Bicolored Antbird – Tayutic

The forested areas that abound off the road from La Suiza to Grano de Oro and the Cabécar indigenous reserve still remain largely unexplored. Last week’s visit to a tract of woodland belonging to a sawmill near Tayutic proved fruitful for woodcreepers and antbirds. This forest tract is in sustainable development thanks to ecologically-minded owners. It connects fully to the vast area of forest between here and the Panamanian border.

The Bicolored Antbird (Gymnopithis leucaspis) was once considered a common species in both the Caribbean and the Pacific lowlands. Alexander Skutch (A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica – Stiles & Skutch – 1989) found that it sometimes would even follow a person to snatch up insects disturbed as they walked. However, deforestation seems to have changed that and it is currently rated uncommon. Nearly all sightings are made at army ant swarms, and this was indeed the case for us, both earlier in the year at La Marta (see my previous post), and now at the Aserradero AREVAR. We believe we had two pairs of birds of this species; unlike with most antbirds, sexes are identical.

Bicolored Antbird: No other antbird combines blue orbital skin with white underparts. Photo by John Beer

Our other main highlights for the day were woodcreepers that were also active in the vicinity of the same ant swarm. The Plain Brown Woodcreeper (Dendrocincla fuliginosa) lives up to its name but for me any woodcreeper other than the Streak-headed Woodcreepers (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii) in my garden is a welcome sight.

The Plain-brown Woodcreeper‘s dark malar stripe is its main field mark; photo by John Beer

Woodcreepers are notoriously difficult to identify. There are 15 species in Costa Rica bearing that name, all of which have brown or reddish brown plumage. They are found almost always in forest environments, which adds to the identification problems. In good light, however, the big Northern Barred-Woodcreeper (Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae) should not give the observer too much difficulty. The hyphen in the name tells it all, even though the barring (head, back and underparts) is not bold.

Northern Barred-Woodcreeper at Tayutic; photo by John Beer

Note that this woodcreeper was formerly termed the Barred Woodcreeper with the scientific name of Dendrocolaptes certhia. In its South American range it is now called the Amazonian Barred Woodcreeper with the Latin name retained.

You can find our list of sightings at Tayutic, with additional photos, at:

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