarm at Carara.
COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans) – Also common at lower elevations on both slopes. Though we heard them often and saw quite a few, we never had any one bird that really strutted its stuff for us.
BLACK-STRIPED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus lachrymosus) – Sadly this gorgeous woodcreeper was heard only at Carara. [*]
SPOTTED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus erythropygius) – This common middle elevation bird was a little quiet this year, though we saw a few at Rancho and Tapanti. Perhaps they were nesting, as we really didn't hear them vocalize that much.
BROWN-BILLED SCYTHEBILL (Campylorhamphus pusillus) – Arguably our best find at Santa Elena was a very vocal and cooperative one of these spectacular birds that gave us incredible, walk away views!
STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii) – Usually one of the most commonly encountered woodcreepers, partly due to its preference for disturbed areas. We saw a few around La Selva and Rancho, but not as many as usual.
SPOT-CROWNED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes affinis) – Very similar to Streak-headed, but occurs at higher elevations. We saw good numbers in the Savegre valley.
PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus) – Scarce this trip with just a single seen at Rancho and a couple more at Carara.
BUFFY TUFTEDCHEEK (Pseudocolaptes lawrencii) – I just love this bird, and am always happy to see it, though it can be tough. This trip we had an amazing encounter with a couple with a big mixed flock along the trail at Savegre, and everybody had a great view of them.
LINEATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Syndactyla subalaris) – We finally found this one as we were leaving Santa Elena, and had good looks at one that sat amazingly still for quite a while, even allowing scope views for a few.
STREAK-BREASTED TREEHUNTER (Thripadectes rufobrunneus) – Another often difficult to see Furnariid that we did amazingly well on. Danette spotted a large brown bird rummaging around next to the trail in the oak forest at Savegre, and we all watched as this fantastic bird hopped closer before emerging out into the open at eye level for some unbeatable views!
BUFF-THROATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (HYPOPHAEUS) (Automolus ochrolaemus hypophaeus) – This is the subspecies found on the Caribbean slope, which we saw nicely at the moth cloth at Rancho.
BUFF-THROATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (EXSERTUS) (Automolus ochrolaemus exsertus) – This subspecies is restricted to the Pacific lowlands of SW Costa Rica and western Panama and has a very different voice than the Caribbean slope race. We had perhaps my best ever view of one at the army ant swarm at Carara as it perched for long periods in the open on the edge of the concrete path. To me this bird looked overall paler and less distinctively buff-throated than the Caribbean slope birds, and I'm pretty sure this will one day be split off as a different species.
STRIPED WOODHAUNTER (Automolus subulatus) – Heard only at Braulio. [*]
SPOTTED BARBTAIL (Premnoplex brunnescens) – One hit the bus window at Tapanti and was momentarily stunned, allowing us a rare chance to study this bird in the hand and see the barbed tail up close. Less dazed birds were also seen a few times at Santa Elena.
RUDDY TREERUNNER (Margarornis rubiginosus) – Quite common in the highland forest in the Savegre valley, generally accompanying mixed flocks.
RED-FACED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca erythrops) – Quite numerous in Tapanti, where we were able to scope a pair that was working on one of their enormous (for the size of the birds) nest.

An Emerald Toucanet catching the sun by the feeders at La Cinchona shows nicely why this subspecies (caeruleogularis) is called "Blue-throated Toucanet." Photo by participant Reg David.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma imberbe) – A pair showed well in dry scrub along the Guacimo road. Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet occurs very near to here, though I've never found any overlap between the two species yet. Here in CR, this species is grayer and duller than Southern, which is generally brighter and cleaner looking.
SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma obsoletum) – Heard often and seen rather poorly at Villa Lapas, on the same morning as we saw the Northerns.
GREENISH ELAENIA (Myiopagis viridicata) – One seen near Rancho was a good find, as this species is rather uncommon on the Caribbean slope. Much more common on the Pacific side, where we had excellent close views of a pair at Carara.
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster) – Pretty common and widespread, though away from the Rancho area we had only a couple of sightings this trip.
MOUNTAIN ELAENIA (Elaenia frantzii) – Just a few were seen in the Savegre valley
TORRENT TYRANNULET (Serpophaga cinerea) – Usually not too hard to find, but we struggled a bit this year as they seemed to be absent from many of their usual haunts. Still we did manage to see two individuals, one along the river at La Mina, the other along the Savegre River.
OLIVE-STRIPED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes olivaceus) – And another species that seemed scarcer than usual. Our only sighting was on our first day, a single bird in the massive bougainvillea plant (with a bunch of other birds) along the trail down to the feeders at La Paz.
OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus) – Heard more than seen, but we managed to spot a couple at Braulio Carrillo, and another at Carara, taking a bath in the stream in the late afternoon.
SLATY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon superciliaris) – Pretty good views of our only ones with a mixed flock at Rancho.
PALTRY TYRANNULET (Zimmerius vilissimus) – Though these can occur pretty much anywhere on the tour route, and I have seen them at virtually every site we visited, this trip we only encountered them over a stretch of 5 consecutive days from Rancho on up to the Savegre valley and down to Bosque del Tolomuco, where we saw our final ones.
NORTHERN SCRUB-FLYCATCHER (Sublegatus arenarum arenarum) – A rather rare and often hard to find species that is pretty much restricted to the Pacific coast mangroves. We had great luck, getting wonderful close views of a lone bird during our boat tour. This was the first one our boat man had seen in quite a while.
BLACK-CAPPED PYGMY-TYRANT (Myiornis atricapillus) – Another species that seemed less vocal than normal. I think the dry conditions had some influence over this. In any case, we managed to track down one of these ping pong ball-sized birds at La Selva for some nice looks.
SCALE-CRESTED PYGMY-TYRANT (Lophotriccus pileatus) – We had some nice encounters with the feisty little flycatchers several times at Rancho and Tapanti.
NORTHERN BENTBILL (Oncostoma cinereigulare) – We had several good looks at this odd little flycatcher at Carara, with our first turning up just before we found the army ant swarm.
SLATE-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus sylvia) – Vernon spotted our only one of these our first morning at Carara, shortly after we entered the trail.

