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Field Guides Tour Report
Costa Rica 2020
Mar 10, 2020 to Mar 25, 2020
Jay VanderGaast with Vernon Campos

We had many memorable encounters on our trip, including this adorable little Ochre-breasted Antpitta that we found at Tapanti. These birds are quite scarce in Costa Rica, so when Vernon alerted us to it, we drew ourselves away from a tamandua we were watching and got a wonderful view of this little skulker. Photo by local guide Vernon Campos.

When we all left home to begin our adventure in Costa Rica, I don't think any of us had any idea how drastically our world and our lives would be changed before the tour ended. We also had no idea that our tour would end before its scheduled time, but with each passing day, news of the global pandemic got worse and worse, with more countries shutting down their borders, and locking down their citizens, so that we eventually reached a point where it seemed like madness to think we could complete the tour as planned. In hindsight, I think the decision to pull the plug when we did was the right thing to do, as we all managed to make it home with few complications, but I must admit it was an unhappy outcome for a tour that, Covid-19 concerns aside, was going so well. A very compatible, small group, excellent weather, and some amazing bird luck were making this a highly enjoyable trip; it's just too bad about the timing. But I will focus on the positive here, as there certainly were a lot of positives on this trip.

Our tour got off to a fantastic start when we picked up the first key bird, Cabanis's Ground-Sparrow, without any difficulty, getting wonderful looks at this range-restricted Costa Rican endemic on our pre-breakfast walk the first day. We then packed up and headed to our first venue, Braulio Carrillo National Park. This can be a tough place to bird, and weather is often a factor, as it's often very rainy here, but our weather was pretty near perfect for this site, with cloudy but dry conditions and some fine bird activity. We spent the full morning working the loop trail through this fine foothill forest, tallying a bevy of fine birds including a bunch of cool ant-things like Streak-crowned Antvireo, White-flanked Antwren, Checker-throated Stipplethroat, and a point-blank Dull-mantled Antbird. And while we never ran into the mega-flock that holds some of the main targets on this trail, a steady stream of bird activity kept us busy, and we had wonderful encounters with White-whiskered Puffbird, White-ruffed Manakin, Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Stripe-breasted Wren, Tawny-crested Tanager, and Black-faced Grosbeak among others. After a picnic lunch, we hit the road for an eventful drive to Rancho, with super views of a perched Bat Falcon next to the bus, and a surprise male Snowy Cotinga that flew across the highway a couple of times, one of very few times I've seen this species here.

The big news at Rancho was the presence of a long-staying male Lovely Cotinga that was being seen regularly just below the lodge, so that was our first order of business the first morning. We made the short walk down the driveway to a viewpoint overlooking a popular fruiting tree, and we began seeing a parade of great birds coming in for a snack or sitting in bare trees nearby--Brown-hooded Parrots, Crimson-fronted Parakeets, a pair of Gartered Trogons, a pair each of both Masked and Black-crowned tityras-- and then, finally, an electrifyingly turquoise-colored bird appeared on top of a nearby tree, the male Lovely Cotinga! What a fantastic bird, and a real rarity for this tour. It was only my second time recording this species on the tour route, and only the second one I'd ever seen at Rancho! The rest of the birding in the Rancho region wasn't bad either, garnering us a great variety of birds, from a Sunbittern sitting quietly on its well hidden nest, a pair of very green Green Ibis, and a pair of perky Torrent Tyrannulets along the Rio Platanillo, to several exquisite Black-crested Coquettes, Snowcaps, and a Green Thorntail buzzing busily around the verbena hedges at Rancho Bajo. White-crowned Manakins displaying on their lek high along the forest trails, White-breasted Wood-wren, Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner and Red-throated Ant-tanager all unusually bold at the moth cloth, and bathing Purple-crowned Fairy and Kentucky Warbler, and a late-afternoon appearance by a Mottled Owl down by the hummingbird pools were among the other highlights of another fantastic stay at this delightful lodge.

Next we moved up in elevation to the Orosi region, where a nocturnal outing in the hills above town netted us a quick and easy Bare-shanked Screech-Owl and a bonus Kinkajou that sauntered across the road ahead of the bus, and the next morning found us in the stunning montane cloud forest of Tapanti National Park, long one of my favorite birding areas in the country. And what a day it was, with a steady stream of bird activity, with most of the regulars showing superbly, and a handful of rare species peppered in to keep things exciting. Scope views of a distant perched Ornate Hawk-Eagle, scarce Furnariids like Streaked Xenops and Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, and especially a close encounter with a rarely seen Ochre-breasted Antpitta all vied for the highlight of the day. But even the regulars offered up some high points. Scope views of perched Green-fronted Lancebill and White-bellied Mountain-gem, a nest-building pair of Red-faced Spinetails, a feisty Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, and colorful Elegant Euphonias and Spangle-cheeked Tanagers all contributed to this being a stellar birding day!

Moving higher still, our next destination was the scenic Savegre valley, chock full of species endemic to the Chiriqui highland region of Costa Rica and adjacent Panama. Before we even descended into the valley, we made a successful roadside stop to track down the elusive Black-and-yellow Silky-Flycatcher, earning a bonus pair of Spotted Wood-Quails thanks to a serendipitous find by Richard. Then it was down into the valley, home of perhaps Costa Rica's most famous bird of all, the Resplendent Quetzal. We did very well with these amazing birds, even finding a trio of males in the oak forest that we could enjoy away from the crowds of observers at the roadside nest site, a much more enjoyable experience in my opinion. Not to be outdone were all the supporting characters: glowing Flame-throated Warblers, elegant Long-tailed Silky-Flycatchers, charming Collared Redstarts, and many other wonderful highland specialties. The bizarre little Wrenthrush, now in its own monotypic family, finally cooperated on our way out of the valley, and two very high-elevation specialties--Timberline Wren and Volcano Junco--played nice just before we began our descent towards the Pacific coast and what ultimately ended up as our final destination. But before we even got to the coast, we had a couple more key stops at Bosque de Tolomuco, where White-tailed Emerald, Long-billed Starthroat, and Snowy-bellied Hummingbird were among the key acquisitions, and in San Isidro, where a sparkling male Turquoise Cotinga, another species we rarely see on this tour, sat out in the heat of the day, much to our delight!

The final days of the tour were spent in the coastal Pacific lowlands, with the trails of Carara National Park occupying much of our time here. The forests yielded many new species for the trip, from secretive terrestrial birds such as Great Tinamou, Streak-chested Antpitta, and Black-faced Antthrush to more gaudy, showy species in the leafy canopy above, like the raucous Scarlet Macaws, and Baird's and Slaty-tailed trogons. And in various levels in between there were many other treats: a pair of Royal Flycatchers building a nest over the trail; huge Pale-billed Woodpeckers clambering up enormous tree trunks; a pair of Rufous-tailed Jacamars exchanging a morsel of food on a low-hanging vine. Manakins were a big highlight in the region, with some point-blank looks at brilliant Orange-collared Manakins on their lek, glowing Red-capped bathing in a shady forest stream, and a lovely Long-tailed on our hotel grounds. Away from the forests, we also took in the dry scrub along Guacimo Road, where we encountered a whole new suite of birds, including Double-striped Thick-knee, jaunty-crested White-throated Magpie-Jays and gorgeous Turquoise-browed Motmots, and a Gray-cowled Wood-Rail wading through a stream in the gallery forest. And our annual boat ride along the Rio Tarcoles offered up a delightful change of pace and allowed us to track down even more new species, including a sleepy Boat-billed Heron and the endemic Mangrove Hummingbird. Of course, this is just a sampling of the many magical moments on this tour, and no doubt I've left out some of your favorites, but read on below for a full account of what we saw and experienced.

This really was such a fun trip, and one that really deserved to go the distance, but I'm grateful for how well the part we were able to complete turned out. It was a real pleasure birding with all of you, and I appreciate your support and understanding when the trip came to an untimely end. I hope we'll all be back in the field again soon, and that I'll have your company on a complete tour some day in the years ahead. Until that time comes, keep well, and enjoy the summer!

--Jay (in Montreal)

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

Tinamidae (Tinamous)
HIGHLAND TINAMOU (Nothocercus bonapartei) – One was calling incessantly in the distance as we worked on getting looks at the Wrenthrush in the Savegre valley. [*]

Jay was especially excited to see this gorgeous male Lovely Cotinga at Rancho Naturalista. Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast.

GREAT TINAMOU (Tinamus major) – We wound up seeing three of these hefty terrestrial birds on our final day at Carara. Vernon spotted the first one skulking quietly in the understory, but we got even better views of another one just below the bridge along the little permanent stream, with a second bird, perhaps its mate, sneaking along just upstream.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata) – A very distant female was scoped on the Angosturra reservoir.
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors) – A lone female rested on a sandbar along the Rio Tarcoles during our boat tour. [b]
LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis) – At least 10 were bobbing along in one of the distant arms of the Angosturra reservoir.
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
GRAY-HEADED CHACHALACA (Ortalis cinereiceps) – Seen daily over the first 5 days of the trip, with our first seen on our initial afternoon foray near the Hotel Bougainvillea.
CRESTED GUAN (Penelope purpurascens) – For those that had not returned to the lodge early from our pre-breakfast walk, one of these big guys showed quite well high in a tree in the pasture area of Rancho Naturalista. The others all caught up with another high over the trail at Carara on our final day.
BLACK GUAN (Chamaepetes unicolor) – We heard the crackling wing rattle of one of these guans in the Savegre valley, but never caught up with the source of the noise. [*]
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
MARBLED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus gujanensis) – A covey of these were calling from upslope of us on the Villa Lapas hotel grounds, but remained out of sight. [*]
BLACK-BREASTED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus leucolaemus) – Heard distantly at Tapanti.
SPOTTED WOOD-QUAIL (Odontophorus guttatus) – Richard found these when he slipped into a tangle of bamboo for a comfort stop up on Cerro de la Muerte, and luckily for us, the birds were in a responsive mood when we all entered the bamboo patch. A single rendition of their calls was enough to bring the pair charging in, the male clambering up on a log, the female remaining on the ground below, where they proceeded to call loudly back, crests raised. Once finished, they settled down and just allowed us to admire them at length, and snap a few photos! They were still right there when we left; very accommodating birds!
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Bleh. [I]
RED-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas flavirostris) – The common large pigeon over the first few days of the tour, with a couple even visiting the feeders at Rancho.
BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata) – Small numbers of these were seen daily at in the highland areas, that is, Tapanti and the Savegre region.
RUDDY PIGEON (Patagioenas subvinacea) – This and the next species are a species pair that mainly sort out by elevation, with this one being the higher elevation form. But they do overlap at some sites, notably at Rancho, and we had both species calling in close proximity to each other up on the forest trails. We didn't really get a look at these until we got to the Savegre valley, where this is a common species.
SHORT-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas nigrirostris) – Some glimpsed the birds that were calling at Rancho, but we had far better views of a couple feeding in a cecropia tree at Carara.
INCA DOVE (Columbina inca) – A few birds were seen on our initial morning near the Hotel Bougainvillea, and a handful more along the Pacific coast.
COMMON GROUND DOVE (Columbina passerina) – A handful of these small doves were picked out along Guacimo Road in the dry tropical forest that is typical of the Guanacaste.
RUDDY GROUND DOVE (Columbina talpacoti) – Most common along the Pacific coast, but we also saw a few in the Rancho area.
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) – A common and widespread dove of lower elevations, and we only missed this bird on our two days up in the highlands.
GRAY-CHESTED DOVE (Leptotila cassinii) – Smaller, chunkier, and darker than the similar White-tipped Dove, and generally shyer. We had some great looks at a pair along the trail at Villa Lapas. This Pacific lowland race, rufinucha, has a very distinct rufous nape that is lacking in the other races.
WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica) – This dove has expanded its range across Costa Rica in recent years, and is now very common at lower elevations through much of the country. We saw them nearly daily, barring in the highlands.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris) – A common open-country bird in the northern part of the country, and the only ani through most of our tour route, with Smooth-billed only possible on our transit day from Savegre to Carara.
LESSER GROUND-CUCKOO (Morococcyx erythropygus) – Pretty frustrating and not particularly satisfying. We finally did locate a calling bird along the Guacimo Road, but it was playing hard to get. I spotted it briefly pop its head out of a dense stand of tall grass, but it slipped back out of sight before I could give any directions. So, Vernon and I walked up to try to flush it into view, as they usually just walk and can be herded into a suitable viewing site, but this bird played against type and flew instead, so most just had a look at it flying away.
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana) – A very widespread and common large cuckoo. One or two were around the picnic area at Braulio Carrillo NP on our first day out, and we then saw a couple of them daily in the Carara area.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
LESSER NIGHTHAWK (Chordeiles acutipennis) – After our boat trip on the Rio Tarcoles, we waited on the banks of the river for the sun to set, and just before dusk were treated to a dozen of these emerging from their day roosts to hawk for insects over the river.

