Birds

A Breathtaking Birding Experience

Blogpost written by Patrick Newcombe, Conservation Visitor 

When I first arrived in the Osa for my birding experience, the tremendous diversity of birds astounded me. I seemed to spot a new species each time I walk into the forest around Osa Conservation’s biological station.  Even at the station itself, I saw such birds as the Fiery-billed Aracari, an endemic species in both Panama and Costa Rica. The species diversity stems, in large part, from the selective pressure insectivorous birds put on their prey. This causes insects to adapt in order to evade their avian predators. In turn, the bird predators must specialize alongside their prey to catch the insects.

 

 

Fiery- billed Aracari / Photo by Manuel Sanchez

Fiery- billed Aracari / Photo by Manuel Sanchez

The Black-cheeked Ant Tanager is one of these insectivorous birds and is only found in the Osa Peninsula! Its population numbers fewer than 15,000 individuals. I found Black-cheeked Ant Tanagers at four different locations in the area and spent hours noting their presence in mixed species flocks and observing their fascinating behavior.

 

Photo by Patrick Newcombe

Black-Cheeked Ant Tanager / Photo by Patrick Newcombe

 

 

I also studied Manakin distribution around Osa Conservation by birding the surrounding trails and recording their presence in a GPS. I was thrilled to find 21 unique locations and view at least 5 leks. A lek is when birds perform elaborate mating displays. Red-capped Manakins tended to be concentrated in primary forest either near the border of secondary forest or in a clearing from tree falls, which create patches of secondary growth.

 

Red- Capped Manakin / Photo by Manuel Sanchez

Red- Capped Manakin / Photo by Manuel Sanchez

 

Another highlight from my time here was helping to conduct point counts of birds in areas that will be reforested with different concentrations of the fast-growing balsa tree, an experiment that tests the efficacy of this idea for reforestation. Learning the methodology for conducting point counts, as well as understanding the reason for using them in grasslands, fascinated me. These counts reflected the Osa’s enormous avian diversity, and I am glad that I contributed to such an important project that could help the birds that I am so passionate about.

Birding in the Osa was a unique experience that allowed me to learn about and contribute to avian diversity.

Birds, Volunteers and Visitors

Join Our 2012 Holiday Birding Trip, December 15-22

Spend this holiday season where the rainforest meets the sea, in the most spectacular and underbirded corner of Costa Rica.

A Gartered Trogon sits perched atop a tree in the Osa Peninsula

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.

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