Lapwings and Trogons

The Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis) has only spread from southern South America in the last forty years and didn’t become established in Costa Rica until quite recently. The best place to find it in the Turrialba area is at Casa Turire and other locations close to the Angostura Dam, such as Florencia.

Lapwing, Southern, Angostura (1)

Southern Lapwing at Angostura; photo by John and Milena Beer

Here is the Old World version of the lapwing in an excellent photograph taken by Karel Straatman in Holland:

Lapwing Vanneau huppé De Groene Jonker 350D-500 Juin (7)Web

Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), courtesy of Karel Straatman

The species seems to be in decline in England, and on this trip I have had no more than one glimpse in a period lasting more than three months. It’s a strange situation where roles are reversed and lapwings are readily found in Costa Rica and not so readily found in England.

Another species that is common not only at Angostura but that is generally the commonest trogon in Costa Rica is the Gartered Trogon (Trogon caligatus). It is fairly easy to find on both the Caribbean and the Pacific side of the country but it prefers lowland habitats up to perhaps 1300 m. Only the latest field guides have made the recent name change from Violaceous Trogon. In Costa Rica this beautiful bird is one of three species of yellow-bellied trogons and is also the smallest of the family. John and Milena found the following pair at a nest in their usual haunts on the banks of the dam:


Trogon, Gartered, male, Angostura (1)

Male Gartered Trogon near its nest at Angostura, Turrialba; photo by John and Milena Beer.

Here’s the female, more modestly attired but still a very attractive bird:

Trogon, Gartered, female, Angostura (1)

Female Gartered Trogon; photo by John and Milena Beer

The Gartered Trogon frequently uses a wasps’ nest in which to raise its young. Such was the case with the pair above. John and Milena’s final photo shows the male entering the nest. The wasps continue to act as hosts, and also of course as defenders, of the nest:

Trogon, Gartered, male nest, Angostura

Is anybody at home? We assume that young trogons are already being fed!

For a comprehensive and entertaining look at Costa Rican trogons see Patrick O’Donnell‘s excellent post at

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