TROPICAL BIOLOGY SCOUTING TRIP REPORTS   © 2011, 2012, 2017 Callyn Yorke

                                                           COSTA RICA


Latest Report

July-August 2017:  Laguna del Lagarto, Boca Tapada, Santa Rita; Cano Negro & Rio Frio; Volcan Tenorio, Alajuela;              La Cruz & Playa Tamarindo, Guanacaste


Previous Trip Reports

June 15-30, 2011: Volcan Poas, Rio Tarcoles, Punta Leona, Boca Tapada, Santa Rita and Laguna del Lagarto

April 1- 10, 2011:  Boca Tapada, Santa Rita and Laguna del Lagarto  




                                                Laguna Del Lagarto Bird Checklist (2012)




Central Highlands and Northern Lowlands of Costa Rica

                                         (June 5 - July 1, 2012) 


                                              Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) female  Rio Savegre, Costa Rica  June 7, 2012


                                                                                                                                                                        © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Our June, 2012 surveys in Costa Rica were concentrated primarily in two regions, the Rio Savegre in the central highlands of San Jose and Boca Tapada near the Nicaraguan border, Alajuela. These two biotic zones have significantly different topography and climate, selecting for distinctive adaptations of plants and animals. As with previous work in the tropics, our primary focus has been zoology. Most of our time was spent in the lowland rainforest surrounding the Laguna Del Lagarto lodge in the Boca Tapada area. This is the location where I taught Tropical Biology classes for Antelope Valley College students (1999-2000), and where I have been studying avian distribution, ecology and behavior since 1997. Merissa's interests include the behaviorial ecology of leaf-cutter ants.

Leaf-cutter Ants (Atta sp.)  Laguna Del Lagarto, Boca Tapada, Costa Rica, June 11, 2012           

                                                                                                                                                                                        © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Highlights of the trip included surveying the remaining patches of montane cloud forest along the banks of the Rio Savegre (Elevation about 7,500 ft.), where we obtained excellent views of the Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno), which was nesting near the main road.  Other highland specialities found in the Rio Savegre area included, Sulphur-winged Parakeet (Pyrrhura hoffmanni), Barred Parakeet (Bolborhynchus lineola), Emerald Toucanet (Alacorhynchus prasinus), Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula), Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher (Ptilogonys caudatus), Black-capped Flycatcher (Empidonax atriceps), Dark Pewee (Contopus lugubris), Ruddy-capped Nightingale Thrush (Catharus frantzii) and Yellow-thighed Finch (Pselliophorus tibialis).

Emerald Toucanet (Alacorhynchus prasinus)  Rio Savegre, Costa Rica   June 7, 2012

                                                                                                                                                         © 2012 Callyn Yorke


The renowned diversity of wildlife surrounding Laguna Del Lagarto Lodge (LDL)in the northeastern, Atlantic lowland rainforest was apparent each morning as we awoke to the sounds of numerous species of bird, beginning promptly at 0450 hrs. with Costa Rica's national bird, Clay-colored Robin (Turdus grayi). By 0800 hrs. we had usually found and identified at least 40 species of bird in the garden, lagoon and edge of the primary rainforest. Some of the local specialities, seen and/or heard almost every day during our visit (June 8-30, 2012), included Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus), Laughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans),  White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi), Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis), Mealy Parrot (A. farinosa), Brown-hooded Parrot (Pyrilia haematotis). White-crowned Parrot (Pionus senilis), Orange-chinned Parakeet (Brotogeris jugularis), Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao), Short-tailed Nighthawk (Lurocalis semitorquatus), Long-billed Hermit (Phaethornis longirostris ), White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora), Green-breasted Mango (Anthracothorax prevostii), Crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica), Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl), Black-crested Coquette (Lophornis helenae), Violet-headed Hummingbird (Klais guimeti), Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryl americana), White-fronted Nunbird (Monasa morphoeus), Keel-billed Toucan (Rhamphastos sulfuratus), Chestnut-mandibled Toucan (R. swainsonii), Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus), Black-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes pucherani), Pale-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus guatemalensis), Masked Tityra (Tityra semifasciata), White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei), Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus), Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Myiarchus tuberculifer), Common Tody Flycatcher (Todirostrum cinereum), Southern House Wren (Troglodytes musculus), White-breasted Woodwren (Henicorhina leucostica), Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma), Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola), Olive-backed Euphonia (Euphonia gouldi), Golden-masked Tanager (Tangara larvata), Green Honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza), Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus), Shining Honeycreeper (C. lucidis), Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus), Palm Tanager (T. palmarum), Scarlet-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus passerinii), Variable Seedeater (Sporophila aurita), Thick-billed Seedfinch (Oryzoborus funereus) and Blue-black Grassquit (Volatinia jacarina).