Acorn Woodpeckers are plentiful -- and noisily obvious! -- around our hotel in the Savegre valley. Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum) – You wouldn't know it from this trip, but these really are common birds. We saw surprisingly few and only encountered these at La Selva and Carara.
BLACK-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum nigriceps) – Great views of a pair building a nest in the canopy above the forest hummingbird feeders at Rancho. As Ernesto pointed out, it was unusual to see that there was no visible wasp nest nearby, as these birds almost always build their nests next to wasp nests for protection against predators.
EYE-RINGED FLATBILL (Rhynchocyclus brevirostris) – Good looks at one from the roadside at Tapanti NP, followed by some more decent views along Carara's Sendero Quebrada Bonita.
YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias sulphurescens) – A widespread bird at lower elevations on both slopes, and we had several sightings at a number of sites.
STUB-TAILED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus cancrominus) – Heard at Carara. [*]
GOLDEN-CROWNED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus coronatus) – Marvelous views of one of these tiny flycatchers as we were watching the Baird's Trogons at Carara. Always nice to find these birds without having to use playback!
ROYAL FLYCATCHER (NORTHERN) (Onychorhynchus coronatus mexicanus) – This one has been tough in Carara recently, so we were pretty fortunate to find one right behind the rooms at the Villa Lapas one morning. And we were even luckier to find another on our final morning there, that bird attending a partially constructed nest over the stream. [N]
RUDDY-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Terenotriccus erythrurus) – Diane spotted one with a big flock of Carmiol's and Tawny-crested tanagers at Braulio, but it escaped without anyone else seeing it. We didn't catch up with another until our final morning at Villa Lapas, when we had excellent looks at one right after we'd found the nesting Royal Flycatcher.
SULPHUR-RUMPED FLYCATCHER (Myiobius sulphureipygius aureatus) – Susan found our first perched high above the manakin bathing stream at Carara. Our only one was with the preceding two species on the grounds of the Villa Lapas.
TAWNY-CHESTED FLYCATCHER (Aphanotriccus capitalis) – A very scarce and local species, with Rancho being one of the best sites to see it. We had superb views of a single bird that paid several visits to the moth cloth in the early morning.
TUFTED FLYCATCHER (Mitrephanes phaeocercus) – Quite a common highland bird, and we saw quite a few at Tapanti, Savegre, and Santa Elena. The most cooperative one at Savegre was perched nearby at eye level, but faced fierce competition from the male quetzal that was also posing openly nearby.
OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Contopus cooperi) – A few folks saw this one at Savegre when they lingered behind the rest of the group along with Vernon. [b]
DARK PEWEE (Contopus lugubris) – A single each at Tapanti and Savegre.
OCHRACEOUS PEWEE (Contopus ochraceus) – A very scarce and local flycatcher of highland forests. We all heard this one, and Vernon scoped one as we walked along the stream-side trail at Savegre, but even through the scope it was it was often blocked by foliage, and not everyone got to see it before it flew off.
WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus sordidulus) – A wood-pewee above the feeder at Bosque del Tolomuco was giving the distinctive burry calls of this species. We saw other silent, pewees high up in the Savegre valley which were likely this species as well, as it tends to winter at higher elevations than the Eastern. [b]
EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Contopus virens) – A couple of birds at the Villa Lapas one morning were fortunately calling, as I am not at all confident I can separate the two wood-pewees visually. [b]
TROPICAL PEWEE (Contopus cinereus) – Dave found us our only one in the mangroves during our boat trip.
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris) – Generally the most numerous migrant Empid in the country, though we saw only a couple at Rancho. Another Empid seen at a roadside marsh near the Pacific coast was either a Willow or Alder Flycatcher. [b]
YELLOWISH FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flavescens) – Another species that seemed way less numerous and/or conspicuous this trip, and we only ran into them in the oak forest at Savegre, though they are usually easy to find at a number of sites.
BLACK-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax atriceps) – This very distinctive highland specialty was seen well a few times in the Savegre valley.
BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans) – Pretty reliable along many watercourses on the Caribbean side at least.
LONG-TAILED TYRANT (Colonia colonus) – Beautiful views of a pair along the La Selva entrance road.
BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) – We heard these birds often enough, but views were sparse and limited to one flying across the river as we were on the suspension bridge at La Selva, and a couple of sightings at Rancho.
RUFOUS MOURNER (Rhytipterna holerythra) – Singles were seen on 5 days on the Caribbean slope, with especially nice views at Tapanti.
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer) – The most widespread resident Myiarchus. We had regular encounters with these birds on both slopes.
PANAMA FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus panamensis) – Restricted to mangroves, where we saw our only one feeding along the edge of the canal during our boat trip.
NUTTING'S FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus nuttingi) – A rather smallish Myiarchus, and restricted to the dry northwest, where we saw at least 3 along Guacimo Road.
GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus) – A fairly common wintering bird in the lowlands of both slopes, and we saw several at La Selva and Carara. [b]
BROWN-CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tyrannulus) – Looks like a larger version of Nutting's, and like that species, is restricted to the dry northwest. We saw a single bird along Guacimo road, in close proximity to a Nutting's so we could really note the similarity. Both species were fairly vocal, which is a great aid in identification.

