Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bulletin 231 - Costa Rica #10 - Parrots, Pigeons, night birds

There are 17 species of parrots in Costa Rica. I have always found parrots to be 'cool' birds as many are kept for pets, some talk, and many are brightly colored. However, photographing them is another story. They usually stay in the tree tops are are often seen flying way above the canopy of the forest. Then you just hope they land in a tree near you and are in the open to so you can see them. I was able to get photos of 4 species.

The 9" Sulphur-winged Parakeet (Pyrrhura hoffmanni) is a resident of the mountains above 5200 feet. It is green with a red ear patch and yellow on the wings. It is endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama.

Sulphur-winged Parakeet
The next larger is the 10" White-crowned Parrot (Pionus senilis). This was a case where a group of birds were flying over and landed on top of a tree about 50 yards away. The bird is green with a white face and chin.

White-crowned Parrot
The 15" Mealy Parrot (Amazona farinosa) is all green except for a red patch on its wings. In this case, you can see how hard it would be to pick this bird out in a tree. Fortunately a pair of them were eating fruit in a tree along the path and about 15 feet up.

Mealy Parrot
Lastly, I got my first photo of a macaw. This bird was a lifer for me, the 33" Great Green Macaw (Ara anbiguus). It would not be a hard bird to ID as there are just 2 macaws in Costa Rica and this is the only green one. It is resident on the Caribbean slope.

Great Green Macaw
Almost as difficult to photograph as parrots are the large arboreal pigeons of the genus patagieonas. They are seen flying over the canopy and you hope they will land close enough for a photo. There are 6 species in Costa Rica, one of which is also in the USA and I had photographs already. I got photos of 4 of the other 5, so I was very pleased.

The Red-billed Pigeon (Patagieonas flavirostris) actually has a mostly white bill with just some red at the base. This bird occurs in the USA along the Rio Grande at Salineno. I had seen it there, but it was too far for a photo. This one was on a wire along the road.

Red-billed Pigeon
The Short-billed Pigeon (Patagieonas nigrirostris) was also on a wire one morning at La Selva. It is IDed by the short black bill.

Short-billed Pigeon
The Pale-vented Pigeon (Patagieonas cayennensis) has whitish belly. Obviously, this bird was very close for a change.

Pale-vented Pigeon
The last is the Ruddy Pigeon (Patagieonas subvinacea). It is reddish all over and a resident of the central mountains above 4600 feet.

Ruddy Pigeon

Birds of the night like nightjars and owls are difficult to photograph as they are hard to find, unless you get lucky and stumble upon one roosting in the daytime. 

The 11" Common Pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis) normally stays on the ground and flies up to catch insects. This is the first time I have seen this bird in the open on a fence post. He was under a rare street light and took advantage of the bugs attracted to the light. We saw him several nights in a row at La Selva. It aoccurs throughout Costa Rica and also in the USA in the Rio Grande Valley.

Common Pauraque

The 9" Dusky Nightjar (Antrostomus saturatus) is a bird of the mountains above 6000'. He was also taking advantage of a rare streetlight, by sitting on the wires adjacent to the light. I have spoken to several other Costa Rica birders and this streetlight near Savegre Lodge is the classic place to see this bird. This bird is endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama.

Dusky Nightjar
The 6" Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium costaricensis) like other pygmy owls is often active during the day. We tried to tape him lower out of this 100 foot tree, but the one time he did descend, we couldn't locate him in the dense tree where he landed.

Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl
I also saw a 19" Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata) roosting way up in the canopy. I had photographed a pair of them in Panama last year, so it was nice to see another. I never tire of owls.

Spectacled Owl

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2015 David McDonald

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