Volcano Junco is one of the specialty birds of Costa Rica; we found this one as we traveled across the mountains toward the Pacific coast. Photo by participant Duane Morse.

COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis) – Nice looks at a male on the road ahead of the bus during our nocturnal excursion at Orosi.
DUSKY NIGHTJAR (Antrostomus saturatus) – Just after dusk in the Savegre valley, we called one of these Chiriqui specialties in and had the bird land right next to the road and begin calling. Our views in the spotlight were great, though abbreviated due to a passing vehicle that flushed the bird a little sooner than we would have liked. Still, if all night birding sessions went that smoothly, I'd be a very happy guide!
Apodidae (Swifts)
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris) – As usual this large species was the most often seen swift, with a flock over the picnic area at Braulio Carrillo, and others over the Savegre valley.
VAUX'S SWIFT (Chaetura vauxi) – A few of these small swifts were mixed in with the White-collared Swifts over Braulio Carrillo.
COSTA RICAN SWIFT (Chaetura fumosa) – This local specialty, restricted to the Pacific lowlands of southern Costa Rica and western Panama, was well seen during the Rio Tarcoles boat trip, with several birds dropping down to skim the surface of the river for a drink.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora) – Loads around the feeders at Rancho, as usual, though our first was a female that flew in and perched just over the trail at Braulio.
BAND-TAILED BARBTHROAT (Threnetes ruckeri) – The trap-line feeding behavior of hermits can make them somewhat difficult to observe, and this species can be pretty elusive, but we had some excellent looks at one feeding at a large patch of Calathea flowers at Villa Lapas.
GREEN HERMIT (Phaethornis guy) – The common large hermit of middle elevations. We mostly just heard these buzzing by at Braulio, but then had some great views at the odd one brave enough to run the gauntlet of jacobins and mangos at Rancho's feeders.
LONG-BILLED HERMIT (Phaethornis longirostris) – A large stand of suitable flowers along the trail at Carara brought one of these impressive hermits into view, giving us some excellent looks as it moved from flower to flower to feed.
STRIPE-THROATED HERMIT (Phaethornis striigularis) – I still sometimes revert to the former name of this species, Little Hermit, which name now belongs to a solely NE South American species. Old habits. We had a few birds around Rancho, with some fine looks at one feeding on the abundant verbena flowers at Rancho Bajo.
GREEN-FRONTED LANCEBILL (Doryfera ludovicae) – A pair were keeping watch over their nest under the edge of the ranger station at Tapanti. The female gave us long scope studies as she sat on a slim branch across the road from the nest. [N]
LESSER VIOLETEAR (Colibri cyanotus) – A single bird made a brief appearance at the feeders at Miriam's in the upper Savegre valley, and it was the only one we saw.
PURPLE-CROWNED FAIRY (Heliothryx barroti) – I don't believe I've ever seen this species visit a feeder anywhere, but this is a fairly widespread species, so we usually pick it up somewhere. This trip we encountered these at Rancho, Tapanti, and Villa Lapas, with our best looks at a couple bathing at Rancho's hummingbird pools, where one bird showed up pretty much right at the predicted time, to our delight!
GREEN-BREASTED MANGO (Anthracothorax prevostii) – The second most numerous feeder hummingbird at Rancho, where we had fine views of both sexes. At Rancho Bajo, we witnessed some odd behavior. A male flew down to an almost plant-less patch of ground, and began probing the ground with his bill as he hovered. There were certainly no flowers there, so I don't know what he was going after there.
GREEN THORNTAIL (Discosura conversii) – A lone male at the verbena hedge at Rancho Bajo put on a nice show for us.
BLACK-CRESTED COQUETTE (Lophornis helenae) – Rancho Bajo was also the place for this fantastic bird, and there were at least 3 birds present, including a superb adult male that would perch on exposed twigs right near where we stood in between bouts of feeding!
GREEN-CROWNED BRILLIANT (Heliodoxa jacula) – This seemed to be the most numerous species at the feeders at Bosque del Tolomuco.
TALAMANCA HUMMINGBIRD (Eugenes spectabilis) – The split of Magnificent Hummingbird into Rivoli's and Talamanca hummers gave the Chiriqui area another regional endemic in this species. Best views of these were at the feeders at Miriam's, though we saw a couple of others elsewhere in the Cerro de la Muerte region.
LONG-BILLED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster longirostris) – One put in a brief appearance at the feeders at Bosque del Tolomuco, and a second bird was seen a couple of days later on the grounds of the Villa Lapas lodge.

This Bare-shanked Screech-Owl seemed as eager to see us as we were to see it; it popped out and perched for us almost immediately! Photo by participant David Czaplak.

PLAIN-CAPPED STARTHROAT (Heliomaster constantii) – One fed in a flowering tree on the edge of the gallery forest along Guacimo Road.
FIERY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Panterpe insignis) – When seen in the right light, this is a spectacularly colorful hummingbird, and we got that right light at Miriam's feeders! What a beauty!
WHITE-BELLIED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis hemileucus) – Pretty local on the tour route, and Tapanti was the only place we visited where we were likely to see this bird. We found at least 3 there, and had good scope views of a male sitting near a large clump of flowers.
PURPLE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (Lampornis calolaemus) – We never got to the main areas for this species on the tour, so we were pretty fortunate to find a female at Tapanti, where we don't often encounter them.
WHITE-THROATED MOUNTAIN-GEM (GRAY-TAILED) (Lampornis castaneoventris cinereicauda) – This mountain-gem occurs mainly above the elevational range of the other two species, and was seen regularly in the Savegre valley, and again at Bosque del Tolomuco, where there were about 8-10 males hanging around.
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris) – A common wintering species in Costa Rica, though we usually don't see many, if any, on the tour. This year we had singles at 4 different sites- Rancho Bajo, Tolomuco Lodge, our lunch stop near San Isidro, and along Guacimo Road. [b]
VOLCANO HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus flammula) – As the name implies, this is a species of high, montane areas. We saw quite a few in the Savegre valley, including at Miriam's feeders, where they absolutely dwarfed by the monstrous Talamanca Hummers!
SCALY-BREASTED HUMMINGBIRD (Phaeochroa cuvierii) – As hummingbirds go, this is not a very memorable species. It's large, dull, with only large white tail corners, a sharp, metallic call note, and a complex song serving to differentiate it from other similar species. We saw and heard a couple at Carara, and had singles along Guacimo Road and on the grounds of Villa Lapas.
VIOLET SABREWING (Campylopterus hemileucurus) – A few of these huge purple hummers were at the feeders at Bosque del Tolomuco, and singles were glimpsed at Rio Las Perlas and Carara.
BRONZE-TAILED PLUMELETEER (Chalybura urochrysia) – A male buzzed by a few times at the Braulio Carrillo headquarters, and we eventually managed to track him down to his perch on the edge of the forest, where I think a few folks managed to see the red feet for which it was formerly (and in my opinion, better) named.
CROWNED WOODNYMPH (Thalurania colombica) – The male of this one looks pretty dark under poor light conditions, but when the light hits him right, the brilliant green and purple are pretty dazzling! We had lots of these at Rancho, with exceptional lighting on the ones that visited the bathing pools.
STRIPE-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Eupherusa eximia) – Seen along the stream in the oak forest above Savegre Lodge by some of the group, then we also had a single male at Bosque de Tolomuco. The rufous patch in the wing coverts is a distinctive feature, shared only with Black-bellied Hummingbird here in CR.
WHITE-TAILED EMERALD (Elvira chionura) – On our tour route, we have just one shot at this local species, that being at Bosque del Tolomuco, where we got lucky with great looks at a female feeding on the verbena flowers near the house, and perhaps a second one down along the driveway.
SNOWCAP (Microchera albocoronata) – Arguably one of Costa Rica's finest hummingbirds, this tiny specialty is always one of our main targets at Rancho, where we had a couple at the hummingbird pools but got our best looks at Rancho Bajo, where there were at least two dazzling males and a female feeding at the verbena flowers.
MANGROVE HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia boucardi) – One of just a handful of Costa Rican endemics, so rather an important bird, but not necessarily an easy one to track down. We were running out of mangrove habitat when we finally did manage to find a female along the canal during our boat trip, and luckily she perched nearby, giving us all a look before she disappeared back into the mangroves. [E]
BLUE-VENTED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia hoffmanni) – A recent split from Steely-vented Hummingbird, this "new" species has a restricted range from Honduras to Costa Rica. Several of these showed nicely along Guacimo Road.
SNOWY-BELLIED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia edward) – Another hummingbird that is only possible at Bosque del Tolomuco on our tour route. We had fine looks at a bird feeding on the verbena hedge, first up near the house, then, just before we left, down along the driveway.
RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia tzacatl) – One of the most familiar of Costa Rica's hummingbirds. We only missed this species on our full day in the highlands.
CINNAMON HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia rutila) – Restricted to the dry tropical forest in the Guanacaste region here in CR, and our lone sighting was of a single bird near the gallery forest along Guacimo Road.
BLUE-THROATED GOLDENTAIL (Hylocharis eliciae) – Julia drew my attention to a hummingbird perched above the stream at the manakin bathing area at Carara, and I was surprised to see one of these sitting there, then even more surprised when the bird dropped down to bathe in the stream! This was the first time I've ever seen this hummer bathing here, or anywhere, actually.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
GRAY-COWLED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajaneus) – We must have surprised this bird when we walked down into the river bed along Guacimo Road, as it dashed around frantically on the river bank for a bit before coming back down to the river and casually picking its way across in full sight of us.
Burhinidae (Thick-knees)
DOUBLE-STRIPED THICK-KNEE (Burhinus bistriatus) – Vernon found a rather distant bird standing in the shade at the back of a pasture on Guacimo Road, then that afternoon we were also shown a pair of birds along the Rio Tarcoles during our boat trip.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus) – We saw a pair from the bus as we drove up along the coast towards Villa Lapas. Surprisingly, they were our only ones, as there were none at all along the river during the boat trip.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola) – A single non-breeding-plumaged bird along the Rio Tarcoles. [b]
SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis) – Quite widespread in the country now, after first appearing in the country in 1997. We had a pair with two large youngsters along the entrance road to Tapanti NP, then two more birds at the roadside ponds near Parrita, on the Pacific coast.

The impressive Pale-billed Woodpecker showed well for us around Carara. Photo by participant Duane Morse.

COLLARED PLOVER (Charadrius collaris) – Our boatman claimed that they hadn't been seeing this species recently, so I was happy to spot a pair on a stony "beach" not far upriver from the boat launch.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus) – A couple of these northern migrants were on the same bit of shoreline as the lone Black-bellied Plover. [*]
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa) – A lone bird with a bum leg was hanging around the horse trough in a pasture at Hacienda Oriente, and we had a couple each at the pond near Parrita, and along the Rio Tarcoles.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (Numenius phaeopus) – About half a dozen were seen during the boat trip. [b]
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres) – A group of 9 were along the Rio Tarcoles, including at least one with fairly nice colors, the rest being still mainly in non-breeding plumage. [b]
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – All told, we tallied about 30 of these during out boat trip. [b]
WILLET (Tringa semipalmata) – The boat trip yielded a half a dozen of these large shorebirds. [b]
Eurypygidae (Sunbittern)
SUNBITTERN (Eurypyga helias) – I was beginning to think that we were going to strike out with this species along the Rio Platanillo below Rancho, as the birds just weren't hanging around their usual stretch of the river. But then Vernon called us over, as he'd spotted a bird sitting on a well-concealed nest over the river, and we were able to get lovely scope studies of this striking bird. Of course, we never got to see the amazing wing pattern with the bird remaining on the nest, but I wasn't about to disturb the bird just for that! [N]
Ciconiidae (Storks)
WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana) – Seen in small numbers along the Pacific coast, sometimes soaring overhead with vultures, but we also had good close looks along the Rio Tarcoles from the boat.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – Seen daily along the Pacific coast, with 20+ birds soaring over the river mouth on our boat trip.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga) – Mainly along the Pacific coast, with 4 birds at the pond near Parrita, and several along the Rio Tarcoles, but our first was actually on the Caribbean slope, where we had one fly past at the Angosturra Reservoir.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – In all the same areas as the Anhingas, though there were 25+ of these along the Rio Tarcoles.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis) – About 40-50 of these were roosting in the mangroves at the Tarcoles River mouth.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma mexicanum) – As is often the case, a pair of these were nesting in the enormous tree above the reception at Villa Lapas. This year there was an almost full-grown juvenile in the nest. We also saw the adults along the river a couple of times, and had some wonderful views of a couple of birds on the boat trip, too. [N]
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) – The half a dozen or so along the Rio Tarcoles were to be expected, but I was very surprised when a large bird that we glimpsed flying up along the Rio Savegre while we waited for quetzals to show themselves turned out to be one of these herons. I'm quite sure I've never seen one anywhere near this elevation before! [b]
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – A few birds in suitable areas throughout, but most numerous along the Rio Tarcoles.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – About 20 or more were seen along the Rio Tarcoles, with one or two elsewhere along the Pacific coast.
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea) – A distinctively non-blue subadult was at the Angosturra Reservoir, then quite a few, mostly in adult plumage, along the Rio Tarcoles.
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – About 8-10 of these attractive herons were seen along the river during the boat trip.
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Seen daily except for our full day in the highlands. At least some of the birds along the Rio Tarcoles showed the lovely buff-orange feathering of breeding plumage on their head and necks.