Scarlet Macaws are now hard to miss in the Carara region. Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – We missed this bird one day in the Savegre valley, though we probably could have found one there if we'd really tried. [N]
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – usually a bit less common than the similar kiskadee, but by no means a scarce bird, and we saw them a bunch of times at most of the sites visited.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis) – Abundant pretty much throughout the country.
GRAY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes granadensis) – Normally a bit less common than the similar Social Flycatcher, but we saw them in small numbers mainly at La Selva and Carara, where a pair was nesting over the river behind the restaurant at Villa Lapas. [N]
WHITE-RINGED FLYCATCHER (Conopias albovittatus) – The calls and long narrow bill of this species help to separate it from other similarly patterned flycatchers. We saw a few of these at La Selva.
GOLDEN-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes hemichrysus) – We saw our only ones from that same roadside viewpoint where we saw the King Vulture and Ornate Hawk-Eagle at Braulio. And to think the only reason we went there was because we were too early to get into the park!
STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus) – Pretty common in the Carara region, including on the grounds of the Villa Lapas.
SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes luteiventris) – We saw these recently arrived Austral migrants only on either end of the tour, with a pair at Virgen del Socorro and another pair on the way up to the Santa Elena Reserve. [a]
PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius) – Heard and/or seen daily on the Caribbean slope, then heard again at Carara. [a]
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – Missing this species on one day around Rancho Naturalista is a feat that I'm not sure I could repeat if I tried.
SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus forficatus) – Wonderful views of these gorgeous birds a few times in the Pacific lowlands. The group of 15 or so that were plunging into the Rio Tarcoles for a bath as we finished up our boat trip were especially memorable. Dave and Pauline chose these birds, specifically (for Pauline, at least) the ones that were flying across a field alongside some magpie-jays, as their favorite of the trip. [b]
Oxyruncidae (Sharpbill)
SHARPBILL (Oxyruncus cristatus) – Just seeing this rare species would be treat enough, but to actually get to watch it weaving its nest while sitting in the next cup was amazing! This is only the second known nest from the country, one of the few known from anywhere. Many thanks to my friend Steven Easley for giving us the info on this one. [N]
Cotingidae (Cotingas)
PURPLE-THROATED FRUITCROW (Querula purpurata) – We had a fantastic encounter with a trio of these cotingas far out along the trails at La Selva.The throat of the male showed beautifully in the sunlight, looking as bright as the gorget of some male hummingbirds.
RUFOUS PIHA (Lipaugus unirufus) – Vernon spotted one right beside the parking lot at the main entrance to Carara, a rather odd place for this species which is usually inside tall forest. Our second one was right where it was expected, and we had great scope views of him as he sang from his perch in the subcanopy.
THREE-WATTLED BELLBIRD (Procnias tricarunculatus) – Both the males we saw near Monteverde were fairly distant, but that's why we carry the scopes! Through the scopes we had fine views of the birds as they called loudly from the treetops.
Pipridae (Manakins)
LONG-TAILED MANAKIN (Chiroxiphia linearis) – This was one of the final new species of the tour, and several males put on a fine performance at the Ecological Farm. Though we never saw them actually display, the views we got could not have been better.
WHITE-RUFFED MANAKIN (Corapipo altera) – Several views along the trails at Rancho, but adult males were hard to come by, and most of our sightings were of females and subadult males.
BLUE-CROWNED MANAKIN (Lepidothrix coronata) – One gorgeous male turned up for a bath at the stream in Carara. After our raucous encounter with the monkeys, I think we were pretty happy that anything at all turned up to bathe!
WHITE-COLLARED MANAKIN (Manacus candei) – Lekking behavior seemed to be pretty suppressed, but we still managed to get a nice look at a stunning male near the administration buildings at La Selva.
ORANGE-COLLARED MANAKIN (Manacus aurantiacus) – Not a single wing snap was heard from these birds; the leks at Carara were dead quiet. And though a male or two buzzed past overhead, our only good sightings were of a female.
WHITE-CROWNED MANAKIN (Dixiphia pipra) – Unlike the other manakins, the males of this species were very active at their lek at Rancho. In fact, there sounded like there were more there than I've ever heard before. We had nice looks at several males there.
RED-CAPPED MANAKIN (Ceratopipra mentalis) – Even the noisy spider monkeys can't keep these birds away from a nice afternoon bath, though it took a while after the monkeys settled down before they finally started to show up. But when they did, their brilliant plumage was definitely worth the wait to see.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata) – First see was a pair at Virgen del Socorro, after which we saw these a few times each at La Selva and Carara.

An American Crocodile lurks on a river bank. Photo by participant Reg David.

BARRED BECARD (Pachyramphus versicolor) – A pair was building a nest right in behind the Sharpbill nest at Tapanti, though we were a little distracted watching the Sharpbill and some folks didn't get a good look there. A male with a feeding flock in the Savegre oak forest was much more cooperative.
CINNAMON BECARD (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus) – Our only sightings came at La Selva, where we had nice views of a pair near the administration buildings.
ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae) – A female was seen on our first pre-breakfast walk at Villa Lapas, a male the next. Males of the race found here in Costa Rica, latirostris, usually lack the rose coloring on the throat.
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
MANGROVE VIREO (Vireo pallens) – Low water in the river during the boat trip made it easier to see birds in the mangroves, and we would up getting great views of one of these, which can be a tough species to see well when the water is high.
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons) – Generally a fairly common migrant. We saw singles on several days at Rancho and Carara. [b]
YELLOW-WINGED VIREO (Vireo carmioli) – An attractive endemic of the Chiriqui highlands, and pretty common with mixed flocks in the oak forest at Savegre.
BROWN-CAPPED VIREO (Vireo leucophrys) – Great close views of a pair from the upper viewing area as we were about to leave La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
PHILADELPHIA VIREO (Vireo philadelphicus) – An uncommon migrant. Singles were encountered on the Bougainvillea grounds, in the Rancho region, and at Savegre. [b]
YELLOW-GREEN VIREO (Vireo flavoviridis) – An Austral migrant and breeding resident in the country. We had good views of one that responded to some pygmy-owl imitation along Guacimo Road. [a]
TAWNY-CROWNED GREENLET (Tunchiornis ochraceiceps) – Often a tough bird to see well, but we found one feeding quietly among the fronds of a large palm just as we entered Carara NP for the first time, and the whole group had wonderful views of this bird, which is not something I can say every tour.
LESSER GREENLET (Pachysylvia decurtata) – Common and widespread, though as always heard far more often than seen, though we did have numerous sightings as well.
RUFOUS-BROWED PEPPERSHRIKE (Cyclarhis gujanensis) – Heard a few times in the highlands and the mangroves, but we never did lay eyes on this one. [*]
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
WHITE-THROATED MAGPIE-JAY (Calocitta formosa) – We saw a bunch of these flashy looking jays along Guacimo Road. One of Pauline's dual favorites (along with the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers).
BROWN JAY (Psilorhinus morio) – Widespread, common, and conspicuous.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca) – This is the default swallow through most of the highland areas.

Yeah, the exposure is a little off, and the picture is a little grainy. But it's a picture of a Sharpbill on a nest, and there are only two known nesting records for the entire country! Photo by participant Reg David.

