Thursday, March 10, 2011

The national bird of Costa Rica

Costa Rica has many incredible birds: over 800 species, many of them extremely beautiful and colorful. It must have been difficult to pick one bird as the symbol of the country. Consider the choices other Central American countries made for their national birds. (All of them also live in Costa Rica.) Guatemala chose the Resplendent Quetzal; it's much easier to see in Costa Rica and much better protected here.
Belize chose the Keel-billed Toucan, a common bird here that looks great on a postcard or T-shirt.
Both Nicaragua and El Salvador chose the Turquoise-browed Motmot which is common at Northwestern Costa Rica. Its more widely spread relative, the Blue-crowned Motmot is also very beautiful. Honduras chose the Yellow-naped Parrot. Costa Rica could have picked one of its own 17 species of parrots. Panama's majestic Harpy Eagle is rare in Costa Rica, as it is throughout its range. Personally, my choice might have been the elegant Swallow-tailed Kite, which used to nest as far north as the headwaters of the Mississippi. (Maybe some day we will have a movement to bring it back to its ancestral nesting grounds, as we did with the wild turkey.)
   What did Costa Rica pick as it's national symbol? Let's hear a trumpet flourish for the Clay-colored Robin.
It's drab and it's nondescript but well-loved through out this democratic country. Like most robins, it has a lovely song, which is sings tirelessly in almost everyone's garden at the beginning of the rainy season. As ticos say, it calls the rain to come and keep the country green. It reminds me that for many Costa Ricans, it's high praise to call a person humilde –humble or modest. Much as I love seeing Costa Rica's more colorful birds, I enjoy living somewhere the ordinary drab yigüirro is respected—and where many are working to preserve the more colorful and rarer birds that share the country.


Asplund said...

Spectacular wildlife where you are - seems like and equally exciting and inspiring place to me.

Carolina said...

Yes, for example I find the color combinations on many of the birds absolutely wonderful. If I could only knit something with colors as wonderful as a motmot....