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Big Bird, Little Bird

COSTA RICA | Sunday, 18 July 2021 | Views [30]

Rufous-tailed Jacamar

Rufous-tailed Jacamar

THERE ARE LARGE BIRDS AND THERE ARE small birds. Summer isn’t the best time of year for birding in Costa Rica but we saw plenty of both on this rainy day at Arenal and, of course, Connie and I each have our favorites. 

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       The Toucan Formerly Known as Chestnut-Mandibled

On the large side there are the colorful toucans and aracaris. The largest toucan in Central America, “the toucan formerly known as Chestnut-mandibled,” has been renamed the Yellow-throated Toucan for reasons known only to ornithologists. The birds could hardly care less—as David Quammen noted “Classification is a human endeavor, not an inherent reality of the natural world.” 

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                   Collared Aracaris All In A Row

While driving to Arenal we noticed a mixed-flock of parrots, toucans, and aracaris circle the forest. I let Connie out of the car and while I searched for a place to pull off the road, the aracaris landed and she took this photo, one of my favorites.

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        Crested Guan—A Modern-Day Dinosaur

Crested Guans are bigger than toucans, about the size of a turkey. And like turkeys, they would rather forage and roost than fly. A close look at one is a reminder that birds—especially these guys—are really modern-day dinosaurs. 

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                  If You've Got It, Flaunt It  Male Great Curassow

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                   Maternal Instinct

Larger still, the Great Curassow can weigh ten pounds. If the yellow knob on the bill of the male is there to attract females, the one we watched at Arenal was successful. His mate spent most of the time feeding her cute little chick.

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      Rufous Hummingbird

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                    Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer

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                                         Crowned Woodnymph

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                                                        Violet-headed Hummingbird                                                                                                     

On the tiny end of the scale are the hummingbirds. Costa Rica has about 50 species of hummers but we saw only a four on this rainy morning. The hyper-active Rufus-tailed Hummingbird was difficult to photograph. The Bronze Woodnymph and Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer obligingly perched on bird-of-paradise blooms whle the Violet-headed Hummingbird hovered over the flowers.

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           Bananaquit

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                          Yellow-crowned Euphonia

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                                          Mr. Red-legged Honeycreeper

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                                                               Mrs. Red-legged Honeycreeper

Nearly as cute and much easier to photograph are the Bananaquit and Connie’s favorite, the Yellow-crowned Euphonia. A Red-legged Honeycreeper couple stopped in for a snack before the guans devoured the papaya and watermelon on the feeder. We didn’t see as many tanagers as we had expected but the Emerald Tanager and the Scarlet-rumped Tanager certainly stood out.

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                        Scarlet-Rumped Tanager

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                    Emerald Tanager

Still, our favorite bird of the trip was medium-sized—a Rufous-tailed Jacamar who would fly into the trees, capture a bug and return to his perch on the wire to enjoy his meal. The light was terrible but Señor Jacamar patiently repeated his routine until we were both satisfied.

 

 

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