My very first Costa Rican owl was the Bare-shanked Screech-owl (Megascops clarkii), and I quickly became accustomed to hearing it calling at night. Some habitat loss in the last year seems to have made it a much less frequent visitor, but today I was treated to a detailed close-up look at a very tawny-faced adult, with prominent ear tufts, in our driveway güitite tree, at 4.30 in the afternoon of an overcast day. The owl paid no attention to the commotion caused all around him by a host of small but very annoyed garden birds. My little camera again failed to reproduce what my new Vortex binoculars were showing me, but here are the two best photos I could manage.
The güitite is a wonderful tree, and here you can plainly see the corrugated bark, which is an ideal surface for epiphytes and orchids. When the tree fruits, birds flock to eat the from the profusion of small yellow berries. Ah yes, the owl. Well, he has his head turned to the left of the picture and refused to look the camera in the eye. Here’s the best close-up:
Still very disappointing, I know, but I have a very clear image stowed safely away in my memory.
We are now in mid-April. The only northern migrant I could find today was the Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica). Fortunately, I can rely on friend Karel Straatman for a nice shot of a breeding male that looks much like the two birds I found today.
Final noteworthy events of the day: The back patio nest of the Clay-colored Thrushes fell and spilled its two fledgling occupants. I returned the nest to a safe, high place and the parent birds have resumed feeding. A Keel-billed Toucan landed low in a guacamaya tree straight opposite us as we were preparing to feed our koi at the pond. Though it’s a common enough bird, it still makes an amazing sight at close quarters. No camera this time!