5 life birds at Guayabo National Monument

Map of area showing location of Guayabo National Monument

Map of area showing location of Guayabo National Monument

A morning trip to the Guayabo National Monument, located very close to my home, proved extremely rewarding.  The Monument has been much renovated and improved during the last year and is now proving quite a tourist attraction.  There are two paths, but only the main one seems to attract the tourists.   It’s a forest experience in many parts; it’s a pity that it”s late opening time (8.00 am) means that the very best hours for birding are lost.   Adilio, Lisbeth and Tito were my kind hosts and helped immensely throughout.  Lisbeth was particularly impressed because it was her first visit.  Why have I not been birding here more frequently?  To see 5 totally new birds, consisting of a flycatcher, an antbird and 3 tanagers, in just a few hours and at so close a distance to home, is quite astonishing.

My new birds are:

  1. Immaculate antbird (Myrmeciza immaculata)
  2. Slaty-capped flycatcher (Leptopogon superciliaris)*
  3. Dusky-faced tanager (Mitrospingus cassinii)
  4. Emerald tanager ((Tangara florida)
  5. Speckled tanager (Tangara guttata)

Only one of these (Immaculate antbird) was found on the trails inside the Monument itself.  The birding on the road, just above the Monument entrance, is excellent, and the picnic area opposite the entrance is also a good shady spot with many trees now fruiting that attract avian species.  The picnic area is where a small mixed flock contained the Speckled tanager (small flock) and the Emerald tanager.

We drove to the Monument via Guayabo Arriba and birded the road on the approach.  I have described this in a previous post.  On this occasion, however, we had some considerable identification problems, in particular with a small flycatcher with a pale yellow belly and a black ear-patch.  I defer to Adilio’s opinion that it was a Slaty-capped flycatcher, though in retrospect all kinds of doubts appear.  Illustrations in both Stiles & Skutch and in Garrigues & Dean show a bird with a much yellower belly.  On the same stretch we had a noisy pair of Dusky-faced tanagers.  They were down low and behaving more like ground-sparrows than tanagers, but their name fits their appearance entirely.  I knew that it was a life bird for me as soon as I saw them.

We could have spent lots more time birding the road, but Lisbeth was anxious to see the monument.  Inside was where we found what was probably the best bird, the Immaculate antbird.  I was surprised to see it because antbirds are hard to come by everywhere, it seems. The location was in thick undergrowth on the main trail.  A female was also present, though I saw only the male, and then only briefly.  However, the blue orbital skin on the black male makes it unmistakable, and my brief view of it was a most enjoyable moment.  A true knee-trembler, as a birding colleague once put it.

The park is well kept and quite beautiful, even though the archaeological exhibits cannot match the wonders of the Mayan civilisation found in Guatemala and Mexico, for example.  A signature bird here is the Collared araçari, which seems always to be present and highly visible.

Collared araçari, courtesy of Karel Straatman

Collared araçari, courtesy of Karel Straatman

Two other great birds for me, also on the main trail, were the Orange-billed sparrow and the Stripe-breasted wren, neither of which I had seen previously in our area.  The only bird of note on the secondary trail was the Boat-billed flycatcher, which I have also not been able to find in San Antonio, but the trail itself is in thick forest and is quite beautiful.  Note the bill on this Great kiskadee look-alike:

Boat-billed flycatcher

Boat-billed flycatcher, courtesy of Richard Garrigues


The day’s list (Guayabo National Monument area only) is as follows:

  1. Gray-headed chachalaca
  2. Black vulture
  3. Turkey vulture
  4. Roadside hawk
  5. Red-billed pigeon
  6. Ruddy ground-dove
  7. Crimson-fronted parakeet
  8. White-crowned parrot
  9. Squirrel cuckoo
  10. Groove-billed ani
  11. White-collared swift
  12. Green hermit
  13. Stripe-throated hermit
  14. Rufous-tailed hummingbird
  15. Blue-crowned motmot
  16. Keel-billed toucan
  17. Collared araçari
  18. Plain xenops
  19. Olivaceous woodcreeper
  20. Paltry tyrannulet
  21. Yellow-bellied elaenia
  22. Piratic flycatcher
  23. Common tody-flycatcher
  24. Dusky-capped flycatcher
  25. Boat-billed flycatcher
  26. Great kiskadee
  27. Social flycatcher
  28. Tropical kingbird
  29. Cinnamon becard
  30. Masked tityra
  31. White-collared manakin
  32. Brown jay
  33. Blue-and-white swallow
  34. Northern rough-winged swallow
  35. Southern rough-winged swallow
  36. Band-backed wren
  37. Stripe-breasted wren
  38. Bay wren
  39. Plain wren
  40. House wren
  41. Orange-billed nightingale-thrush
  42. Swainson’s thrush
  43. Clay-colored thrush
  44. Tennessee warbler
  45. Yellow warbler
  46. Chestnut-sided warbler
  47. Dusky-faced tanager
  48. Emerald tanager
  49. Speckled tanager
  50. Golden-hooded tanager
  51. Bay-headed tanager
  52. Silver-throated tanager
  53. Blue-gray tanager
  54. Palm tanager
  55. Green honeycreeper
  56. Yellow-faced grassquit
  57. Orange-billed sparrow
  58. Black-striped sparrow
  59. Rufous-collared sparrow
  60. Grayish saltator
  61. Buff-throated saltator
  62. Melodious blackbird
  63. Great-tailed grackle
  64. Montezuma oropendola

Photographs of key birds are still to be added.


One thought on “5 life birds at Guayabo National Monument

  1. Pingback: Big wrens, bigger parrots in Costa Rica | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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