A Field Guides Birding Tours Report


December 30, 2022-January 7, 2023 with Jay VanderGaast & Vernon Campos guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
The tiny and elegant Black-crested Coquette was among a fine selection of hummingbirds we got to see well on the tour. Photo by participant Scott Stoner.

There's an awful lot to like about spending New Year's in Costa Rica. Warm weather for a start, compared to cold and snowy conditions many of us might have been facing if we'd stayed home. Then, of course there's the birding--our time here got our 2023 year lists off to a roaring start! In fact, I think we saw more species in the first 2 hours of daylight on January 1st than I would have seen the whole month at home. And then there are things like simply waking up and going out birding, knowing someone was going to make your bed, clean your room, do your laundry, and provide you with 3 delicious meals each day, and Rancho sure did that in style! The highlight was our festive New Year's dinner complete with the talented musical duo that entertained us as we ate. Pretty nice to finish off 2022 on such a high note.

Our week of birding took us to a number of different and varied sites, and each one of these places offered up some memorable highlights. Our first day out to Irazu Volcano was blessed with sunny skies, and some stunning birds, among them the splendiferous Resplendent Quetzal, fierce-looking Volcano Juncos, dazzling Flame-throated Warblers, and a surprise pair of Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge! On our way onward to Rancho, we made a stop in Paraiso where we picked up a trio of (not wooden) Tropical Screech-Owls and a Barn Owl, which, added to our Mottled Owl at the Bougainvillea that morning, got our owl list off to a great start!

Over the next few days we spent our days birding the lodge grounds and a number of nearby locales, wracking up a great collection of great birds. Exotic White-necked Jacobins, Crowned Woodnymphs, Scarlet-rumped Tanagers, Orange-billed Sparrows, and Montezuma Oropendolas were all familiar birds by week's end thanks to their daily visits to the backyard feeders. And we needed to venture no further than a few hundred meters from the lodge to expand this list with species like Golden-Olive Woodpecker, White-collared and White-ruffed manakins, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Speckled Tanager, and so many more. Venturing a little further brought us to Rancho Bajo, where the famed Snowcap, Black-crested Coquette, and Green Thorntail were among the stars at the flowering hedges around the house.

Moving slightly further afield we tallied even more wonderful new species. Casa Turire and the adjacent large reservoir gave us a host of water and open country birds, including Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Green Ibis, Ringed and Amazon kingfishers, Olive-crowned Yellowthroat, and Red-breasted Meadowlark. Along the Silencio Road, we enjoyed multiple views of the stellar Sunbittern, Torrent Tyrannulet, Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant, and Tawny-crested, Emerald, and Black-and-yellow tanagers. At CATIE it was Pale-billed Woodpecker, Band-backed Wren, and Blue Dacnis that drew our attention, as did the Boat-billed Heron that finally emerged from its hiding place in the thick papyrus stand! And in the Rio Tuis valley, Barred Hawk, Barred and Russet antshrikes, Slaty Spinetail, and the local Tawny-chested Flycatcher were among a bunch of new acquaintances we made.

Even further afield, we visited two venues on a day trip to the Caribbean lowlands that were a huge smash! The fun began before we even reached our first venue, Centro Manu, with a Great Green Macaw flying right over our bus along the main highway, then a troop of howler monkeys and a trio of sloths feeding in some roadside trees just before Manu. At the reserve itself, a sleepy Great Potoo, three species of trogons, Yellow-throated Toucan, Stripe-breasted Wren, and Shining Honeycreeper were among the many additions to our list. And finishing the day at Cope's, we enjoyed lunch in front of his feeders where Long-billed Hermit, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Orange-chinned Parakeet, and Red-legged Honeycreeper were among the many voracious visitors, not to mention that Russet-naped Wood-Rail that got a little pushy with that poor turtle! Before we returned to the lodge, we also made a quick run out to visit Cope's stakeout owls--Crested and Spectacled, tallying some Broad-billed Motmots and a Rufous-tailed Jacamar at the same time.

The final stop on our way back to the city was in the lovely cloud forests at Rio Macho, standing in for Tapanti NP which was closed due to landslides. Here we picked up our final new birds of the trip, including Golden-bellied Flycatcher, Streaked Xenops, Black-and-white Becard, Red-headed and Prong-billed barbets, Black-faced Solitaire, and Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher, among many others.

All in all, it was a great week of birding, and Vernon and I had a wonderful time starting off the new year with all of you. Thanks for joining us for the holidays, and we wish you all some great birding experiences for the remainder of 2023! Hope to see you all again soon!


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)

SLATY-BREASTED TINAMOU (Crypturellus boucardi) [*]

The haunting voice of this tinamou accompanied us all along our forest walk at Manu.

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

About a dozen of these were at Casa Turire, mainly on the pond in the front, but a few at the reservoir as well.

MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata)

One distant one was on the water hyacinth on the opposite side of the Angostura Reservoir. I hadn't realized there was a current there, but this duck kept floating out of the scope views and constantly had to be relocated.

LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis) [b]

Good numbers on reservoir, mainly identified by head shape, and the fact that they were diving, as they were mostly just seen in silhouette.

Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)

GRAY-HEADED CHACHALACA (Ortalis cinereiceps)

The numbers at Rancho's feeders had gone up considerably from the earlier tour, and we had a high of at least 17 birds there.

CRESTED GUAN (Penelope purpurascens)

Good views of a pair of these huge birds in a fruiting tree just up the hill from the lodge.

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

BUFFY-CROWNED WOOD-PARTRIDGE (Dendrortyx leucophrys)

Fleeting views of a pair that Vernon lured across a track on the slopes of Irazu. But given that we rarely see these shy birds, those were better views than I had expected!

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

A few birds around various towns and cities.

PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis)

Not uncommon in the Caribbean lowlands, and seen especially well at Cope's feeders.

RED-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas flavirostris)

Almost daily, with a high count of at least 30 birds at the Rancho feeders one afternoon, way more than I'd ever seen there before.

BAND-TAILED PIGEON (Patagioenas fasciata)

A few birds on the slopes of Irazu, mainly flying over, but we did eventually get some scope views of a couple.

SHORT-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas nigrirostris)

A commonly heard voice at Rancho, but our only sighting was of a lone bird on our first morning there, as we walked up through the pasture.

INCA DOVE (Columbina inca)

A pair in the coffee plantations near the Bougainvillea on our first morning.

RUDDY GROUND DOVE (Columbina talpacoti)

Just one pair, seen from the bus when I ran into the supermarket for some ice in the Caribbean lowlands.

WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi)

Seen commonly under the feeders at Rancho, with a fair bit of courtship and copulation going on.