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) – Ernesto and I both noted that it seems this species has gotten more common in recent years, perhaps at the expense of the next species.
SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) – A few were seen well enough to distinguish them from the Northerns. It'll be interesting to keep an eye on these two species in the future and see what happens with their populations locally.
MANGROVE SWALLOW (Tachycineta albilinea) – Despite the name, these birds aren't restricted to mangroves, as we noted when we saw them around Puerto Viejo. They are, however, pretty common near the mangrove areas of the Pacific coast, and seem to enjoy nesting on the tour boats that ply the river mouth. [N]
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – Some reasonable sized groups in the Pacific lowlands. [b]
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
NIGHTINGALE WREN (Microcerculus philomela) – Heard at very close range at Braulio Carrillo, but seemed to show no interest at all in playback. [*]
SCALY-BREASTED WREN (WHISTLING) (Microcerculus marginatus luscinia) – Heard regularly at Rancho, but again, none showed any response. [*]
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon) – Very common and widespread. There weren't many days when we missed this species.
OCHRACEOUS WREN (Troglodytes ochraceus) – Several sightings in the highlands, with especially nice views (in the scope for some) of a p[air working on a nest in the crotch of a tree above the Savegre River. [N]
TIMBERLINE WREN (Thryorchilus browni) – Excellent views of a pair of these highland specialties, appropriately above timberline on Cerro de la Muerte.
BAND-BACKED WREN (Campylorhynchus zonatus) – A trio of these large, boldly patterned wrens showed nicely around the administration buildings at La Selva.
RUFOUS-NAPED WREN (Campylorhynchus rufinucha) – Common and conspicuous on the Pacific lowlands, though our first were seen at the Bougainvillea, where these birds first showed up a few years ago.
BLACK-BELLIED WREN (Pheugopedius fasciatoventris) – We were on our way out of Carara and running out of time with this species when we finally came across a pair feeding in a tree fall over the trail. Though they can be pretty skulky we all managed to get good views of these birds.
RUFOUS-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius rutilus) – Good views of our only one, feeding in vine tangles above our big army ant swarm at Carara.
BLACK-THROATED WREN (Pheugopedius atrogularis) – Another very sneaky species, though we got great looks at one along the La Selva entrance road.
BANDED WREN (Thryophilus pleurostictus) – One bird showed briefly, but well, for most as it responded to pygmy-owl imitations along Guacimo Road.
RUFOUS-AND-WHITE WREN (Thryophilus rufalbus) – A beautiful large wren of the Pacific northwest. We had incredible views of a pair feeding at the army ant swarm at Carara.
STRIPE-BREASTED WREN (Cantorchilus thoracicus) – These ones were a bit more elusive than usual, but we finally found a cooperative bird that showed well for all along the Silent Mountain Road.

We had many great looks at Passerini's Tanagers on the Caribbean slope. Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

PLAIN WREN (Cantorchilus modestus) – Seen nicely around our cabins at Monteverde. There is a proposal to split this species into three, all of which occur in Costa Rica. The ones we saw would remain as Plain Wren, with Canebrake Wren (C. zeledoni) occurring in the Caribbean lowlands, and Panama Wren (C. elutus) found in the south Pacific region.
RIVERSIDE WREN (Cantorchilus semibadius) – Another of the species that is restricted to the Pacific lowlands of southwestern CR and western Panama. We saw these strikingly patterned wrens well several times at Carara.
BAY WREN (Cantorchilus nigricapillus) – The Caribbean lowland equivalent of the preceding species. We saw this lovely bird twice, once along the creek behind the soccer field at La Selva, then again along the Rio Platanillo at La Mina.
WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucosticta) – The moth cloth at Rancho has greatly simplified the task of seeing this common, but somewhat difficult species, and we had fantastic close studies of these tiny birds as they fed around the light in the early morning.
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucophrys) – Replaces White-breasted at higher elevations. We saw these well on our first attempt at Tapanti, then had regular sightings in the Savegre and Monteverde regions.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus) – Not uncommon at Carara, where I think everyone eventually caught up with this bird, which always looks to me as if it is pointy on both ends, what with its long slim tail and equally long slender bill.
WHITE-LORED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila albiloris) – In the dry northwest, the range of the two gnatcatchers overlaps, though they tend to be found in different habitats within the region. This one is generally found in the dry tropical forest, where we had nice views of a pair along the Guacimo Road. Tropical Gnatcatcher is mostly restricted to gallery forest in the NW region.
TROPICAL GNATCATCHER (Polioptila plumbea) – Just a few sightings of this widespread gnatcatcher on the Caribbean slope a La Selva and Rancho.
Cinclidae (Dippers)
AMERICAN DIPPER (Cinclus mexicanus) – Singles were seen along the Rio Sarapiqui at Virgen del Socorro and along the Rio Savegre. As several of you noted, birds of the race found here (C. m. ardesiacus) are considerably paler than the ones found in the Rocky Mountains in the Us and Canada (C. m. unicolor).
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
BLACK-FACED SOLITAIRE (Myadestes melanops) – The ethereal song of this species is a regular sound in highland forests, and we heard plenty in the Savegre valley, with some folks seeing them there too. But for some, it wasn't until we tracked down a very cooperative bird at Santa Elena that they could finally add it to their lists. Reg was quite taken with this bird, and picked it as his top bird of the trip. [N]
BLACK-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus gracilirostris) – Great looks at a confiding pair along the roadside in the upper part of the Savegre valley.
ORANGE-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus aurantiirostris) – I always find this one the trickiest of the nightingale-thrushes to show to a group, and it started that way on this trip as well. But after a bit of gentle coaxing, one bird finally sat out on some metal railings along the forest edge at the Ecological Farm.
SLATY-BACKED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus fuscater) – First seen at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, where they have become quite habituated and sometimes feed on table scraps dropped on the floor in the restaurant. Also seen at Tapanti, and perhaps best, on the trails at Santa Elena.

Green Honeycreepers are found on both slopes in Costa Rica, but we found most of ours this year (including this female) on the Caribbean side. Photo by participant Reg David.

