Stunningly beautiful when seen in good light, but also so common in some areas as to be dismissed as ‘just another’, the Silver-throated tanger (Tangara icterocephala) has been a favourite of mine ever since the first one stopped me in my tracks at Bajo del Toro, a pristine mountain area between Volcán Poás and Volcán Porvenir.
It’s Bird of the Weekend for me here in San Antonio, where it actually occurs rather infrequently. Just a five-minute walk in the garden will usually produce Blue-gray, Palm, Passerini’s and Golden-hooded tanagers, all species that I can mostly tick off as birds observed on any given day. Those visiting Costa Rica for the first time will also surely count all these among their first sightings. But the Silver-throated has been in the garden on only two or three occasions, so whenever I see one I am taken back to the highland forest of Bajo del Toro. This bird is found mostly at middle elevations. Its Spanish name, Tangara dorada, golden tanager, fits it equally well, since the first impression is usually of a mostly golden-yellow bird with black stripes on its back. However, it’s the silvery throat that prevents any problem distinguishing it from other yellow tangara species. I am becoming more familiar with its buzzy call note, quite different from the calls of the other tanagers in the garden. This one wasn’t in the garden, but a few minutes away at don Martín’s. He was busy planting nísperos, while I was hoping for another look at the Fasciated tiger-heron. The Quebrada was full and running noisily, making the spot even prettier than usual, but no aquatic species were to be seen. The tanagers, at least two, appeared on the slope, fussing in some branches above Martín’s head. That’s the second sighting of this species at that location close to the patch of forest.