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

A much more widespread species than it once was, though we mainly saw these around the Bougainvillea.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Quite local in the country (if you exclude the winter visitors along the Pacific coast) but Irazu is a good place for these, and we saw a couple sitting on power lines as we drove up and down the volcano. This resident race (turturilla) is apparently restricted to CR and Panama.

Cuculidae (Cuckoos)

GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris)

A cuckoo of scrubby, open country, and we saw a few in this kind of habitat at Casa Turire and the small marsh near Platanillo.

SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana)

Recorded on a few days though heard more often than seen. Best views were probably the pair near the start of the trail at Manu.

Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)

COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis)

Nice looks at this one twice, both as we were driving up the driveway to Rancho shortly after dusk.

Nyctibiidae (Potoos)

GREAT POTOO (Nyctibius grandis)

Local guide Kenneth had one of these on a stakeout perch at Manu, where he said it had been roosting off and on (mostly on) for about 2 years. The bird changed position a few times while we were there, debunking the claims that this was just a stuffed toy placed there for birders to tick.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Collared Aracari was one of the numerous species visiting the feeders off the lodge balcony, affording us amazing looks. Photo by participant Denise Hackert-Stoner.
Apodidae (Swifts)

WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris)

Swifts were hard to come by this tour, and our only flock of these large ones, about 30 in all, were mostly ignored as they flew by while we were trying to get on a solitaire on the opposite side of the road.

VAUX'S SWIFT (Chaetura vauxi)

Our only sighting was of a small number over the coffee plantations near the Bougainvillea on our first morning.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora)

The most common hummingbird at Rancho's feeders. On our last afternoon, while it rained, there were no fewer than 11 of them perched in the shrubs below the balcony, showering in the rain.

GREEN HERMIT (Phaethornis guy)

One made the odd visit to the balcony hummingbird feeders at Rancho.

LONG-BILLED HERMIT (Phaethornis longirostris)

Kathy's pick for bird of the trip, this hummer gave some incredible views as it fed at Cope's hummingbird feeders alongside the similar, but much smaller Stripe-throated Hermit.

STRIPE-THROATED HERMIT (Phaethornis striigularis)

Best seen at Cope's, but we had this little hermit (formerly called Little Hermit!) a few times around Rancho as well.

LESSER VIOLETEAR (COSTA RICAN) (Colibri cyanotus cabanidis)

Several of these were calling incessantly high up on Irazu, but they were tough to spot. We eventually did manage to scope one singing bird.

PURPLE-CROWNED FAIRY (Heliothryx barroti)

This elegant hummer was seen by a couple of folks along the Silencio Road, but not to worry, as a lovely female put on a fantastic show at the hummingbird pools that same afternoon!

GREEN-BREASTED MANGO (Anthracothorax prevostii)

After the jacobin, this was the most numerous hummingbird at the balcony feeders.

GREEN THORNTAIL (Discosura conversii)

We only had one, but that bird a male at the flowering verbena at Rancho Bajo, showed beautifully for all.

BLACK-CRESTED COQUETTE (Lophornis helenae)

Nice spotting by Kathy to pick out a male of this fine hummer teed up on a dead branch at Rancho Bajo. Another male was seen well the next day at Manu.


One male and one female each paid a single visit to Rancho's feeders.


Charlie spotted our first sitting quietly in the shadows high up on Irazu. We ended up seeing several more over that day, but we never really got a good look at that fiery throat, as the angle of the light was never quite right.


A fair number of these were presiding over the few flowering patches on our final day at Rio Macho.

VOLCANO HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus flammula)

These tiny hummers were numerous on the upper slopes of Irazu, right on up to the crater, where they seemed to really be enjoying the sunshine.

GARDEN EMERALD (Chlorostilbon assimilis)

Kind of scarce on this slope, but somewhat regular at Rancho, and I knew the male was around as we'd seen it at Rancho Bajo on the first trip. I was a bit surprised when, shortly after an appearance by the male, a female also showed up at the Rancho Bajo's flowering hedge!


Just one record of a single bird feeding at the flowering verbena at Manu.

VIOLET SABREWING (Campylopterus hemileucurus)

One lone male (of three birds the previous trip) was all that remained at Rancho's feeders, but he hung around all week and showed well a bunch of times. This was Russ's pick as bird of the trip.

BRONZE-TAILED PLUMELETEER (Chalybura urochrysia)

Super looks at this red-footed species (formerly known as Red-footed Plumeleteer) at Cope's feeders.

CROWNED WOODNYMPH (Thalurania colombica)

Common at Rancho, and often appearing all-dark, but wow do they light up when they're bathing at the hummingbird pools!

Field Guides Birding Tours
A male Pale-billed Woodpecker posed for a fine portrait by participant Denise Hackert-Stoner.

SNOWCAP (Microchera albocoronata)

While John was the only one to pick this as his overall favorite, Snowcap also figured in several other folks' top 3, and that was enough to place this as the #1 bird of the trip. At first it seemed like the male would never show, though we had several good views of a female at Rancho Bajo. But eventually, that dynamite little male turned up and put on a great show.


The only hummingbird recorded every day of the trip, and probably the first one seen in the country for most, if not all of you.


We're only likely to encounter this rather drab hummingbird in the Caribbean lowlands, and that's exactly what happened, as we had some good looks at a perched male at Manu.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

RUSSET-NAPED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides albiventris)

Very un-rail-like in behavior, as this is not usually a difficult species to see, and we ended up seeing four of them. Our final one was certainly the most amusing, as it took exception to the presence of a turtle on "its" log at Cope's pond, and proceeded to peck at the turtle's head until it eventually pecked it right off the log and back into the pond. Mad at myself for not making a video!

PURPLE GALLINULE (Porphyrio martinica)

A single at the Angostura Reservoir, then a handful showing nicely at the pond at CATIE.

Aramidae (Limpkin)

LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna)

Playing the call of this bird was a bit of a desperation move at the reservoir, but surprisingly, it worked, as a bird flew up out of its hiding place in the dense aquatic vegetation and flew by, ultimately perching on an open branch where we were able to get great scope views.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

SOUTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus chilensis)

This species has been slowly conquering the country since first appearing in 1997, but the presence of a pair in a pasture up near 10,000' in elevation on Irazu certainly surprised your guides, and tripped the Ebird filter, too.

Jacanidae (Jacanas)

NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa)

A few at the reservoir, then plenty at CATIE, where you'd have to be blind to miss them.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) [b]

A couple of birds on the rocks along the Rio Platanillo.

Eurypygidae (Sunbittern)

SUNBITTERN (Eurypyga helias)

This is one of those species that has gotten a lot easier to find than when I was living here, and nowadays I expect to see them, rather than just hope. We saw half a dozen this trip, though five of those were on a single morning along the Silencio Road. Among these was a pair of birds walking along the road ahead of us for an extended period of time.