A Streak-chested Antpitta posed nicely for participant David Czaplak; this was the second antpitta species that we saw on the tour.

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) – A couple at the Sunbittern site below Rancho, then surprisingly, just a single bird on our boat trip.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) – A striking adult complete with long, white occipital plumes, was sat on a rock below the bridge over the Rio Platanillo.
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea) – The 30 plus birds, many in fine adult plumage, along the Rio Tarcoles was one of the highest counts I've had here in quite a few years.
BOAT-BILLED HERON (Cochlearius cochlearius) – Our boatman knew just where a couple of these nocturnal herons were snoozing in the mangroves, and expertly maneuevered us into position to get fine views of one of the sleepy birds.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) – Good numbers (30-40) along the Rio Tarcoles, almost all of which were adults, though there were at least a couple of Limpkin-like subadults as well.
GREEN IBIS (Mesembrinibis cayennensis) – Usually when I see this species, I'm left wondering why they're called Green Ibis, but not this time. The pair we found along the Rio Platanillo were the greenest ones I've ever seen, with especially bright green highlights on the nape, and greenish bill as well. Usually they just look like Black Vultures with long decurved bills.
ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja) – Just a couple of birds along the Rio Tarcoles, but at least we had some nice views of them.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa) – Vernon was trailing along behind the rest of us at Carara, and noticed a couple of these big vultures soaring with a flock of other vultures, and he quickly called us back in time to see them before they soared away and out of sight.
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – Lots every day.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – Not as numerous as the Black Vultures, but still abundant and seen daily.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – One flying over at Villa Lapas early one morning was a bit odd, several along the Rio Tarcoles much less so. [b]
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus) – Nice looks at one on our first morning near the Bougainvillea, and then we saw a couple on the drive from Rancho to Orosi.
HOOK-BILLED KITE (Chondrohierax uncinatus) – What appeared to be a male flew across the road ahead of us as we were nearing the town of Paraiso, but it wasn't in view for long, and it wasn't an especially good look.
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus) – We saw small numbers of these elegant kites at several sites, perhaps best at Bosque del Tolomuco where a couple were soaring over the valley, sometimes at or below eye level. [a]
ORNATE HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus ornatus) – Nice spotting by Dave to pick out this bird flying across the forested hillside at Tapanti, and then noting where it landed in the limbs of a tall tree. Despite the distance, I was able to locate the bird in the scope, and with the zoom cranked all the way up, the views of this stunning raptor were amazingly good. That's exactly why we carry these heavy scopes with us all the time!
SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis) – Pretty crap views of a very distant perched bird on the opposite side of the Angosturra Reservoir from our vantage point.
DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE (Harpagus bidentatus) – I think Vernon and I were the only ones to see one from the bus as we were driving from Braulio Carrillo to Rancho Naturalista. Our only other one was a flyover along the Sendero Meandrico at Carara, and it wasn't in sight for long either.
PLUMBEOUS KITE (Ictinia plumbea) – A couple of high-flying birds over Carara, at roughly the same time as the Double-toothed Kite, then a couple more during the boat trip, including one perched high above the mangroves along the canal. A recent arrival from their wintering grounds in South America. [a]
BICOLORED HAWK (Accipiter bicolor) – Poor views of one that flew over as we were watching bathing hummingbirds at Rancho.
COMMON BLACK HAWK (MANGROVE) (Buteogallus anthracinus subtilis) – Not uncommon in the mangroves along the Rio Tarcoles, which makes sense, as they specialize in hunting crabs, which are abundant here. We saw about half a dozen, both adults and juveniles, during the boat trip.
ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris) – One was seen from the balcony at Rancho, another, appropriately enough, along the roadside en route to Orosi.
GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus) – Nice looks at one near the Hotel Bougainvillea on our first afternoon, a couple more during the drive from Braulio Carrillo to Rancho the next day, and then several from the bus on the drive up the Pacific coast.
BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus) – The fact that we saw just one, on our morning along the Silent Mountain Road, was unusual, as we normally see good numbers of this common wintering bird. [b]
SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus) – Our first was a dark morph bird along the Silent Mountain Road. Our other sightings were both from the bus, another dark morph bird near San Isidro, and a light morph (if I remember correctly) on our drive back to San Jose.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis) – Two sightings, one at Tapanti, the other at Savegre Lodge. The latter bird was definitely one of the local resident population costaricensis, which is endemic to the Chiriqui region. The Tapanti bird was likely resident as well, but could also have been a migrant.
Strigidae (Owls)
BARE-SHANKED SCREECH-OWL (Megascops clarkii) – Hard to imagine a quicker response than we got from this species near Orosi. I think we had it in the spotlight within 2 minutes of geting off the bus! Wish all owls were that cooperative!

This beautiful male Black-crested Coquette was working the verbena hedge at Rancho Bajo. Guide Jay VanderGaast caught him resting between feeding bouts.

TROPICAL SCREECH-OWL (Megascops choliba) – Great looks at a sleepy-looking bird on a day roost in the park in the town of Paraiso. I always enjoy seeing the interest of the locals when we point these things out to them.
PACIFIC SCREECH-OWL (Megascops cooperi) – We heard a couple of birds calling softly from a day roost upslope from the road, but they were tricky to track down. Vernon finally spotted them, and we were able to get them in the scope for some nice looks.
SPECTACLED OWL (Pulsatrix perspicillata) – Heard by some on a couple of early mornings at Villa Lapas, but, not at all on the morning we went out to try for them! [*]
FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL (Glaucidium brasilianum) – Our first owl, as we tracked one down just before dusk near the Hotel Bougainvillea, then again the next morning, for the folks who'd arrived too late for the afternoon walk. We had one other, spotted by Julia (I think) from the bus, perched at eye level along the Guacimo Road.
MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata) – A bird called in the late afternoon, as it began to stir from its day roost across from the hummingbird pools viewing area, so I played a couple of calls back to it, and it flew right in, perching across the stream from where we stood, giving us a fine view, before we moved off and left it to its business.
BLACK-AND-WHITE OWL (Ciccaba nigrolineata) – Couldn't have been easier! A pair that was roosting in a large, roadside mango tree near Tarcoles was spotted on their perch as soon as we stepped off the bus, and we enjoyed nice long looks at these two beauties!
STRIPED OWL (Asio clamator) – Having missed this striking owl for perhaps the first time ever on last year's tour, I kept my expectations low for our night drive out to Jaco. I shouldn't have worried though, as Vernon spotted one perched on a roadside power line early on, and we quietly got out of the bus, and walked cautiously back up the road for a look. The bird stayed put, peering intently into the grass below it for the stirring of a rat. When it did eventually move on, it only flew down the road a bit, and ended up perching right above where we'd parked the bus.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
RESPLENDENT QUETZAL (Pharomachrus mocinno) – Believe it or not, the early morning quetzal crowd was considerably smaller than usual, no doubt as fewer tourists were around due to the growing Covid-19 crisis. But it was still too many for my liking, and I much preferred the trio of males we found on our own in the oak forest later that same day. Especially considering that the cooperative male we saw near the nest in the morning was lacking the long tail plumes that add to this species' appeal. [N]
SLATY-TAILED TROGON (Trogon massena) – Heard regularly at Carara, but the only ones we saw were a pair on our first early morning walk on the grounds of Villa Lapas.
BLACK-HEADED TROGON (Trogon melanocephalus) – We found a trio of these dry tropical forest trogons along the Sendero Meandrico, pretty much near the southern limit of their range, then had another trio sitting quietly in the gallery forest along Guacimo Road the next day.
BAIRD'S TROGON (Trogon bairdii) – A specialty of the Pacific lowlands of southern Costa Rica and western Panama, this handsome trogon was seen beautifully a couple of times at Carara, with especially nice scope looks at a male along the Sendero Meandrico.
GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus) – Arguably one of the most common and widespread of the trogons in the country. Though we heard them daily in the Pacific lowlands, our only sightings came from the Caribbean slope, where we had a pair as we watched for the cotinga below Rancho, then had a lovely male perched near the pool at Rio Las Perlas.
BLACK-THROATED TROGON (Trogon rufus) – We almost walked right into this one, as a female was perched right by the trail at Carara, so close we didn't even notice her at first! As this one did, this species is often found perched low inside the forest.
COLLARED TROGON (Trogon collaris) – Widespread in middle elevation and montane forests. We had nice views of a female at Rancho, then another that flew across the road at Tapanti while we were distracted with some other species. Note that the former Orange-bellied Trogon, which we would have looked for at Monteverde, is now considered a subspecies of this bird.
Momotidae (Motmots)
LESSON'S MOTMOT (Momotus lessonii lessonii) – This stunning bird is a pretty familiar bird in much of the country. We saw several on our first morning's walk near the Hotel Bougainvillea, and had several more sightings over the next few days, including at the banana feeders at Rancho, inside the forest at Carara, and even one sitting on a brick wall next to the road in the town of Paraiso.
RUFOUS MOTMOT (Baryphthengus martii) – Heard one morning at Rancho. [*]
TURQUOISE-BROWED MOTMOT (Eumomota superciliosa) – Numerous and generally easy to see in the dry Guanacaste region, where we had numerous good sightings, perhaps none better than the one perched in gorgeous light along the river during the boat trip.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata) – One of these monsters was perched on the power line above the roadside pond near Parrita, another was tallied during the boat trip.
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon) – A couple of these northern migrants were still lingering along the Rio Tarcoles during our boat trip. [b]
AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona) – Nice looks at a pair sitting on the power lines near the much larger Ringed Kingfisher at the Parrita pond, then another along the river during the boat tour.
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana) – The most numerous kingfisher we encountered, with a pair perched on rocks along the river at the Sunbittern site below Rancho, another along the river on the Quebrada Bonita trail at Carara, and then 4 or more on the Rio Tarcoles during our boat trip.
Bucconidae (Puffbirds)
WHITE-NECKED PUFFBIRD (Notharchus hyperrhynchus) – The heavy, hooked bill of these birds make it pretty clear they are predators, feeding on a variety of large insects, arachnids (I've seen them take large scorpions) and lizards, and there's even at least one account of one taking a Rufous-tailed Hummingbird! Dave spotted a pair of these in a large, leafless tree in gallery forest along the Guacimo Road.
WHITE-WHISKERED PUFFBIRD (Malacoptila panamensis) – We spotted our first sitting quietly at eye level near the trail at Braulio Carrillo, then saw them daily at Villa Lapas and Carara.
Galbulidae (Jacamars)
RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda) – Very nice views of a pair of these perched on a vine inside the forest at Carara, where we got to see the male somewhat reluctantly (it seemed) pass a large prey item to the female, who was not at all reluctant to receive it!
Capitonidae (New World Barbets)
RED-HEADED BARBET (Eubucco bourcierii) – We had pretty decent views of a female with a good mixed flock at Tapanti, and while the females don't show red heads, they are a pretty fancy bird in their own way.

We became very familiar with Blue-gray Tanagers over the course of the tour, but they are quite lovely birds in their own way, as seen in this lovely portrait by participant Duane Morse.

