A common bird in many parts of Mexico and also fairly common in Costa Rica’s northwest, the Rose-throated Becard (Pachyramphus aglaiae) is a bit of a misnomer in this part of the world. Neither the cinnamon-coloured female nor the all-dark male displays the pink throat that distinguishes the bird further north.
A morning excursion to the CATIE canal in the company of John and Milena Beer brought a bumper crop of birds, many feeding on the caterpillar-infested trees overhanging the canal. Milena also found a male Rose-throated Becard, but John and I missed out. It’s a species that is definitely a rarity in our area, and this was only my second sighting in these many years in Costa Rica. For comparison purposes, here’s a Cinnamon Becard (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus) photographed by John at this same location:
You can almost always find Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias), Green Ibis (Mesembrinibis cayennensis) and Russet-naped Wood-Rail (Aramides cajaneus) on the canal banks. Such was the case this day, with perhaps as many as 8 or 10 of the latter species, formerly termed Gray-necked Wood-Rail. The following three beautiful photographs were all taken by John Beer at the CATIE canal:
We were kept busy with binoculars and camera for several hours without walking more than a few hundred yards. As recently was the case at Las Brisas, birds were everywhere. We recorded at least 8 species of migrant warblers (see our eBird list at the end of this post) but were surprised to find that the Bay-breasted Warbler (Setophaga castanea) was by far the most numerous.
This migrant from the north is not usually in breeding plumage in Costa Rica and I find it can be tricky to identify. It is fairly large for a warbler and its bill is not as slender as those of many other warbler species. There is sometimes only a bare hint of the characteristic reddish-brown flanks and in our area we must be careful to separate it safely from the juvenile Blackburnian Warbler (Setophaga fusca):
For the full day’s list at the CATIE canal, including extra photographs, please see: