Great Curassow out of nowhere

A stay at Laguna Arenal in Guanacaste last week to celebrate my wife’s birthday allowed only cursory bird-watching. However, on the return trip home a male Great Curassow (Crax rubra) half-walked, half-flew across the paved road just as we left the lake to head for the tourist town of La Fortuna.


Male Great Curassow, photographed further north at Biagra by Richard Garrigues

The pheasant-like pavón (“big turkey”), as it is called in Spanish, measures 3 feet from head to tail and is now found mostly only in protected areas. Identification is not a problem! There are no records that I know of from close to Turrialba, though one entry in the eBird database is marked for our area. Unfortunately, the location is very much in error since the sighting refers to the Esquinas Rainforest Lodge in the south of the country. Actually, my only other encounters with the Great Curassow have been right next to that lodge at the University of Vienna’s La Gamba Tropical Station (Tropenstation La Gamba). See my post of some three years ago from my first visit with friend Armin Dett, who has now published his first book on Costa Rican moths.

The Great Curassow is a monogamous species and is often seen in pairs. Here’s a shot of the female, which wears brown rather than black:

Great curassow female (1)

Female Great Curassow, courtesy of Karel Straatman

Mornings at the lake began each day with loudly calling Howler Monkeys and large flocks of Orange-chinned Parakeets (Brotogeris jugularis):

Parakeet, Orange-chinned, Siquirres (1)

Orange-chinned Parakeet at Siquirres, not far from Turrialba, courtesy of John Beer

The orange chin is hard to see but the brown shoulder and short pointed tail, together with its almost non-stop screeching and chattering, make it fairly easy to identify.

Another noisy species typical of Guanacaste and hard to miss is the large blue-and-white White-throated Magpie-Jay (Calocitta formosa). It tends to travel in groups and is extending its range, but unlike the Orange-chinned Parakeet it is not yet found in the Turrialba area at all.

Jay, Magpie-, White-throated, Playa Junquillal (5)

White-throated Magpie-Jay at Junquillal, courtesy of John Beer

There is very much more for me to discover in the Arenal area but it will have to wait until another day.

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