Anhingidae (Anhingas)

ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga)

One at Angostura Reservoir, and a couple perched above the pond at CATIE.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Nannopterum brasilianum)

About a dozen were rossting on logs on the far side of the Angostura reservoir.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

FASCIATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma fasciatum)

Like the Sunbittern, this is a species that has gotten easier to find than when I lived here. We had decent views of an adult along the Rio Tuis at dusk, then saw a lovely tiger-striped juvenile along a rocky river near Manu, and finally, another adult on our walk in the Rio Tuis valley. Eric singled this heron out as his favorite bird of the trip.

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) [b]

A couple at the reservoir, and one at CATIE. The latter one had caught, and was attempting to devour, a tilapia that appeared far too large for it to swallow!

GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)

A handful scattered around in appropriate habitat.

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

Seen in all the same places as the above species.

LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea)

Also at the same places as the above two egrets. There were at least a dozen adults at the heron roost at CATIE.

TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor)

A single one was perched over the edge of Angostura reservoir, but moved off shortly after we arrived and may have been missed by a few.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)

Plenty seen daily. Especially large numbers at the roost at CATIE, as well as at a roadside pond on our way to the Caribbean lowlands.

GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens)

A couple at the reservoir, and a bunch at CATIE's pond.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The orange chin on an Orange-chinned Parakeet is a pretty obscure field mark, but with the kind of views we had at Cope’s feeders, even that was easily visible! Photo by participant Scott Stoner.

YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea)

Several were roosting in the vegetation lining both the reservoir and the pond at CATIE,

BOAT-BILLED HERON (Cochlearius cochlearius)

Since these birds moved from the bamboo island into the dense papyrus, they've gotten a lot harder to get good looks at. Our initial scope views were pretty unsatisfying, but by waiting until it was late enough for these nocturnal herons to start getting active just before dusk, we were ultimately rewarded with a nice look at one that emerged from the papyrus and sat out on a more open perch.

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)

GREEN IBIS (Mesembrinibis cayennensis)

Yet another bird that has gotten much easier to see than back when I lived here. We first had a group of 5 feeding along the entry road at Casa Turire, then saw more over the next few days, including a bunch at CATIE. These birds were pretty much unknown from the Turrialba region before the reservoir was created back in 1999.

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus)

Lots daily.

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Also lots daily, though generally outnumbered by the Blacks.

Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) [b]

A single calling bird at Angostura Reservoir.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus)

We had a few scattered individuals of these graceful kites in various open country regions.

BARRED HAWK (Morphnarchus princeps)

One of these distinctive, short-tailed hawks was circling with a kettle of vultures over the Rio Tuis valley.

ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris)

A common species, and yes, they were often along the roadside!

BROAD-WINGED HAWK (Buteo platypterus) [b]

A common wintering bird here, and along with the Roadside, this was the most often seen raptor.

SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus)

Two birds, one light morph, one dark, flew over as we birded down the road from Rio Macho on our final day.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

A couple of birds on the slopes of Irazu, where they are resident, belonging to the race costaricensis, which is restricted to the highlands of CR and Panama.

Tytonidae (Barn-Owls)

BARN OWL (Tyto alba)

One has been hanging out in a palm tree in Paraiso for some time now, and we were able to stop in and pay a quick visit on our way to Rancho.

Strigidae (Owls)

TROPICAL SCREECH-OWL (Megascops choliba)

Three of these were perched together on their preferred roosting site in Paraiso Park, not far from the Barn Owl. And despite their appearance, they were real, not carved out of wood!

CRESTED OWL (Lophostrix cristata)

Cope's stakeout birds were perched right out in the open in nice light, giving us a fantastic look at these cool owls. The trail in might have been a bit muddy, but it was totally worth it.!

SPECTACLED OWL (Pulsatrix perspicillata)

Cope's Spectacled Owls weren't perched in the open, but they were a lot easier to get to as they could be seen from the road. The birds were not perched together, but as we watched, we heard one begin to call, which seemed to prompt the other to fly up and join it. It seems we weren't the only ones to hear the owl calling, as shortly after, a troop of Brown Jays arrived on the scene and started to cause a ruckus.

MOTTLED OWL (Ciccaba virgata)

Nice views of one of the pair that have been regularly roosting in the bamboo patch at the Bougainvillea.

Trogonidae (Trogons)

RESPLENDENT QUETZAL (Pharomachrus mocinno)

Nice work by Vernon to track down a gorgeous male near a fruiting avocado tree high up on Irazu on our first day afield. Marianne and Ann both picked this as their favorite bird of the trip, which put it in a tie for 3rd place with... read on to find out!

SLATY-TAILED TROGON (Trogon massena)

Great scope views of a pair perched high in the canopy along the forest trail at Manu.

GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus)

Ann spotted our first, a male, perched near the parking area at Manu, and we saw a couple more the next day, one at Rancho, one at CATIE.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A glowing spot in a sea of greenery: Red-legged Honeycreeper, by participant Eric Julson.


It was a good morning for trogons at Manu, as we also saw a pair of these beautiful birds along the forest trail, giving us 3 species on the day.

Momotidae (Motmots)

LESSON'S MOTMOT (Momotus lessonii lessonii)

A lone bird popped into the feeders at Rancho on several days, though many of you saw these on the Bougainvillea grounds before the tour officially started.

RUFOUS MOTMOT (Baryphthengus martii) [*]

Heard early one morning at Rancho.

BROAD-BILLED MOTMOT (Electron platyrhynchum)

Good views of a pair near the Spectacled Owl roost, then another near the Crested Owls.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata)

A couple were at the reservoir, and a single one made several passes overhead as we birded along the Silencio Road.

AMAZON KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle amazona)

We also had a couple of these at Angostura.

GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana)

Just one, perched on a boulder in the middle of the Rio Platanillo as we birded the Silencio Road.

Galbulidae (Jacamars)

RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda)

Super scope views of a calling male near the Spectacled Owl roost.

Capitonidae (New World Barbets)

RED-HEADED BARBET (Eubucco bourcierii)

A pair of these beautiful barbets were with a mixed flock at Rio Macho, where they were first detected by the sound of them foraging in crinkly, dead cecropia leaves as they often do.

Semnornithidae (Toucan-Barbets)

PRONG-BILLED BARBET (Semnornis frantzii)

Not far from the Red-headed Barbets, we also found a pair of these chunky birds, which are restricted to highland forests of CR and Panama.

Ramphastidae (Toucans)

COLLARED ARACARI (Pteroglossus torquatus)

Scott's top trip bird, these small toucans were seen much more often than on the first tour, with 4 of them even turning up at Rancho's feeders one afternoon. And I was happy to see a nice large group of them here again, as at least 11 of them were hanging about on our rainy afternoon on the balcony.

YELLOW-THROATED TOUCAN (CHESTNUT-MANDIBLED) (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii)

Quite a few in the Caribbean lowlands, including one close bird at Cope's feeders (along with a few aracaris).

KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus)

This rainbow-billed toucan has got to be the inspiration for Toucan Sam, the Froot Loops mascot. We saw these beauties daily at Rancho, where they were the favorite bird of both Cindy and Randy, landing it at #2 in the bird of the trip voting.

Picidae (Woodpeckers)

YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus varius) [b]

A rather uncommon winter visitor in CR. When Eric called out this bird at CATIE, both Vernon and I looked up to see a Hoffmann's Woodpecker and thought maybe he'd made a mistake. He was vindicated when the sapsucker popped back into view. Sorry for doubting you, Eric! Interestingly, the Hoffmann's seemed quite interested in the sapsucker and flew after it every time it moved.

ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus)

Not uncommon in the montane oak forests in the highlands, where we saw a few on the upper slopes of Irazu.

BLACK-CHEEKED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes pucherani)

These handsome woodpeckers were only seen a couple of times at Rancho, but we had some excellent views of them.

HOFFMANN'S WOODPECKER (Melanerpes hoffmannii)

A common species of relatively open habitats, this one was seen by most on the grounds of the Bougainvillea, as well as a few in the Rancho region.

PALE-BILLED WOODPECKER (Campephilus guatemalensis)

One did a flyby on our first morning near the Bougainvillea, and while it may have been good enough to count, I'm sure everyone was much happier with that striking male that we found feeding low next to the road at CATIE.

LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus)

Vernon and a couple of others saw one at Casa Turire, but the rest of us only caught up with this woodpecker at CATIE, where we spotted one in a dead tree not long after seeing the Pale-billed.

GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus)

Marianne spotted our one and only pair feeding quietly nearby as we birded through the pasture areas of Rancho on our first morning there.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Russet-naped Wood-Rail was in no mood to share its log, and shortly after participant Scott Stoner snapped this picture, the rail pecked at the turtle, unceremoniously knocking it back into the pond!
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

CRESTED CARACARA (Caracara plancus)

Single birds were seen in the Caribbean lowlands and at CATIE, both places you wouldn't have seen caracaras 25 years ago!

YELLOW-HEADED CARACARA (Milvago chimachima)

Our only ones were a pair at the Bougainvillea on our first morning. Like the Crested, this caracara has also spread across the country in recent years. It was once restricted to the lowlands along the south Pacific coast.

LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans) [*]

Their laughing calls are easily recognizable, and we hear them a couple of times at Rancho, though we just couldn't spot them.

MERLIN (Falco columbarius) [b]

A male was perched along the road on the slopes of Irazu.

BAT FALCON (Falco rufigularis)

Passing views of a pair perched on some roadside wires in the Caribbean lowlands, unfortunately in a place where there was nowhere to pull off. But Charlie spotted another one flying over the forest at Rio Macho and we were able to improve on our views there.

PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) [b]

It might have been a bit distant to get any plumage details, but the size and shape were pretty distinctive as it circled amidst a kettle of vultures in the Rio Tuis valley.

Psittacidae (New World and African Parrots)

ORANGE-CHINNED PARAKEET (Brotogeris jugularis)

We saw these tiny parakeets on a few days, but the ones at Cope's feeders definitely gave us our best views.

BROWN-HOODED PARROT (Pyrilia haematotis)

Though not uncommon at Rancho, these can be tough to see well, and well, we didn't.


The common parrot on this tour, and far easier to see, and slower-flying, than the rocket-propelled Brown-hooded Parrots. We had these daily other than our day on Irazu.

WHITE-FRONTED PARROT (Amazona albifrons)

Poor views of a pair flying over the coffee plantation near the Bougainvillea on our first morning.

GREAT GREEN MACAW (Ara ambiguus)

Kathy drew my attention to a large bird flying over the highway as we bused our way to Manu, and I was surprised to look up and see the distinctive green shape of this scarce macaw! Though I'd mentioned it as a possibility on the drive, I really hadn't expected to see one!


The common large parakeet here, with lots around the Bougainvillea and at Paraiso Park, though overall we saw fewer than we usually would see.

Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)

BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus)

Super looks at a male near the marsh at Platanillo. His mate was also calling nearby, though I'm not sure if anyone saw her.

RUSSET ANTSHRIKE (Thamnistes anabatinus)

Several of these were calling overhead in the midst of some large canopy flocks in the Rio Tuis valley, but they remained frustratingly out of view. That same afternoon, however, we saw a couple with another flock from the balcony at Rancho.

CHECKER-THROATED STIPPLETHROAT (Epinecrophylla fulviventris)

A pair with a mid-story flock in the ravine below the lodge showed pretty well. All of the antwrens in this genus have been recently been renamed as stipplethroats, though it does make this one's common name a bit redundant.

Field Guides Birding Tours
We stopped for the monkeys, but stayed for the sloths! This was one of three sloths we spotted from the roadside when we stopped to enjoy a small troop of howler monkeys on the road into Manu. Photo by participant Denise Hackert-Stoner.

SLATY ANTWREN (Myrmotherula schisticolor)

A pair of these drab antwrens were in the same flock with the above species.

CHESTNUT-BACKED ANTBIRD (Poliocrania exsul) [*]

Heard at both Manu and CATIE, with the latter bird coming in really close, but never out into the open, though we could see the odd movement in the thick vegetation.

DULL-MANTLED ANTBIRD (Sipia laemosticta) [*]

Heard near the hummingbird pools and along the Rio Tuis, but they refused to show.

ZELEDON'S ANTBIRD (Hafferia zeledoni)

A pair of these large antbirds were along the road at Rio Macho, where I think most of you got a reasonably good view.

Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)

PLAIN-BROWN WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla fuliginosa)

A couple of sightings at Rancho, including great looks at one picking off moths around the moth cloth on the one morning we did that.

WEDGE-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Glyphorynchus spirurus)

A couple of these small woodcreepers were seen in the Rio Tuis valley, and a single the following day at Rio Macho.

COCOA WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus susurrans)

Heard a few times, but the only one we saw was near Cope's Crested Owls.

SPOTTED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus erythropygius)

We also saw just one of these, with a small mixed flock in the ravine at Rancho on our first morning.

STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii)

The most commonly seen woodcreeper, in large part as its much more tolerant of disturbed habitats than most other species.

SPOT-CROWNED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes affinis)

The highland replacement of the above species. We saw one in the forest at Rio Macho.

PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus)

These small furnariids act very much like tiny woodcreepers, though they tend to forage on much thinner branches and vines than most woodcreepers. We saw single birds on a couple of days at Rancho.

STREAKED XENOPS (Xenops rutilans)

Generally occurs at higher elevations than Plain Xenops, and a much less often encountered species, but we had great views of two birds as we birded the road down from Rio Macho.