Agami Heron (Agamia agami) Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica   26 June 2012

                                                                                                                                                                                        © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Orange-chinned Parakeet (Brotogeris jugularis)  Santa Rita (Boca Tapada), Costa Rica  June 13, 2012

                                                                                                                                          © 2012 Callyn Yorke



Other notable wildlife observed at LDL included several colonies of Leaf-cutter Ant  (Atta sp.), Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho menelaus), Strawberry Poison Dart Frog (Oophaga pumilio), Green and Black Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates auratus), Green Iguana (Iguana iguana), Plumed Basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons), Ground Anole (Norops humilis), Central American Whiptail (Ameiva festiva), Common Boa (Boa constrictor), Rainforest Hog-nosed Viper (Porthidium nasutum), Mantled Howler Monkey (Alouatta palliata), Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi), Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus), and White-nosed Coati (Nasua nasua).

                                              White-nosed Coati (Nasua nasua)  Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica  10 June 2012


                                                                                                                                                    © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Plumed Basilisk (Basiliscus plumifrons) female   Laguna Del Lagarto, Alajuela Costa Rica June 26, 2012

                                                                                                                                                © 2012 Callyn Yorke



Key to Locations

AS =   Alajuela suburbs, Buenavista Hotel and gardens near the SJO airport, Alajuela (Elevation 3,000 ft. : July 1, 2012)

BSC = Boca San Carlos and new road (15 km) along the south bank of the San Juan River, Alajuela (June 10, 2012).

BT =  Town of Boca Tapada, Alajuela (June 8; 30, 2012)

CQ =   Suburban gardens of Ciudad Quesada, Heredia (June 17-19, 2012).

PBT  = Road from Pital to Boca Tapada, Alajuela (June 8; 17; 30, 2012).

SR =   Village of Santa Rita, (Boca Tapada) including Aldolfo's garden and adjacent swamp, Alajuela (June 13; 27. 29, 2012)

LDL = Laguna del Lagarto -garden, lagoon,  trails through primary and secondary rainforest, pastureland, plantation, ruderal roadways (Elevation 200 - 300 ft. : June 8 - 17; 19 - 30, 2012)

RS =  Rio Savegre - river, trails through cloud forest, Rio Savegre Mt. Lodge gardens, secondary forest, pastureland, ruderal roadways, San Jose (Elevation 6,500 - 7,500 ft. : June 5 -8, 2012).

Weather:  Everywhere partly cloudy with periods of 1 - 3 days without rain;  PM showers (1 - 2 hr. duration), heavy at times with branch and flash lightning preceeded by cracking loud thunder that shook the smaller buildings at LDL as though they were under heavy bombardment. Temperature: 70 to 90F; winds 0 - 15 mph, predominantly ENE. Humidity 85 - 95%.


Observers: Merissa Mendez and I; occasionally (LDL) Didier Castro (DC), Aldolfo Gonzales (AG), Kurt Schmack (KS); several other birders (RS).

Materials and Methods

We used binoculars (10x40; 10x42), Nikon digital SLR cameras (primarily a Nikon D3X; Nikkor 200mm Micro AF; Nikkor 80-400 mm AF VR; R-2; Nikon R-21 ring-flash system). We walked LDL forest trails (e.g. Tucan, Mono, Danta) on several days at different times (0700 - 1500 hrs.). On two occasions we paddled canoes through the main lagoon adjacent to the LDL lodge (June 26; 28: 0800 - 0900 hrs.). Several hours were spent observing and photographing birds in the LDL garden and at the banana feeders, which were re-stocked with ripe plantain bananas every few days. Most species allowed close approach when at the feeders, so that a 200 mm lens provided sufficient image magnification and clarity. I once placed pieces of mango and pineapple on one of the feeders but those food items were only selected by a few bird species after most of the bananas had been eaten. Bananas were the overwhelming food of choice at the three feeders (two tree and one "goal-post" style feeder were in operation during most of our visit to LDL.  For identification, range and other ornithological information, we relied largely of Stiles, F. G. and A. F. Skutch 1989. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Cornell University Press N. Y. 511 pp.  Taxonomy and nomenclature follows the most recent (2012) AOU Checklist of North American Birds and supplements.



Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)  3  flying over LDL.

Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata)  2  in the swamp, SR.

Gray-headed Chachalaca (Ortalis cinereiceps)  1 roadside second growth, PBT..

Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens)  1  flying low over lagoon; calls, LDL.

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)  1 in swamp, SR.

Bare-throated Tiger Heron (Tigrisoma fasciatum)  1  edge of main lagoon, LDL (photo).

Bare-throated Tiger Heron (Tigrisoma fasciatum)  LDL, Costa Rica  25 June, 2012

                                                                                                                            © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)  4 -5   foraging together in roadside pasture, PBT..

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)  1  foraging on the edge of river shoals, BSC (photo).

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)  Boca San Carlos, CR  10 June 2012

                                                                                                 © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Agami Heron (Agamia agami)  1 ad. alt. plmg. fluffing frontal breast feathers as we approached;  intially found partially concealed on a shady northeastern shore; the bird began wading in the shallows, crouching low and allowing us to approach for 10 minutes by canoe to within about 25 feet;  it did not attempt to fly or leave the immediate area while we observed and photographed it;  this large, secretive heron evidently favors the relatively undisturbed backwaters of large lagoons; not found in this area two days later LDL (photo).

Agami Heron (Agamia agami)  Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica  June 26, 2012

                                                                                                                                                         © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)  ubiquitous; most numerous P-BC, SR and LDL. Often in compost area, LDL.

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  ubiquitous, though usually not as numerous as BLVU; not seen in compost area, LDL.

King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa) 1 circling above LDL,  12 June (DC).  LDL Vulture hide not used during our visit.

Semiplumbeous Hawk (Leucopternis semiplumbeus)  1 ad. perched about 20 ft. in roadside tree at edge of forest, BSC (photo).

Semiplumbeous Hawk (Leucopternus semiplumbeus) Boca San Carlos, CR June 10, 2012


                                                                               © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Gray Hawk (Buteo nitidus)  1 (DC) trees, second growth, SR.

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)   1 adult .flying low near base of mountain, RS.

Laughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans)   1 adult perched in tall snag at edge of forest on several mornings, LDL.

Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis)  1  adult perched on tall snag at edge of forest, LDL.

Gray-necked Woodrail (Aramides cajanea) near entrance of Tucan trail; moving away quickly when followed. LDL (photo).

Gray-necked Woodrail (Aramides cajanea)  LDL,  25 June, 2012


                                         © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica)  2  edge of lagoon, Maquenque Lodge, BT (photo); 1 in swamp, SR.

Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica)  Maquenque Lodge, Boca Tapada, Costa Rica,  16 June, 2012

                                                                                                         © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Wilson's Plover (Charadrius wilsonia) 1 noted heavy bill; foraging on sandbar, BSC (photo).

Wilson's Plover (Charadrius wilsonia) Boca San Carlos, Costa Rica, 10 June 2012


                                                          © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa)  2  edge of lagoon, Maquenque Lodge, BT.

Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)  10  flying around suburbs of AJ.

Red-billed Pigeon (Patagioenas flavirostris) 2  hilly suburbs of AJ.

Short-billed Pigeon (Patagioenas nigrirostris)  1 (DC) SR.

White-winged Dove (Zenaida asiatica) 1  white wing linings visible when perched on utility wire, hilly suburbs of AJ.

Ruddy Ground Dove (Columbina talpacoti)  common along roadways through pastureland, PBT; BSC.

White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi)  2   foraging for insect larvae in garden daily, LDL (photo).

