My first Slate-throated Redstart in San Antonio

Slate-throated redstart

To my great delight, I discovered a pair of nesting Slate-throated redstarts (Myoborus miniatus) in the thick forest behind Bar Las Truchas at the top of the hill.  It’s a common enough species, supposedly between 700 m to 2100 m, and you almost always find it once you come up from the Caribbean lowlands.  Here in San Antonio, however, I am now recording it for the first time.  This warbler is a handsome fellow and fairly easy to recognise because of its redstart habit of fanning the white tail feathers.  It’s often found with the similar but yellow-faced Collared redstart (Myoborhus torcuatus), a resident of the highlands only.

Common highland denizen, the Collared Redstart; photo by John Beer

The beginning birder in Costa Rica should immediately think of these two when he sees a warbler fanning white tail feathers.

Although this is the slow time of the year for warblers, since most of them are migrants from the north, it is still relatively easy to find the Tropical parula (Parula pitiayumi), probably the commonest resident warbler hereabouts.  The dark blue back and yellow front always make me think of some of the more common euphonias, but the yellow is definitely darker, tending a little to orange perhaps.  The illustrations in several field guides show a prominent white wing bar but none of the birds around here show any more than a slight trace of white on the wing.

No wing bar on this bird either!

In other local news, a fledgling Bare-shanked screech-owl (Megascops clarkii) was handed in to the Turrialba Volcano park guards (who live next door) and I was able to snap a couple of photos before it was hurried off, I was told, to a recovery program in Turrialba (?).  Unbelievably, they had left it with the secretary who was trying to feed it fruit.  This species can be heard most nights in San Antonio.

What am I doing here?

Local naturalist and guide Jorge Fernandez at reports sightings of Gray-headed kite (Leptodon cayanensis) in the village, a bird that I have never seen myself.  Unfortunately, its size and its clean-cut appearance make it hard to reconcile with an accipiter-like bird that has appeared in the garden several times recently.  Here’s a photo of this species that Karel Straatman took in Florida.

Gray-headed kite

The Bi-colored hawk (Accipiter bicolor) seems a likelier candidate in terms of the description, but this is a rare species, even though it is found as high as 1800 m, and it’s another one with which I am totally unfamiliar.  My glimpses forbid a definite identification.  My best view was two days ago when a fairly small, dark-backed, pale-fronted hawk landed on the ground not far from the front door clutching a Great kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) (perhaps a fledgling) and warding off incredibly raucous and bold attacks from two others, presumably Mum and Dad.  A long, barred tail was in evidence as it flew off, but I had no time to grab the binoculars.  Here’s a shot of one of my garden kiskadees.

Kiskadee after a quick dip

A little way up the road, neighbour Nerón showed me a nest of a the beautiful Blue-crowned motmot (Momotus momata).  Well, he didn’t really show it me, of course, because it’s somewhere in a long and deep hole in a bank of the Quebrada La Loca.  This is a common bird in much of its range but here it is at the extreme eastern edge of its distribution in the Central Valley.

No other motmots have appeared in San Antonio while I have been here, but the Rufous motmot (Baryphthengus martii) and the Broad-billed motmot (Electron platyrhynchum) are both found a little further downslope, they say.  Despite being designated as fairly common and common respectively, they have succeeded in hiding from me so far.  But look how fine the Blue-crowned is!

Blue-crowned motmot

All photos except the kiskadee and the owl are courtesy of Karel Straatman.

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