Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge

Over the highly enjoyable eight years plus of living and bird-watching in this small rural village of San Antonio de Santa Cruz de Turrialba, one bird in particular achieved, with me at least, semi-legendary status: the famous Chirrascuá, whose unwieldy English name is the Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge (Dendrortyx leucophrys). All the villagers of the older generations seem to know at least its call, which gives it its local name, yet it has not been seen here by any reliable observer for many years.

It’s hard to get a glimpse let alone a photograph, but fortunately, Richard Garrigues has made available the following pic of a bird in Costa Rica:

buffy-crowned_wood-partridge_B

Fleeing Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge

The species is not endemic to Costa Rica, since it is found in all Central American countries with the exception of Panama, and also in southern Mexico. It may be common in some areas, but I saw it this week for the very first time in a location that is surprisingly easy of access, the Parque Ambiental Rio Loro, just off the main highway between San Jose and Cartago. The park is situated at an elevation of 1580 m and offers a place of surprising natural beauty, featuring giant trees, close to one of the most travelled highways in the country. It is beautifully kept but, like many similar parks in the country, it opens late and closes early, which takes away the best hours for bird-watching. The very helpful Park staff confirmed that the Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge is easy to see on the paths there in early morning and late afternoon!  The park should perhaps be avoided on weekends and public holidays, when it is full of families who tend to be rather noisy, though I certainly don’t begrudge them the time spent in such a beautiful place. The park does have a couple of trails that are away from the family picnic area; they are a delight and were quite deserted for my visit. Highly recommended if you have a spare hour or two on your way between Cartago and San Jose.

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