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11 - 25 December 1994

by Wayne Bennett

Total of ten people went.  Only five of these people can be considered birders so most of the reports are from them.

On the first day we arrive in San Jose.  Most of the people rented trucks to go up to Monteverde however myself and two others rented a cab to Puntarenas and then caught the bus to Monteverde.  On the way to Puntarenas and in the city several birds were seen:

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher    Great Egret
Tropical Kingbird            Cattle Egret
Barn Swallow                 Magnificent Frigatebird
Black Vulture                Groove-bill Ani
Turkey Vulture               Brown Pelican
Wood Stork                   Brown-footed Booby
Ruddy Ground Dove            White-winged Dove
Rock Dove                    Great-tailed Grackle
Eastern Meadowlark

Spent the night in Santa Elena.  Birded in the village in the morning.  Then went to San Gerado Research Station to stay for the week.   It is a two hour exhausting hike down a very muddy road but well worth it.  Research station was amazing and cheap $17 US a day including food and a guide (who was excellent).  We were one of the first people to stay.  Off of our balcony we had a magnificent view of Volcano Arenal (which we could only see partial bits of it until the last day).  It rained for three days straight and then stopped all at once as if someone had turned the tap off.

Birds on the hike down and in Santa Elena:

Steely-vented Hummingbird      Boat-billed Flycatcher
Yellow-thighed Finch           Tufted Flycatcher
Slaty-throated Redstart        Baltimore Oriole
Grayish Saltator               Blue-gray Tanager
Collared Redstart              White-ringed Flycatcher
Townsend's Warbler             Common Bush Tanager
Three-striped Warbler          Summer Tanager

We stayed at this research station for a week.  The food was fabulous, fried chicken and french fries even.  But alot of excellent Costa Rican food too.  Can not drive down but must walk so you appreciate the food because they either walk it in themselves or on a ox cart.  Alot of the birds we saw here we off the balcony but we took daily long expeditions on the trails.  Trail system was knew but some very nice trails.  Here is what we saw during the rest of the week (there may be some repeats.)

Turkey Vulture                     Gray-crowned Yellowthroat
Broad-winged Hawk                  Slaty Throated Redstart
Sharp-shinned Hawk                 Common Bush Tanager
Double-toothed Kite                Buff-throated Saltator
Resplendent Quetzal                Red-billed Pigeon
Slaty Spinetail                    Groove-billed Ani
Western Kingbird                   Long-tailed Hermit
Slaty Back Nightingale Thrush      Band-tailed Barbthroat
Yellow Throated Brush Finch        Violet Sabrewing
Yellow Faced Grassquit             Coppery-headed Emerald
Rufous Collared Sparrow            Great Jacamar
Olive Sparrow                      Prong-billed Barbet
Three-striped Warbler              Red-headed Barbet
Tropical Parula                    Striped-foliage Gleaner
Townsend Warbler                   Masked Tityra
Blackburnian Warbler               Lovely Cotinga
Great Kiskadee                     Tufted Flycatcher
Dark Peewee                        Olive-sided Flycatcher
Azure Hooded Jay                   Clay Colored Robin
Bananaquit                         Golden Crowned Warbler
Golden Winged Warbler              Wilson's Warbler
Yellow Crowned Euphonia            Crimson Collared Tanager
Scarlet Rumped Tanager             Red Throated Ant Tanager
Black Headed Saltator              Blue-black Grassquit
Yellow Faced Grassquit             Rufous Collared Sparrow
Palm Tanager                       Black Guan
Brown-billed Scythe Billed         Southern Roughed Wing Swallow
Immaculate Ant Bird                Crested Guan
Barred Parakeet                    Squirrel Cuckoo
Blue and White Swallow             Orange Bellied Trogon
Emerald Toucanet                   Rufous-winged Woodpecker
Cinnamon Becard                    Slaty-capped Flycatcher
Rufous-breasted Wren               Lesser Greenlet
Black and White Warbler            Black Throated Green Tawny
Capped Euphonia                    Blue-hooded Euphonia
Golden-browed Chlorophonia         Silver Throated Tanager
Bay Headed Tanager                 Black Striped Sparrow
Rufous Tailed Jacamar              Scale Crested Pygmy Tyrant
Ochraceous Wren                    Yellow Throated Vireo
Hepatic Tanager                    Yellow Throated Brush Finch
Black Faced Soltaire               Smoky Brown Woodpecker
Spangled Cheeked Tanager

Other notables were:  White Capuchin Monkey and Jaguarundi

Hiked out on the 18th and stayed in Santa Elena (Los Pinos) for the night.  Went to the Monteverde cloud forest but was not too impressed with the wildlife and too many people. However, did see a few interesting things:

Olivaceous Woodcreeper                Black-banded Woodcreeper
Green Hermit                          Violet Sabrewing
Purple Throated Mountain Gem          Cinnamon Hummingbird
Bluetailed Hummingbird

You guessed it we visited the hummingbird feeder there.  It is a must see.

Five of us left the others behind and headed out to Carara Park (south of Puntarenas).  It is well worth the visit and I would highly recommend it. Stayed at hotel about 15 min drive from the park   (Cabinas Paradise- I wouldn't call it Paradise but it was adequate).

Here is what we saw:

Blue Crowned Motmot              Rufous Naped Wren
Montezuma's Oreopendola          Short-tailed Hawk
Golden Chinned Parakeet          Hoffmann's Woodpecker
White-throated Magpie Jay        Scarlet Macaw's
Painted Bunting                  Barred Antshrike

Visited Tarcol lodge, just to bird, met the owners in the park and they invited us to bird there. Very friendly people.

