Sunday, August 23, 2015

Bulletin 232 - Costa Rica #11 - cotinga, flycatchers, antbirds, ovenbirds, reptiles

Cotingas are a  small (66 species) New World family of often showy birds. The 8" Snowy Cotinga (Carpodectes nitidus) male all white with a black bill and eye. The female is grayish.
Snowy Cotinga - male
The tyrant flycatchers, family tyrannidae, is the largest family of birds with more 400 species, all in the New World. We have seen many in the Panama bulletin last year, and many are dull colored, so I will just show a few of the more interesting from my Costa Rica trip.

Empids are small flycatchers and the half dozen species in North America are an ID challenge and best confirmed by voice. This bird however, is an easy ID. The 4" Black-capped Flycatcher (Empidonax atriceps) is gray with a black head and elliptical eye ring. It is found above 7200 feet elevation. It is endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama.

Black-capped Flycatcher
The 7" Dark Pewee (Contopus lugubris) has a crest and no eye ring or wing bars. It occurs in the mountains, as well, but at lower elevations from 4000 - 7000 feet. It is endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama.
Dark Pewee
The 5" Tufted Flycatcher (Mitrephanes phaeocercus) is a cute brown bird with a bright rufous breast and a crest.

Tufted Flycatcher
Lastly, the 4" Torrent Tyrannulet (Serpophaga cinerea) is a gray bird with pale breast. It is found along mountain streams.

Torrent Tyrannulet
I was able to photograph 2 antbirds on this trip. There was a cooperative pair of Black-crowned Antshrikes (Thamnophilus atrinucha) who posed so close that I had to back away to get them in the camera. The male is gray with white spots on the wings and a black cap. The female is brown and can be seen here.

Black-crowned Antshrike - male
The male 7" Fasciated Antshrike (Cymbilaimus lineatus) is finely barred black and white with a bright red eye. The female is brown and white.

Fasciated Antshrike - male
The ovenbird family is a huge (312 species) New World family of mostly small brown birds. I will just show a couple of interesting ones from this trip. The 6" Ruddy Treerunner (Margarornis rubiginosus) is rufous with a white throat and eye stripe. This one was preening after bathing in a stream. It is found in the mountains above 5000 feet and is endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama

Ruddy Treerunner
The 7" Buffy Tuftedcheek (Pseudocolaptes lawrencii) is named for its flared cheek feathers. It is also the only ovenbird in Costa Rica with wing bars. It is found above 5200' elevation.

Buffy Tuftedcheek

I photographed 5 reptiles on the trip..3 lizards, a turtle and a snake. Many people are afraid of snakes, but I have had many trips to the rain forest and only have seen 5 in all the time.

The Green Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus malachiticus)  is a 7" lizard that changes color readily from green to almost black to match the surface he is on. This one was found above the tree line at about 11,000 feet elevation.

Green Spiny Lizard

There are 4 species of basilisk lizards. I had photographed the Common or Brown Basilisk in Panama last year. The Striped Basilisk (Basilicus vittatus) is only about 20" when full grown. It is found on the Caribbean slope of Costa Rica. It is brown with two yellow lateral stripes.

Striped Basilisk Lizard

The Helmeted Basilisk Lizard (Corytophanes cristatus) is smaller and only 14" when full grown. It is rare to see it as it usually is motionless on a tree trunk or vertical branch. We just happened to see this one on the path at La Selva. It is brown with a large hood on it head and neck.

Helmeted Basilisk Lizard

The largest snake in Costa Rica is of course the Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor). This snake can grow to 14 feet in length. This one was found at La Selva by another guide at dusk as it was crossing a path and they watched it climb into a tree. We refound it the next day. They estimated it at about 7 feet long. I think if you look closely you can see its eye about the exact center of the photo. This was a life reptile for me.

Boa Constrictor
The Black River Turtle (Rhinoclemmys funerea) grows to 14". This one crawled out of the river at la Selva dragging a fish and was eating it. My guide said he had never seen this species of turtle eating a fish previously.

Black River Turtle - eating fish

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2015 David McDonald

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