Rancho is a good place to actually see this often skulking species, and we had great looks at them a couple of times, first at the hummingbird pools, where a couple popped in for a late afternoon bath, then a couple of mornings later when one showed up for the insect buffet at the moth cloth.

SPOTTED BARBTAIL (Premnoplex brunnescens)

Probably a heard-only for most, but a couple of folks managed to see a bird that was vocalizing in a densely vegetated ravine at Rio Macho.

RUDDY TREERUNNER (Margarornis rubiginosus)

Super looks at one foraging with a mixed flock above that quiet side road we hit on our way down from Irazu.

RED-FACED SPINETAIL (Cranioleuca erythrops)

A couple of pairs of these were among the several mixed feeding flocks seen along the road at Rio Macho.

SLATY SPINETAIL (Synallaxis brachyura)

Fantastic views of a responsive pair in the little marsh near Platanillo.

Pipridae (Manakins)

WHITE-RUFFED MANAKIN (Corapipo altera)

Quite a common bird around Rancho, with the first of our sightings coming at the hummingbird pools where 2 or 3, including a glossy adult male, showed up to bathe. Others were tallied in fruiting trees at Rancho and the Rio Tuis valley.


We heard the wing-snapping displays of this species fairly regularly, and had some gorgeous views of several colorful males near the active lek just below the lodge.

Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)

BLACK-CROWNED TITYRA (Tityra inquisitor)

In general, this is the less numerous of the two tityra species. We saw just 2 of them, a female in the pasture at Rancho on our first morning's walk there, and a male perched atop a tall tree at CATIE.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Seeing a male Snowcap is always a highlight of a stay at Rancho Naturalista. Photo by participant Scott Stoner.

MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata)

We didn't really see many more of these this trip, with just a single bird at the sloth stop en route to Manu, and a pair seen nicely at Rancho Bajo. Some folks also saw these at the Bougainvillea prior to the tour.

CINNAMON BECARD (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus)

These lovely becards were seen with mixed flocks on several days at Rancho, and some of the local sites we visited.

WHITE-WINGED BECARD (Pachyramphus polychopterus)

A lone male was with a mixed flock (also including the above species) just below the lodge. We saw it well as we began our walk down to Rancho Bajo.

BLACK-AND-WHITE BECARD (Pachyramphus albogriseus)

This becard occurs in a relatively narrow elevational belt in foothill regions, and is less often encountered than other CR becards as there are fewer accessible sites in which it is regularly seen. So I was especially pleased to get such great looks at a male along the roadside very near to the end of our morning at Rio Macho.

Oxyruncidae (Sharpbill, Royal Flycatcher, and Allies)

RUDDY-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Terenotriccus erythrurus)

This cute, tiny forest flycatcher was pretty well-seen by all along the trail at Manu. A second bird in the Rio Tuis valley was close to a leader-only sighting, though one or two of you might have picked up on it.

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

OLIVE-STRIPED FLYCATCHER (OLIVE-STREAKED) (Mionectes olivaceus olivaceus)

This subspecies has just been elevated to a full species restricted to the highlands of CR and Panama. We saw them a few times, along the Silencio Road, in the Rio Tuis valley, and at Rio Macho.

OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus)

One of those nondescript flycatchers in which the lack of any clear field marks is a field mark itself! We saw our first bathing at the hummingbird pools, then saw a couple of others with mixed flocks at Rancho and the Rio Tuis valley.

SLATY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon superciliaris)

The obvious dark crescent behind the eye is a good mark for this species. We saw these a few times at Rancho and in the Rio Tuis valley, generally with mixed flocks.

SCALE-CRESTED PYGMY-TYRANT (Lophotriccus pileatus)

A little bird with a big name, and a big attitude! We saw these awesome birds well along the Silencio Road and heard them a few more times.

NORTHERN BENTBILL (Oncostoma cinereigulare)

Almost everyone got a decent look at this odd little flycatcher near the start of the forest trail at Manu.

COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum)

Another small flycatcher with a big personality, and we saw these charmers nicely in the verbena hedge at Rancho Bajo, and in the small marsh near Platanillo.

BLACK-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum nigriceps)

Unlike the above species, this is a denizen of the canopy, and generally stays quite high up, where it can be tough to spot. Though we heard these a number of times, we only managed to get looks at one along the Silencio Road. Still, even seeing one is something of a triumph!

EYE-RINGED FLATBILL (Rhynchocyclus brevirostris)

A good, but quick, view of a lone bird perched above the road at Rio Macho, part of a mixed flock that also included our first Red-headed Barbets.

YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias sulphurescens)

Heard quite widely, but mostly seen around the lodge, where there was a reliable bird or two hanging around.

GREENISH ELAENIA (Myiopagis viridicata)

A pretty scarce and local species on the Caribbean slope (and the Merlin app range map doesn't even show it there in CR!) but the Rancho area has been a regular site for them. We had good looks at one below the lodge as we started our walk down to Rancho Bajo.

YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster)

Widespread, and probably the most familiar elaenia across its vast range. We saw several, with nice views of a couple at the marsh near Platanillo.

MOUNTAIN ELAENIA (Elaenia frantzii)

Our only one was a bird seen our first day along that side road we hit on our way down from Irazu.

TORRENT TYRANNULET (Serpophaga cinerea)

A couple of birds along the river on the SIlencio Road were all we could muster this trip.


A common small flycatcher, which, as its name suggests, specializes in eating mistletoe berries. We saw or heard these birds pretty much daily.

TAWNY-CHESTED FLYCATCHER (Aphanotriccus capitalis)

Rancho has long been a hotspot for this rather local species, which only occurs from southern Honduras to CR. We had trouble trying to see a vocal pair below the lodge, but managed to get decent views of a pair in the Rio Tuis valley.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Always fun to see a day-roosting owl, and especially a Crested Owl! Photo by participant Denise Hackert-Stoner.

YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris) [b]

The common migrant Empid here. We saw a few birds over several days of the trip.

WHITE-THROATED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax albigularis)

Great scope views of a singing bird at the Platanillo marsh. A fairly local and hard to find species in the country.

YELLOWISH FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flavescens)

Eric and Kathy saw and photographed one at Rio Macho while the rest of us were looking at something else.

BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)

We found one pair along the Rio Silencio which turned out to be the only ones for the trip.

BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) [*]

Heard calling incessantly on several mornings at Rancho from some hidden perch in the canopy.

RUFOUS MOURNER (Rhytipterna holerythra)

A calling bird in the forest at Manu was frustratingly elusive, though a few folks managed to see it briefly.

DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer)

The only resident Myiarchus in the area, and we saw or heard these most days.

GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus) [*]

One was calling from within a densely-foliaged tree at CATIe.

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus)

Commonly seen and heard throughout the trip.

BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua)

Not as numerous or common as the kiskadee, but we still saw a few of these big-billed birds.

SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis)

A numerous and familir species in the country, and many of you saw these at the Bougainvillea even before the tour. Charlie singled out these charming flycatchers as his favorite bird of the trip.

GRAY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes granadensis)

Not uncommon, but never as numerous as the above species.

GOLDEN-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes hemichrysus)

Though this species resembles some of the above few species, it is more closely related to Streaked and Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers. We found a couple of these on our final day at Rio Macho.

STREAKED FLYCATCHER (Myiodynastes maculatus)

Not a common species on the Caribbean slope, and the one we found at CATIE was only the 2nd record for the site. I believe this bird belonged to the race insolens, which breeds from Mexico to Honduras, and winters to northern South America.

TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus)

Not a day went by that we didn't see this common roadside species.

Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)


A singing bird at Rio Macho showed really well as it moved along with a small mixed flock along the roadside.

LESSER GREENLET (Pachysylvia decurtata)

One was seen from the balcony at Rancho on our final, rainy afternoon, and another was with a mixed flock the next day at Rio Macho.

YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons) [b]

Though this is a common wintering bird here, we only saw a single one as e walked down the drive to Rancho Bajo.

PHILADELPHIA VIREO (Vireo philadelphicus) [b]

We saw singles of this migrant on several days at Rancho.

BROWN-CAPPED VIREO (Vireo leucophrys)

Cindy spotted this one with a mixed flock at Rio Macho.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Participant Scott Stoner captured this fine portrait of a Tayra, a large rainforest weasel, as it paused between trips to Rancho’s feeders for bananas.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

BROWN JAY (Psilorhinus morio)

A very common, and very noisy, species that we saw nearly every day.

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

BLUE-AND-WHITE SWALLOW (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca)

The most commonly encountered swallow of the tour.

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

We saw both rough-winged swallows at both the Silencio Road and CATIE, but this was the more numerous, especially at CATIE where they outnumbered all the other swallows combined.

SOUTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis)

Told from Northern by their pale rumps and peach-colored throats. We saw them alongside Northerns on two days.

GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea)

A bunch on roadside power lines along the highway in the Caribbean lowlands.

MANGROVE SWALLOW (Tachycineta albilinea)

About 10 of these pretty swallows were at their usual spot at CATIE.

Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)

WHITE-BROWED GNATCATCHER (Polioptila bilineata)

Surprisingly we saw just one, a female, along the driveway down to Rancho Bajo.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

SCALY-BREASTED WREN (WHISTLING) (Microcerculus marginatus luscinia) [*]

Heard near the hummingbird pools, but it kept its distance.

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

Not uncommon around settled areas, and we had a few sightings and heard them even more.

OCHRACEOUS WREN (Troglodytes ochraceus)

A couple of birds on our final day at Rio Macho.

BAND-BACKED WREN (Campylorhynchus zonatus)

Great looks at a pair of these striking, large wrens in a tall tree alongside the pond at CATIE.

RUFOUS-NAPED WREN (Campylorhynchus rufinucha)

A few of these were around the Bougainvillea on our first morning.

BLACK-THROATED WREN (Pheugopedius atrogularis) [*]

A fairly common voice at Rancho, but as always, tough to see, and we didn't.

STRIPE-BREASTED WREN (Cantorchilus thoracicus)

Super views of one of these well-marked wrens at the parking area at Manu.

CABANIS'S WREN (Cantorchilus modestus)

Heard at Casa Turire and along the Silencio Road, but they wouldn't show themselves.

BAY WREN (Cantorchilus nigricapillus)

Another sneaky wren, but we managed some decent looks at this one along the Silencio Road.

WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucosticta)

Heard on a number of days, and finally seen, and seen well, at the moth cloth early one morning.

GRAY-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucophrys)

I think some saw this highland species up on Irazu, but we all got incredible looks at a pair as we walked down the road at Rio Macho.

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)


Increasingly common in the country, and we had a couple of sightings--on our first morning around the Bougainvillea, and on our way back to Cope's after checking out his owls.

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

BLACK-FACED SOLITAIRE (Myadestes melanops)

Good pickup by Eric to spot this bird in some fruiting trees along the track at Rio Macho.

Field Guides Birding Tours
The male Gartered Trogon is readily told from other yellow-bellied species by its unique yellow eye ring, a feature easily seen in this photo by participant Scott Stoner.


Just a single bird up at the crater on Irazu, but it showed well as it hopped along the roadside.


This one did not show very well on Irazu as it flew past a couple of times but never stopped where we could see it.

MOUNTAIN THRUSH (Turdus plebejus)

Not a flashy bird, but they all count! We had a single bird at Rio Macho.


The national bird, and it's only fitting that we saw these common birds every day.

SOOTY THRUSH (Turdus nigrescens)

A few of these big, bold thrushes gave some great looks on the upper slopes of Irazu.

Ptiliogonatidae (Silky-flycatchers)

BLACK-AND-YELLOW SILKY-FLYCATCHER (Phainoptila melanoxantha)

Very unlike the other three members of the family, with these birds more closely resembling a large tanager. We found a pair of these on our final day at Rio Macho.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

A few seen in Orosi and the small town near Cope's home.

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

GOLDEN-BROWED CHLOROPHONIA (Chlorophonia callophrys)

We found a single bird at Rio Macho, but it wasn't as cooperative as we would have liked, and I believe a few folks missed it altogether.

YELLOW-CROWNED EUPHONIA (Euphonia luteicapilla)

Heard a few times, but only seen on our 4-euphonia first day at Rancho.


A small group of these rather uncommon euphonias was seen on a couple of days at Rancho.

YELLOW-THROATED EUPHONIA (Euphonia hirundinacea)

A single male was part of our 4-euphonia day, and we had pairs on several other days at the Platanillo marsh, CATIE, and Rio Macho.


Quite a common species, and we recorded these daily other than on the travel days.


Arguably one of the more attractive of the euphonias (though they're all pretty nice), we saw this lovely bird along the Silencio Road, in the Tuis River valley, and at Rio Macho.

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)

A lone female in a weedy field near the Bougainvillea was the only one of the trip.

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

ASHY-THROATED CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus canigularis)

The scarcest chlorospingus by far. We had great looks at one of these with a big mixed tanager flock along the Silencio Road.

SOOTY-CAPPED CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus pileatus)

These handsome birds were pretty common up around the crater at Irazu.

COMMON CHLOROSPINGUS (Chlorospingus flavopectus)

Pretty much every flock at Rio Macho had a few of these common birds.

BLACK-STRIPED SPARROW (Arremonops conirostris)

One or two were semi-regular visitors to the Rancho feeders.

ORANGE-BILLED SPARROW (Arremon aurantiirostris)

Regular at Rancho's feeders, where we had numerous looks at these beautiful sparrows.


