Red-headed Barbet at Aquiares

One of the most striking of plumages among middle-elevation birds in our area is that of the male Red-headed Barbet (Eubucco bourcierii).


Male Red-headed Barbet with accompanying Silver-throated Tanagers, courtesy of Richard Garrigues

Visitors often want to see this bird, particularly because of the male’s red, yellow and green plumage but I am really at a loss to find a nearby location where we are sure to find them. So it was a surprise when a pair suddenly appeared on the trail to the Mirador at Aquiares. This is located at the high point, perhaps more than 1300 m, on the giant Aquiares coffee farm. It is perhaps the most heavily forested section of the farm and affords beautiful views down towards the town of Aquiares and across to Santa Cruz and the Turrialba Volcano.

Our target birds were a pair of Plain Xenops (Xenops minutus) that John had found nesting in a hole in a guarumu, and a Rufous Mourner (Rhytipterna holerythra) that he had seen in the immediate vicinity. The Bi-colored Hawk (Accipiter bicolor), rare in most parts of the country, was another good possibility.

Treecreeper, Xenops, Plain, Aquiares (3)

Plain Xenops feeding young

As for the barbets, we had only brief glimpses before they disappeared. Several other species appeared at the same spot but not the Rufous Mourner, seen below in John’s earlier photo taken at the same location:

Flycatcher, Mourner, Rufous, Aquiares (3)

Rufous Mourner at Aquiares

The Rufous Mourner is a fairly common lowland species found on both coasts but I have recorded it only sparsely in our area. Accompanying us overhead almost throughout our morning visit was a small group of Swallow-tailed Kites (Elanoides forficatus).  I have recorded this magnificently elegant species here locally in most months of the year but not, so far, between the months of October and February. Though most individuals fly south after September, it is a breeding resident in Costa Rica and can be found from Florida south to northern Argentina.

Kite, Swallo-tailed, against forest, Aquiares

Looking down over the Aquiares coffee fields: Swallow-tailed Kite

The list of species for the morning is short because I have restricted it to only the area of the Aquiares Mirador, omitting many common species found in the coffee fields below. As usual it can be found at the eBird database:




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