Blue-and-gold Tanager: another endemic

Found almost entirely in Costa Rica and Panama but with a small population in extreme north-western Colombia, the Blue-and-gold Tanager (Bangsia arcaei) is a near-endangered species found mostly at fairly low elevations but up to around 1500 m. I myself have not seen it anywhere near Turrialba, though there are individual sightings from close to the Angostura Dam as well as from the Pejibaye area, especially at La Marta. All reports for 2019 so far are from those fairly lowland areas to the south of Turrialba.

Blue-and-gold Tanager at Tausito; photo by Larry Waddell

John, Milena and Larry found the individual above at Tausito on the road connecting Pejibaye with the Tapantí National Park. On first impression you might think of an oversize male euphonia of one of the species more commonly encountered (Yellow-throated, Yellow-crowned, etc.), but the bill and in particular the red eye, if seen, tell you that this is something different. If only I could have been there, for this is definitely not a bird that is often seen.

Peek-a-boo. Here the Blue-and-gold Tanager shows only his cobalt-blue back as he sits upon an epiphyte; the red eye is again a promient field mark; photo by Larry Waddell

Tanagers are fruit eaters and many of Costa Rica’s more than 50 species, including some very common ones, are among our most beautiful birds. I’ll leave with just one example, a bird that never fails to thrill visiting birders, the Crimson-collared Tanager (Ramphocelus sanguinolentus):

Crimson-collared Tanager; beautiful even in the rain; photo taken at nearby Santa Rosa de Turrialba by John Beer
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