List from Tarcol and surrounding area:

Royal Tern                      Sandwich Tern
Magnificent Frigatebird         Laughing Gull
Black Skimmer                   Brown Pelican
Anhinga                         Olivaceous Cormorant
Wood Stork                      Roseate Spoonbill
White Ibis                      Yellow Crowned Night Heron
Great Blue Heron                Tricolored Heron
Snowy Egret                     Cattle Egret
Great Egret                     Bare Throate Tiger Heron
Green-backed Heron              Northern Jacana
Black Bellied Plover            Short-billed Dowitcher
Willet                          American Oystercatcher
Black Necked Stilt              Whimbrel
Wilson Plover                   Ruddy Turnstone
Solitary Sandpiper              Spotted Sandpiper
Dunlin                          Sanderling
Yellow Headed Caracara

In Carara again:

Great Tinamou                   Common Black Hawk
Snail Kite                      Crested Caracara
Peregrine Falcon                Gray Hawk
Ospery                          Inca Dove
White-tipped Dove               Gray-chested Dove
Scarlet Macaw                   Mealy Parrot
Red Lored Parrot                White-fronted Parrot
Orange Chinned Parakeet         Squirrel Cuckoo
Lesser Nighthawk                White Collared Swifts
Gray-breasted Martin            Northern & Southern R.w. Swallow
Mangrove Swallow                Little Hermit
Purple Crowned Fairy
Baird's Trogon                  Violaceous Trogon
Black Throated Trogon           Ringed Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher               Belted Kingfisher
Green Kingfisher                Lineated Woodpecker
Pale Billed Woodpecker          Chesnut Mandibled Toucan
White-whiskered Puffbird        Hoffman's Woodpecker
Streaked Headed Woodcreeper     Plain Brown Woodcreeper
Black Banded Woodcreeper        Chesnut Backed Antbird
Black Hooded Antshrike          Rose Throated Becard
Masked Tityra                   Dusky Fly Catcher
Black Capped Fly Catcher        Common Tody Flycatcher
Black Bellied Wren              Red-legged Honeycreeper
Golden Hooded Tanager           White Shoulder Tanager
Tropical Gnatcatcher

Stayed in the area for 2 and 1/2 days and then headed to La Selva. On route we stopped at Poas Volcano and La Paz waterfall.  Had interesting birds at each stop.

Poas                                          La Paz

Mountain Robin                          Green Fronted Lancebill
Black and Yellow Silky Flycatcher       American Dipper
Slaty Flower Piercer                    Torrent Tyrannulet
Sooty Capped Bush Tanager               Black Phoebe
Volcano Hummingbird                     White Collared Swifts
Fiery Throated Hummingbird

Our last stay was in La Selva for two days.  Excellent trail system and amazing birds.  Expensive though compared to Costa Rican standards.  We paid $35 US per night (we are all students).  I must say if you have a student card bring it because there are many discounts to be had.  We had an excellent guide, Paco, who took us around.  All of us were entomologist so we knew to watch out for Paraponera or the Bullet ant which its sting is very painful.  The birds that we saw here are:

Rufous Motmot                  Collared Aracari
Keel-billed Toucan             Black Cheeked Woodpecker
Plain Brown Woodcreeper        Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
White-collared Manakin         Snowy Cotinga
Yellowish Flycatcher           Black Capped Pygmy Tyrant
Mistletoe Tyrannulet           Canada Warbler
Blue Dacnis                    Golden Hooded Tanager
Plain Colored Tanager          Variable Seedeater
Semiplumbeous Hawk             Blue Ground Dove
White Fronted Parrot           Mealy Parrot
Crowned Woodnymph              Yellow Bellied Elaenia
Veery                          Yellow Billed Cacique
Shining Honeycreeper           Green Honeycreeper
Red Throated Ant Tanager       Black Faced Grosbeak

We saw many other birds but we had seen these birds at other places so I did not put them out.  On the way to San Jose we stopped in a Braulio Carillo.  It too was amazing.  We hiked around the ranger's station and got some new birds.

Yellow Eared Toucanet            Emerald Tanager
Silver Throated Tanager          Speckled Tanager
Black and Yellow Tanager         White-shoulder Tanager
White Lined Tanage               Ashy-throated Tanager

Stayed in San Isidero over night before we went home.  On the last day I had brown jay as one of my last bird.  Overall on the trip we had 386 species (294 myself with 227 lifers as I am a beginner).

Someother notables were:  Spider Monkeys (La Selva), Howler Monkey's (Monteverde), White Capuchins, Agouti's, Coati's, Porcupine Spp., Sloths, Gray Fox, Alligators, Jaguarundi's, Peccaries, White-tailed Deer.

People on the trip, Me (Wayne Bennett), Jeff and Angela Skevington, Sean Blaney, Brian Pornfret, Gord Vogg, Dave Bennett (no relation), Dave Caloren, Terry Crabe, Anne Marie Cooper.

I am sorry for the length of this report but as you can see I did not put all of the birds down but only the ones that I had seen.   I will try and post just the whole list at a later date if people are
interested.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

Wayne Bennett

Wayne Bennett                             Phone: (519) 824-4120
Dept. of Environmental Biology                   Ext. 3936/4847
University of Guelph                        Fax: (519) 837-0442
Guelph, Ontario
Canada                        Email:

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