Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bulletin 262 - Costa Rica 2016 #6 - owls, motmots, prong-billed barbet

As you know, owls are probably my favorite subjects to photograph. Of course, being nocturnal makes them even more difficult. But my wonderful guide got me 3 new owls and a fourth that I already had, but it is always nice to see them. We only missed one of the 5 we tried for.

The one I already had was the 15" Black-and-white Owl (Strix nigrolineata). This one was found roosting in a tree in the daytime.Here he is with his head down and standing on 1 foot.

Black-and-white Owl
The first night, we were able to call up the 10" Bare-shanked Screech Owl (Megascops clarkii). This brown owl is described in the book as having an indistinct facial disk. He first appeared so close that this was all I could get in the photo. Well you can see why the face is indistinct, as the feather extend beyond the edge of his head.

Bare-shanked Screech Owl

So I backed up a little bit until I could get most of the bird in the photo. Cool bird!

Bare-shanked Screech Owl
The next 2 owls were real prizes. The 15" Striped Owl (Pseudoscops clamator) perches regularly on the wires along the highway beside the beach resort of Jaco on the Pacific coast. However, our spotlights were too dim to allow auto focus on my camera, so I had to resort to manual focus and hope and pray that it would work. I am not used to manual focus and my old eyes aren't too good. I took a couple of photos and we moved closer for more. I didn't think I would get anything worthwhile, but was amazed when I looked at them in my hotel room that night. This is a brown streaked owl with ear tufts. He is looking down, so the tufts don't show.

Striped Owl
The last owl was the most difficult, the guide told me. We shouldn't expect to see it. It is 6" Central American Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium griseiceps). We stopped on a road where it had been seen previously. Pygmy-Owls are diurnal and can be called in during the day. The guide book says it is uncommon. The guide played the tape once, and the bird responded immediately overhead! He was perhaps 50 feet up in the tree and wouldn't come down, but did move around in the tree and I got this great clear photo. The guide said I was really lucky!

Central American Pygmy-Owl
There are 14 motmots in the family. I got 1 new one and improved photos of 2 others, so now have 9 of the 14.

The 7" Tody Motmot (Hylomanes momotula) is the smallest motmot and lacks the raquet tail.  It has a black and white striped face. I had photographed him in Guatemala, but this was better.

Tody Motmot
The 13" Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa) had also been photographed in Guatemala, but they were very common in NW Costa Rica and this one flew in while photographing some other birds. He has the longest bare shaft on the tail of any of the motmots.

Turquoise-browed Motmot
The new one was the 13" Keel-billed Motmot (Electron carinatum).  He is green with rufus underparts and blue over the eye. Notice he is missing one of his raquets.

Keel-billed Motmot

The last bird today is the 7" Prong-billed Barbet (Semnornis frantzii). Barbets are closely related to toucans. But there is another family of just 2 species, the toucan-barbets of which this is one. This bird is endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama. It is ochraceous in color, with a red eye and stout bill.

Prong-billed Barbet
Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald


photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

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