The new edition of the field guide most used in Costa Rica, The Birds of Costa Rica (Garrigues & Dean), lists “Typical Antbirds (Thamnophilidae)” between pages 212 and 221. Antpittas and Antthrushes are now treated separately, but this still leaves the beginning birder in Costa Rica with a very complex situation as regards identification of Antbirds, Antshrikes, Antvireos and Antwrens, almost all birds of the dark forest.
I still struggle mightily both to find them and to identify them but recent contact with some of the best birders in the country has helped me a lot. This week, I added three antbird species to my life list through a visit to Steven and Magda Easley in nearby Verbena Sur, and a subsequent visit with them to the Tuis area, which is located on the other side of Turrialba from our volcano. At Verbena Sur, Steven first showed me the Dull-mantled Antbird (Myrmeciza laemosticta), a species I had missed on previous visits to La Mina, near Tuis, where this species is regularly found.
In the same habitat, I was given good views also of Plain Antvireo (Dysithamnus mentalis), not an easy identification for the novice. I had not realised that the antvireos forage higher up than the species with names ending in antbird. For good measure, we also found Slaty Antwren (Myrmotherula schisticolor), a bird that I have seen before but rarely been able to identify with confidence. Photos to follow.
The third species new to me was the Checker-throated Antwren (Myrmotherula fulviventris) , also found close to the ground, usually investigating dry leaves. This one was on the approach road to Rancho Naturalista at Tuis.
No antshrikes, generally found in perhaps more open environments, are included here. All these beautiful photographs are courtesy of Steven Easley, whom I cannot thank enough for his guidance.