Painted Bunting at CATIE

Distribution maps for bird species are notoriously difficult to compile with any degree of certainty.  As Peterson famously noted, birds have wings and they can fly wherever they want to.  The recent appearance of a Resplendent quetzal at Tortuguero is a good example.  On a much more minor scale, we have Yellow-throated euphonias (Euphonia hirundinacea) here on the Caribbean side fairly regularly, and recent bandings at CATIE have included a White-fronted parrot (Amazona albifrons) from Guanacaste and a Mangrove cuckoo (Coccyzus minor), presumably from the nearest mangroves.  The Mangrove cuckoo, however, is mapped for the Pacific, not the Caribbean Coast.

Monday, December 6, brought another surprise in the form of a Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris).  Unfortunately it was a juvenile, we think female, and was therefore not attired in the stunning sietecolores of the adult male.

Juvenile Painted Bunting at CATIE

Monday was a red-letter day for me again because we banded three birds that I had never before seen in Costa Rica.  Besides the Painted Bunting, we had a Magnolia warbler (Dendroica magnolia), a “very uncommon” migrant, according to Garrigues, and a Philadelphia vireo (Vireo philadelphicus).  I thought I saw a bird of this species at my house a couple of weeks ago but I didn’t get a really good look, so this one was not as much of a surprise as the other two.

We had trouble identifying a small flycatcher, either the Yellow-margined flycatcher  (Tolmomyias assimilis) or the Yellow-olive flycatcher  (Tolmomyias sulphurescens).  The chief distinguishing feature is said to be the iris, dark in the former and pale in the latter.  This pale-eyed individual, however, was estimated to be a juvenile, and guess what?  Ah yes, the juvenile assimilis has a pale iris!  Grrr!  Alejandra still hasn’t made up her mind which species this is.

Another neat bird was a female White-necked jabobin (Florisuga mellivorawith its lovely speckled throat, and once again we were kept too busy with numerous birds in the nets to stop for a breakfast break.

Female White-necked jacobin

4 thoughts on “Painted Bunting at CATIE

  1. Hi Paul,

    I’m trying to track down info about that Quetzal in Tortuguero. Have only found hearsay so far. No names, dates or exact location. I see you mentioned it here. Do you have any info you could share?


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