White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi)  Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica  June 14, 2012

                                                                                                                                © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Sulphur-winged Parakeet (Pyrrhura hoffmanni) 10-20  (daily) vocal flocks flying around forest edge and second growth; RS.

Orange--fronted Parakeet (Aratinga finschi)  2 (DC)   fly, call, SR.

Olive-throated Parakeet (Aratinga nana)  5  roadside  tall second growth, LDL.

Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)  12  daily in fruiting plantation trees; pairs and trios flying, calls, 0800 and 1600 hrs. LDL; 1 BSC.                                                                                                       

Barred Parakeet (Bolborhynchus lineola)  6  fly, call, RS.

Orange-chinned Parakeet (Brotogeris jugularis)  2  at feeders in Adolfo's garden, SR (photo); LDL.

Orange-chinned Parakeet (Brotogeris jugularis)  Santa Rita, Alajuela, Costa Rica  13 June, 2012

                                                                                                                                                    © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Brown-hooded Parrot (Pyrilia haematotis)  11  daily at banana feeders; fledglings being fed SR, LDL (photo).

Brown-hooded Parrot (Pyrilia haematotis)  Laguna Del Lagarto, Alajuela, Costa Rica  26 June, 2012

                                                                                                                                                            © 2012 Callyn Yorke


White-crowned Parrot (Pionus senilis)  2  in tall garden trees, LDL.

Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis)  10 - 20  daily vocal flights over forest and gardens, LDL

Mealy Parrot (Amazona farinosa)  4    vocal; morning flights of pairs over forest and clearings, LDL.

Striped Cuckoo (Tapera naevia)  1 calls (unseen) , SR.

Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris) 2  edge of swamp, SR.  common on roadside fences in pastureland, PBT.

Short-tailed Nighthawk (Lurocalis semitorquatus)  2  in garden at dusk on several evenings, LDL.

Common Paraque (Nyctidromus albicollis)  2 on gravel driveway, two nights, LDL.

Gray-rumped Swift (Chaetura cinereiventris)  4 -6  flying 20 - 200 ft. over clearings and second-growth, LDL.

Long-billed Hermit (Phaethornis longirostris)  4  regular visitor to hummingbird feeding station in forest; occasionally in garden, LDL (photo)

Long-billed Hermit (Phaethornis longirostris)  LDL, CR  11 June, 2012


                                                       © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Scaly-breasted Hummingbird (Phaeochroa cuvierii)  1    seen once visiting flowering shrubs in garden, LDL.

White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora)  2 (m,f) visiting forest trail feeder, LDL;  12 (m, f) highly territorial at feeders in Adolfo's garden, SR (photo).

White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora) male  Santa Rita, Alajuela, CR  13 June 2012

                                                                                                                © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Green-breasted Mango (Anthracothorax prevostii)  2  visiting feeders and flowers in gardens SR; LDL.

Green-breasted Mango (Anthracothorax prevostii) male  Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica   24 June, 2012


                                                                                           © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Violet-headed Hummingbird (Klais guimeti)  1(m)   daily visits to garden duriing third week of June, LDL (photo).

Violet-headed Hummingbird (Klais guimeti) male  Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica  21 June, 2012

                                                                                    © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Black-crested Coquette (Lophornis helenae)   1 (f)  occasional visits to garden, LDL (photo).

Black-crested Coquette (Lophornis helenae) female   Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica   23 June, 2012

                                                                                                       © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Violet-crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica)  2  (m,f) regular visitor to forest feeding station, LDL (photo).

Violet-crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica) female LDL, CR  11 June, 2012


                                                                               © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl)  5  daily visitor to garden, LDL;SR (photo), AJ.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl) Santa Rita, Alajuela, Costa Rica, 13 June, 2012

                                                                                                                               © 2012 Callyn Yorke


White-throated Mountain Gem (Lampornis castaneoventris ) 1 (f)  garden, RS (photo).

White-throated Mountain Gem (Lampornis castaneoventris ) female, Rio Savegre, CR  6 June 2012

                                                                                         © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Magnificent Hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens)   3  (m,f) regular visitors to the garden, RS (photo).

Magnificent Hummingbird (Eugenes fulgens) female   Rio Savegre, Costa Rica  6 June 2012

                                                                                                                              © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Long-billed Starthroat  (Heliomaster longirostris)  1 (m) seen once in garden, LDL.

