Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bulletin 219 - Costa Rica #2 - Wrens and Guans

I really enjoy wrens, Yes, they are mostly LBJs (little brown jobs) but they always seen so active and industrious. The forest wrens of the tropics are fiendishly difficult to even see, let alone photograph. So I was really pleased that my guides were able to find a number for me. In all wrens, the sexes are similar unless noted.

The first day, on the way from San Jose to La Selva, we found this 4" Ochraceous Wren (Troglodytes ochraceous) in the vines coiled around a tree as we were looking at some tanagers in the trees. It was pure luck as I just saw the movement and got a photo of the bird at eye level.

Ochraceous Wren
The next day at La Selva, there were a pair of Band-backed Wrens (Campylorhynchus zonatus) nesting in some bromeliads on a tree trunk just outside the dining hall. The 7" bird is the same genus and similar to the Cactus Wren in the southwestern USA. Notice that their proximity to all the researchers has them both banded.

Band-backed Wren pair
At La Selva, in the woods, we found a Black-throated Wren (Pheugopedius atrogularis). This 6" wren is all dark brown except for the black throat.

Black-throated Wren
The last wren at La Selva was this 5" Stripe-breasted Wren (Cantorchilus thoracicus).It has a brown back and streaked face, throat and breast.

Stripe-breasted Wren
At Savegre Lodge in the mountains, a pair of Gray-breasted Wood-wrens (Henicorhina leucophrys) were making a home.This 4" wren has a dark brown back, gray breast and streaked face.

Gray-breasted Wood-wren
We had to to the paramo (scrub above the tree line at 11,000 feet elevation) to find the 4" Timberline Wren (Thyrochilus browni).The dots on the wings and white edging of the primaries are diagnostic.

Timberline Wren
The last one was the common 4" House Wren (Troglodytes aedon). This bird is a permanent resident throughout Costa Rica except on the paramo.

House Wren

The Cracidae family of birds is a New World family of large chicken-like game birds including chachalacas, guans and the most intriguing, curassows. These birds are hard to find except where protected from hunting in sanctuaries, national parks etc.

I had seen the Black Guan (Chamaepetes unicolor) on my first trip to Costs Rica in 1994 on the first morning of the trip. I definitely wanted to see it and get a photo this time. It is a resident of the mountains and IDed by blue facial skin, red legs and all black body. We found a pair on the first day as we drove over the mountains from San Jose to La Selva on the Caribbean lowlands.

Black Guan
At La Selva, they had lots of 35" Crested Guans (Penelope purpurascens) and we saw several every day. I like the genus name of this bird. It is all brown with a crest and red skin on throat.

Crested Guan
The last is the 36" Great Curassow (Crax rubra). I remember this bird well from my first birding trip to the tropics to Belize in 1993. The male is all black with a white belly, and a yellow knob on his face and a curly punk rock crest. The female is brown but we didn't see her. This bird was also seen at La Selva.

Great Curassow - male
A close-up of his head shows the curly crest feathers and the peculiar yellow knob.

Great Curassow - male

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2015 David McDonald

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