Some Beautiful Birds of Tortuguero
I know you’ve all been anxiously waiting to see pictures of the cool birds that I’ve been banding. And I’ve been eager to take pictures of them. But it is much harder than it seems it should be to get good pictures of birds in the hand, particularly here in Costa Rica.
First of all, just like anywhere, the bird isn’t interested in posing; it wants to fly away and get on with its day. So they flap their wings, and they turn their heads. Plus there are issues with equipment. My camera was giving me an error message for a while (it seems to work now), plus the lens tends to fog up due to the humidity. Plus some sites it isn’t safe to bring my camera unless I want to carry it with me constantly. And the little camera that I borrowed from my dad often isn’t fast enough or doesn’t focus on the right spot. Or it is just too dark in the jungle, or too rainy, or there’s just no time because we are catching a lot of birds. We record a lot more data here than I am used to at Canadian banding stations, and are more exact in explaining how we age a bird (not just by plumage, but specifying what plumage, or by feather shape, or moult limit, or….) so that makes the process a lot longer.
But here are some photos of a few of the species we are catching. I apologise in advance for the poor quality of many of them, but they do the job. (Also, please excuse the filthy fingernails and hands! 😉 )
This guy is special because this species was my first Costa Rican lifer. He actually was quite a social guy, as several of his friends came to express their displeasure that he was caught. They have a hidden red and yellow crown patch.
A handsome fellow. They are quite common. They also are quite the biters.
What a little cutie.
We’ve caught several of these. I like them a lot; I think their brown tones are quite pretty.
We’ve also caught Northern Barred Woodcreeper, which are huge (about flicker sized.)
Unfortunately, hummingbirds can’t be held by their legs (aka in “the photographer’s grip.”)
We’ve caught quite a few kinds of hummingbirds, and I’ve had the chance to learn how to band them. It’s isn’t hard but it is difficult to hold them still sometimes!
Kingfishers also shouldn’t be held by their legs, but luckily this one lay still for a moment for me.
Where’s the white-collar, you ask? Well, only the adult males have them. Plus they have black caps and yellow bellies. The hatch-years and females are olive-green.
If you look closely you can see it was moulting its flight feathers.
He just wouldn’t hold still!
Up to now, all the photos have been of resident birds. This guy is a migrant, freshly arrived from the southeastern United States.
Another North American migrant. At one point we had an adult male, a hatch year male, and a female all at once, but attempts to get a decent photo of all three side by side failed miserably.
Some days we have been catching far more migrants than residents– a lot of Empidonax flycatchers (just Acadian and Trail’s so far), Eastern Wood-Pewees, Prothonotary Warblers, Canada Warblers, Catharus thrushes (Swainson’s and Gray-cheeked, and Veery)…
There’s also been many more awesome residents– Boat-billed Flycatcher, Bicolored Antbird, Variable Seedeater, Thick-billed Seed-finch, Bright-rumped Attila…
I’m currently at the Madre Selva field site, where there’s a whole new set of birds to see. But up here in the cloud forest it seems to rain a lot (imagine that!) so again, photography is challenging. But I’ll have some sort of pictures to share someday soon, I hope!