A mixed bag on the lower slopes of Irazu, with some folks getting great looks, others not so great.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Numerous hummingbird species love verbena flowers, including this Green Thorntail, photographed by participant Denise Hackert-Stoner.

VOLCANO JUNCO (Junco vulcani)

The sunny conditions on Irazu made it pretty easy to find a couple of these highland specialties. They can be much tougher on cloudy days.

RUFOUS-COLLARED SPARROW (Zonotrichia capensis)

Common near the Bougainvillea and on Irazu, and we also saw a couple along the Silencio Road.

CABANIS'S GROUND-SPARROW (Melozone cabanisi) [E]

A local CR endemic that's gotten tougher to find around the Bougainvillea now that much of the habitat has been cleared. But we still managed to find a pair on our first morning, and most of the group got pretty good looks though they were pretty elusive.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)


We found a lone male in a grassy pasture at the Casa Turire.


In general the less common of the two oropendolas here, but we still saw these gregarious birds aily at Rancho.

MONTEZUMA OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius montezuma)

As it's such a common species at Rancho, these large birds rarely get much consideration when it comes time to pick favorites on the tour. But their bold colors and loud, bubbling calls wooed both Sue and Denise, who both picked this as their top bird of the trip.

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) [b]

If you've ever wondered where all your Baltimore Orioles go for the winter, now you know!

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)

A couple of birds at Cope's feeders looked somewhat different than the ones you might be used to seeing, but that's because it is a different, resident, subspecies. Not sure whether they're grinnelli, which originally ranged from Guatemala to NW Costa Rica, or brevirostris, (Honduras to SE Nicaragua), but they're a relatively new denizen of the Caribbean lowlands here.

GIANT COWBIRD (Molothrus oryzivorus)

When you're nest parasitizing oropendolas, you need to be giant! We saw some of these bulky cowbirds at Casa Turire.


Since first appearing in CR back in the late 1980's these blackbirds have conquered most of the country, and can be found pretty much anywhere. We saw them on several days at a variety of locations.

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

Numerous, and seen daily.

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum) [b]

Super looks at one that visited Rancho's back yard pools for a bath on a couple of afternoons.

LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla) [b]

This bird shows a preference for clear, fast-flowing streams and our only one was along the Rio Platanillo, which definitely qualifies.

NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) [b]

And this one prefers slower-moving water and coastal areas. Our lone one was along the Angostura Reservoir.

GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera) [b]

A few of these lovely migrants were seen over the last few days of our trip.

BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) [b]

One of the commonest migrant warblers on this tour, and we saw this species almost daily in a variety of places.

PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) [b]

Pretty much the only likely place for this gorgeous warbler on the tour is at the Angostura Reservoir, and that's exactly where we found our only one.

FLAME-THROATED WARBLER (Oreothlypis gutturalis)

A couple of these brilliant warblers were found in oak forest on the upper slopes of Irazu on our first day in the field.

TENNESSEE WARBLER (Leiothlypis peregrina) [b]

Another of the most common of the winter migrants here, and we saw plenty of them during our time here.


One bird showed nicely amidst the floating vegetation on the Angostura Reservoir, and we found another in a somewhat drier locale at the small marsh near Platanillo, where we had been hoping to find Gray-crowned Yellowthroat.

Field Guides Birding Tours
A Caligo (or Owl-eye) butterfly, by participant Denise Hackert-Stoner.

AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) [b]

We had a few sightings over the week, but all of them were of a single adult male that has been spending the winter behind the feeders at Rancho.

TROPICAL PARULA (Setophaga pitiayumi)

We saw these pretty warblers most days, often feeding in Cecropia trees.

BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER (Setophaga fusca) [b]

Not uncommon here, and we saw these beautiful warblers more days than not, but most sightings were of rather dull female/immature types rather than bright adult males.

YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) [b]

Only seen on our first morning near the Bougainvillea, and along the shores of the Angostura Reservoir. Though there is a resident population of this species in the country, they are mainly mangrove specialists, and the ones we saw were all northern migrants.

CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica) [b]

One of the most common wintering warblers here, and we saw good numbers pretty much daily.


A fairly common wintered in higher elevation forests, and we encountered several of these on the slopes of Irazu Volcano and at Rio Macho.

CHESTNUT-CAPPED WARBLER (Basileuterus delattrii)

A fairly recent split from the more northern Rufous-capped Warbler (which occasionally strays into the southern US). We saw a couple of these at Rancho with a good view of one bathing in the backyard pools.

GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER (Basileuterus culicivorus)

Small parties of these birds commonly roam the woods at Rancho. We saw them best at the moth cloth one morning.

WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) [b]

Another wintering warbler that prefers high-elevation forest, and we saw quite a few on the upper slopes of Irazu. Less regularly winters at lower elevations, but one was seen bathing in the backyard pool at Rancho.

SLATE-THROATED REDSTART (Myioborus miniatus)

A few pairs were with feeding flocks at Rio Macho. Birds at the northern end of their range in northern Mexico have very red bellies. This color gets progressively more yellow the further south you go, with the southernmost race in Bolivia and Argentina having pure yellow bellies. Here in the middle of their range, their bellies are rather orangey-yellow.

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) [b]

A reasonably common wintering bird and we saw these birds most days, including some brilliant red adult males.


Once a rather shy and elusive bird at Rancho, but the easy pickings at the feeders and the moth cloth have emboldened these birds to the point you'd have to be unlucky to see them here now.

CARMIOL'S TANAGER (Chlorothraupis carmioli)

A flock of about a half dozen of these bulky understory birds showed pretty well along the forest trail at Manu.

BLACK-THIGHED GROSBEAK (Pheucticus tibialis)

A bird called from a tree very near to where we were standing at Rio Macho, then immediately flew out and we watched it fly across the valley and out of sight, and were unable to entice is back for another look.

BLUE-BLACK GROSBEAK (Cyanoloxia cyanoides)

A pretty cooperative pair showed well for all as we walked back to the road after visiting Cope's stakeout Crested Owls.

BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea)

A few birds were present in the tall grasses bordering the coffee plantation near the Bougainvillea, including a couple of lovely males. Hard to say whether these birds were northern migrants or part of the resident breeding population, as both could be found here.

Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)


A few of these were seen with mixed feeding flocks several times at Rancho, the Silencio Road, and the Rio Tuis Valley.

TAWNY-CRESTED TANAGER (Tachyphonus delatrii)

We don't often catch up with this species on the tour, but we lucked out and crossed paths with a good mixed tanager flock along the Silencio Road that included a number of these neat tanagers with their orange, Bart Simpson haircut.

WHITE-LINED TANAGER (Tachyphonus rufus)

A pair of birds at the Platanillo marsh were our only ones for the tour.

