Center for Biodiversity Restoration

An alliance of community organizations  dedicated to promoting biological diversity and  community well being.

A Costa Rican Non-Profit Foundation



COSTA RICA ,  FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2019 Text and photos: Hugo Santa Cruz 

He is regularly the first to wake up, his singing encourages all of us to stand up. It is still dark but the Tinamú Grande (Great Tinamou) is already singing, while a couple of hundred more species start to flap their wings, soon to sing different songs – some very sophisticated, standing out from the rest. Macaw Lodge’s gardens fill the landscape with color and provide shelter and food for hundreds of animal species.

As I get ready for the day, I mentally identify and count the different sounds I hear – trying to imitate some of them with little success – while I brush my teeth I go through the 13 identified species and 2 or 3 without being able to recognize them.

Bird recognition by songs and calls are essential for their count.

Some of these songs will delight the most demanding ears.  Many sound like  good jazz; and others not so much … some may even come to hate them … as is the case with the tireless, insistent and infinite calls of the Little Owl (Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl). You will feel that it follows your steps day by day, night by night; wherever you move or where you intend to sleep … Ah!, but you will never see it, because the little 15 cm owl likes to hide 20m high in the trees; it will have no problem being invisible to your human eyes, but you will know it is there, because you will hear it even in your dreams …If you are “lucky” to meet the little owl when he is looking for a girlfriend, you will understand what I mean … all the people around here have their history with the “Maja-Fierro” – a local name of the owl, due at his shrill and steady monotonous whistle.

Espatulilla Común / Common Tody-Flycatcher and I head towards the main social area of the lodge. I leave my cabin and a few meters away I observe an Otter (Neotropical Otter) rushing through the trail and entering the forest – one of the 14 species of mammals registered in the lodge in little more than 2 months -. In the distance I can see a group of enthusiastic English and Americans directing their binoculars and telephoto lenses  in all directions,

Once at the meeting point, I greet the group and  answer  a series of questions about the species around us: What species is that? Whose song is that? If there is such a species in this area? , etc.; I patiently respond to each one, but with my eyes focused on the search for new species, while I point out everything we have around us. It’s barely 05:50 hrs. and our record is already close to 20 species. Around 15 lagoons give life to more than a hundred birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, crustaceans and insects. The aggressive and territorial Rabirrufo Hummingbirds (Rufous-tailed Hummingbird) will be among the first to make their presence known, dominant on the south side of the small and numerous purple flowers – Verbenaceas – next to the dining room, which has a great view from the main lagoon and the gardens of the lodge. Despite their aggressive character, the hummingbirds of this species share the nectar of their reign, with the Beryl-crowned Hummingbirds (Charming Hummingbird – a regional endemic species -), the flowers are abundant and will tolerate their presence as long as they respect their side of the scrub. For a few moments a White-crested Coquette manages to get close to the verbenaceas, but a few seconds later she is expelled by the alpha of the rabirrufos. In the same bush we not only find those interested in nectar, some Variable Espigueros (Variable Seedeater), Costa Rican Tangaras (Scarlet-rumped Tanager – regional endemic species -), Espatulillas Comunes (Common Tody-Flycatcher) and others; they interact and feed inside the bush. And even closer to us, the Honey Warbler (Bananaquit) moves, piercing the tubular flowers at the base of the bush that is next to the balcony; stealing the nectar from the flowers, without even pollinating them. Gorgianteado Climber / Cocoa Woodcreeper.  We continue to direct our eyes to all sides and notice the hurried passage of the Raslls Cuelligris (Gray-cowled Woodrail).  A pair of Warblers Piquigrande (Northern Waterthrush) and other Warblers (Buff-rumped Warbler) calmly pass very close by. A pleasant aroma indicates that the coffee is served, the fragrant temptation is great, but not enough to take away our concentration in the search for new species. It is a busy yet peaceful morning and other creatures are present. Iguanas (Green Iguana) and l.