Rufous Mourner and more at Las Brisas

The 8th Cerulean Warbler Count at the rich environment of Reserva Las Brisas brought sightings of more than a hundred other bird species in addition to the target species.


I had already glimpsed the Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea) for the first time at Pavones, Turrialba, just one day prior to the Las Brisas visit, but now I was treated to much better looks, starting from the day of arrival, which was followed by the actual Count Day. By the way, I still have not noted the species in my own patch of San Antonio de Santa Cruz de Turrialba. In addition, and within an hour of my arrival, Ernesto and Paz were able to show me two more species that were new to me, the Rufous Mourner (Rhytipterna holerythra) and the Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher (Todirostrum nigriceps).


Rufous Mourner, courtesy of Jorge Obando and the Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica

Looking at the illustrations in the bird guides, I had always feared that I would not be able to identify the Rufous Mourner, either because of its similarity to the Rufous Piha or because the Cinnamon Becard, also at one time considered a flycatcher, is a relatively common bird with the same general plumage colour. Now, however, after seeing the Mourner (it also appeared on Count Day), I can discount anything more than a superficial resemblance to the Becard. The rather large black eye gives it a quite different look, in my opinion. The Piha may be something else, but I have heard of no local sightings of that species even though it is described in the guides as fairly common in the Caribbean up to 1200 m.

Neither can the Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher be confused with the Common Tody-Flycatcher, a species which seems to flit lightly around almost every garden in Costa Rica. The former’s dark iris and white throat are excellent distinguishing marks. I had probably seen it on previous occasions, but it stays high in tree-tops and, tiny in size, is rather hard to spot. Compare the photographs below:


Barely a day goes by without my seeing the Common Tody-Flycatcher in the garden


Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher with its distinctive black iris and white throat, courtesy again of Jorge Obando and the Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica

See my next post for the enthralling evening owl prowl at Las Brisas.

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