Flocking Scarlet-thighed Dacnis

A cold front has kept us all relatively cold for some time now, but a morning visit to the canal at CATIE down in Turrialba coincided with a brief patch of sunshine to brighten up our day. The highlight came as John, Larry and I were ending our walk. We had been looking for a large flock of mostly Scarlet-thighed Dacnis (Dacnis venusta) that both my friends had sighted there this same week. The size of the flock was estimated at up to 30 or more individuals. On this occasion the number was more modest, but it was still an impressive sight to see the electric blue dots that were the males among the trees.

Dacnis, Scarlet-thighed, male, Canal CATIE (1)

Thighs hidden on this male Scarlet-thighed Dacnis; photo by John Beer

Only the male has the scarlet garlands around the thighs and the female’s plumage is so different that it might be mistaken for a completely different species. Also, one has to be wary: John’s first photo of a female below does not look much like the illustrations in the guide books:

Dacnis, Scarlet-thighed, female, Canal CATIE (1)

The head of the female Scarlet-thighed Dacnis looks very blue here, but…

Dacnis, Scarlet-thighed, female, Canal CATIE (3)

Female Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, courtesy of John Beer

With only a modest water flow in the CATIE canal the birding can be remarkably good. To see the morning’s full list of species plus some additional photographs, go to the following link at eBird:

http://ebird.org/ebird/camerica/view/checklist/S42017793

 

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