Long-tailed Silky-Flycatchers abound at Calle Vargas

The Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher (Ptilogonys caudatus) is another species found only in Costa Rica and neighbouring western Panama. This highland bird descends to our village of San Antonio (1300 m) at this time of the year in search of berries, chiefly of the fruta de paloma tree. I have now lost the two trees of that species that I had, but this week’s visit to nearby Calle Vargas (elevation approx. 1600 m) found a large, loose flock feeding on those same berries.

Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher at Calle Vargas; photo by Larry Waddell

The Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher is one of just two of its small family found in Costa Rica. To find it we usually look high in the treetops and listen for its rather wooden-sounding tinkling call. This time we found a steep path looking down onto the trees and enjoyed marvelous views of its subtly understated but beautiful plumage. The birds were feeding, as usual, on fruta de paloma berries, not seen in this photo.

In a mixture of mountain fog and sunshine we had good luck with several other highland species. Here are three that you can often find, beginning with the Black Guan (Chamaepetes unicolor), a large, arboreal chicken-like bird:

Black Guan showing its blue facial skin; photo by Larry Waddell

By far the most abundant woodcreeper at higher elevations is the Spot-crowned Woodcreeper (Lepidocolaptes affinis). As woodcreepers go it’s a medium-sized bird, and if you’re below 1600 m the look-alike Streak-headed Woodcreeper (Lepidocolaptes souleyetti) is the first woodcreeper you should expect. Here’s a Spot-crowned that we found on this trip:

Spot-crowned Woodcreeper; photo by Larry Waddell

Finally, here’s a beautiful tanager that is very common at middle elevations up to around 2000 m, the Silver-throated Tanager (Tangara icterocephala):

The Silver-throated Tanager is almost always present at Calle Vargas; photo by Larry Waddell

By sheer coincidence a Silver-throated Tanager hit the window right in front of me as I was typing this post! Fortunately it made a speedy recovery.

Silver-throated Tanager recovers after hitting our window; photo by Ches Pickering

Upon checking my records I find that this is the first Silver-throated that I have recorded in my garden since April 2017. Formerly it was much more common.

3 thoughts on “Long-tailed Silky-Flycatchers abound at Calle Vargas

    • Long thin streamers dangling down in front of the windows is said to work but I haven’t tried it. I have plastic hawk stickers on some windows but it doesn’t seem to work. I prefer clear views of birds out of the windows. It’s definitely a problem.


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