Piratic flycatcher makes my day

Here's the bird that made my day

Here’s the bird that made my day

Pirates attacked a US warship somewhere in the Indian Ocean this week, and here in San Antonio a Piratic flycatcher (Legatis leocophaius) visited my garden no doubt looking to stick its grappling irons into some other poor bird’s nest.  A life bird for me, and on my home patch!

For once, I managed to get in at least three hours of birding here, on a cloudy day that had started with a fine drizzle.  Migrants, in particular warblers have been hard to come by lately, so I was happy to find a Yellow warbler (Dendroica petechia) and a Tennessee warbler (Vermivora peregrina).  A little morning sun also brought a Keel-billed toucan (Ramphastus sulphuratus) in close, up in the eucalyptus.  You hear them frequently, but they don’t come within camera range very often, unlike at friend Toby’s house, over in San Rafael.  He gets as many as a dozen every morning because his property backs onto the Juan Espino Blanco Reserve. This same week at Toby’s, I heard the whinnying of the Little tinamou (Crypturellus soui) and also found a Dusky-capped flycatcher (Myarchus tuberculifer)Masked tityras (Tityra semifasciata) and Black-cheeked woodpeckers (Melanerpes pucherani) were on dead limbs nearby.

Since I had put out a lot of over-ripe bananas, there were lots of visitors at the feeder, but only the usual suspects.  Among these, Grayish saltators (Saltator coerulescens) are conspicuously absent at the moment, but the beautiful little Golden-hooded tanagers (Tangara larvata) have been around a good bit lately.  This is one of 15 target species that CATIE is helping to work on at the moment, gathering sightings within the Corredor Biológico.

Yesterday had been the day of the  Semana Santa procession here in the village.  They reenact the Vía crucis each year, starting down at the bottom of the steep hill even before the bridge, and ending up fairly high not too much before the junction with the Santa Cruz-Guayabo road.  I concentrated on the event, staged and promoted mostly by the young folks of the village, and didn’t do any birding as such.

Semana Santa San Antonio de Santa Cruz de Turrialba

I did sneak looks down the Rio Guayabito but, as usual, there was no sign of the Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias).  Local guide, Jorge Fernández, was out for the procession and says that the Sunbittern is to be found now with some frequency close by his house, which backs onto the river.

Well, I mention the procession chiefly because, when it ended (with the inevitable crucifixion, of course), friend Fabio took me to a local dairy where the owner has some birds in cages.  Apart from some grassquits and seed-eaters (White-collared (Sporophila torqueola) included though no longer found around San Antonio, probably because of being caught for cages), the main interest was a pava (Crested guan (Penelope purpurascens) which had been found in emaciated condition near Peralta.  It was in a pen, but, according to the owner, runs free during most of the day, always returning faithfully in the evening.  He claims the bird is a female, thinking that the male is black and crested, so he is clearly confusing pavas with pavones (Great curassow (Crax rubra)).  It is a very handsome bird, at all events, and I shall return very soon for a photo shoot.  Here’s the Crested guan, minus the crest because of the camera-man!

Domesticated Crested Guan

Also of interest was a pair of catanos, parakeets, taken locally according to the owner.  They are the common Crimson-fronted parakeet (Aratinga finschi), seen in large numbers throughout the Turrialba region.  Many locals here have caged birds and it seems to be a custom that is not dying out at all, despite the now common knowledge about species depletion.

Although I did enjoy the views of the guan, parakeets, seed-eaters et alia (Rotherham Grammar School Latin, this time), today was a better day than yesterday because of the Piratic flycatcher that has caused me to write this post.  I’m a compulsive lister, and this one, besides being a lifer, made number 115 on my house list.  He (or she) was calling loudly and very distinctively from the top of the fruta de paloma that seems to attract so many species.  With only the sky as background, I couldn’t get a really great view, but it looks like a small version of the Sulphur-bellied flycatcher (Myodynastes luteiventris) but without any rufous in the tail.  The black through the eye was noticeable, but I could see barely a trace of yellow below.  I’d be interested to know if it’s thinking of nesting here (I saw only a single individual), so that I can observe its piratic behaviour.  It is said to boot other species out of their nests, either before they lay their eggs or even afterwards.  It arrives here in Costa Rica in January and stays until October, then returning to South America for three months or so.

The Piratic flycatcher has continued singing in my garden on subsequent days, which gives me hope for a possible nesting of this species here.   And so I knock off yet another species classified as common by all the bird guides, but there are many dozens more!

As an update, now in the month of May, I can report that at least one pair has stayed close by and presumably has either a nest or already fledged young.  I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

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