Saturday, March 10, 2012

Recent sightings of the famous and not so famous

  Most people coming to Monteverde want to see the Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno). And who could get tired of seeing this emerald green and red trogon which is indeed resplendent?
The long feathers over the tail can be up to 30"/76 cm longer than the squared-off tail itself. The best way to see a quetzal is to know where the fruiting wild avocado trees are. In this photo of a quetzal we saw this week, you can see a few of the small avocado fruits. They like to perch in or near such a tree for long periods of time. Once in a while they sally out to grab a fruit. They swallow the fruit whole and digest the thin layer of flesh before regurgitating the seed. Here is a picture of an unusually large wild avocado. Many are only half as long.
    Another sought after bird is the Three-wattled Bellbird (Procnias tricarunculatus). Although the metallic call it makes can be heard for a kilometer, it's surprisingly difficult to see one even when you are so close the call is almost deafening. The males call from the tops of tall trees to attract females. (Apparently the females also find their long black wattles attractive.) It was a pleasant surprise this week to find a male calling from a perch on the UGA Costa Rica campus that was easy to see and photograph due to a path up the hillside from the base of the tree. Since Bellbirds tend to use the same perches through the mating season, we hope to see him again next week.
  I don't get tired of seeing these beautiful birds whenever possible but I also enjoy seeing some of the less famous and flashy species of the area. It was fun to see the normally shy Green Hermit (Phaethornis guy) perching. This is a female.
Even rather unexceptional looking birds do interesting things. We recently found a group of Dusky-capped Flycatchers (Myiarchus tuberculifer) catching drone Azteca ants as they emerged and flew away from their host Cecropia trees. The flycatchers hovered briefly near the hole in the tree where the ants were coming out and grabbed them out of the air when they took flight.
No matter how many times one goes in the cloud forest, there are new things to see. The entomologist we shared this sighting with said he had never seen the drones emerging and we would have never noticed it without seeing the birds' unusual behavior.


Gail said...

What gorgeous photos and interesting information. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Although I can't go to Costa Rica due to my job, I feel as if I spend part of each year there with you! I am completely and totally envious! I retired early, then went back to work when my youngest went to college. I will stop working and start traveling when my youngest finishes her studies or when I turn 66, whichever comes first! And, Costa Rica is on my list of destinations. I am a Madisonian who frequents the Sow's Ear to relax. I'm hoping to meet you in person sometime.

Carolina said...

Hey, we should meet up at the Sow's Ear sometime when I'm in Wisconsin. Thanks for your comment!

Queen of the Tea Cosies said...

Gawd! It is such a joy to come over here and see all these beautiful birds.

I've been trying to figure out what it is you do in Costa Rica while you are there. It is a mystery to me. Work? Play? Photography? Missionary? Whatever it is it seems like such a big adventure.

Carolina said...

What do we do in Costa Rica? Goof off mostly and a little volunteer work. (I believe many people call it being retired.) We do a lot of birdwatching and hiking.

Queen of the Tea Cosies said...

What a loife! What an adventure!