On September 10th John Beer and I visited the site of nesting Black-thighed Grosbeaks (Pheucticus tibialis) nest that he and Milena had discovered on the Turrialba Volcano road, above La Pastora.
This is one of 7 species in Costa Rica termed ‘grosbeaks’. It is a highland species found only in Costa Rica and western Panama. In our area it can be found at most locations on the Turrialba Volcano slope but I have not found it below around 1900 m elevation. John’s most recent visit allowed him to take some beautiful photographs of immature birds, reared without doubt at that nest.
Subsequently, the birds were still in the same area for Cornell Lab’s Global Big Day on October 6. A visiting group of young Costa Rican novice birders were thrilled to find this and several other species resident only in the highlands. Below are three of those:
Looking and behaving rather like a woodcreeper, the Ruddy Treerunner (Margarornis rubiginosus) is found on most visits to the volcano slope. It is another species found only in Costa Rica and western Panama. You need a good look at it to be absolutely sure of the identification. In my first years I misidentified it at least once as a Wedge-billed Woodcreeper (Glyphorynchus spirurus), even though the latter is not usually found above 1500 m.
I have commented before on the Flame-throated Warbler (Oreothlypis gutturalis) because the birds on the Turrialba Volcano slope do not look like the species illustrated in the bird guides. Our local birds mostly have a yellow throat and look like this:
Or the throat is yellow-orange, like this:
Finally, the group was treated to good views of a third species found only in Costa Rica and western Panama, the noisy Prong-billed Barbet (Semnornis frantzii):
And for a more complete view:
This species is usually found in small groups and can be heard at a great distance shouting ‘cocora!’ I have occasionally heard it just above the village of San Antonio (1300 m) and seen it as high as El Tapojo, almost 2800 m above sea level.
You can find the brief list of species we found at the volcano road location on the Big Day on eBird at: