By Andrea Johnson
[caption id="attachment_4002" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="A mango tree in the Osa"][/caption]
Mango season arrived for Osa Conservation in June. The trees at Greg Gund Conservation Center have been dropping their luscious fruits for several weeks now in a display of bounty almost reckless to those of us from northern climes who grew up with scarce and pricey supermarket exemplars.
Sometimes the mangoes drop unprompted, perhaps with a light push from the breeze. Often they fall half-eaten and accompanied by a telltale rustle of leaves as white-faced capuchins (Cebus capuchinus) take their pick of the crop, or flocks of red-lored parrots (Amazona autumnalis) and chestnut-mandibled toucans (Ramphastos swainsonii) descend for another feast. Best for those of us consigned to wait below, every new rainstorm (for the rainy season has arrived as well) also brings a rain of whole, perfect fruits.
[caption id="attachment_3980" align="alignleft" width="269" caption="Chess in the Schools students holding hands on the beach"][/caption]
Last week, through the high school study abroad program AFS, a group of students from New York City visited our station on the Osa Peninsula with the support of Chess in the Schools, a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to improving academic performance and building self-esteem among inner-city public school children.
“My favorite part was climbing the mango trees,” said one of the students. “I got to understand what nature is for the first time.”
[caption id="attachment_3961" align="alignleft" width="257" caption="A Black-cheeked Ant Tanager. Photo: Norbert Sayberer"][/caption]
By: Carolyn Sedgwick
Imagine being woken up each day by the sudden deep howl of a troop of howler monkeys and the positively curious sound of a singing Gray-necked Wood Rail. Time for work! This spring, I was lucky enough to spend a few months working at Piro Biological Station, Osa Conservation’s research center.
My main objective was to get a better understanding of the habitat use of the Black-cheeked Ant-tanager (Habria atrimaxillaris), an endangered bird found only on the Osa Peninsula and the Golfo Dulce of Costa Rica. These birds have not been extensively studied and their population appears to be declining due to habitat loss. I set out to see how Black-cheeked Ant-tanagers used habitat around Piro—were they found in primary forests? Secondary forests? In transition zones? What were the characteristics of the zones they used during the time of year when I was there? I set about this by walking routine transects through different forest types around Piro each day and when I was lucky enough to encounter a Black-cheeked Ant-tanager, or even a small group of three or four, I took the opportunity to gather as many observations as possible and map where groups were found with my GPS.
Spend this holiday season where the rainforest meets the sea, in the most spectacular and underbirded corner of Costa Rica.
[caption id="attachment_3853" align="alignleft" width="204" caption="A Gartered Trogon sits perched atop a tree in the Osa Peninsula"][/caption]
The Osa Peninsula harbors over 460 species of birds including the healthiest population of Scarlet Macaws in Central America, three species of leking Manakins, Yellow-billed and Turquoise Cotingas, King Vultures and the Osa endemic BCAT. Migrant birds that frequent the Osa Peninsula include the Golden-winged Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Prothonotary Warbler and the Baltimore Oriole. Home to the largest remaining tract of tropical lowland rainforest and intact mangrove ecosystems along the tropical Pacific coast of Central America, the Osa Peninsula is the wildest and most magnificent region of Costa Rica. To get an idea, check out our 2011 Christmas Bird Count summary.