Birds

Featured Bird: Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager

Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager

Of the over 850 bird species listed in Costa Rica, 3 are mainland endemics.  In other words they are unique to Costa Rica not found anywhere else in the world.  Two of the three species are endangered and one of them is restricted solely to the Osa Peninsula.  That restricted endangered species is the Black-cheeked Ant-Tanager (Habia atrimaxillaris).  Logging and habitat loss outside of protected areas appears to be its main threat with its range being halved since 1960 according to BirdLife International.

The male is distinguished from the female by his blackish body and salmon colored throat and crown.  Like many tanager females, she is the duller (in color) more yellowy version of him.  They are restricted to dense foliage along edges and streams in lowland forest.  They travel in pairs, family groups or in mixed flocks of ant-wrens, greenlets and foliage-gleaners rummaging through dead leaves looking for insects and will often forage at army ant swarms.  They are also known to eat berries from time to time.  Though it has lost much of its habitat it remains common in its strongholds of Corcovado and other intact areas of the peninsula.  When you come across them they are hard to miss as they are raucous and give lots of scolding notes to one another.  During the height of the breeding season I can hear them chatting it up right outside my window here at the Osa Biodiversity Center at Friends of the Osa.

Friends of the Osa, Liz Jones and Abraham Gallo of Bosque del Rio Tigre Lodge and the American Bird Conservancy have worked tirelessly to establish the species current distribution so keep your eye out on our web pages for upcoming publications and reports on this species and others of concern in this area.

Oh and the other two mainland endemic species of Costa Rica:  The Mangrove Hummingbird, also considered endangered, is restricted to Pacific coast mangroves which are disappearing fast, and the Coppery-headed Emerald which is fairing a bit better in its north-central range.  There are 3 other bird species endemic to Costa Rica and they are found on the Isla de Coco, about 532 km off the Pacific coast, and they are:  Cocos Cuckoo, Cocos Flycatcher and Cocos Finch.

We would like to thank Gianfranco Gomez from the Drake Bay Rainforest Chalet for their stunning photographs and allowing us to showcase them.  You can find them just up the Pacific coast from us in Drake Bay, Costa Rica.

Birds

Featured Bird: Golden-naped Woodpecker

This little golden chatterbox is endemic to Costa Rica and Panama.  It is found in the southern Pacific slope from Carara down through the Osa Peninsula.  Like most birds it is reliant on the remaining intact forests and begins to disappear where forests become fragmented.  This is why large tracks of forest found on the Osa Peninsula and those of Friends of the Osa for example are so important to this species.

Golden-naped Woodpecker

In the Golden-naped Woodpecker (Melanerpes chrysauchen) the female lacks the red on the head and she has a black stripe on her crown.  The young resemble the same sex parent but much duller in color.  Golden-napes specialize in foraging for wood-boring beetles and their larvae, but they are also expert flycatchers and enjoy fruit as well.  Nests are bored out in large dead trunks and 3 to 4 eggs are layed.  Young fledge after about one month and will stay with their parents the entire year until the next breeding season.  Interestingly both the male and female will sleep in the nest during breeding and the whole family will sleep together in high holes the rest of the year.  This is a bit reminiscent of Riverside Wren behavior.  (You can find that here on the blog on as an archive post).

Listen to the Golden-naped Woodpecker:

This weeks photograph comes from Alan Dahl.  You can see his photographic galleries at Focused on Nature.  He has a wonderful commitment to conservation and allowing us to show off his photographs is one of the ways he has supported Friends of the Osa and our conservation efforts on the peninsula.

We also want to thank the Osa Recording Project which enables us to bring you these sounds.  We will keep you posted on the progress of this tremendous undertaking and when the CD will be available.  This particular bird was recorded by Luis Vargas along the road between the Osa Biodiversity Center at Cerro Osa and Puerto Jimenez.  This individual Golden-nape was traveling with its family in a mixed flock which included Gray-headed Tanagers and Scarlet-rumped Caciques.  The Osa Recording Project website should be up soon so keep an eye out.  We will let you know.

Miscellaneous

The Osa Recording Project

Recording a Stream Soundscape: Jeff Woodman, Luis Vargas & Leo Garrigues

By Karen Leavelle & Jeff Woodman

The Osa Peninsula is known for its high level of biodiversity and is one of the most “biologically intense” places on earth according to National Geographic. The Osa has over half of all species found in Costa Rica. This is evident in the over 400 bird species found here. That’s quite a few birds for such a small area. Well, its time then to make them heard; to record their songs, calls, mews, ooo’s, churrs, drumming and scolding notes and make them available for all to listen to.

That’s exactly what Jeff Woodman, board member of American Bird Conservancy and Amazon Conservation Association, Luis Vargas, ornithology student at the University of Costa Rica, and Tim Burr, recordist for more than three decades thought when they met at a recording workshop held by Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology last summer. Partnering with Friends of the Osa, The Osa Recording Project began in December 2009 when Jeff, Luis, and Tim joined Al Houghton, Bob Levy, and Bob Schallmann on the Osa Peninsula. There they met up with Liz Jones and Abraham Gallo from Bosque del Rio Tigre Lodge and Kory Kramer, Guido Saborio, and Manuel Sanchez from Friends of the Osa to begin the somewhat daunting task of recording as many bird, mammal, amphibian, and insect sounds as they could. The first trip was highly successful

Jeff Woodman, Tim Burr, Luis Vargas and Bob Schallmann recording birds on the road from the Osa Biodiversity Center to Puerto Jimenez

prompting the group to once again descend upon the Osa for round two in mid April. The expertise of the group expanded significantly with the addition of Costa Rican birding experts Leo Garrigues, Gary Feliz and Oscar Herrera, and with Karen Leavelle with Friends of the Osa. Now Gary, Oscar, and Karen who reside on the Osa can simply walk outside and record when they wake up in the morning!

This recording group has travelled from Luna Lodge at Carate to Friends of the Osa’s Osa Biodiversity Center, out to Cabo Matapalo and Puerto Jimenez, Bosque del Rio Tigre Lodge and everywhere in between. This group has even gone all the way over to the Rincon mangroves on the Golfo Dulce side where one can find the endangered Yellow-billed Cotinga and the Mangrove Hummingbird.

So why record all this wildlife?  Education, Education, Education. One intention is to create one or more CDs that could facilitate the training of aspiring local naturalists. Also, birders who come to the Osa can learn some songs before being inundated by the local avifauna when they get off the plane at Puerto Jimenez. Researchers and students will also benefit as well as local guides who work in this amazing environment. We also hope to have songs linked to the Friends of the Osa website along with a bit of natural history and images to allow folks to make visual connections with Osa wildlife.

Oscar Herrera, Lana Wedmore, Leo Garrigues, Tim Burr, Jeff Woodman, Gary Feliz & Luis Vargas at the end of a long recording trip.

We will of course keep you updated on this amazing project and gigantic undertaking as we progress.  Look out for more blog posts showcasing a particular bird species, its ecology and the bird’s song or call in its partially edited version. Final edits will be made by recording specialist Al Houghton out of New York.

Birds

Featured Bird: Black-hooded Antshrike

Black-hooded Antshrike Male

If you want to see a Black-hooded Antshrike (Thamnophilus bridgesi) then Friends of the Osa’s Osa Biodiversity Center is the place to come.  They often love living on the edge, forest edges that is, and for those us who live at or visit the Center they are an easy species to enjoy and tick off your life list.

The Black-hood Antshrike is a common resident of the southern pacific slope of Costa Rica and Western Panama.  The adult male is distinguished from other male blackbirds by the white spots on the wings.  The females also sport the wing spots but she, unlike the male, has white streaks on her face and neck.  Her underparts are also grayish olive in color.  They can be found in the understory of mature to secondary forest and along edges.  They are insectivorous birds gleaning insects and spiders from foliage.  In particular, they are known to be opportunistic army ant followers taking advantage of the insects that army ant swarms kick up as they move through the forest.  As Stiles and Skutch describe in the Birds of Costa Rica, Black-hooded Antshrikes move “with abrupt, heavy hops and flits” through the understory.  They spend their time either in pairs or in mixed species flocks.  They lay typically 2 eggs in a cup nest with the rim hanging from a horizontal fork.

Listen to the Black-hooded Antshrike call :

We also want to thank the Osa Recording Project run by Luis Vargas which enables us to bring you these sounds.  We will keep you posted on the progress of this tremendous undertaking and when our CD will be available.

We would like to thank Gianfranco Gomez from the Drake Bay Rainforest Chalet  http://www.drakebayholiday.com or http://www.thenighttour.com for their stunning photographs and allowing us to showcase them.  You can find them just up the coast from us in Drake Bay, Costa Rica.

Birds

Featured Bird: Charming Hummingbird (Amazilia decora)

Also known as the Beryl-crowned Hummingbird the Charming Hummingbird (Amazilia decora) is regionally endemic to the Southern Pacific lowlands and coastal areas of Costa Rica north to Carara and Panama.  It is sometimes considered conspecific with the Blue-chested Hummingbird found on the Caribbean slope as they are nearly identical.  You will often see them in coffee plantations, gardens, forest edges and along streams and open clearings feeding on Inga, Hamelia, Satryia and Heliconia.  Like many tropical species Charming Hummingbirds form courtship assemblies or “leks” of up to 12 males where males gather to advertise their courtship display and land themselves a female breeding partner.  Interestingly, males and females that defend territories at flowers such as the Charming Hummingbird are those hummingbird species that are brightly colored to show off their iridescent costumes in contrast to the flowers.  Hermits do not hold territories in the same way and are not generally very colorful in comparison.  More on hermits though another week.  Charming Hummingbirds will breed throughout most of the year expect for the height of the dry season.

Listen to the Charming Hummingbird call :

We would like to thank Gianfranco Gomez from the Drake Bay Rainforest Chalet http://www.drakebayholiday.com or http://www.thenighttour.com for their stunning photographs and allowing us to showcase them.  You can find them just up the Pacific coast from us in Drake Bay, Costa Rica.

We also want to thank the Osa Recording Project headed by Jeff Woodman which enables us to bring you these sounds.  We will keep you posted on the progress of this tremendous undertaking and when our CD will be available.

Birds

Featured Bird: Riverside Wren (Thryothorus semibadius)

Of the 22 species of wrens found in Costa Rica, 6 are found here on the Osa Peninsula.  The Riverside wren, a common resident on the Osa, is only found in the southern pacific lowlands of Costa Rica and western Panama up to ~1,200 m.  Wrens as a whole belong to an interesting family of songbirds.  The sexes are alike and the tropical species often remain with their mate throughout the year.  They roam amongst the dense vegetation singing duets with each other in alternating phrases and one can often hear scolding notes or tell-tale wren churrs.  They can be found along streams or the edges of swampy openings in the forest, but with the arrival of the rains and sometimes seasonal flooding they will move to dense forest thickets or brushy areas away from water.  Nests are bulky globe structures with a roof and a vestibule (so to speak) not only used for raising young but also for sleeping at night any time of the year by either one individual or as many as possibly 3.  This species can be found nesting from December to August, nine months out of the year!

Click to hear the wren song :

We would like to thank Gianfranco Gomez from the Drake Bay Rainforest Chalet  http://www.drakebayholiday.com or http://www.thenighttour.com for their stunning photographs and allowing us to showcase them.  You can find them just up the coast from us in Drake Bay, Costa Rica.

We also want to thank the Osa Recording Project headed by Jeff Woodman which enables us to bring you these sounds.  We will keep you posted on the progress of this tremendous undertaking and when our CD will be available.