Yellow birds nesting in a Costa Rican garden

Meanwhile, back in Costa Rica…

Yellow bird, up high in banana tree… These words, sung on BBC radio at that time by Harry Belafonte, connect my infancy in Rotherham, Yorkshire, with my old age in Costa Rica. And yet I don’t know which of the following birds, if any, the writers (Alan and Marilyn Bergman) of the English lyrics to that Haitian song had in mind.

John Beer continues to keep me up to date with birding in and around Turrialba during my absence, and so here are a few of his recent photos of garden-nesting species. All of these are yellow and all will be very familiar to those birders lucky enough to know Costa Rica. These photos will, I hope, remind you not to neglect those common or garden species!

Bananaquit, Santa Rosa (2)

Bananaquit, at rest for a change

The Bananaquit (Coeraba flaveola) is easily found in Costa Rican gardens. High-pitched twittering and quick movements characterise this species. It belongs to no single, clearly defined genus but is referred to locally as the pinchaflor (flower pricker) as it competes with hummingbirds at flowering bushes and trees.

John and his wife Milena also enjoy having at least two species of euphonia nesting in their garden in Santa Rosa:


Male Yellow-throated Euphonia (Euphonia hirundinacea)

The male helps out with the nest-building duties:


Male Yellow-throated Euphonia with nesting material in John’s garden

Can’t see a yellow throat? Consider the Yellow-crowned Euphonia (Euphonia luteicapilla). Bird guide maps to the contrary, both species are equally common in our area. The males are readily distinguishable, less so the drabber yellow females.

Euphonia, Yellow-crowned, male, Santa Rosa (5)

I can make a nest too! A male Yellow-crowned Euphonia also in John’s garden.

Two more yellow nesting species are the Common Tody-Flycatcher (Todirostrum cinereum) and the Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus) (what John, no kiskadee?). The Tody builds a long, hanging nest pouch with a side entrance. John informs me that the Tody pair had to rebuild after their first nest was destroyed by a Social Flycatcher, yet another common, yellow-bellied resident.

Flycatcher, Tody-, Common, nest, Santa Rosa (3)

A Common Tody-Flycatcher, known locally from the shape of its bill as the espatulilla (little spatula), sits above its nest

The Tropical Kingbird has a huge range in the tropics and sub-tropics of the western hemisphere. It too is breeding in John’s garden, as this final photo, of an immature bird, shows:

Flycatcher, Kingbird, Tropical, immature, Santa Rosa (1)

Annoyed or just plain hungry?  A juvenile Tropical Flycatcher shows its typical grey head and yellow underparts

Many thanks to John and Milena for such close attention to their garden birds and for the many lovely photos of common species that really deserve our attention. Next report will come from Larry Waddell as he waits for the blackfly invasions up there in Minnesota.

2 thoughts on “Yellow birds nesting in a Costa Rican garden

  1. Beautiful, what fun for John and Milena to be able to see all these little beauties nesting up close and personal. Lucky I can see yellow well!


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