Is that woodpecker a Rufous-winged or just a Golden-olive?

Visitors to Costa Rica will be thrilled with “just” a Golden-olive Woodpecker (Colaptes rubiginosus)! It’s a beautiful bird, especially the male with its red moustache, but it is much more common than the look-alike Rufous-winged Woodpecker (Piculus simplex). Here’s a Golden-olive not far from my house:

Golden-olive woodpeckerChalo

Friend Chalo Porras surprised this male Golden-olive Woodpecker at his finca in nearby San Diego

The key differences between this species and the Rufous-winged Woodpecker are clearly seen here: blue-grey crown and pale cheeks. Note also the dark eye.

It was Count Day for the Cerulean Warbler but I was unable to contribute even a single migrant warbler, let alone a Cerulean! On the other hand, the road above Guayabo National Monument was alive with birds on this Sunday morning. Clinging to the trunk of a guarumu (Cecropia) was one of the best birds of the day, a female Rufous-winged Woodpecker. Arnoldo Garcia’s lovely photograph is of a male bird:

Rufous-winged Woodpecker Arnoldo Garcia

Male Rufous-winged Woodpecker, courtesy of Arnoldo García

The only migrant I did find was a Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus), which is a paler version of the Yellow-green Vireo (Vireo flavoviridis). The latter species nests regularly in our garden before returning to South America (N.B. for the geographically challenged, Costa Rica is neither an island nor is it in South America!), but it has now fallen silent and I have not been able to find one for the last couple of months. The Red-eyed Vireo has now arrived and many sightings have been reported. It will be here in large numbers from now until late November, by which time almost all will have flown south. They move back through here on their northward migration between late March and May. In Costa Rica, this vireo is generally silent as it passes through but, as the following photo shows, they are quite vocal when on their home turf:

Red-eyed Vireo Minnesota

Red-eyed Vireo in Minnesota; photo by Larry Waddell

Several hummingbirds made an appearance, including both the “little hermit” (Stripe-throated Hermit (Phaethornis striigularis))….

Hummingbird, Hermit, Stripe-throated (Santa Rosa, garden) (4)

Stripe-throated Hermit at nearby Santa Rosa, courtesy of John Beer

…and the “big hermit” (Long-billed Hermit (Phaethornis longirostris)), which does not appear in my garden here in San Antonio:

Long-billed Hermit Guillermo Saborío

Long-billed Hermit, courtesy of Guillermo Saborío and the Asociación Ornitológica de Costa Rica


Lovers of predatory species would have enjoyed the views I had of a pair of noisy but strikingly handsome Bat Falcons (Falco rufigularis) that sat on a bare tree close to the Monument entrance. This is perhaps the same pair that often occupy a high perch close to the giant La Muralla waterfall, which is only about 1 km distant if you can fly in a straight line:

Falcon, Bat, La Muralla (6)

Bat Falcon at La Muralla, photograph by John Beer

My full list of 74 species can be found at:

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