Red-breasted Meadowlark / Tordo Pechirrojo

It is only recently that the species Sturnella militaris was rebaptized in English to become the Red-breasted Meadowlark. In the relatively new edition of The Birds of Costa Rica (Garrigues & Dean), it continues under its former name of Red-breasted Blackbird.

Meadowlark,  Red-breasted male; Florencia (5)

The male Red-breasted Meadowlark is a handsome fellow / El macho del Tordo Pechirrojo luce muy guapo

In Spanish, there is confusion also for visitors from Spain, where a “tordo” in general parlance translates to thrush in Britain. However, the European thrushes are termed “zorzales”, and not “tordos”, in the Spanish bird guides.  For Spanish-speakers in the Americas, “tordos” are blackbirds, but the European Blackbird (in English) is a “mirlo” in Spain!  Tico birders very sensibly avoid problems with regional nomenclature and tend to use the scientific, Latin name instead of the Spanish.

It is only recently that I have had close-up views of Sturnella militaris. John Beer’s photo above shows a male in the (temporarily) abandoned sugar-cane fields at Florencia that we were able to approach to within a few yards without difficulty. Those fields have been full of this and other seed-eating species for a couple of months now.  This affords the visiting birder from North America or Europe an excellent opportunity to become familiar with some of the more common Costa Rican seed-eaters.

Meadowlark,  Red-breasted (¿juvenile female¿; Florencia)

Juvenile female Red-breasted Meadowlark with signature eye-stripe / Hembra juvenil del Tordo Pechirrojo con su típica raya superciliar

Returning to the militaris, it is worth noting that this species seems to be expanding rapidly (from the south), no doubt in the wake of deforestation. Note too that the dull and streaky female looks quite different from the male, rather as does the female of the North American Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoenicius), yet another species expanding rapidly here, this time, however, from the north.

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