Tawny-capped and Ruddy-tailed Flycatchers at Refugio La Marta, Pejibaye

Tawny-chested Flycatcher at La Marta, Pejibaye; photo by John Beer

The Tawny-chested Flycatcher (Aphanotriccus capitalis) is found only in eastern Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and here only on the northern Caribbean Coast as far south as Limón. The southernmost point of its range is considered to be here at Turrialba, but the Refugio Silvestre La Marta, where we were birding this week, is located 20 km even further south. On our latest excursion it was quite surprising to register what is a very high count of 7 birds at three different locations. One was a nest site with at least 2 hungry chicks. The adult in the photo above was feeding them. The nest is located on a shelf on a rock face in a very shaded area. In Stiles & Skutch’s classic A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica, still the best detailed descriptive text, the nest of the species was still thought to be undescribed in 1989.

Tawny-chested Flycatcher nest with at least two chicks

Here’s a shot taken of what we think is an immature bird at a different location in the Refugio:

Immature Tawny-chested Flycatcher at Refugio La Marta; photo by John Beer

La Marta is a great place for flycatcher species. We had 9 species on this trip but many more are resident there. The Tawny-chested Flycatcher is considered uncommon within its range and so too is the Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher (Terenotriccus erythrurus).

Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher in its mossy habitat at La Marta; photo by John Beer

This is a tiny bird measuring only 3 inches from head to tail. I saw it well for the first time in May 2016 near Esperanza on the Rio Atirro, an area not too far from La Marta, and then again in January of this year, 2019, on the new boardwalk at Cahuita National Park on the Caribbean. See my earlier post for full information and excellent photos courtesy of Larry Waddell.

This week’s sighting was thus only my second encounter with the species in the Turrialba area. In John’s second photo below the underparts appear almost yellow rather than rufous, but the diminutive size, relatively large eye, and of course the ruddy tail (photos 1 and 3) clinch the identification.

Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher eyes us carefully at La Marta; photo by John Beer
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher in the gloom displays his ruddy tail! Photo by John Beer

Best thanks to Steven Aguilar and John Beer for their respective prowess in finding and photographing birds. My posts are impossible without their help. If you’re birding around Turrialba don’t miss Refugio La Marta, near the town of Pejibaye. The day’s list of sightings can be found at:


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