White-throated flycatcher (Empidonax albigularis)

Every day’s banding at the CATIE seems to bring a surprise.  Last Wednesday’s early morning outing at the sugar-cane fields was no exception.  The cane grows fast and thick and so you need the machete to keep the canes from interfering with the nets.  It’s flatland with a great view up to the volcano, which this morning had shot out a huge vertical white plume, but then you duck into the shade of the sugar cane and push aside the vegetation to get to the net location.

We had a good day with a number of species captured (see list at the end), but the highlight was an Empidonax that caused the usual id difficulty until Alejandra held it up at a distance.  The white throat was then an obvious field mark that had not been so easy to see looking at the bird in the hand.  It marked it off from the impossible migrants, including the (presumed) Willow flycatcher of the previous week.  How did we manage not to take a photo?  It turns out that I can’t find a single shot of it on the internet, and of course it was another lifer for me.   It’s one of three Costa Rican residents of the Empidonax family, but it seems to have a limited range, being most common around the Irazú Volcano.  Here then, it is not far out of range.

Another really nice bird with its striking head pattern was the Prevost’s ground-sparrow (Melozone biarcuata), two of which fell into the nets.  The Costa Rican population is found only in the Central Valley, from San Ramón in the west to Turrialba in the east (rare east of Cartago, say Stiles & Skutch).  Somebody did take photos of these birds and I´ll post them asap.

The day´s list of banded species:

1.  Rufous-tailed hummingbird

2.  White-throated flycatcher

3.  Mourning warbler

4.  Northern waterthrush

5. Buff-throated saltator

6. Prevost’s ground-sparrow

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