Volcano Hummingbird (Selasphorus flammula)  1 (f) at feeder, Toucan Lodge, RS.

Scintillant Hummingbird (Selasphorus scintilla)  1 (f) in garden at Savegre Lodge, RS.

Collared Trogon (Trogon collaris) 2 (m,f) RS.

Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno)   m,f, imm -unseen in nest cavity)    2 - 4  a pair nesting, feeding young alternately in a tree cavity at the edge of a pasture, about 50 yards from the main road; female foraging in fruiting tree near the main road (photo: 7 June). Male foraging from fence in second-growth near the river (photo:6 June). The female was relatively tame and easily photographed; the male was shy and difficult to approach, RS.

Resplendent Quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) male (l) and female (r) Rio Savegre, Costa Rica 6 & 7 June, 2012


                                               © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata)  1(f) edge of the main (n) lagoon, LDL (photo).

Ringed Kingfisher (Megaceryle torquata)  female  Laguna Del Lagarto, Alajuela, Costa Rica   26 June, 2012

                                                                                                                                                      © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana)  1(f)  backwaters of the main (n) lagoon, LDL (photo)

Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana) female   Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica   28 June, 2012

                                                                                            © 2012 Callyn Yorke


American Pygmy Kingfisher (Chloroceryle aenea)  1(m)  backwaters of the main (n) lagoon, LDL (photo).

American Pygmy Kingfisher (Chloroceryle aenea) male   Laguna Del Lagarto, , CR  26 June, 2012 


                                                                                 © 2012 Callyn Yorke


White-fronted Nunbird (Monasa morphoeus)  3   perched motionless and silently on horizontal branches; two birds within 8 inches of one another about 25 ft. in subcanopy at edge of the lagoon and garden, LDL (photo).

White-fronted Nunbird (Monasa morphoeus) Laguna Del Lagarto  21 June 2012


                                                         © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus)  1 in subcanopy near our room at the Savegre Mt. Lodge, RS (photo).

Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus)  Rio Savegre, Costa Rica  6 June 2012

                                                                                    © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus)  4  daily visitors to the banana feeders at LDL (photo).

Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus)  Laguna Del Lagarto, Alajuela, Costa Rica  28 June 2012

                                                                                                                                                  © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus)  2  flying over rainforest and clearings, calls; shy, once (June 29, PM) seen briefly outside our room (# 22) on a Cercropia tree baited days earlier with a bunch of now very ripe bananas; the bird flew off without sampling the bananas. Otherwise the KBTO was not observed closer than about 100 yards of buildings and gardens during our visit, LDL (photo).

Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus)  Laguna Del Lagarto, Alajuela, Costa Rica   29 June, 2012

                                                                                                                   © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Black (Chestnut)-mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus)  2  usually in pairs in surrounding rainforest and sometimes in taller garden trees; rarely at banana feeders, LDL (photo).

Black (Chestnut) - mandibled Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus)  Laguna Del Lagarto, Alajuela, Costa Rica  22 June, 2012

                                                                                                             © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorous)  10  active, vocal, often on utility poles, RS (photo).

Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorous) female Rio Savegre, Costa Rica  7 June 2012


                                                      © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Black-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes pucherani)  5  regular visitor to banana feeders, LDL (photo).

Black-cheeked Woodpecker (Melanerpes pucherani) females  Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica  28 June 2012


                                                                                                    © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)  1 (f) foraging on 4 inch diameter limb at edge of woodland, RS (photo).

Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) female  Rio Savegre, Costa Rica  6 June 2012


                                                                  © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Lineated Woodpecker (Dryocopus lineatus) 1 (f)  seen only once foraging at about 20 ft. in tall tree at edge of lagoon and garden, LDL.

Pale-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus guatemalensis)  2   seen almost daily foraging 10 - 30 ft. in tall trees, primary and secondary rainforest, LDL.

Wedge-billed Woodcreeper (Glyphorynchus spirurus)  1  in garden palms and other planted trees, LDL.

Yellow-bellied Elaenia (Elaenia flavogaster) 1 edge of clearings, LDL.

