In a Costa Rican garden: Yigüirro – the national bird

I have spent a good part of the last twelve years recording almost daily lists of the bird species that appear in my garden in the small village of San Antonio, near the very provincial town of Turrialba in the province of Cartago. It has been a wonderful experience for me personally while at the same time it has been, I firmly believe, a valuable contribution to mapping the distribution of bird species and numbers of individuals in our area.

Before the relatively recent arrival here en masse of the Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus), the most familiar species was probably the national bird, the Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi):

Clay-colored Thrush in my garden in San Antonio de Turrialba; photo by Larry Waddell

Note that in the interests of science the earlier English-language name of Clay-colored Robin was officially changed. Costa Ricans always call the bird, affectionately, el yigüirro. The onomatopoeic name is said to imitate its melodious song, which heralds the approach of the rainy season and nesting time.

Costa Rica’s national bird: Clay-colored Thrush; Photo by Larry Waddell.

Interestingly, the Clay-colored Thrush is now expanding its range in southern Texas, where I repeatedly searched for it in vain many years ago. Here in Costa Rica, however, it is present in gardens everywhere, with the exception of the very highest elevations. At the time of writing this post Costa Ricans are being awakened by the sound of what is virtually a mass choir of their beloved yigüirro.

Bill and eye colour of the Clay-colored thrush help to distinguish it from the Mountain thrush (Turdus plebeius), which is found at higher elevations and very occasionally visits my garden. Photo taken at nearby Santa Rosa by John Beer

Look for subsequent posts featuring the commonest birds that visit my Costa Rican garden.

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