RUDDY-CAPPED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus frantzii) – Confiding and easy to see at Savegre, though you need to be careful not to step on them.
BLACK-HEADED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus mexicanus) – My favorite in this group (not counting Spotted, which doesn't occur in CR). We had nice views of this lovely bird at Braulio, despite the oblivious photographer that clomped noisily down the trail chasing it off the first time it popped into view.
SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus) – Just one sighting of a lone bird that had evidently just finished bathing in the stream along the forest trail at Savegre. [b]
WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina) – Quite a few were seen at several locations, including a couple of sleeping birds found on our night walk at La Selva. [b]
SOOTY THRUSH (Turdus nigrescens) – Abundant and conspicuous in the highlands, right up to above tree-line.
MOUNTAIN THRUSH (Turdus plebejus) – Oddly we actually struggled to see this species, with lots of records but no sightings in the Savegre valley. But we pulled one out at the last possible moment our final morning at the Ecological Farm. Whew!
PALE-VENTED THRUSH (Turdus obsoletus) – That one we saw in the big fruiting fig tree at Virgen our first morning proved to be the only one of the trip.
CLAY-COLORED THRUSH (Turdus grayi) – Every day, everywhere, as expected.
WHITE-THROATED THRUSH (Turdus assimilis) – We scoped one shy bird at Tapanti, then saw a few others at the Ecological Farm.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gilvus) – Several folks saw a couple sitting on roadside power lines as we drove through the city of San Isidro.
Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)
BLACK-AND-YELLOW SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Phainoptila melanoxantha) – Bill spotted our first of two as we birded along the Providencia Road one afternoon, and I think everyone that was out that afternoon saw it, which was good as the one we saw in the paramo the next day didn't stick around for very long.
LONG-TAILED SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Ptiliogonys caudatus) – Lovely and elegant, and easy to see in the Savegre valley, where there were good numbers around, often perching conspicuously on bare branches in the tops of trees.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla) – One popped up right beside the trail in the dry forest section at the beginning of the Quebrada Bonita trail at Carara, and another was seen at the Monteverde Ecological Farm. [b]
WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum) – It's been a long time since I've seen one of these uncommon warblers in the country, so I was pleased to see the one Ernesto found for us above the forest feeders at Rancho. [b]
LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla) – This bird always seems pretty wary and difficult to see, and that was certainly the case this year, though I think everyone caught up with the one along the Savegre River. [b]
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – Numerous in the Carara region, in the forest as well as in the mangroves. A couple were at the army ant swarm in the park, and gave good looks as they strolled along the concrete trail. [b]

The Blue-gray Tanager was among the handful of species we saw every day of the tour. Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera) – A widespread and fairly common wintering warbler, and we had several nice encounters with this attractive species, most of which were males. [b]
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – Another common migrant, and we had plenty of chances to see these birds at a number of sites. [b]
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) – Always nice to see this beauty, and we saw several in the mangroves during our boat tour. [b]
FLAME-THROATED WARBLER (Oreothlypis gutturalis) – There's some major eye candy in the highland forests, and this stunner is one of the sweetest. It's also a common member of mixed species flocks, and we lots of good views.
TENNESSEE WARBLER (Oreothlypis peregrina) – Often one of the most numerous wintering warblers, and, while we saw quite a few, it seemed to me they weren't as abundant as usual. [b]
GRAY-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis poliocephala) – A cooperative bird sat up nicely for us along Guacimo Road.
KENTUCKY WARBLER (Geothlypis formosa) – Not an easy bird to see normally, but the one that visited Rancho's moth cloth in the early morning was pretty bold. [b]
OLIVE-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis semiflava) – Our only one was a very vocal bird along the edge of the Angostura Reservoir.
TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi) – Pretty common at middle elevations on both slopes, and down to the base of the foothills at Carara at least. We saw these birds at Carara, Rancho, and Tapanti.
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) – A female our first day at Virgen, and another at Rancho were the only ones for the trip. [b]
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – We saw this migrant race a number of times in the lowlands on both sides of the country. [b]
YELLOW WARBLER (MANGROVE) (Setophaga petechia erithachorides) – And this distinctive red-headed resident showed beautifully in the mangroves, where we had both forms together.
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica) – One of the most abundant and confusing of the wintering warblers, as the winter plumage is quite unlike the brilliant breeding plumage most folks are more familiar with. [b]
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (Setophaga virens) – A female was feeding in tree ferns near the hummer feeders at La Paz, and a few birds were recorded with mixed flocks in the Savegre region. [b]
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (Basileuterus rufifrons) – This delightful warbler was tallied a number of times, beginning with excellent views of a pair on the grounds of the Bougainvillea on our first morning.
BLACK-CHEEKED WARBLER (Basileuterus melanogenys) – We bumped into this Chiriqui specialty a number of times on our full day in the Savegre valley.
GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER (Basileuterus culicivorus) – Nice looks at a couple that gleaned insects from around the moth cloth in the early mornings.
THREE-STRIPED WARBLER (Basileuterus tristriatus) – Best see at Santa Elena, where a curious pair hopped around in the open a few yards away from us. There is a proposal pending to split this species into three, with the Costa Rican and Panamanian birds becoming Costa Rican Warbler (B. melanotis).

A male Slaty Flowerpiercer pauses between nectar raids, showing the sharply pointed beak which allows him to cut his way into the flower. This little one is a thief -- stealing nectar without pollinating the plant. Photo by participant Reg David.

BUFF-RUMPED WARBLER (Myiothlypis fulvicauda) – An unmistakeable warbler of wet areas. We had them regularly along rivers at lower elevations on both slopes.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) – One of the most numerous migrant warblers at higher elevations, and we saw plenty around Savegre and Monteverde. [b]
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus) – Pretty common in middle elevation forests. We had our first good views our first day at Cinchona.
COLLARED REDSTART (Myioborus torquatus) – This adorable little bird showed itself well a bunch of times in the highland forest at Savegre.
WRENTHRUSH (Zeledonia coronata) – Wow... a simply amazing showing from a pair in the Savegre valley. Vernon and I heard one call as we drove back down to the lodge after the quetzal show, and we quickly got everybody out and into position to have these birds pop right out into full view, singing all the while! This is a very cool and unique bird, and one of my all-time favorites. Though currently treated as an aberrant warbler, some recent works have treated this bird as the only member of a monotypic family, Zeledonidae.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
GRAY-HEADED TANAGER (Eucometis penicillata) – Fantastic looks at these birds at the Carara army ant swarm. At one point we had 5 of them all lined up on the rope railing along the trail!
WHITE-SHOULDERED TANAGER (Tachyphonus luctuosus) – We saw a pair at Rancho, then a few more at Carara, including a subadult male bathing in the stream.
TAWNY-CRESTED TANAGER (Tachyphonus delatrii) – A huge flock of these and Carmiol's Tanagers was one of the biggest rewards on a rather slow day at Braulio Carrillo.
WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus) – This open-country tanager was scarce this trip, and our only ones were a pair with a trio of saltator species at the edge of a sugar cane plantation at La Mina.
CRIMSON-COLLARED TANAGER (Ramphocelus sanguinolentus) – We'd seen these birds on three days at Virgen and Rancho, but not one cooperated for our whole group. But then Dave spotted a pair along the entrance road at Tapanti, and they sat long enough for all to enjoy them through the scope.
PASSERINI'S TANAGER (Ramphocelus passerinii) – Seen in good numbers daily on the Caribbean slope.
CHERRIE'S TANAGER (Ramphocelus costaricensis) – The Pacific slope half of the split of Scarlet-rumped Tanager, this species was common at Bosque del Tolomuco, and we had one at Carara as well.
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus) – One of a handful of species recorded every day of the tour.
PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum) – We almost had this one every day too, just missing it on a single day in the highlands.
GOLDEN-HOODED TANAGER (Tangara larvata) – Though it is quite common on both slopes, we only had this species on the Caribbean side this time.
SPECKLED TANAGER (Tangara guttata) – A few great views of these beautiful tanagers, starting with a couple in the big fruiting fig tree at Virgen, but perhaps best seen on the feeders at Bosque del Tolomuco.
SPANGLE-CHEEKED TANAGER (Tangara dowii) – This gorgeous highland specialty put on a good show first at La Paz, then again in the oak forest at Savegre where we saw them a bunch of times.

Chestnut-headed Oropendola is the less common of Costa Rica's two oropendola species. Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

PLAIN-COLORED TANAGER (Tangara inornata) – Rather scarce and restricted to the Caribbean lowlands, where we had a couple of sightings of pairs along the La Selva entrance road.
BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola) – A bunch of these were in the fruiting fig at Virgen our first morning, and we went on to see them a number of times, particularly in the Rancho area.
EMERALD TANAGER (Tangara florida) – A couple of birds in the fruiting fig tree at Virgen showed beautifully for most, but with all the activity in that tree, some folks were distracted by other birds and missed them there, though I think most everyone caught up with another couple at Rancho.
SILVER-THROATED TANAGER (Tangara icterocephala) – Very common in middle elevation forests. Seen especially well on the feeders at Bosque del Tolomuco, where Wendy also found a nest in the hedge next to the garage. But the best views were at Savegre, where a couple of birds kept battling their reflections in the windows right beside our table in the restaurant. [N]
SCARLET-THIGHED DACNIS (Dacnis venusta) – These brilliant birds kicked off a great morning of birding at Virgen, and we saw them a few more times at La Selva, Rancho, and Tapanti, though I'm not sure anyone ever managed to see the scarlet thighs.
BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana) – A pair one morning at La Selva and a single bird in the Rancho region were all we had this time.
RED-LEGGED HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes cyaneus) – I was pretty surprised to see a couple of females on the Hotel Bougainvillea grounds the first morning. I'm pretty sure these were my first record here. We also saw these numerous other times, including some flashy males, in the lowlands on both slopes.
GREEN HONEYCREEPER (Chlorophanes spiza) – Seen daily around La Selva, with a single male at Carara being our only other record.
BLACK-AND-YELLOW TANAGER (Chrysothlypis chrysomelas) – Way down below us at the King Vulture overlook. [*]
SLATY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa plumbea) – A few in the gardens at Savegre, where they have obviously been hard at work piercing flowers by the looks of the blooms there.
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina) – Surprisingly few, though we had small numbers at a couple of sites on the Pacific coast.
THICK-BILLED SEED-FINCH (Sporophila funerea) – Best were the several birds in the roadside marsh on our way north to Villa Lapas along the coast.
NICARAGUAN SEED-FINCH (Sporophila nuttingi) – An incredibly cooperative pair at El Tigre marsh, where they sat not far away in the open for 15-20 minutes or so.
VARIABLE SEEDEATER (Sporophila corvina) – By far the most common seedeater seen on both slopes.
WHITE-COLLARED SEEDEATER (Sporophila torqueola) – A couple of males were among the other seed-eating birds at the roadside marsh along the Pacific coast.
BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola) – Pretty common at a number of sites, including at the hummingbird feeders at Monteverde. [N]
YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus) – Not uncommon in disturbed grassy areas in middle elevations and on up into the Savegre valley.
DUSKY-FACED TANAGER (Mitrospingus cassinii) – This gregarious species has seemingly declined at La Selva in recent years, and where we used to see large flocks of 12-15 birds we now feel lucky to see just a couple. We felt lucky a couple of times this trip, with especially nice views of a pair feeding in a fruiting tree right next to the reception building.
BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR (Saltator maximus) – The most common and widespread of the saltators, seen numerous times throughout.
BLACK-HEADED SALTATOR (Saltator atriceps) – Fantastic looks at a noisy trio at El Tigre marsh, then again at La Mina, where they were in the same tree as members of the other two saltator species.
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens) – Quite common around the Bougainvillea, with a single one at La Mina.
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
SOOTY-CAPPED CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus pileatus) – Abundant in the highland forests.
COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus flavopectus) – Replaces the preceding species in middle elevation forests, where they are likewise abundant.
STRIPE-HEADED SPARROW (Peucaea ruficauda) – Quite common and easy to see in the dry tropical grasslands of the Guanacaste.
OLIVE SPARROW (Arremonops rufivirgatus) – Like the above sparrow, this one is also found in the dry northwest, though it prefers overgrown hillsides with lots of cover. We saw several along Guacimo Road.
ORANGE-BILLED SPARROW (Arremon aurantiirostris) – A common lowland forest bird which we saw well a number of times especially at Rancho and Carara.
CHESTNUT-CAPPED BRUSHFINCH (Arremon brunneinucha) – Great looks at a pair feeding on the forest floor behind the cabins at Savegre.
SOOTY-FACED FINCH (Arremon crassirostris) – A pair of habituated birds at La Paz came and joined us for lunch. Not often I point out a bird by saying "It's right under Ed!" but that's where it was!
VOLCANO JUNCO (Junco vulcani) – A true montane species, occurring pretty much just above timberline in the highlands. We had a nice encounter with a pair on Cerro de la Muerte.
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis) – Very common throughout the upland areas of the country.

