Monday, March 19, 2018

Black Pondhawk

In the marshy grass in northern Costa Rica on 12 July 2017, Erika and I photographed a number of Black Pondhawks. All appear to be females, with the one in the lower photo being somewhat older than the first one. Unfortunately I did no look for the all-black males. I thought I had such photographs, but earlier images are of Pin-tailed Pondhawks. Black Pondhawks are relatively easy identified by their rather robust abdomens. Black Pondhawks range from southernmost Texas (with a stray in central Alabama) south to Argentina. They are also found in the West Indies. They perch on or near the ground in swamps or near ponds.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

White-throated Crake

As we chased dragonflies in the marshes along the road in northern Costa Rica in July 2017, we heard a curious bird call. A White-throated Crake briefly appeared from the undergrowth. Crakes are small rails. This species is hard to see, but is, nevertheless, fairly common in overgrown pastures, ditches, and stream-sides (Cornell). The species ranges from Honduras south to western Ecuador.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbirds may be the most abundant North American birds. The species breeds south to northern Costa Rica, which is where we found this individual. Here is a link to a couple of Red-winged Blackbird posts I have previously included in this blog.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Tawny Pennant

On 12 July 2017, we photographed a Tawny Pennant in the marshes of northern Alajuela Province, Costa Rica. These dragonflies are fairly plain creatures with brownish wings. They range from southermost Texas and the Florida Keys, with only scattered records further north, south to Argentina and the Galapagos. They are also found from the southern tip of Florida through the West Indies. They usually perch on the tips of pond plants over water. They hold thier wings at an upward angle. From their perches, they make patrolling flights over the shores of their ponds (Paulson 2009).

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Wood Stork and Cattle Egret

On our drive on 12 July to the Laguna del Legarto Lodge, we enjoyed marshy cattle fields full of interesting dragonflies and birds. We stopped and explored the area. In the distance, Cattle Egrets filled the treetops. Closer in, a few Wood Storks foraged the wet meadow.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Laughing Falcon

On the morning of 12 July 2017, after our boat tour of the Rio Frio, we loaded our bus at the Hotel de Campo. We drove to the the Laguna del Lagarto Lodge. The drive did not look far on the map, but the last 20 kilometers traversed a horrendously maintained road. This Laughing Falcon is one of the first birds we observed.

Laughing Falcons are found in forests from northern Mexico south to Paraguay. The falcons are especially attracted to forest edges. The main component of their diet is snakes, which often warm themselves at the forest edge. They consume a wide variety of snakes,  even eat pit vipers and coral snakes (Barkley 2014). They are also known to hunt rodents, birds, fish, and bats.

These falcons hunt from exposed perches, from where they look for snakes. They usually drop on their prey. Sometimes they approach snakes on the ground. When hunting on the ground, the birds spread their wings, presumably trying to distract the snakes (Barkley 2014).

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Snowy Cotinga

Our wizard bird guide, Steve Bird, spied and identified this Snowy Cotinga. We were in a boat on the Rio Frio in northern Costa Rica. The bird perched in a treetop about a quarter of a mile distant. We confirmed identification by seeing the striped wings in the photograph. This bird is a female—males are snowy white.

Snowy Cotingas range along Caribbean slopes from Honduras to Panama. They often perch on bare treetops. The eat fruits and wander in search of fruiting trees and shrubs (Cornell).

Monday, March 12, 2018

Central American Spider Monkey

Depending on your taxonomy, Central American Spider Monkeys range from southern Mexico to western Colombia. They are among South America’s largest monkeys, weighing up to 20 pounds. Their arms are long and, having only a vestigial thumb, are adapted for swinging between tree branches. Their tail is used as an “extra limb” (Wikipedia).

Spider Monkeys live in groups composed of 20 to 40 members. These groups are not stable, with individuals free to join or leave. They require large areas of forest to survive. Habitat loss, hunting, and poaching for the pet trade all contribute to Spider Monkeys’ being endangered across much if their range. We found this monkey in a small group along Costa Rica's Rio Frio on 12 July 2017.

Sunday, March 11, 2018


Anhingas are found from the southeastern United States south through much of the Amazon Basin. I have previously posted about why Anhingas are peculiar birds. We found them nesting along the Rio Frio near Caño Negro, Costa Rica, on 12 July 2015. These nestlings will molt into their black, adult plumage.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Green Ibis

Green Ibises have shorter legs than do other ibis. The bird is placed in its own genus, Mesembrinibis. The species ranges from southern Central America through much of the Amazon Basin. It feeds on invertebrates in shallow water and in mud (Molfetto 2011). This Green Ibis foraged along the Rio Frio in northern Costa Rica on 12 July 2017.