COSTA RICA: THE BIRDS, PART 1

Costa Rica is a veritable treasure trove of biodiversity and this nature cornucopia is the home to more than 913  bird species.  Despite the rain I was able to capture photos of over two dozen of these beautiful flyers.  In this post I would like to share some of the newcomers to my bird knowledge so let me start with the top photo.

SUN BITTERN – Most field guides picture the sunbittern with its wings unfurled, looking like a small heron:

 

However, when the sun bittern spreads it wings, either as an intimidation display or when it feels threatened, an intricate wing design that resembles large eyes  is exposed as you can see in the top photo as well as these:

 

I caught sight of this bird while we were on the rainforest tram, initially just seeing it fly by,  I turned backward to see where it went and I noticed something sitting on the ground, far, far below.

I had only seconds to use my zoom lens for a closer shot as the tram was moving away from the area  and fortunately caught the above closeups.

Fun Fact:  Sun bitterns are known to use “tools” such as bits of vegetation as bait to lure prey to within striking distance.

TROGON –   I learned a long time ago to have my camera with me whenever I go for a hike as you never know what may come your way.  Early one morning before breakfast I decided to go on a short walk along the winding grounds of our Tortuguero villa  (more on this stunning place in a later post)

Sure enough within minutes I started to see all kinds of birds, including this

There are 10 species of trogon in Costa Rica, and I can’t quite identify which one this is as I have only the back view, although my guess it is a “Baird’s Trogon.”  This trogon, however has a very famous cousin which is considered by some to be the most beautiful bird in the world. Here is a  photo from the internet so you can judge the Quetzal for yourself:

Fun Fact:  The name “Trogon” is derived from the Greek word for “gnawing” or “nibbling”.  They use their bills to cut out holes in branches, etc for nesting.

MONTEZUMA OROPENDOLA – I may not have been lucky enough to photograph a quetzal, but this spectacularly colored (and named)  “blackbird” can give it a run for its money.  Its name commemorates the famous Aztec emperor.  It lives in large colonies with one male dominating other males  giving him the right to mate with all the females.

Fun Fact –   This bird has a very distinctive song used while courting – it is likened to a gurgle or a bubbling sound and is accompanied by bows and spread wings.  Although it is successful at attracting females, to me it looks like the bird ate a bad worm and is hurling – what do you think?

 

JACANA – This is a wading bird  that is found along the banks  of waterway canals as  well as marshes with dense vegetation making them difficult to spot, so the fact that I was able to photograph one was a special treat.

Fun Fact – These birds are also know as “Lily Trotters,” as their long, thin legs and extremely long, thin, widespread toes and talons spread out their weight so the jacanas can balance on and walk across the surface of fragile lilies and other aquatic vegetation.

More to come…

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