CRIMSON-COLLARED TANAGER (Ramphocelus sanguinolentus)

A pair of these striking tanagers showed beautifully along the Silencio Road, marking an impressive milestone for John, as it was his 3700th lifer recorded during a Field Guides tour! Congrats John!

Field Guides Birding Tours
Although they can look pretty dark in the forest, when seen in good light, as here in this photo by participant Denise Hackert-Stoner, male Crowned Woodnymphs practically glow!

SCARLET-RUMPED TANAGER (Ramphocelus passerinii)

Wouldn't it be nice to have these beauties as a common backyard bird? That's what they are at Rancho, where we saw them daily.

BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus)

I find it somewhat impressive that we managed to miss this familiar species on one day of the trip!

PALM TANAGER (Thraupis palmarum)

Less common that their blue-gray cousins, but still a familiar garden bird here in the country.

SPECKLED TANAGER (Ixothraupis guttata)

Shortly after lamenting the apparent demise of this once-common species at Rancho, we were enjoying wonderful views of these birds with a mixed flock seen from the balcony on our rained-out final afternoon!

GOLDEN-HOODED TANAGER (Stilpnia larvata)

One of the most numerous of the many colorful tanagers here, and we saw them daily at Rancho and nearby areas.

PLAIN-COLORED TANAGER (Tangara inornata)

These birds look somewhat like a small version of the more familiar Palm Tanager. We saw a pair during our afternoon at CATIE.

BAY-HEADED TANAGER (Tangara gyrola)

A few of these stunners were present with many of the mixed tanager flocks we encountered.

EMERALD TANAGER (Tangara florida)

This gorgeous tanager seems to be a little more common than during my days as Rancho's resident guide, but it's still a treat to find them, as we did both along the Silencio Road and in the Rio Tuis valley.

SILVER-THROATED TANAGER (Tangara icterocephala)

Though we recorded this common species daily in good numbers, it seems to me that the bulk of our sightings were of the low quality variety, though I believe everyone got some decent views by tour's end.


I've done entire two-week tours without seeing this species, so it was nice to see they were quit numerous this visit, with good looks on several days, and at least a few of you even managing to see the scarlet thighs!

BLUE DACNIS (Dacnis cayana)

A pair of these at CATIE were the only ones for the tour.

SHINING HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes lucidus)

We also had only one pair of these birds, this one showing beautifully in the fruiting tree above the parking area at Manu.


Only seen at Cope's feeders, but there were a lot of them there, and the views were unbeatable!

GREEN HONEYCREEPER (Chlorophanes spiza)

We had a few scattered sightings of this large honeycreeper, generally mixed in with flocks of tanagers.

BLACK-AND-YELLOW TANAGER (Chrysothlypis chrysomelas)

These gorgeous birds have always been one of my favorite tanagers, so I was pleased to be able to share some lovely views of them both at Silencio and the Rio Tuis valley.

SLATY FLOWERPIERCER (Diglossa plumbea)

These highland birds male a living "stealing" nectar from flowers by piercing the base of the flowers and drinking the nectar, bypassing the flower's pollinating organs. We saw a bunch of these up at the top of Irazu.

BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina)

Seen only on our first morning near the Bougainvillea, where one was hanging out in the same tall grasses as the Blue Grosbeaks.

VARIABLE SEEDEATER (Sporophila corvina)

The default seedeater on the tour, and we saw a few of these in weedy pastures at several sites.

MORELET'S SEEDEATER (Sporophila morelleti)

Only a couple of people got on a male that Vernon spotted at the marsh near Platanillo.

BANANAQUIT (Coereba flaveola)

A couple of these were regularly seen feeding in the flowering verbena hedge in Rancho's back garden, as well as at several other locales.


Small numbers in scattered grassy pasture areas.


The most widespread of the saltators here, and the most commonly encountered. We had a few pretty much every day.

BLACK-HEADED SALTATOR (Saltator atriceps)

The larger, more raucous cousin of the above species. We saw these a few times at Rancho.


Part of the recent three-way split of Grayish Saltator. We saw our only one on the first morning near the Bougainvillea.


MANTLED HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta palliata)

I think a few people were disappointed to have missed seeing the first ones along the highway en route to Manu, but there was no place to safely pull off to view them. Luckily, we spotted another troop along the road into Manu, where we could stop, and enjoy them as they fed in some roadside Cecropia trees.


The howler monkeys were spotted as we looked for sloths in a spot Manu guide Kenneth told me was reliable for them. Then, when we stopped to look at the monkeys, we also spotted a sloth, then another, and another! For the two folks that missed the Manu outing, we were able to find another couple of sloths on the drive back towards San Jose on our final day.

BRAZILIAN RABBIT (Sylvilagus brasiliensis)

One was seen at the foot of the drive up to Rancho on a couple of our late afternoon returns to the lodge.

VARIEGATED SQUIRREL (Sciurus variegatoides)

The larger of the two commonly seen squirrels here.

RED-TAILED SQUIRREL (Sciurus granatensis)

The smaller of the two squirrels. Both of these squirrels were regular visitors to the banana feeders here.

DUSKY RICE RAT (Melanomys caliginosus)

Another regular feeder visitor, though they come for the rice and corn meal rather than bananas.

CENTRAL AMERICAN AGOUTI (Dasyprocta punctata)

Although I expected to see these animals at Rancho's feeders, I was surprised to see as many as we did, with at least three adults at one time, and a female visiting with a small kit, (or whatever you call agouti babies). It was especially interesting to watch the agoutis' reactions when the Tayras showed up at the same time, as they raised the hair on their rumps and stood up tall, making them look both bigger, and rather spiky-looking like porcupines.

TAYRA (Eira barbara)

While it wasn’t a surprise to see Tayras coming to the feeders at Rancho, it was surprising to see so many! Four different individuals put in an appearance, a female with two nearly full-grown youngsters, and a lone male. The female did not seem happy with the male's presence, and the young Tayras took shelter high up in a tree while she confronted him. There was a lot of growling and screeching going on before things settled down enough for the kids to go downstairs!


GREEN BASILISK (Basiliscus plumifrons)

One on the roadside near Cope's owl spot, and some of us saw another the next day at Rancho Bajo.

COMMON HOUSE GECKO (Hemidactylus frenatus) [*]

Heard only at Rancho.


Denise found a young one with a turquoise-colored tail along the forest trail at Manu.

WET FOREST TOAD (Incilius melanochlorus)

One was along the trail on our way down to the hummingbird pools.

CENTRAL AMERICAN MUD TURTLE (Kinosternon angustipons)

The turtle that suffered indignities from the beak of the wood-rail at Cope's backyard pond.

CANE TOAD (Rhinella marina)

Heard only along the Silencio road.

Totals for the tour: 280 bird taxa and 8 mammal taxa