Ramphastidae (Toucans)
NORTHERN EMERALD-TOUCANET (BLUE-THROATED) (Aulacorhynchus prasinus caeruleogularis) – A trio of birds in some roadside fruiting trees at Tapanti got away before some folks got any kind of look, but once we got up to the Savegre Valley, we set things right, getting nice looks at a young bird sticking its head out of a nest hole near the quetzal nest, and, at least for some of us, finding one low and close in the shrubs around our cabins. [N]
COLLARED ARACARI (Pteroglossus torquatus) – Several of these small toucans put in an appearance at Rancho's banana feeders a couple of times.
YELLOW-THROATED TOUCAN (CHESTNUT-MANDIBLED) (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii) – Good looks at a noisy pair along the trail at Braulio Carrillo on our first day in the field, after which we saw or heard them daily in the Carara region.
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus) – The smaller, croaking toucan (the Yellow-throated is a yelper), we had some good views of several of these at Rancho.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus) – Hard to miss in the Savegre valley, where we got especially close views of several at the feeders at Miriam's.
GOLDEN-NAPED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes chrysauchen) – Nice spotting by Ed to pick up a male of this local specialty clinging to a large vine up in the canopy at Carara, in the same tree as a Crested Guan, actually!
BLACK-CHEEKED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes pucherani) – The Caribbean counterpart of the preceding species, this lovely woodpecker was seen a couple of times at Rancho, including at the feeders.
RED-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes rubricapillus) – Closely related to the next species, mainly replacing Hoffmann's in the southern part of the country, though they overlap and hybridize along much of the central Pacific coast. The only pure Red-crowns we saw were a couple of birds from the balcony of our lunch place near San Isidro.
HOFFMANN'S WOODPECKER (Melanerpes hoffmannii) – Quite common around the Hotel Bougainvillea, where we first made their acquaintance, then seen again regularly in the Carara region. Many of the birds in this region, especially around the Villa Lapas, appear to be hybrids, with orange napes and bellies rather than Hoffmann's yellow, or the red of Red-crowned WP.
HAIRY WOODPECKER (Dryobates villosus) – Several of these small, dingy Hairy Woodpeckers were seen in the Savegre Valley. The birds here belong to the local subspecies extimus, which are restricted to the Chiriqui highlands of CR and western Panama.
SMOKY-BROWN WOODPECKER (Dryobates fumigatus) – A pair of these small, nondescript woodpeckers showed reasonably well on our early morning birding walk around the grounds of the Rancho Rio Perlas.
PALE-BILLED WOODPECKER (Campephilus guatemalensis) – Recorded daily around Carara and Villa Lapas, including a nice close encounter with a trio of them along the Sendero Meandrica.
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) – Heard only near the Bougainvillea and during our boat tour. I believe Duane saw a couple at the Bougainvillea before the official start of the tour. [*]
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus) – One perched up in a distant tree just as we were about to leave Las Perlas, but it took off just as I was close to getting the scope on it. Elsewhere we heard them in the Savegre Valley and at Bosque del Tolomuco.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
COLLARED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur semitorquatus) – Heard at Carara, where Vernon pointed out a nest cavity, and actually saw the bird poke its head out when he walked back to bring the bus around. [*]
CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara cheriway) – Widespread clearing of forest has allowed both species of caracara to expand their ranges in the country, and now it isn't uncommon to see this one on the Caribbean slope, where it started getting a foothold in the last couple of decades. We saw a couple on the drive between Braulio Carrillo and Rancho, then had a few along the Pacific coast as well.
YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima) – This species was only recorded in Costa Rica for the first time in 1973, but has greatly expanded its range northward since then, with records coming from as far north as Tikal in Guatemala. We had our first ones around the Hotel Bougainvillea, then saw several more along the Pacific coast.
LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans) – If I knew my left from my right, more of you would likely have had a good view of this one before it flew off at Villa Lapas. My apologies.
BAT FALCON (Falco rufigularis) – Though there was no place for us to stop for a longer look at this one, we were able to drive by slowly for an excellent view of this bird, perched on a roadside power line on our way from Braulio Carrillo to Rancho.
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – Wonderful views of one perched in a riverside tree along with an Osprey, during our Rio Tarcoles boat trip. [b]
Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)
BARRED PARAKEET (Bolborhynchus lineola) – A bird that a lot of birders have probably never seen perched, so you can all count yourselves in good company! Actually the several low-flying flocks we saw in the upper Savegre valley (totaling 75-100 birds or more) gave us far better looks than they often do. You could certainly see they were parakeets, and some of you might have been able to make out that they were green!

Every birder who visits Costa Rica wishes to see a male Resplendent Quetzal. We not only saw the nesting pair near the road that "everyone" saw, we found three cooperative males later that day, including this beauty with the wonderful long tail plumes. Photo by participant David Czaplak.

ORANGE-CHINNED PARAKEET (Brotogeris jugularis) – The Playa Azul area was great for parrots in the late afternoon, and that's where we had our best views of these small parakeets, though I don't think anyone could make out the obscure orange chin patch!
BROWN-HOODED PARROT (Pyrilia haematotis) – After hearing these flying over a few times, we finally managed to track down and get great scope looks at a couple of perched birds down the driveway from Rancho.
WHITE-CROWNED PARROT (Pionus senilis) – A very common small parrot, particularly at Rancho, where we saw quite a few, including a flock of 20+ in the Erythrina trees visible from the balcony at Rancho.
YELLOW-NAPED PARROT (Amazona auropalliata) – Some of the best views I've had in quite a while, as we found some perched right along the road in the village of Playa Azul.
WHITE-FRONTED PARROT (Amazona albifrons) – Flyby views of pairs both along the Guacimo Road, and during our boat trip, though we could have used better looks.
MEALY PARROT (Amazona farinosa) – A number of these large Amazons were noisy and active in the early mornings at Villa Lapas, and we tracked down a couple of perched birds one morning for some good scope views.
SULPHUR-WINGED PARAKEET (Pyrrhura hoffmanni) – A Chiriqui highland endemic, this colorful parakeet is usually not too hard to find in the Savegre valley. Though there were fewer around than usual, we did get some great looks at several up inside the gorgeous oak forest above the lodge.
ORANGE-FRONTED PARAKEET (Eupsittula canicularis) – A common species of the dry tropical forest in NW Costa Rica. The Rio Tarcoles used to mark the southernmost limit of their range, though they seem to be extending their range southward along the Pacific coast. We had some great looks at these at Playa Azul, as well as along Guacimo Road.
SCARLET MACAW (Ara macao) – These gaudy birds are a real success story, and numbers in the country have gone up to the point where they are a common sight now along much of the Pacific coast. We had loads of great looks at these in the Carara region, where we saw them daily.
CRIMSON-FRONTED PARAKEET (Psittacara finschi) – One of the most familiar parrots in the country, as this species is often abundant in the central parks of both small towns and the larger cities. We saw our first of many around the Hotel Bougainvillea.
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus) – Arguably the most widespread of all the antbirds, occurring from NE Mexico right down to northern Argentina. We had excellent looks at a pair of these striking antshrikes at Carara, and heard one at Rio Perlas.
BLACK-HOODED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus bridgesi) – Endemic to the Pacific lowlands of southern Costa Rica and western Panama, and an easy bird to see at Carara, where we tallied several of them daily.
RUSSET ANTSHRIKE (Thamnistes anabatinus) – One was with a small mixed flock on the trails at Rancho, and though it showed briefly in the canopy overhead, I'm not sure everyone had a look at it before it vanished into the foliage.
PLAIN ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus mentalis) – Really nice looks at a male as it foraged in the vicinity of the insect light at Rancho, though it never came in as close as most of the other birds there.
STREAK-CROWNED ANTVIREO (Dysithamnus striaticeps) – These Braulio Carrillo specialties were giving us a hard time, and I was beginning to think we would miss them until we finally ran into a small mixed flock of ant-things as we were heading back to the headquarters. A calling male was the first of the birds to show itself, and we had some fine looks before the other ant-things started to distract us.
CHECKER-THROATED STIPPLETHROAT (Epinecrophylla fulviventris) – Formerly known as an antwren, this dead-leaf specialist was in the same flock as the preceding species and the next two, and we had some reasonable looks at them, though they were less cooperative than the other species. Another pair at Rancho the following day were even less friendly.
WHITE-FLANKED ANTWREN (Myrmotherula axillaris) – The pair at Braulio was a bit of a surprise; though the area is right within their normal range, I just don't run into this species often along this trail.
SLATY ANTWREN (Myrmotherula schisticolor) – A widespread species, and we recorded these dull antwrens on 6 different days, at virtually all the forested sites we visited, except in the Savegre valley (though I've had them there before too).
DOT-WINGED ANTWREN (Microrhopias quixensis) – Seen several times with mixed flocks around Carara. As most of you noted, the female of this species is a more colorful, attractive bird than the mainly black male.
DUSKY ANTBIRD (Cercomacroides tyrannina) – A common bird in the Carara region, where they are also relatively easy to see in the rather open forest here.
CHESTNUT-BACKED ANTBIRD (Poliocrania exsul) – It's hard to think of an easier song to imitate than the two-note call of this antbird, and they also respond pretty reliably, often coming in very close, as we noticed a few times at Carara and Villa Lapas.
DULL-MANTLED ANTBIRD (Sipia laemosticta) – This species occupies a very narrow elevational range on the Caribbean slope, but both Braulio Carrillo and Rancho fall within that range, and we ended up with good looks of these birds at both sites, with several at the former site including a very close, calling bird, as well as 2 pairs at the hummingbird pools at Rancho.
ZELEDON'S ANTBIRD (Hafferia zeledoni) – Heard both at Rancho and Tapanti. [*]
BICOLORED ANTBIRD (Gymnopithys bicolor bicolor) – A final afternoon visit to Carara before returning to San Jose netted us super looks at this army ant swarm specialist, right where Vernon had found them on his walk back to the bus that morning, though there was no obvious ant swarm around.
Grallariidae (Antpittas)
STREAK-CHESTED ANTPITTA (Hylopezus perspicillatus) – On our way to the manakin bathing pools at Carara, we spotted one of these terrestrial birds foraging in the leaf litter near the trail, alongside a Wood Thrush. Eventually it hopped up onto a log where it sat for long enough for all of us to get our fill.
OCHRE-BREASTED ANTPITTA (Grallaricula flavirostris) – Vernon heard this scarce species calling at Tapanti while we were just down the road watching a tamandua. A bit of playback brought it to the edge of the road, where we had some incredible views, capping an excellent morning at the park.
Formicariidae (Antthrushes)
BLACK-FACED ANTTHRUSH (Formicarius analis) – I don't know of an easier place to see this species than at Carara (same thing with the Streak-chested Antpitta). The birds have become fairly habituated to people, and the open understory allows for good viewing, making it relatively easy to see ground birds there. We ended up with several nice looks at these as they foraged in the leaf litter near the trails.
RUFOUS-BREASTED ANTTHRUSH (Formicarius rufipectus) – Heard distantly at Tapanti. [*]

Guide Jay VanderGaast got a nice portrait of one of the Spotted Wood-Quails that Richard found for us on Cerro de la Muerte.

Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)
SCALY-THROATED LEAFTOSSER (Sclerurus guatemalensis) – We'd noted some movement on the ground near the trail at Carara, and stopped to try to see what it was, expecting a Chestnut-backed Antbird. When the bird popped up on a low branch, I was surprised to see it was this elusive species, which is rarely seen here, though it occurs regularly. Besides me, I think only Julia and Duane had the right angle to see the bird before it took off into the forest.
TAWNY-WINGED WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla anabatina) – One of the rewards on our final afternoon visit to Carara. This woodcreeper is a fanatic army ant swarm follower, though ours was seen sans ant swarm.
PLAIN-BROWN WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla fuliginosa) – Great views of one visiting the moth cloth at Rancho.
WEDGE-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Glyphorynchus spirurus) – A widespread, small woodcreeper (the smallest), this one was seen first at Braulio Carrillo, where we had several, and then again at both Tapanti and Carara.
NORTHERN BARRED-WOODCREEPER (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae) – The fine barring is often pretty difficult to discern, but it's hard to mistake this massive woodcreeper for any other species in most locations. We had our lone bird at Carara.
COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans) – Common at lower elevations on both slopes. We saw one at Braulio Carrillo, and several others at Carara.
BLACK-STRIPED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus lachrymosus) – I think this fancy woodcreeper was our final new species of the trip, and we found it at Carara just before leaving the park and heading back up to San Jose.
SPOTTED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus erythropygius) – This is actually a very common woodcreeper of middle elevation forests, though you wouldn't have guessed by our experience, as we saw just one on the trails at Rancho. The fact that we didn't even hear them at Braulio or Tapanti suggests to me that they were likely nesting and keeping a low profile.
STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii) – Widespread on both slopes, and seemingly more tolerant of disturbed forest than most other woodcreepers. We saw or heard these daily, except on our full day in the highlands, where it is replaced by its sister species below.
SPOT-CROWNED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes affinis) – Very similar to the preceding species, replacing it at higher elevations. We saw a number of them in the Savegre valley.
PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus) – Our first was a somewhat elusive one with a mixed flock on the trails at Rancho, but our better views came at Carara, where we ran into them daily, pretty much always with mixed flocks of antwrens, small flycatchers, and White-shouldered Tanagers.
STREAKED XENOPS (Xenops rutilans) – Tapanti has long been one of my favorite birding places in the country, but our visit there this trip was exceptional, even by my lofty standards. This small Furnariid was one of several scarce birds that we usually miss on this tour and it showed especially well, even giving us great scope views as it stopped and preened in the open for a couple of minutes.
BUFFY TUFTEDCHEEK (Pseudocolaptes lawrencii) – A couple of these entertaining birds were spied in the midst of mixed flocks in the gorgeous oak forest above Savegre Lodge. As is usually the case, the birds were foraging in the depths of some large bromeliads, and the detritus flying out of the plants was a clear indication of these birds at work.
BUFF-FRONTED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Philydor rufum) – I think it was Dave that spotted this foliage-gleaner along the road at Tapanti, though we weren't sure what it was initially as it was half-buried in a dense tangle of vines. We were none the wiser after it flew across the road and disappeared, so I began playing calls of a series of species--Lineated, Buff-fronted, Scaly-throated-- without any response. I finished up by playing the call of Streak-breasted Treehunter, and the bird finally popped out into view, only it wasn't a treehunter, but this lovely species, which is rather rarely seen at the park.
LINEATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Syndactyla subalaris) – A couple of us had fair views of one at Tapanti, but we did far better in the oak forest at Savegre, where we saw a bird fly into a nest cavity, then exit again with a fecal sac in its beak. We didn't see it especially well the first time, so we waited around and soon enough it (or its mate) returned carrying a large insect, and that time gave us some great views as it hung about in a nearby tree before going to the nest. [N]
BUFF-THROATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (HYPOPHAEUS) (Automolus ochrolaemus hypophaeus) – This skulking species is quite easy to see around the moth cloth at Rancho, where a couple of birds have gotten used to people and are unusually bold.
CHIRIQUI FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Automolus exsertus) – A fairly recent split from the preceding species, this bird is endemic to the Pacific slope of southern CR and western Panama. We ran into these a couple of times at Carara, getting some decent looks at them.
SPOTTED BARBTAIL (Premnoplex brunnescens) – A bird with a mixed flock along the stream on the Quebrada Trail at Savegre called a few times, but just wouldn't show itself. [*]
RUDDY TREERUNNER (Margarornis rubiginosus) – Several parties of these were with mixed flocks in the oak forest above Savegre Lodge.
RED-FACED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca erythrops) – We saw about a half a dozen of these at Tapanti, including a pair working busily on their large, mossy clump of a nest. [N]
SLATY SPINETAIL (Synallaxis brachyura) – A calling bird along the Silent Mountain Road stayed out of sight. [*]

Participant David Czaplak was at just the right angle to capture this Fiery-throated Hummingbird as it showed off its finery.

