Purple-throated Fruitcrow and other uncommon sightings

Purple-throated Fruitcrow (Querula purpurata): Querula gorgimorada; Coracine noire; Purpurbrustkotinga

Rufous-winged Tanager (Tangara lavinia): Tangara alirrufa; Kastanienflügeltangare; Calliste à ailes rousses

It must first be said that this is not a crow. It’s actually a cotinga, as its German name indicates, but it’s the sole member of the genus Querula. It does eat fruit, but also insects. The fruitcrow is a lowland forest bird ranging usually in small flocks from Nicaragua in the north to the northern half of the South American continent. In Costa Rica this medium-sized glossy-black bird is a Caribbean species and is thus found only in the eastern part of our Province of Cartago. Only the male has the distinctive purple throat but the all-dark female is rarely seen alone.

Pair of Purple-throated Fruitcrows at Finca Tres Equis

In the Turrialba area it has been reported near my home, as far as I know, just once at Guayabo National Monument. The population at CATIE, which has been reported in past years with some frequency at just one forest location, has had no reports since 2017. The best chances of finding the species are at lower elevations close to the Río Reventazón and the Río Pacuare.

This is where these latest sightings occurred, along with several other hard-to-find species, such as Rufous-winged Tanager (Tangara lavinia) – not to be found elsewhere near Turrialba – and Ruddy Quail-Dove (Geotrygon montana). The tanager, accompanying a mixed flock, stayed fairly high in the forest canopy. It’s a beautiful, mostly green bird with a chestnut head, yellow back, blue belly and, of course, rufous in the wings.

Rufous-winged Tanager at Finca Tres Equis; photo by John Beer

Despite this seemingly unmistakable array of colour, great care must be taken with identification because another equally striking tanager, the Bay-headed Tanager (Tangara gyrola), is a much more common species that sports almost the same colour combination but is more extensively blue below. Compare the following two file photographs:

Rufous-winged Tanager; courtesy of Yehudi Hernandez
Bay-headed Tanager at La Marta; photo by John Beer

Finally, here too is the Ruddy Quail-Dove, identified though not photographed on the excursion at Finca Tres Equis. This ground-dwelling dove is found more generally in many parts of the country. It is reported fairly frequently in the Turrialba area, but because of its wariness it is rarely seen well. The file photo is from San Vito in the southern Pacific area of Costa Rica:

Ruddy Quail-Dove at San Vito; photo by John Beer

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