Monday, June 29, 2015

Bulletin 225 - Costa Rica #6 - Finches and Sparrows

The finches (family Fringillidae) are a large (208 species) worldwide family of small songbirds that are primarily seed eaters. However, the euphonias and chlorophonias of the neotropics are fruit eaters. In the North America they are represented by goldfinches, crossbills, rosy-finches, siskins, and a few grosbeaks (pine, evening).

The male Yellow-bellied Siskin (Carduelis xanthogastra) is a 4" bird with a black back and head and yellow underparts. The female is olive. Here is a female. I didn't see a male.

Yellow-bellied Siskin - female

Much more colorful are the euphonias. The male Olive-backed Euphonia (Euphonia gouldi) is olive with a yellow forehead and rusty belly. The female has a rusty forehead.

Olive-backed Euphonia - male
The male Elegant Euphonia (Euphonia elegantissima) has a rusty breast, pale blue ap, black face and dark blue back and wings.

Elegant Euphonia - male
Closely related to euphonias are the 5 species of chlorophonias which as the name suggest are green. The Golden-browed Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia callophrys) is a 5" green and yellow bird endemic to Costa Rica and Panama.

Golden-browed Chlorophonia - male

I got a closer shot of the female. She is all green with a pale blue crown and collar.

Golden-browed Chlorophonia - female

The 181 species of the Emberizidae family are generally small seed or fruit eating songbirds with conical bills. They go under various names such as sparrow (New World), bunting (Old World),  junco, towhee, finch, and chlorospingus. The 9 chlorospingus species were formerly in the tanager family.

The Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis) is a 5" brown sparrow. The male has a gray and black striped head and a rufous collar. The female is just a typical plain brown streaked sparrow.

Rufous-collared Sparrow - male
The Volcano Junco (Junco volcani) is a montane species found above 9000' in Costa Rica and Panama. It is a 6" grayish brown bird with a yellow eye and pink beak. The sexes are similar.

Volcano Junco

The Common Chlorospingus (Chlorospingus flavopectus) is a 5" olive bird with a gray head and a diagnostic white spot behind the eye. The sexes are similar.

Common Chlorospingus
The Sooty-capped Chlorospingus (Chlorospingus pileatus) is similar except there is a white stripe above the eye rather than a spot. It is endemic to western Panama and Costa Rica.

Sooty-capped Chlorospingus

The Large-footed Finch (Pezopetes capitalis) is an 8" olive bird with a gray head and tail.

Large-footed Finch

The Yellow-thighed Finch (Pselliophorus tibialis) is a 7" gray bird with a black head and yellow tufts on his legs.

Yellow-thighed Finch
The Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch (Arremon brunneinucha) is a 7" olive bird with a black face, rufous crown and white throat.

Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch
And the last is the prettiest, the White-naped Brush-Finch (Atlapetes albinucha). This is a 7" black backed bird with white crown and back of neck and underparts with a black face and yellow throat. This bird is a real skulker according to my guide Noel Urena, and difficult to see well. I was very fortunate to get this great photo. He also does photography and said it was the best photos he had ever obtained of this species.

White-naped Brush-Finch
Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2015 David McDonald

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