We found our Volcano Junco, a high-elevation specialist typically found above treeline, on Cerro de la Muerte. Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

LARGE-FOOTED FINCH (Pezopetes capitalis) – These birds were less conspicuous than usual in the highlands, but we did find one pair up in the oak forest at Savegre, and got a nice view of them as they peeked out from some trailside vegetation.
WHITE-EARED GROUND-SPARROW (Melozone leucotis) – It was heartening to see a couple of these birds on the grounds of the Bougainvillea, as it's been quite a while since I've actually had them on the hotel grounds. Also seen daily at Monteverde.
YELLOW-THIGHED FINCH (Pselliophorus tibialis) – Those amazing yellow thighs always impress people. This would really just be a drab, dark finch without them. We saw these often in the Savegre valley.
WHITE-NAPED BRUSHFINCH (YELLOW-THROATED) (Atlapetes albinucha gutturalis) – A pair paid a quick visit underneath the feeding table at Bosque del Tolomuco, and we also saw this species on the grounds of our hotel at Monteverde.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
HEPATIC TANAGER (Piranga flava) – A pair at Braulio Carrillo were the only ones we saw on the tour.
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – A common winter visitor, which we saw on more days than not and at pretty much every site visited. [b]
FLAME-COLORED TANAGER (Piranga bidentata) – A common bird in the Savegre valley, where we had multiple good encounters.
RED-THROATED ANT-TANAGER (Habia fuscicauda) – Seen a number of times on the Caribbean side. Especially bold were the trio at Rancho's moth cloth in the early mornings.
CARMIOL'S TANAGER (Chlorothraupis carmioli) – A huge flock of these noisy tanagers was moving through the lower part of the forest at Braulio, along with an equal number of Tawny-crested Tanager.
BLACK-FACED GROSBEAK (Caryothraustes poliogaster) – Some good views of a pair or two at La Selva, then a big noisy flock in the canopy at Braulio.
BLACK-THIGHED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus tibialis) – A pair in a fruiting tree at Tapanti gave us a nice view before they flew off for good.
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – We saw a female one day near Rancho, and a male the next day at the oriole roosting tree in the Ujarras valley, and that was it. Usually we see more than that. [b]
BLUE-BLACK GROSBEAK (Cyanocompsa cyanoides) – Vernon found a male perched quietly near the bus at El Tigre marsh, and it saw long enough for scope views for all.
BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea) – Several birds showed nicely in the roadside marsh on our way north to Villa Lapas.
PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris) – We found a stunning male in the same roadside marsh as the Blue Grosbeaks, then had another brilliant male the next morning on the grounds of the Villa Lapas. [b]
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus) – Fair numbers in the Caribbean lowlands.
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna) – A lone bird in the same field as our lone Killdeer, during a supply stop in Cartago.
RED-BREASTED MEADOWLARK (Sturnella militaris) – We were a bit concerned to see a tractor cutting the field where these birds hang out near the Angostura Reservoir, but luckily enough habitat was left and we saw at least three of these attractive meadowlarks.
MELODIOUS BLACKBIRD (Dives dives) – This species has gotten pretty common since first arriving in the country in 1989.
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus) – Just about everywhere.

A Yellow-throated Euphonia shows nicely his namesake body part. Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

SHINY COWBIRD (Molothrus bonariensis) – A single bird teed up on a dead tree at La Selva was the only one of the trip.
BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus) – Surprisingly few, with just a handful of birds seen in the Caribbean lowlands.
GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus) – Singles seen on three days, with especially good views of one perched along the entrance road to Tapanti, scoping out a nearby oropendola colony and waiting for its chance to sneak in and lay an egg.
BLACK-COWLED ORIOLE (Icterus prosthemelas) – Singles on a couple of days at La Selva.
BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) – An abundant wintering bird, see regularly throughout. It was especially neat to see the roost tree in the Ujarras valley, where Ernesto has counted a couple of thousand birds (if I remember the numbers correctly) coming in nightly to roost. [b]
SCARLET-RUMPED CACIQUE (SCARLET-RUMPED) (Cacicus uropygialis microrhynchus) – A single bird was seen at La Selva, then we had several views of a noisy pair at Braulio.
CHESTNUT-HEADED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius wagleri) – Never as numerous as the next species, but we saw fair numbers, especially at Silent Mountain where there was a good-sized colony. [N]
MONTEZUMA OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius montezuma) – Abundant daily on the Caribbean slope. [N]
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
SCRUB EUPHONIA (Euphonia affinis) – Another specialty of the dry northwest. We has several along Guacimo road.
YELLOW-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia luteicapilla) – We only saw this common species at La Selva this trip.
YELLOW-THROATED EUPHONIA (Euphonia hirundinacea) – Especially easy to see at Monteverde, where several were regular visitors to the fruit feeders outside of the hotel restaurant.
ELEGANT EUPHONIA (Euphonia elegantissima) – Several birds were at Tapanti, but the looks we managed left something to be desired. But we cleaned up with amazing views of a couple of gorgeous males at Bosque del Tolomuco. Susan's pick as bird of the trip.
SPOT-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia imitans) – A male along the Quebrada Bonita trail in Carara played hard to get, but eventually popped out into some stream-side vegetation for a quick look.
OLIVE-BACKED EUPHONIA (Euphonia gouldi) – Quite common in the La Selva region.
TAWNY-CAPPED EUPHONIA (Euphonia anneae) – Generally the most common euphonia at middle elevations, and we saw them daily, and well, around Rancho and at Tapanti.
GOLDEN-BROWED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia callophrys) – The male of this species is easily one of the most beautiful birds in the country, as we were fortunate enough to see on several occasions. We scored our first ones in the fruiting fig tree at Virgen, then tallied them again at Tapanti and Savegre. Female plumaged birds usually outnumber adult males, and some trips we never see an adult male, so we had more than our fair share this trip.
YELLOW-BELLIED SISKIN (Spinus xanthogastrus) – A couple of birds above the lodge at Savegre were the only ones.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – A few in certain towns. [I]

For the full "tropical rainforest" experience, nothing beats a serenade from a Mantled Howler Monkey! Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