Pipridae (Manakins)
LONG-TAILED MANAKIN (Chiroxiphia linearis) – Heard daily on our early morning walks at Villa Lapas, and Duane managed to spot one male on one of these walks. Though we all saw it fairly well, I think we would have all been happier with better, longer views.
WHITE-RUFFED MANAKIN (Corapipo altera) – We heard one call a couple of times at Braulio Carrillo, and after a careful search, we located the bird, a fine male, perched nearby on an open branch, where he stayed long enough for all to get a fantastic look.
BLUE-CROWNED MANAKIN (Lepidothrix coronata) – Nice looks at a couple of nice, green females at Carara, but we were unable to rustle up a male.
WHITE-COLLARED MANAKIN (Manacus candei) – We heard them often at Rancho, but only managed to see a lone female in the fruiting fig tree off the balcony. If I'd known we wouldn't be making it to La Selva, I would have made an effort to track down one of those snappy males we were hearing.
ORANGE-COLLARED MANAKIN (Manacus aurantiacus) – The lek at Carara was rather quiet, but we eventually managed to see at least three colorful males, including one perched serenely only about 10-15 feet away!
WHITE-CROWNED MANAKIN (Dixiphia pipra) – A female down along the driveway at Rancho was a bit of a surprise on our cotinga walk, but we expected the males on the active lek on the upper trail, and as anticipated, had fantastic looks at one calling from an open perch below eye level.
RED-CAPPED MANAKIN (Ceratopipra mentalis) – As usual, several males put on an incredible show as they came in to bathe in the stream at Carara.
Cotingidae (Cotingas)
LOVELY COTINGA (Cotinga amabilis) – In my 6 years as guide at Rancho Naturalista, I only saw this species one time on the property. And I'd only ever seen Lovely Cotinga once before on this tour, nearly 20 years ago! So when I heard that a male had been seen regularly at Rancho since January, I was pretty hopeful that it would be there during our visit. And it sure was! We walked a little ways down the driveway on our first morning there, and, after a bit of a wait, suddenly there it was in all its electric turquoise glory! Wow, what a bird.
TURQUOISE COTINGA (Cotinga ridgwayi) – Another cotinga highlight, and another species that we rarely, if ever get on this tour. In fact, I can't recall ever seeing this bird on this tour route at this time of year. Again, the bird was a stakeout, this one in the city of San Isidro, but, as we didn't arrive at the site until around 11:30 AM, when it was hot and sunny, my expectations were very low. But then Liz called out that she had spotted it, and we got some excellent scope views of it sitting on a high exposed perch, shimmering in the sunlight. Again, what a bird!
RUFOUS PIHA (Lipaugus unirufus) – Though we all heard one calling at Carara, only Richard saw one when he lingered behind the group to continue watching a pair of Baird's Trogons, and had a piha blast in and flush the male trogon, and replace it briefly on the same perch.
SNOWY COTINGA (Carpodectes nitidus) – This is the only cotinga (but not the only Cotingidae) on the checklist, and the only one we expect to see, as the two blue ones and Yellow-billed Cotinga are all rare and unlikely on the tour route. And we're pretty fortunate we saw this one, as we didn't even make it to La Selva, which is usually the only place we see it. Our cotinga luck was strong this trip, and we had a male fly across the highway ahead of the bus as we drove from Braulio Carrillo to Rancho, then had it fly by again after we'd stopped and disembarked to look for it.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
BLACK-CROWNED TITYRA (Tityra inquisitor) – Just one pair was seen, at the Lovely Cotinga spot at Rancho, where we also saw our only pair of Masked Tityras.
MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata) – Generally the more numerous of the two tityras, but we only had a single pair this time at Rancho.
BARRED BECARD (Pachyramphus versicolor) – Heard calling in the tall oak forest at Savegre Lodge, where Julia eventually picked out a pair of them high up in the canopy.
WHITE-WINGED BECARD (Pachyramphus polychopterus) – Duane photographed a female at Rancho during an afternoon break, with the rest of us catching up with this species at Villa Lapas, though the views would have been better if they hadn't been straight overhead.
ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae) – Common around Villa Lapas and seen daily. The race that occurs here, P. a. latirostris, lacks the rose throat of races from northern parts of their range.
Oxyruncidae (Sharpbill, Royal Flycatcher, and Allies)
ROYAL FLYCATCHER (NORTHERN) (Onychorhynchus coronatus mexicanus) – A fine bird, even if they rarely raise their spectacular crests. We had great looks at this species a couple of times in the Pacific lowlands. First we found a pair in the beginning stages of constructing a nest over the Sendero La Meandrica at Carara, and the next day we found another in the gallery forest along the Guacimo Road. [N]
RUDDY-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Terenotriccus erythrurus) – A singing bird at Braulio Carrillo showed pretty well for almost everyone. Fortunately, a pair at Carara late in the tour allowed Julia to catch up with improved views.
SULPHUR-RUMPED FLYCATCHER (Myiobius sulphureipygius aureatus) – Liz missed this one, which we found on our first day out at Braulio Carrillo, but again, another pair at Carara (on the same trail and day as the catch-up Ruddy-tailed Flycatchers) were more cooperative and gave a more satisfying experience.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
STUB-TAILED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus cancrominus) – Spadebills are tiny, generally inconspicuous, and easy to miss, so getting great looks at all three species was something of a coup! We first heard one of these on the grounds of Villa Lapas, but just couldn't see it. Later that same morning, we bumped into another at Carara, and it stayed just long enough for everyone to get a good view.
WHITE-THROATED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus mystaceus) – Not uncommon in middle elevation forests, but can be a real pain to see. We heard one calling near the road at Tapanti, and eventually managed to track it down. Though it was very active, and seldom sat still for long, we were all able to get good clear views of it several times.
GOLDEN-CROWNED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus coronatus) – Back at Carara for this one. We had super close views of a pair of these along the Quebrada Bonita Trail.
OLIVE-STRIPED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes olivaceus) – Though I had a couple of glimpses of this species at Tapanti and Bosque de Tolomuco, I was unable to get anyone else on them before they took off, so we had to be content with a heard-only record from the trails at Rancho. [*]
OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus) – A few sightings at Rancho and Carara. Most easily seen as they came down to bathe at Rancho's hummingbird pools.
SLATY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon superciliaris) – Singles of this middle elevation species were seen with mixed flocks at both Rancho and Tapanti.
SCALE-CRESTED PYGMY-TYRANT (Lophotriccus pileatus) – After hearing them at both Braulio Carrillo and Rancho, we finally connected with this feisty little flycatcher at Tapanti, getting super looks at a couple along the road.
NORTHERN BENTBILL (Oncostoma cinereigulare) – We saw just one of these odd little flycatchers, getting reasonable views of one high overhead at Carara.

This Lineated Foliage-Gleaner and its mate were visiting a nest at Savegre. Participant Duane Morse got this photo of the bird with what appears to be some food for the young.

SLATE-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus sylvia) – Quite inconspicuous and can be difficult to locate, but not uncommon along the Sendero La Meandrica at Carara, where we got some decent views of several.
COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum) – A common and widespread species, and we certainly heard a lot, often at roadside stops. We saw far fewer, but did get a few good looks, particularly at the Sunbittern site, where we had some nice close studies.
BLACK-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum nigriceps) – A few were heard at Rancho, but we never really worked on this species, expecting to pick it up in the Caribbean lowlands at the end of the tour. [*]
EYE-RINGED FLATBILL (Rhynchocyclus brevirostris) – One was with a roadside flock at Tapanti, and gave pretty good views, but another one we found at Carara offered superior looks, showing off both its eye ring and its flat bill.
YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias sulphurescens) – Recorded on most outings in the Pacific lowlands, with our best views coming along Guacimo Road, where we had several, including a couple that joined a large mob of birds responding to pygmy-owl calls in the gallery forest.
YELLOW-BELLIED TYRANNULET (Ornithion semiflavum) – This tiny canopy dweller was heard at Carara, but we just couldn't locate it in the tall canopy overhead. [*]
NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma imberbe) – The two species of beardless-tyrannulet are sympatric in the region north of Carara, but do separate out by habitat in this region, with Southern mainly restricted to gallery forest in the area of overlap. But Northern is the more widespread and common in the region of overlap, where we saw our only one in dry scrub along Guacimo Road.
SOUTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma obsoletum) – Heard each morning at Villa Lapas, and seen poorly on one morning.
GREENISH ELAENIA (Myiopagis viridicata) – Encountered regularly in the Pacific lowlands, with exceptional views of a couple in the gallery forest along Guacimo Road, where one sat out in the open and raised its usually concealed yellow crown patch in response to pygmy-owl calls!
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster) – Unlike the Greenish Elaenia, this species regularly raises its crest to expose the white crown patch, giving it a very distinctive appearance. We had excellent close views of a pair at Rancho Bajo.
MOUNTAIN ELAENIA (Elaenia frantzii) – Drab and dull, and quite common in the Savegre valley.
TORRENT TYRANNULET (Serpophaga cinerea) – Wonderful views of a pair of these perky little flycatchers along the river at the Sunbittern site.
MISTLETOE TYRANNULET (Zimmerius parvus) – A very common and widespread species, occurring from lowlands on both slopes right on up to timberline. We recorded these often (though not in Carara) and had some great looks at Rancho Bajo, where we watched one regurgitate and 'plant' a couple of mistletoe seeds, and at the Sunbittern site, where one perched on a low branch only 4 or 5 feet away!
TAWNY-CHESTED FLYCATCHER (Aphanotriccus capitalis) – Though they didn't visit the moth cloth at Rancho while we were watching, a pair of these Rancho specialties were calling nearby, and we eventually managed to track them down for some fine views.
TUFTED FLYCATCHER (Mitrephanes phaeocercus) – A pretty common highland bird, seen first at Tapanti, then again in the Savegre valley.
DARK PEWEE (Contopus lugubris) – A calling bird at Tapanti lured us down the road, and gave us a good look before we got distracted by a tamandua. Another pair were seen near the quetzal nest in the Savegre valley.
TROPICAL PEWEE (Contopus cinereus) – One was seen and heard in the mangroves along the canal on our boat trip on the Rio Tarcoles..
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris) – Generally the most common migrant Empid in the country. We had one at the moth cloth at Rancho, and saw another at Villa Lapas. [b]
ACADIAN FLYCATCHER (Empidonax virescens) – Prior to this visit, the only Empid I'd ever seen at Rancho's moth cloth was the above species, which is a regular visitor there. So when the first Empid showed up that morning, my first thought was Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. Only problem was, it didn't sound right, and on closer inspection, it didn't look quite right, either. Not being overly familiar with this species, I admit to some uncertainty about it at first, but upon listening to calls of this species on our return to the lodge, my certainty level went way up. [b]
YELLOWISH FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flavescens) – A common montane forest Empid. We had quick views of one at Tapanti, then saw several more the following day in the Savegre valley.
BLACK-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax atriceps) – A highland specialty, found only above about 7000 feet. We had several birds in the Savegre valley, with nice views of a couple on our walk in the magnificent oak forest above the lodge.

These Black-and-white Owls were very cooperative as they snoozed in a mango tree near Tarcoles. Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast.

BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans) – Not uncommon along rivers at middle elevations, the Black Phoebes here (subspecies amnicola), as many of you noted, are overall darker with less white on the belly, than US birds.
BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) – We heard a bunch of these, but never did manage to see one. [*]
RUFOUS MOURNER (Rhytipterna holerythra) – A calling bird at Rio Las Perlas refused to emerge from the forest, despite my best whistled imitations. [*]
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer) – The country's most widespread resident Myiarchus. We had them at several sites, with especially good looks at a couple at Rancho's moth cloth.
NUTTING'S FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus nuttingi) – Restricted the the dry northwest, where it overlaps with the nearly identical, but larger, Brown-crested Flycatcher (as well as all the other Myiarchus here!). We found several along Guacimo Road, identified mainly by their calls.
GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus) – Several of these brightly-colored Myiarchus were seen in the gallery forest along Guacimo Road. [b]
GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – A very familiar sight through most of the country, barring the highest elevations. Seen daily except the full day at Rancho, surprisingly, and the full day in the Savegre valley.
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – As widespread as the kiskadee, though generally less numerous. We had these in small numbers nearly daily, including in the Savegre valley.
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis) – Like the preceding 2 species, this is another widespread bird and a common roadside and garden bird. Seen in fair numbers most days.
GRAY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes granadensis) – Another fairly common roadside and garden bird on both slopes, though never seems as abundant as the similar-sized Social Flycatcher. We had small numbers at several sites.
GOLDEN-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes hemichrysus) – A lone bird along the roadside at Tapanti showed well after initially calling from a hidden perch for a couple of minutes.
STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus) – Seen in small numbers daily in the Pacific lowlands.
SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes luteiventris) – Similar to the above species, but has thicker dark malar stripes that meet up under the chin. A few birds were seen at Rancho and Rio Las Perlas, recently arrived from their wintering grounds in the Amazon basin. [a]
PIRATIC FLYCATCHER (Legatus leucophaius) – Like the above species, these birds were fairly recent arrivals from their South American wintering grounds (though this species shows up in Costa Rica somewhat earlier). We saw pairs and singles at a number of sites at low to middle elevations on both slopes. [a]
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – Rivals the kiskadee as the most familiar roadside and garden flycatcher in the country. The single bird we saw in the Savegre valley, where they are at the upper limits of their elevational range, gave us a clean sweep of seeing these birds daily.
EASTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus tyrannus) – Dave saw one along Guacimo Road, though the rest of us somehow missed it. This is a passage migrant in the country, and this was probably one of the earliest of a huge number that will pass through the country from their South American wintering grounds. [b]
SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus forficatus) – A group of at least 10 of these elegant flycatchers were seen during a roadside stop as we headed north along the Pacific coast towards Villa Lapas. Our only other one was a lone bird flying over the river mouth during the boat trip. [b]
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
RUFOUS-BROWED PEPPERSHRIKE (Cyclarhis gujanensis) – Heard at Tapanti, in the Savegre valley, and in the mangroves along the Rio Tarcoles, but we never really got close to one. [*]
TAWNY-CROWNED GREENLET (Tunchiornis ochraceiceps) – Brief but good views of a pair of these elusive, forest interior greenlets along the Quebrada Bonita trail at Carara.
LESSER GREENLET (Pachysylvia decurtata) – Widespread and vocal. We heard a bunch of these before we finally started seeing them at Carara, where we saw them daily.
MANGROVE VIREO (Vireo pallens) – One began singing in the mangroves along the canal late in our boat tour, and showed very well as it perched on a fairly open, eye level perch near the water's edge.
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons) – Oddly scarce, and the only one we saw was in the gallery forest along Guacimo Road. [b]
YELLOW-WINGED VIREO (Vireo carmioli) – A Chiriqui highland endemic, several of these vireos were well-seen in the oak forest in the Savegre valley.
BROWN-CAPPED VIREO (Vireo leucophrys) – Our lone sighting was of a single bird with a mixed flock at Tapanti, though I think we were quickly distracted by something more exciting and colorful, so our views were rather brief.
YELLOW-GREEN VIREO (Vireo flavoviridis) – Recently arrived from South America, these vireos were especially vocal, and we heard quite a few, and saw several. Our first was a lone bird at the Sunbittern site, then we had quite a few more in the Pacific lowlands, particularly along Guacimo Road. [a]
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
WHITE-THROATED MAGPIE-JAY (Calocitta formosa) – A couple of these showy jays entertained us along Guacimo Road, though we usually find more that 2 here.
BROWN JAY (Psilorhinus morio) – Seen daily on the Caribbean slope, with just one record on the Pacific side--a pair at the roadside ponds near Parrita.

The tiny Snowcap is another specialty of the Costa Rican highlands; participant Duane Morse got this great shot of a lovely male feeding on verbena at Rancho Bajo.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)
BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca) – The common swallow pretty much anywhere other than the lowlands, though we did see a couple in the Caribbean lowlands en route to Rancho as well. We had these daily until we got to the Pacific lowlands.
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) – Good scope views of a perched bird along Silent Mountain Road, allowing us to note the differences between this bird and a pair of Southern Rough-winged Swallows we'd seen earlier that morning.
SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis) – The aforementioned pair on the Silent Mountain Road and another pair near Tapanti were our only records.
GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea) – A single flyover at a gas stop en route to Rancho, then a couple of records in the Pacific lowlands, including a couple of birds perched on a dead log during our boat trip.
MANGROVE SWALLOW (Tachycineta albilinea) – A few records in the Pacific lowlands, with the majority of birds seen during the boat trip.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – A couple of small gatherings in the Pacific lowlands-- 9 birds along Guacimo Road and 6 over the mouth of the river during the boat trip. [b]
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
TAWNY-FACED GNATWREN (Microbates cinereiventris) – Vocal, though mostly out of sight, at Braulio Carrillo, but a couple of folks did get a brief look while we were trying to spot a singing Stripe-breasted Wren.
LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus) – We finally caught up with this one on our last walk at Carara before ending the tour, though I'd heard them a few times previously both there and at Rancho.
WHITE-LORED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila albiloris) – Restricted to the dry northwest, where the range overlaps entirely with the next species, and they do often occur together. We had smashing close views of a pair responding to my pygmy-owl imitation along Guacimo Road.
TROPICAL GNATCATCHER (Polioptila plumbea) – A few in the Pacific lowlands, best views occurring along Guacimo Road, though not together with our White-lored Gnatcatchers. Identification is pretty easy at this time of year, as White-lored shows a complete black cap right down to the eyes, thus lacking white lores altogether in breeding plumage, whereas Tropical has a white brow, and lores. Talk about a terrible name!
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
SCALY-BREASTED WREN (WHISTLING) (Microcerculus marginatus luscinia) – Heard a couple of times in the distance at Rancho. [*]
HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon) – Common and widespread, and recorded daily with the exception of our day in the Savegre valley.
OCHRACEOUS WREN (Troglodytes ochraceus) – These tiny wrens can usually be found scrambling along moss and bromeliad-laden trunks and branches like tiny creepers, and we saw several of them in such situations at Tapanti and the Savegre valley.
TIMBERLINE WREN (Thryorchilus browni) – After several attempts, we finally tracked down a pair of these highland wrens along the highway in the highest parts of Cerro de la Muerte.
RUFOUS-NAPED WREN (Campylorhynchus rufinucha) – These big, bold wrens were seen daily in the Pacific lowlands, where their messy nests can often be found among the imposing thorns of a Bullhorn Acacia (aka ant acacia, for the tiny, aggressive ants that live inside the thorns).
BLACK-BELLIED WREN (Pheugopedius fasciatoventris) – Though we heard one calling at Carara, it was well away from the trail, and never moved closer. [*]
RUFOUS-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius rutilus) – We first met up with this common wren at Bosque de Tolomuco, where we got pretty good looks at a pair down along the driveway. We then recorded them daily around Carara, mostly by vocalizations, but with several nice looks as well.
BLACK-THROATED WREN (Pheugopedius atrogularis) – Heard regularly at Rancho, and if I'm remembering correctly, at least a couple of folks caught glimpses of one that moved through a dense vine tangle next to the driveway at the cotinga viewing spot.
BANDED WREN (Thryophilus pleurostictus) – One was calling from a brushy gully along Guacimo Road, but never showed itself. [*]
RUFOUS-AND-WHITE WREN (Thryophilus rufalbus) – We noticed a couple of wrens scrabbling around in some thick scrub next to the river at Villa Lapas, and my first thought was that they were Riverside Wrens, but just before they flew off across the trail and disappeared for good, I realized they were actually this wren. Unfortunately the views weren't all that great, but we did get to enjoy their beautiful, mellow song a few times around Carara.
STRIPE-BREASTED WREN (Cantorchilus thoracicus) – A fairly cooperative pair along the trail at Braulio Carrillo gave us a decent look before ditching us to get back to their business.

We saw three species of spadebill; this one is the Golden-Crowned that we found at Carara. Photo by particpant David Czaplak.

CABANIS'S WREN (Cantorchilus modestus) – Part of the three-way split of the former Plain Wren (all 3 of which occur here in CR), with this being the most widespread of the three. We has our best views of a close singing bird along the Silent Mountain Road. A bird we heard calling at the ponds near Parrita was presumably this species, though this is close to the northern limit of Isthmian Wren, and there is still some uncertainty about the ranges of the two forms in this part of the country.
RIVERSIDE WREN (Cantorchilus semibadius) – We had several encounters with these lovely wrens along at Carara, where they are not uncommon along the Quebrada Bonita trail.
BAY WREN (Cantorchilus nigricapillus) – Skulky and often frustrating, but we found a pretty cooperative pair that showed well near Rancho Bajo.
WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucosticta) – It's hard to imagine getting better views of this gorgeous little wren than we had at Rancho's moth cloth, where they are used to people and emboldened by their hunger for the insect buffet.
GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucophrys) – A common highland forest bird, though we heard far more than we saw, as usual. Still, we managed some decent views in the oak forest at Savegre.
Cinclidae (Dippers)
AMERICAN DIPPER (Cinclus mexicanus) – Our only ones were a pair far below us at a viewpoint over the river at Tapanti.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gilvus) – This species has established itself in Costa Rica over the last 20 years or so, and is now widespread, though quite local. We saw a single bird at the Hacienda Oriente on our way to Orosi, and another near the Turquoise Cotinga site in San Isidro.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
BLACK-FACED SOLITAIRE (Myadestes melanops) – Though I don't recall any one bird sitting out and posing for us, we saw a number of these fabulous songsters at both Tapanti and Savegre, and of course, their ethereal songs were a regular background sound in the highland forests.
BLACK-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus gracilirostris) – This Chiriqui specialty occurs at higher elevations than any of the other nightingale-thrushes, and is one of the easiest to see, as they regularly hop about in the open in clearings adjacent to the forest, and often right out on the road. We saw a number of these in the upper part of the Savegre valley.
ORANGE-BILLED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus aurantiirostris) – I think someone glimpsed one of these at Bosque de Tolomuco, but for most of us it was a heard only bird, mainly at Las Perlas.
SLATY-BACKED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus fuscater) – We heard a couple of these at Tapanti, but didn't try very hard as we anticipated seeing them at Monteverde. [*]
RUDDY-CAPPED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus frantzii) – Quite common and very easy to see around Savegre Lodge, where they are often found hopping about unconcernedly in the gardens, which is where we saw them.
BLACK-HEADED NIGHTINGALE-THRUSH (Catharus mexicanus) – Patience and persistence eventually rewarded us with fine views of a singing bird near the trail at Braulio Carrillo, the only site we can get this species on the tour route now that they have disappeared from Rancho Naturalista.
SWAINSON'S THRUSH (Catharus ustulatus) – A lone bird took a bath at Rancho's hummingbird pools late in the afternoon. Generally a fairly common wintering bird here. [b]
WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina) – A pretty common wintering species, this lovely thrush gave us a few nice views at Rancho, where we had one below the feeders and a couple down near Rancho Bajo, then again at Carara, where we found one foraging alongside the Streak-chested Antpitta. [b]
MOUNTAIN THRUSH (Turdus plebejus) – Several of these drab thrushes were foraging on the open ground while we awaited the appearance of the quetzals at their nest.
CLAY-COLORED THRUSH (Turdus grayi) – I'm thinking of sending out the checklists with this species pre-marked right across the board, as it's a rare day when we miss seeing this abundant species.
SOOTY THRUSH (Turdus nigrescens) – Numerous at the highest elevations, where it is also easy to see as it hops about in open pastures and perches on roadside fenceposts.
Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)
BLACK-AND-YELLOW SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Phainoptila melanoxantha) – Super looks at a pair at what has been a very reliable spot for these birds, which aren't always easy to track down due to their quiet calls and inconspicuous behavior, which is so unlike the other three species in this family.
LONG-TAILED SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Ptiliogonys caudatus) – Distinctive, bubbly calls, somewhat gregarious behavior, and a penchant for perching on high exposed branches make this a much easier bird to track down than the above species. We saw plenty of these sleek birds daily in the highlands.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Duane noted a pair of these near the Hotel Bougainvillea on one of our walks, but no one was interested enough to bother tracking them down. [I]
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
GOLDEN-BROWED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia callophrys) – We kept hearing these in the highland forest, but never managed to track one down. [*]
SCRUB EUPHONIA (Euphonia affinis) – Found only in the dry northwest, and our lone sighting was of a male along Guacimo Road.
YELLOW-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia luteicapilla) – A singing male at the Carara NP headquarters gave us good scope views before we headed in on the trail.
YELLOW-THROATED EUPHONIA (Euphonia hirundinacea) – A fine male was seen well in the wooded ravine near Rancho Bajo, and a few others were heard and seen in the Pacific lowlands.

The Collared Redstart is one of the friendliest birds you'll see, and one of the cutest! This one was photographed by participant David Czaplak in Savegre.

ELEGANT EUPHONIA (Euphonia elegantissima) – This colorful bird was seen beautifully both at Tapanti, where we had at least 3 males, and in the gardens at Savegre Lodge, where we had long scope studies of a singing male. Oddly we didn't see any females.
OLIVE-BACKED EUPHONIA (Euphonia gouldi) – A couple were regular visitors to Rancho's banana feeders.
TAWNY-CAPPED EUPHONIA (Euphonia anneae) – A fairly common species of wet, middle elevation forests, and we had a bunch of sightings, with our best coming along the Silent Mountain road, where we got some good views of both sexes.
LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria) – Last year was the first time I'd seen this species in the Savegre valley, and there seemed to be even more this year, as we saw 10+ in the orchard just above the lodge. I guess they'll be a permanent fixture now, but I wonder if that might come at the expense of the closely related siskins, which formerly had the valley to themselves.
YELLOW-BELLIED SISKIN (Spinus xanthogastrus) – At least there were still some of these around. Most of ours were in the upper part of the valley where there are not yet any goldfinches, though our first was lower down, a male perched above the quetzal nesting spot.
Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)
SOOTY-CAPPED CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus pileatus) – Numerous in the highland forests, where they replace the equally numerous Common Chlorospingus which dominates at middle elevations.
COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus flavopectus) – The most numerous forest bird we encountered at Tapanti, with pretty much every flock having at least a pair of these present.
STRIPE-HEADED SPARROW (Peucaea ruficauda) – A group of half a dozen or more of these handsome sparrows were seen along the road into Tarcoles. Surprisingly the next day we only saw 2 more along Guacimo Road, where they are usually quite numerous and easy to see.
OLIVE SPARROW (Arremonops rufivirgatus) – We found a couple of pairs of these in scrubby areas along Guacimo Road, which is pretty close to the southern limit of this species' range.
BLACK-STRIPED SPARROW (Arremonops conirostris) – Single birds were heard at both Rancho Bajo and Bosque de Tolomuco, but neither bird made an appearance. [*]
ORANGE-BILLED SPARROW (Arremon aurantiirostris) – A pair of these striking sparrows were regular visitors under the feeders at Rancho, where they gave many excellent opportunities to see them. We also recorded these at Carara, though mainly by voice, and the birds we did see were a little tougher to see well.
CHESTNUT-CAPPED BRUSHFINCH (Arremon brunneinucha) – A bird below us along the trails in Savegre's oak forest responded a little, but I don't think everyone saw it well before it lost interest in us.
VOLCANO JUNCO (Junco vulcani) – We always seem to be in a bit of a hurry to find this bird as we really only pass through its preferred habitat on a fairly long travel day, so I was very pleased that we spotted a pair almost right beside the highway, and had good looks at them after spending only a couple of minutes there, allowing us to get back on the road in good time!
RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis) – A common, familiar montane bird, seen well around the Hotel Bougainvillea and several other sights thereafter.
LARGE-FOOTED FINCH (Pezopetes capitalis) – A Chiriqui highland specialty which we saw very well in the Savegre valley, particularly at Miriam's feeders, where a couple of birds scratched about, very towhee-like on the ground below the feeders.
CABANIS'S GROUND-SPARROW (Melozone cabanisi) – Upon its elevation to a full species in 2017, Costa Rica gained another endemic species, as this bird is nearly restricted to the Meseta Central (or Central Valley) of the country. It can be a tricky bird to track down, but they were easy this year, in part due to the fact that much of their coffee plantation habitat near the Bougainvillea had just been cleared, and the birds were resorting to feeding in the open around the edges of this newly cleared landscape. I don't hold much hope that this well remain the case after all the new houses are built, but for this trip, we had superb looks at several of these highly localized specialties. [E]
WHITE-NAPED BRUSHFINCH (YELLOW-THROATED) (Atlapetes albinucha gutturalis) – A pair was in a brushy ravine alongside the orchard as we descended the trail from Savegre's oak forest, but they only remained in view a few seconds before vanishing, and I think a couple of folks may have missed them altogether.
YELLOW-THIGHED BRUSHFINCH (Atlapetes tibialis) – Seeing as it is in the same genus as the other brushfinches, it does make sense to call this one a brushfinch as well, but it's going to take some time for me to get used to the new name. Unlike many of the other species in the group, this bird isn't at all difficult to see, and we had a bunch of them in the Savegre valley.
Zeledoniidae (Wrenthrush)
WRENTHRUSH (Zeledonia coronata) – Formerly classified as an aberrant warbler, this odd little bird has recently been moved into a family all its own. It took us several tries to nail this one down, but we finally managed some pretty good looks at a pair on our way out of the Savegre valley.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna) – The race found here, alticola, is a resident breeder, as indicated by the lone bird we saw collecting nesting material at the Hacienda Oriente. [N]

Yellow-naped Parrots were seen well along the road at Playa Azul. Photo by participant David Czaplak.

RED-BREASTED MEADOWLARK (Leistes militaris) – Also found at Hacienda Oriente, where we got super scope views of a brilliant male.
CHESTNUT-HEADED OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius wagleri) – The smaller and less numerous of the two oropendolas. We saw a single in the Rancho gardens one afternoon, then about half a dozen near a regular nesting colony along Silent Mountain Road.
MONTEZUMA OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius montezuma) – A common sight on the Caribbean slope, including at Rancho's banana feeders. We also heard one at Carara, where they have increased over the past number of years.
STREAK-BACKED ORIOLE (Icterus pustulatus) – A single one of these lovely orioles was found along Guacimo Road.
BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) – An abundant wintering bird here. We saw small numbers daily apart from the Savegre region. [b]
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus) – I'm not sure I've ever had this as a heard only before, but the calling bird during our boat trip was in some dense secondary scrub and couldn't be seen. [*]
BRONZED COWBIRD (Molothrus aeneus) – A few of these glossy, thick-necked birds were scattered around at various locations. First seen near the Hotel Bougainvillea.
GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus) – Great views of three of these huge cowbirds with a group of grackles in a pasture at Hacienda Oriente. There was some posturing going on in these birds, as we saw one bird walking in an odd, erect posture with the neck feathers all puffed up, and strutting towards the others.
MELODIOUS BLACKBIRD (Dives dives) – Has spread southward from Nicaragua very rapidly since first showing up in northern CR in 1987, and now occurs right across the country and into western Panama. We saw them at a number of sites, though they were absent in the Savegre valley and we only had one pair in the Carara region.
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus) – Abundant and seen almost daily, except in the highlands.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum) – A rather uncommon wintering warbler that we often miss on the tour, so we did well to get great looks at two different birds at Carara, one each on the two main trails. [b]
LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla) – Seen by some along Silent Mountain Road, then heard again the next day at Tapanti. This species prefers clear, fast-flowing mountain streams, whereas Northern is more likely in coastal regions and lowland areas. [b]
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – Small numbers daily in the Pacific lowlands, best seen walking ahead of us on the trails at Carara.
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera) – A single bird was seen by some at Rancho, then a couple in the company of mixed flocks at Tapanti. All three birds were handsome males. [b]
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – Single birds on three days at Rancho, Silent Mountain, and Tapanti. [b]
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) – I think this is a fairly early departing migrant, and many were likely already headed northward, but Richard spotted one lingering male in the mangroves during our boat trip and we all had good looks at him. [b]
FLAME-THROATED WARBLER (Oreothlypis gutturalis) – These gorgeous warblers were a part of many a mixed flock in the Savegre valley, always eliciting an appreciative response when someone got one in their bins.
TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina) – A very widespread and numerous wintering species here, and we saw them almost daily, including at the Rancho feeders where they like to eat cooked rice, and occasionally attack a banana. [b]
GRAY-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis poliocephala) – I think we were trying to get a look at a calling Banded Wren along Guacimo Road when one of these birds popped into view and distracted us.
KENTUCKY WARBLER (Geothlypis formosa) – Lovely looks at one of these bathing at the hummingbird pools late one afternoon. [b]
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – A couple of different females were recorded along the Sendero La Meandrica at Carara. [b]
TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi) – Heard often, seen somewhat less often, but we had a few good views, particularly at Tapanti, where we found them with several of the mixed flocks we came across.
BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) – One bird in the pasture at Rancho, and a couple of others with mixed flocks at Tapanti, none of which, to my recollection, were brilliant adult males. [b]
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – Most of our records were in the Pacific lowlands, where we had them daily, and they were especially numerous along Guacimo Road, with plenty in the gallery forest. [b]
YELLOW WARBLER (MANGROVE) (Setophaga petechia erithachorides) – As the name suggest, this resident form is restricted to mangroves, where we had a few nice views during our boat trip.
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica) – A very common wintering bird, though less so in the highlands, where we just had one bird in the Savegre valley. As I've noticed on past tours, birds in the Pacific lowlands were generally further along in their molt into breeding plumage than birds seen in other areas, with a couple of males in nearly full breeding dress. [b]
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (Setophaga coronata) – Generally a pretty scarce wintering bird, and i've seen few overall in the country. We found one in a tall cypress tree along the entrance to Rancho Bajo. [b]

We had great views of a few male Orange-collared Manakins at their lek at Carara. Photo by guide Jay VanderGaast.

BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (Setophaga virens) – Not very numerous this trip, but usually one of the most common wintering warblers in highland forests. We had just a few birds in the Savegre valley. [b]
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (Basileuterus rufifrons) – Rather fleeting looks at an uncooperative on our first morning's outing near the Hotel Bougainvillea.
BLACK-CHEEKED WARBLER (Basileuterus melanogenys) – Another highland specialty, this one was seen a few times in the oak forest at Savegre, a couple of times at fairly close range.
GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER (Basileuterus culicivorus) – These were with a couple of mixed flocks at Rancho, though they were easiest to see, as usual, when they came in to feed at the moth cloth.
BUFF-RUMPED WARBLER (Myiothlypis fulvicauda) – We had several nice encounters with these distinctive warblers, seeing them first at the Sunbittern spot, then again at Tapanti, and then daily in the Pacific lowlands.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) – Along with Black-throated Green, usually the most numerous wintering warbler in highland forests. We didn't see all that many, but did find a few in the Savegre valley, as well as a single with a mixed flock at Rancho. [b]
SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus) – A couple of pairs at Tapanti, including a pretty fearless pair building a nest in a mossy bank along the road. [N]
COLLARED REDSTART (Myioborus torquatus) – These wonderful little birds were seen well a bunch of times in the Savegre valley. Known locally as 'amigo de hombre" as they seem to regularly follow people, using them to flush prey, much as Cattle Egrets use cattle. In fact, more than once I've actually had them pick tiny insects off of me while hiking through the forest.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – A fairly common wintering bird, and we saw them in pretty much every imaginable plumage. [b]
FLAME-COLORED TANAGER (Piranga bidentata) – Numerous and conspicuous in the Savegre valley.
RED-THROATED ANT-TANAGER (Habia fuscicauda) – That bold pair feeding at the moth cloth couldn't have shown any better.
CARMIOL'S TANAGER (Chlorothraupis carmioli) – Wow, I don't recall ever missing these entirely at Braulio Carrillo before, but there you go. We did hear them by the hummingbird pools at Rancho, but they never dropped in for a bath. [*]
BLACK-FACED GROSBEAK (Caryothraustes poliogaster) – One or two small groups of these were roving around along the trail at Braulio Carrillo, and a couple of times we had birds pause long enough in the open for nice studies.
ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus ludovicianus) – Our only sighting was of a beautiful male perched above us as we waited around the quetzal nest site in the Savegre valley. [b]
BLUE-BLACK GROSBEAK (Cyanoloxia cyanoides) – A pair on the grounds of the Villa Lapas weren't especially cooperative, but I think most of the group got some kind of view.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
GRAY-HEADED TANAGER (Eucometis penicillata) – A few encounters at Villa Lapas and Carara. On our first visit to the Quebrada Bonita trail, we flushed a bird off of a nest at just above head height alongside the trail. I used my phone to take a quick picture of the nest's contents, and saw there was a single egg, though we didn't yet know what species it belonged to. On our final afternoon's walk, we approached carefully and managed to pass by the nest without flushing the bird, and determined to be this species.
WHITE-SHOULDERED TANAGER (Tachyphonus luctuosus) – Two subspecies occur here in CR, with one on each slope. We saw subspecies axillaris on the Caribbean slope at Rancho (3 birds with a mixed flock), and nitidissimus several times at Carara. Males of these Pacific slope birds have a usually concealed tawny crown patch that I've only ever seen when they're bathing, and there has been some speculation that they may be a separate species, though I don't think there's any immediate move to elevate them as such.
TAWNY-CRESTED TANAGER (Tachyphonus delatrii) – I think this was the first of several species I described as having a "Bart Simpson hairstyle". We had great views of close to a dozen of these at Braulio Carrillo, with some fine views of the males in particular.
WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus) – A tanager of open, scrubby habitat. Some folks saw a pair at the Rancho feeders, then we all saw a male from the bus as we were driving up Silent Mountain road.
CRIMSON-COLLARED TANAGER (Ramphocelus sanguinolentus) – Also seen from the bus along Silent Mountain road-- a brief but glorious look at this brilliantly colored tanager!

