There are 5 species of puffbird in Costa Rica (see The Birds of Costa Rica, Garrigues & Dean, pp. 188-9). Their name comes from their generally rounded, ‘puffy’ appearance. They are not brightly coloured and hunt by simply sitting and waiting for prey, insects or small lizards, to appear nearby. This makes them difficult to find even in areas where they may be not uncommon.
The White-necked Puffbird (Notharcus hyperrynchus) is a fairly large bird (10″) and typically perches high on an exposed branch. There is no reported eBird sighting of this lowland species in the Turrialba area but John had already found it near Casa Doña Julia, Cahuita. I was therefore looking forward very much to seeing it at some time during our 4-day stay there last week. It actually proved much easier to find than the forest-dwelling White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis) that we found at Paso Marcos on the Rio Pacuare, the only other puffbird that I have been lucky enough to see (see following photo).
Here now is Larry’s photo of the White-necked Puffbird at Cahuita sitting atop a tree that we thought might be reserved for Black-cheeked Woodpeckers:
Actually the puffbird is also a hole-nester, so who knows who the legal owner of these cavities is? Other possible claimants were a female Masked Tityra (Tityra semifasciata)…
… or a Pale-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus guatemalensis):
The woodpecker above betrayed its presence by leaving a carpet of large wood chips underneath the tree on which it was persistently hammering. The Cahuita trip was a wonderful opportunity for me to see species that I can rarely find here in the Turrialba area. My next posts will focus on woodcreepers, antbirds, and hummingbirds.
The checklist that includes our puffbird sighting near Casa Doña Julia has additional photos and can be found at the following link to eBird: