Barred Forest-Falcon at La Marta

Barred Forest-Falcon (Micrastatur ruficollis); Halcón montés agavilanado; Sperberwaldfalke; Carnifex barré

I missed this one! An exciting find at La Marta a short while back was the rarely seen Barred Forest-Falcon (Micrastur ruficollis). It was in attendance at an army-ant swarm, a behaviour that has been reported previously for this species.

Juvenile Barred Forest-Falcon at La Marta; photo by John & Milena Beer

No bars and no chestnut collar on this juvenile Barred Forest-Falcon! When John first sent me the photograph (above) of this bird that he and Milena found at La Marta, near Pejibaye. At first I thought it must be the Collared Forest-Falcon (Micrastur semitorquatus), judging by the bird guide illustrations. After so many years in Costa Rica I have still had only very limited experience with forest-falcons, of which there are just three species in the country.

Barred Forest-Falcon; awaiting passing prey inside the forest canopy at Refugio La Marta; photo by John and Milena Beer

Actually, when you do see the Barred Forest-Falcon its small size almost immediately excludes the other two Micrastur species. My own only good sighting was south of Acosta at Quebrada Bonita, when a barred adult sat on a high, bare perch in full view for almost an hour. The accompanying birders promised to send me photographs at the time, but no such luck! The third, and by all accounts the least common Micrastatur species, is the Slaty-backed Forest-Falcon (Micrastur mirandollei). For an excellent general discussion of all three I recommend Patrick O’Donnell’s blog: http://birdingcraft.com/wordpress/2010/08/04/how-to-see-forest-falcons-when-birding-costa-rica/

See my next blog for some more forest species from Refugio La Marta.

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