Black-crowned Tityra at Casa Turire

The latest scientific research has now placed Costa Rica’s two species of tityra in their own family along with the becards, the Speckled Mourner and the Northern Schiffornis (The Birds of Costa Rica, Garrigues and Dean, pp. 252-255). Of the two tityras, the Masked Tityra (Tityra semifasciata) is much the more common. Because of its dry, almost grunting call, locals here call it the pájaro chancho, the pig bird. It usually is found in pairs and prefers to perch in tree tops, often in exposed locations. If you see a fairly small, mostly white bird in our region, it is probably this species.

Male Masked tityra
Male Masked Tityra, courtesy of Karel Straatman

The similarly attired Black-crowned Tityra (Tityra  inquisitor) appears here much less frequently, and so it was with considerable delight that Sue, Wiet and I found a pair of this species in the beautiful gardens of the four-star hotel Casa Turire ( on the shores of the Angostura Dam just outside Turrialba.

Male Black-crowned Tityra
Male Black-crowned Tityra at Casa Turire

We couldn’t afford a gourmet meal (Casa Turire is really for special occasions only) but we enjoyed a very nice cup of coffee and toured their lovely gardens. The view over the Angostura Dam really needs a spotting scope but even without one we were able to spot at least one white-rumped Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) sailing over the water. Angostura is one of the very few locations south of Guanacaste where this species can reliably be found. Good numbers of Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) were the only ducks in plain view.

Snail Kite near the Isla Calero, Rio Colorado
Snail Kite near Isla Calero, Rio Colorado; photo courtesy of Andrey Acosta

Leaving Casa Turire, we had close-up looks at a loud pair of Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis) accompanied by a sole chick that must have hatched quite recently. A fairly recent invader of the country, this bird is termed avefría, cold bird, in Spanish, since its European counterpart, simply called Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), is found mostly in the cold climes of northern Europe. Our now Costa Rican bird originally comes, as its Latin name indicates, from the Patagonian south of the American continent.

One of a pair of breeding Southern Lapwings at Casa Turire, Turrialba
One of a pair of breeding Southern Lapwings at Casa Turire, Turrialba

And here’s the chick:

The single Lapwing chick
The single Lapwing chick

The morning was topped off by a fly-by Crested Caracara (Caracara cheriway) as we returned to Turrialba on the La Suiza road, the third local sighting for me in as many weeks.

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos are by kind courtesy of neighbour Sue Magree.

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