Double-toothed Kite at last!

The Double-toothed Kite (Harpagus bidentatus) is rated as a ‘fairly common’ raptor in most parts of Costa Rica, yet after almost 10 years in the country I find myself recording my first sighting of this species. This first pic was taken elsewhere in Costa Rica and is of a perched bird.

Double Toothed Kite

Female Double-toothed Kite at Manuel Antonio on the Pacific, courtesy of Larry Waddell

The white under-tail coverts are very conspicuous when the bird is in flight, which was the case with the two birds found on our excursion to the Rio Tuis this week. This neo-tropical species gets its name from two ‘teeth’ raised on the upper mandible. These are not visible in the field, however. The Double-toothed Kite often accompanies troops of monkeys and feeds on the lizards and insects that are frightened into view.

Friends John and Milena Beer had also seen, identified and photographed this beautiful hawk before, at Cuervito on the southern Pacific coast near Pavones. Here’s one of their photos:

Kite, Double-toothed, female, Cuervito (1)

Female Double-toothed Kite with all-rufous breast, courtesy of John Beer

Our Rio Tuis excursion was an amalgam of a fairly long birding walk and a barbecue cook-out on the banks of the river. The latter was particularly enjoyed by all 3 couples in our group of friends. For a more detailed report, see my next post. The birds of the day, for me at least, were the two Double-toothed Kites that soared above us for a few minutes as we slowly made our way up the Tuis river valley from broken pastureland into the forest. Here’s Larry’s pic of one of them:

Double-toothed Kite Rio Tuis

One of a pair: the longish tail and the puffy white leg-tufts are obvious field marks for the Double-toothed Kite.

High excitement, especially for me, since it’s a lifer!

Full list of sightings and a description of the excursion are in my next post.

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