Laughing Falcon near El Carmen

Here’s a fairly common bird that nonetheless is always a great thrill to see: the Laughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans). John Beer’s photo below was taken in his garden in Santa Rosa, but two days ago I was spellbound by another (actually, perhaps even the same individual!) laughing at me at very close quarters just above the hamlet of El Banco, which is located above Santa Rosa and Verbena Sur and below the village of El Carmen, which itself is on the Turrialba-Pacayas road.


For the first time, I had the opportunity to look very closely, as the bird watched me warily approach. It seemed quite fearless and inspected me with evident curiosity for a period of at least 15 minutes. It bobs its head up and down, owl-like, just a little, and moves its tail from side to side. The creamy plumage of the body is in strong contrast to the wedge-shaped black mask, which tapers towards the back of the head.

The bird flew off to another tree a couple of hundred yards away, to the accompaniment of shrieking Brown Jays. Even at long distance, its light colour stood out against the dark foliage of its new perch.

This morning sees a continuous and ominous eruption of the Turrialba Volcano above us and we suspect that our friend’s incoming flight, due to arrive in a couple of hours, will be diverted to Liberia in the north of the country.




3 thoughts on “Laughing Falcon near El Carmen

  1. We have some new activity from two volcanoes in Ecuador this week.. Cotopaxi and Tunguragua (sp) are both releasing some stress. These photos that you share are pretty dramatic – wow, I am glad I’m not on an arrival to SJO!

    A laughing falcon often perches in a strangler/aguacatillo tree behind the house, and it is so fun to laugh back. Recently we saw it catch a big long green snake then perch as it pondered what to do with it! This past week six or seven golden-headed quetzals were in that same tree, and they also have a unique ‘laugh’ which always summons me to go watch/observe and wish for a better camera!


  2. They are beautiful and the ones I’ve seen have always hung around and checked out my approach for quite some time. The jays certainly don’t like them though!


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