A Short Walk to Quebrada La Loca

It’s a very short walk from the house down to the forest patch at Quebrada La Loca. The main attraction of this location is primarily its beauty. I rarely find anything other than quite common bird species there. Today, which saw my first walk there in quite a long time, was no exception. The two signature species, Sunbittern and Fasciated Tiger-Heron, were in hiding. However, another two species that I cannot find in my garden, but which are always there, were very active and in full view. These are the Golden-crowned Warbler (Basileuterus culicivorus) and the White-breasted Wood-Wren (Henicorhina leucosticta).

Quebrada La Loca at don Martin's

Quebrada La Loca in the dry season

The former is, despite its name, a rather dull-plumaged little bird. Here at Quebrada La Loca it is usually found inside the forest patch and is hard to see satisfactorily in the gloom. Today a small group frolicked happily on the outside of the trees straight opposite don Martin’s cabin. They seemed to be feeding mostly on a small, pale berry that may be a type of mistletoe. I still have no satisfactory photograph of this rather common species.

The same is true of the White-breasted Wood-Wren. It is always good to see this species clearly here in San Antonio because in theory the Gray-breasted Wood-Wren (Henicorhina leucophrys) is also present. Since I cannot properly distinguish between the calls or songs of the two species, I am happy to note that today’s birds were again leucosticta. I have not noted the Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, in our immediate area at least, below about 1800 m. The shaky picture below of a banded Whiteo-breasted was taken by yours truly years ago at CATIE. How I managed to bungle the shot is beyond me.

White-breasted wood-wren

White-breasted Wood-Wren in the hand at CATIE

Frequently I find the forest at this location remarkably quiet. I have occasionally seen here some rather exciting species such as Bicolored Hawk and Barred Hawk. On this morning’s visit I had no such luck, but several common species were quite conspicuous and noisy.  A family group of Streak-headed Woodcreepers (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii) was up close and personal, flitting from one tree trunk to another and ignoring me completely, while Buff-throated Saltators (Saltator maximus) were also feeding their juveniles. This saltator is found inside the forest much more easily than are our other two local saltator species.

Woodcreeper, Streak-headed garden Santa Rosa

Streak-headed Woodcreeper, courtesy of John Beer

Saltator, Buff-throated, Santa Rosa, garden (3)

Buff-throated Saltator takes a peek; photographed by John Beer in nearby Santa Rosa de Turrialba

Possibly the least common bird on today’s list was the Yellow-olive Flycatcher (Tolmomyias sulphurescens) because I have found it here on only a handful of occasions.

Flycatcher, Yellow-olive, El Banco (2)

Yellow-olive Flycatcher with its distinctive light iris; photograph by John Beer

It shared a tree with a pair of Tropical Gnatcatchers (Polioptila plumbea), a dainty little black-and-white bird that is rarely found singly.

Gnatcatcher, Tropical male CATIE (6)

Male Tropical Gnatcatcher, photographed by John Beer

My total of 37 common species in the space of a little more than one hour is fairly typical for the month of August. The full list can be found at:


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