LONG-NOSED BAT (Rhynchonycteris naso) – A handful of these were hanging out above the ice machine at Villa Lapas, and a few were in a more natural setting on the trunk of a tree along the canal, seen from our boat trip.
NORTHERN GHOST BAT (Diclidurus albus) – One of these aptly-named large white bats was at one of its usual day roosts at Carara.
COMMON TENT-MAKING BAT (Uroderma bilobatum) – A long-used day roost at Villa Lapas was once again active, and a bunch of these attractive, stripe-faced bats could be seen well there.
MANTLED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta palliata) – Seen fairly regularly, but it was hard to beat those first views of a small troop in the big fruiting fig tree at Virgen our first morning. Especially nice was when they decided to serenade us with one male sitting out in full view, howling.
WHITE-THROATED CAPUCHIN (Cebus capucinus) – Man these were in short supply this trip, though they're usually the monkey we see most often. We had just one brief encounter with a small group at Carara.
CENTRAL AMERICAN SPIDER MONKEY (Ateles geoffroyi) – A trio of these gangly monkeys was a surprise in the oak forest at Savegre. It was my first record there and I didn't even realize they occurred that high. Most memorable and exciting, though, was the large troop (~20-25 animals) that we surprised above the manakin bathing stream at Carara. A couple of the monkeys were definitely not pleased with our presence, and made it known by making some mock charges (during which they got very close) towards us, and by crashing around above us, breaking off branches and throwing them at us. They settled down after a while, but several monkeys stuck around for a fair bit afterwards. This was a new and unique experience for me, and one of the more memorable moments of the tour.
HOFFMANN'S TWO-TOED SLOTH (Choloepus hoffmanni) – A clump of fur in a vine tangle over a stream at La Selva eventually resolved itself into this species after we watched it for a while. The only other sloth on the tour was one seen from the bus by several folks as it moved along a roadside power line. Given that it was in broad daylight, it seems most likely that was a Three-toed Sloth rather than this mostly nocturnal species.
BRAZILIAN RABBIT (Sylvilagus brasiliensis) – A small, presumably juvenile, rabbit bolted out of the underbrush near the cafeteria at La Selva and barreled past us and on out of sight.
VARIEGATED SQUIRREL (Sciurus variegatoides) – The common, and variable, large squirrel seen on many days.
RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis) – More common at middle elevations where we saw this smaller species regularly. The Monteverde ones have very little, if any, reddish in their tails.
ALFARO'S PYGMY SQUIRREL (Microsciurus alfari) – We had wonderful looks at a pair of these tiny squirrels near the hummingbird feeding area at La Paz.
MEXICAN HAIRY PORCUPINE (Coendou mexicanus) – Unusually, one of the resident ones living in the shed at Finca Cristina visited the banana feeders in the middle of the afternoon rather then waiting for nightfall as they normally do.
CENTRAL AMERICAN AGOUTI (Dasyprocta punctata) – A few sightings of this large rodent at La Selva, Carara, and Monteverde.
GRAY FOX (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) – One ran across the road ahead of the bus as we looked for owls near Orosi, then popped back out onto the roadside in response to my squeaking, as did a curious Mottled Owl!
NORTHERN RACCOON (Procyon lotor) – A couple of folks saw two of these after dark one night at Savegre Lodge.
WHITE-NOSED COATI (Nasua narica) – Surprisingly scarce, and we didn't run into any of these normally common animals until we got to Monteverde near tour's end.
COLLARED PECCARY (Tayassu tajacu) – Incredibly tame at La Selva, where we saw (and smelled) a bunch.

The Helmeted Basilisk (also known as Helmeted Iguana), is able to adjust its body color to help with thermoregulation. Photo by participant Paul Bisson.

SLENDER ANOLE (Anolis limifrons) – This was the only anole species we put a name to, though we saw plenty of anoles, and certainly several species.
GREEN IGUANA (Iguana iguana) – Some nice big males in treetops at La Selva.
BLACK SPINY-TAILED IGUANA (Ctenosaura similis) – Common in the dry forest at Carara.
COMMON BASILISK (Basiliscus basiliscus) – The Pacific lowlands basilisk, with plenty along the streams at Carara and Villa Lapas.
GREEN BASILISK (Basiliscus plumifrons) – One of these fancy green lizards turned up in the lawn among the lab buildings at La Selva, and another was seen by some at Rancho (on the feeders, I think).
STRIPED BASILISK (Basiliscus vittatus) – Very similar to Common Basilisk, but this one is a Caribbean lowland animal. Seen on the grounds of La Quinta.
HELMETED BASILISK (Corytophanes cristatus) – Aka Helmeted Iguana or Casque-headed Lizard. The very cool iguana that ran across the trail in front of us at Carara, then posed on the trunk of a small tree, motionless for a good long time. It's been a while since I've seen this cool critter, so it was fun getting reacquainted.
TROPICAL HOUSE GECKO (Hemidactylus mabouia) – Common in the rooms at several hotels.
YELLOW-SPOTTED NIGHT LIZARD (Lepidophyma flavimaculatum) – A few of these were in burrows along the trail during the night walk at La Selva.
CENTRAL AMERICAN WHIPTAIL (Ameiva festiva) – Lots of these in the lowlands, mainly at La Selva, where we saw plenty of young, turquoise-tailed ones.
HIGHLAND ALLIGATOR LIZARD (Mesaspis monticola) – Reg and Sue found one of these near the cabins at Savegre.
GREEN SPINY LIZARD (Sceloporus malachiticus) – A couple of these beautiful lizards were seen in the Savegre valley.
GREEN PARROT SNAKE (Leptophis ahaetulla) – Ernesto's group had one of these bright green snakes along the trail at Braulio.
BLUNT-HEADED TREE SNAKE (Imantodes cenchoa) – This was the incredibly long, thin snake we found next to the trail during our night walk at La Selva.
AMERICAN CROCODILE (Crocodylus acutus) – Some biggies along the Rio Tarcoles.
SPECTACLED CAIMAN (Caiman crocodilus) – Seen by some along the river near La Selva.
SMOKY JUNGLE FROG (Leptodactylus pentadactylus) – Several during the night walk at La Selva.
FORRER'S LEOPARD FROG (Lithobates forreri) – In the pools on the grounds of the Bougainvillea.
STRAWBERRY POISON DART FROG (Dendrobates pumilio) – Given the dry conditions, I'd say we were very lucky to find any of these small red frogs at La Selva.
SMOOTH-SKINNED TOAD (Bufo haematicus) – A couple were found on the La Selva night walk.
CANE TOAD (Rhinella marina) – Common pretty much everywhere.


Totals for the tour: 489 bird taxa and 17 mammal taxa