Northern Emerald-Toucanets showed nicely for us in the Savegre Valley. Photo by participant Duane Morse.

SCARLET-RUMPED TANAGER (Ramphocelus passerinii) – After close to 20 years of treatment as a pair of full species, the Caribbean and Pacific slope forms have been reunited as Scarlet-rumped Tanager, a lump I'm on board with, as I never really felt they were different enough to be split in the first place. This is the Caribbean slope race, which was seen in good numbers around Rancho and Rio Perlas.
SCARLET-RUMPED TANAGER (CHERRIE'S) (Ramphocelus passerinii costaricensis) – And this is the Pacific slope race, which we started seeing at Bosque de Tolomuco, and in the Carara region.
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus) – Probably the most familiar and widespread of all the tanagers in the country. We saw them almost everywhere and every day.
PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum) – Also very common and widespread, though usually outnumbered by the Blue-gray. We saw small numbers pretty much throughout, though both species were missing in the Savegre valley.
SPECKLED TANAGER (Ixothraupis guttata) – A pair at Rancho were seen only for a fleeting moment before they flew the coop, so it was great to pick up a more cooperative bird with a mixed flock at Tapanti, especially considering it was pretty unexpected. I can't recall ever seeing this species in the park before.
GOLDEN-HOODED TANAGER (Stilpnia larvata) – One of the colloquial names for this species was 'Siete-colores" (seven colors), and I think that may just refer to the various gorgeous shades of blue on these birds. This is a pretty common species at lower elevations, and we had plenty of lovely views of these birds.
SPANGLE-CHEEKED TANAGER (Tangara dowii) – A common tanager of montane forests, and we saw quite a few with mixed flocks at Tapanti, and a handful of birds in the Savegre valley. The scientific name commemorates Captain John Melmoth Dow, a nineteenth century American naturalist and explorer who collected many birds and plants in Costa Rica.
BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola) – Just another in this long line of stunning tanagers. This was one of the birds that really caught my eye when I first picked up a copy of the original Costa Rica field guide by Stiles and Skutch, being right there on the front cover. We had some great looks at a few of these, starting at Rancho where one made occasional forays into the fruiting fig tree off the balcony.
EMERALD TANAGER (Tangara florida) – I think only Richard and I got a decent look at this one as it foraged alone above the trail at Braulio Carrillo, and we just never ran into another, though they can usually be seen at Rancho and along the Silent Mountain road.
SILVER-THROATED TANAGER (Tangara icterocephala) – A common tanager of middle to upper elevation forests. They were especially numerous at Tapanti and at Bosque de Tolomuco, where we had our best views of them as they ate bananas on the feeders there.
SCARLET-THIGHED DACNIS (Dacnis venusta) – Seen both at Rancho and Bosque de Tolomuco, and we had some decent scope views of the brilliant turquoise and black male, though, as usual, the scarlet thighs were kept well-hidden.
BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana) – We had just two birds, both females, and both in the San Isidro area, one at the Turquoise Cotinga site, the other seen from the balcony of our lunch stop.
RED-LEGGED HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes cyaneus) – Regularly seen in the Pacific lowlands. The color on those males is something else, isn't it?
GREEN HONEYCREEPER (Chlorophanes spiza) – Just a couple of these were seen in the Rancho region this trip.
SLATY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa plumbea) – Small numbers in the Savegre valley, particularly in the flower-filled gardens of the lodge, where many of the tubular blossoms show the tell-tale small holes at the base, made by the pointy, hooked beak of this nectar thief.
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina) – The only one we recorded was seen along the highway as we bused from Braulio Carrillo towards Rancho.
THICK-BILLED SEED-FINCH (Sporophila funerea) – A female in the rank grass along the stream on the Villa Lapas grounds surprised me a little, as I'm more accustomed to finding these in somewhat more expansive grassy areas.
VARIABLE SEEDEATER (Sporophila corvina) – The common seedeater on the Caribbean slope, where the males are completely black save for a small white patch in the wing. We saw quite a few of this form. On the Pacific slope, the male is quite different, with a white rump, belly and narrow collar. Our only one of this form was a male at the roadside ponds near Parrita.
BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola) – Quite widespread. Our best views came from Rancho Bajo where a couple fed in the same verbena hedge as the coquettes and Snowcaps. We also found a pair constructing a nest at Tapanti. [N]
YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus) – Seen in ones and twos at a number of different sites, though they were numerous along Silent Mountain road where we saw 25+.

This Boat-billed Heron was perched along the Rio Tarcoles; what odd-looking creatures they are! Photo by participant Duane Morse.

BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR (Saltator maximus) – The most familiar of the saltators, and found at low to mid elevations on both slopes. We saw them in small numbers at several sites, including Rancho, Rio Perlas, and Carara.
BLACK-HEADED SALTATOR (Saltator atriceps) – The largest of the saltators, with a loud, harsh-sounding voice. We had great looks at a pair of these along the Silent Mountain Road.
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens) – We heard one singing at the Sunbittern site, the only record for the tour, though at least a few folks saw some of these in their solo exploration of the Hotel Bougainvillea grounds prior to the tour. [*]
STREAKED SALTATOR (Saltator striatipectus) – A pair of these showed beautifully from the balcony of our lunch restaurant at San Isidro. Not a species we see often on the tour, as this travel day is the only day where we find ourselves within this species' range.

LONG-NOSED BAT (Rhynchonycteris naso) – A few of these tiny bats roosted under the overhang of some of the cabins at Villa Lapas, and a small number were in more natural site, on the underside of a leaning tree trunk along the canal during our boat trip.
GREATER WHITE-LINED BAT (Saccopteryx bilineata) – Vernon pointed out one of these roosting between the buttresses of a large tree at Carara, though I first though he was pointing at the female Black-throated Trogon I was about to walk below without having noticed her!
COMMON TENT-MAKING BAT (Uroderma bilobatum) – Though I looked for these in their usual roosts around the Villa Lapas grounds, I was only able to find a single one, which I showed to Richard and Julia as they were the only ones nearby at the time.
MANTLED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta palliata) – Heard regularly around Carara, but the only one we saw was a male on the edge of the highway as we headed to Guacimo Road. He was on the ground, obviously having just run across the highway, an unusual place to see such an arboreal species.
WHITE-THROATED CAPUCHIN (Cebus capucinus) – We encountered a couple of troops of these cute looking monkeys at Carara, but don't let those innocent faces fool you. These little guys can be pretty destructive, devouring anything edible in their path, and I've seen them flush birds from nests and gobble down their eggs.
HOFFMANN'S TWO-TOED SLOTH (Choloepus hoffmanni) – Vernon did an amazing job of spotting sloths at Carara (where I've rarely seen them), finding one of each species tucked away in the canopy, where they were very hard to see. This one was a bit more open than the three-toed, and we could see its fleshy pink nose, a feature that easily sets it apart from the other species.
BROWN-THROATED THREE-TOED SLOTH (Bradypus variegatus) – In addition to the well-hidden one at Carara, we saw another from the bus in the Caribbean lowlands en route to Rancho. That one would have given a great view if we'd been able to stop, but unfortunately the road construction prohibited stopping anywhere we'd have been able to view it.
NORTHERN TAMANDUA (Tamandua mexicana) – Though not an uncommon animal, I always consider ourselves lucky if we see one of these small anteaters. This trip we saw two! Our first was at Tapanti, in a roadside tree where it had evidently just had an encounter with a nest of stinging ants, given that it stopped every couple steps to scratch its backside vigorously. The other was near the restaurant at Villa Lapas. A couple of hotel employees called us over to see this one, which was down on the ground and seen at very close range!
BRAZILIAN RABBIT (Sylvilagus brasiliensis) – One ran along the roadside during our post-dinner owling outing at Orosi.
VARIEGATED SQUIRREL (Sciurus variegatoides) – The common, large squirrel, with the highly variable coloring. We saw a couple of different color morphs at Rancho and Carara.
RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis) – The smaller squirrel at Rancho's feeders, and the one also seen up in the Savegre valley.
DUSKY RICE RAT (Melanomys caliginosus) – One or two of these made regular little forays out from under cover to nab a few grains of rice below Rancho's feeders.
CENTRAL AMERICAN AGOUTI (Dasyprocta punctata) – One was a regular visitor to the feeders at Rancho, and we also had brief views of one at Braulio Carrillo and a couple at Carara. At the latter site, we watched one come down to the stream to drink, after which it walked a little ways upstream, where it sat in the stream-bed and repeatedly thumped its back legs on the ground, keeping this behavior up for a long time. Apparently this foot-stamping is a territorial defense behavior, so perhaps it had detected the presence of a rival agouti that we failed to see.
COYOTE (Canis latrans) – A howling pack of coyotes woke a few of us up in the wee hours of one morning at Savegre Lodge. [*]
WHITE-NOSED COATI (Nasua narica) – A lone coati has become a regular visitor to Rancho's feeders, and we watched him pilfer bananas a few times. We also saw a trio next to the road at Tapanti.
KINKAJOU (Potos flavus) – One strolled across the road ahead of the bus as we headed up to our owling spot above Orosi. I don't believe I've ever seen one on the ground before, as they are a very arboreal animal.
TAYRA (Eira barbara) – These large weasels are always fun to see, and seeing a pair visit the feeders at Rancho doubled our pleasure!
COLLARED PECCARY (Tayassu tajacu) – Though we heard and smelled these piggies at Carara, we didn't see any. [*]
WHITE-TAILED DEER (Odocoileus virginianus) – A couple of these were seen in the forest along Carara's Quebrada Bonita trail.
GREEN IGUANA (Iguana iguana) – A few were seen in the Pacific lowlands, including a couple of colorful large males along the Rio Tarcoles.
BLACK SPINY-TAILED IGUANA (Ctenosaura similis) – Common in the Pacific lowlands, with a couple of big ones looking for scraps in the restaurant at Villa Lapas.
COMMON BASILISK (Basiliscus basiliscus) – A few of these Jesus Christ lizards (so-called for their ability to run across water) were seen in the Carara region, mainly along the river at Villa Lapas.
TROPICAL HOUSE GECKO (Hemidactylus mabouia) – Heard often, but only seen at Villa Lapas, where there are loads of them.
CENTRAL AMERICAN WHIPTAIL (Ameiva festiva) – A few were along the trails at Carara.
FOUR-LINED WHIPTAIL (Ameiva quadrilineata) – One of these striped lizards scurried along the base of the brick wall when we got off the bus at the cotinga site in San Isidro, though was only seen by a couple of us before it hurries into a hiding place.
HIGHLAND ALLIGATOR LIZARD (Mesaspis monticola) – Some of us saw one of these in the oak forest at Savegre, though it scurried out of sight before we all got a chance for a look. This was one of very few of these lizards that I've ever found here.
GREEN SPINY LIZARD (Sceloporus malachiticus) – This is the common lizard in the Savegre valley, and a few folks saw these basking on the edge of the concrete walkways by their cabins.
BROWN VINE SNAKE (Oxybelis aeneus) – One of these extremely narrow snakes slithered off the side of the track in the gallery forest along Guacimo Road.
AMERICAN CROCODILE (Crocodylus acutus) – A few of these scary reptiles lounged on the sandbars along the Rio Tarcoles.
GREEN-AND-BLACK POISON DART FROG (Dendrobates auratus) – Ed and I found one of these colorful small frogs hopping on the tile floor in front of my room at Villa Lapas.
RED-EYED LEAF FROG (Agalychnis callidryas) – A couple of these beauties were around the frog pond at Villa Lapas after dark.
CANE TOAD (Rhinella marina) – Common on the grounds of Villa Lapas after dark, including some pretty hefty specimens.
HOURGLASS TREEFROG (Dendropsophus ebraccatus) – I think this is the most numerous of the small frogs around the Villa Lapas frog pond.


Totals for the tour: 423 bird taxa and 19 mammal taxa