Mountain Elaenia (Elaenia frantzii)  5  feeding on smal ripel fruits of a garden tree, RS (photo).

Mountain Elaenia (Elaenia frantzii) Rio Savegre, Costa Rica  6 June 2012

                                                                     © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Torrent Tyrannulet (Serpophaga cinerea)  1  hawking insects on roadway near stream, RS (photo).

Torrent Tyrannulet (Serpophaga cinerea) Rio Savegre, Costa Rica  6 June 2012

                                                                                       © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Common Tody Flycatcher (Todirostrum cinereum) 1 frequent mid-day visitor to garden shrubs, LDL (photo).

Common Tody Flycatcher (Todirostrum cinereum) LDL, Costa Rica  23 June 2012


                                                                 © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Tufted Flycatcher (Mitrephanes phaeocercus)  1 edge of forest, RS.

Dark Pewee  (Contopus lugubris) canopy and subcanopy of isolated trees in a clearing, RS.

Yellowish Flycatcher (Empidonax flavescens)  1  understory and subcanopy of streamside forest, RS (photo).

Yellowish Flycatcher (Empidonax flavescens) Rio Savegre, Costa Rica  6 June 2012


                                                                    © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Black-capped Flycatcher (Empidonax atriceps)  1  roadside garden shrubs and trees, RS (photo).

Black-capped Flycatcher (Empidonax atriceps) Rio Savegre, Costa Rica  7 June 2012


                                                              © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)  1    on fence at the trout farm, RS.

Long-tailed Tyrant (Colonia colonus)  1  sally-flycatching from tall snag in weedy field, SR.

Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Myiarchus tuberculifer) freguent in garden trees and shrubs, LDL.

Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)  regular at LDL banana feeder; ubiquitous in lowlands and mid elevation gardens, pastureland.

White-ringed Flycatcher  (Conopias albovittatus)  1   active, mid-day in roadside shrub, BSC.

Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus)  2  on utility lines, roadside pastures, ruderal fields, RS; ruderal fields and garden, LDL.

Masked Tityra (Tityra semifasciata)  2   tall trees in ruderal fields and gardens, SR, LDL.

Black-crowned Tityra (Tityra inquisitor)  1 in tall tree near LTTY, SR.

Cinnamon Becard (Pachyramphus cinnamomeus)  1 subcanopy of garden tree, LDL.

White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei)  2  calls, snapping sounds, forest at edge of lagoon, LDL.

Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus) 2 moving quickly through trees in the garden, SJ.

Brown-capped Vireo (Vireo leucophrys)  1   vocal, active in subcanopy of tree at edge of clearing, RS (photo).

Brown-capped Vireo (Vireo leucophrys)  Rio Savegre, Costa Rica  6 June 2012

                                                                                                                         © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Blue-and-white Swallow  (Pygochelidon cyanoleuca) 10 RS; common in suburban areas of middle elevation and lowlands.

Rufous-naped Wren (Campylorhynchus rufinucha)  1 in garden palm, SJ (photo).

Rufous-naped Wren (Campylorhynchus rufinucha) Alajuela suburb, San Jose CR  1 July 2012

                                                                                                                           © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Southern House Wren (Troglodytes musculus)  1   song distinctly different from Northern House Wren (T. aedon); secretive, foraging on ground beneath Hibiscus in garden, LDL (photo).

Southern House Wren (Troglodytes musculus) Laguna Del Lagarto, CR  28 June 2012


                                                                             © 2012 Callyn Yorke

White-breasted Wood-wren (Henicorhina leucosticta)  1 song (unseen) roadside second-growth forest, LDL.

Gray-breasted Wood-wren (H. leucophrys)  2  song (unseen) streamside second-growth forest, RS.

Black-faced Solitaire (Myadestes melanops) 1 vocal, active in streamside second-growth forest, RS.

Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus frantzii) 3  foraging for invertebrates (e.g. earthworms) on roadway and drainage ditch, RS (photo).

Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus frantzii)  Rio Savegre, Costa Rica  6 June 2012


                                                                                     © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi)  ubiquitous and common in gardens, second-growth throughout; pre-dawn song (0450 hrs.).

Mountain Thrush (T. plebejus)  1 edge of secondary forest, RS.

Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher (Ptilogonys caudatus)  4  a loose flock sally-flycatching in roadside fruiting trees, RS (photo)

Long-tailed Silky-flycatcher (Ptilogonys caudatus) Rio Savegre, Costa Rica  5 June 2012

                                                                                                                            © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Collared Redstart (Myioborus torquatus) 1 subcanopy of garden trees and shrubs, RS (photo).

Collared Redstart (Myioborus torquatus) Rio Savegre, CR  7 June 2012


                                                        © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)  1 - 2  regular visitor to garden shrubs and trees, LDL.

Passerini's Tanager (Ramphocelus passerinii)  4  (m,f) regular visitor to banana feeder, LDL (photo).

Passerini's Tanager (Ramphocelus passerinii) male   Laguna Del Lagarto, Alajuela Costa Rica 13 June 2012


                                                                                               © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus)  5 RS; 5  (ad, imm) frequent at banana feeders; adult feeding young, LDL (photo).

Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus) adult, immature  Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica  13 June 2012


                                                                                                 © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Palm Tanager (Thraupis palmarum)  4  frequent at banana feeder, LDL.

Golden-hooded Tanager (Tangara larvata)  2  occasional at banana feeder, LDL.

Green Honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza)  occasional at banana feeder, LDL (photo).

Green Honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza) female  Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica  13 June 2012


                                                                                                                     © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Shining Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes lucidus)  3  m,f  occasional at banana feeder, LDL (photo).

Shining Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes lucidus) female  Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica   13 June 2012

                                                                                                                       © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus)   4  m,f   frequent at banana feeder, LDL (photo).

Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus) female (l) male (r)  Laguna Del Lagarto, CR  28 June 2012


                                                                                                © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Buff-throated Saltator (Saltator maximus)  1 Adolfo's garden, SR (photo)

Buff-throated Saltator (Saltator maximus)  Santa Rita, Alajuela Costa Rica  13 June 2012


                                                                            © 2012 Callyn Yorke



Blue-black Grassquit (Volatinia jacarina)  1 (m)   on lawn, LDL (photo).

Blue-black Grassquit (Volatinia jacarina) male  Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica  22 June 2012

                                                                                                                           © 2012 Callyn Yorke

Variable Seedeater (Sporophila americana)  2  ruderal roadsides and gardens, SR, LDL.

Variable Seedeater (Sporophila americana) male  Laguna Del Lagarto, Costa Rica  13 June 2012


                                                                                                                      © 2012 Callyn Yorke


White-collared Seedeater (Sporophila torqueola)  1 (m) seen once in subcanopy of a garden tree, LDL (photo).

White-collared Seedeater (Sporophila torqueola) male  Laguna Del Lagarto, CR  28 June 2012


                                                                                                      © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Thick-billed Seedfinch (Oryzoborus funereus)  1 in the garden and on the driveway LDL (photo).

Thick-billed Seedfinch (Oryzoborus funereus) male  Laguna Del Lagarto, CR  10 June 2012


                                                                                                                    © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Yellow-faced Grassquit (Tiaris olivaceus)  4  an active flock in tall grass alongside the road, RS.

Slaty Flowerpiercer (Diglossa plumbea) 1  moving quickly in garden flowering shrubhs, RS.

Yellow-thighed Finch (Pselliophorus tibialis) 1 (m) in garden shrubs, RS (photo).

Yellow-thighed Finch (Pselliophorus tibialis)  Rio Savegre, Costa Rica   8 June 2012


                                                                                                         © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis)  25   common in gardens and ruderal fields, RS (photo).

Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis)  Rio Savegre, Costa Rica   6 June 2012

                                                                                                                                  © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Common Bush -Tanager (Chlorospingus opthalmicus)  4  eating Melastoma berries, RS (photo).

Common Bush -Tanager (Chlorospingus opthalmicus)  Rio Savegre, Costa Rica  6 June 2012


                                                                                                     © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Sooty-capped Bush - Tanager (Chlorospingus pileatus)  1  forest edge second-growth, RS.

Flame-colored Tanager (Piranga bidentata)  4   common in second-growth, shrubs and garden trees, RS (photo).

Flame-colored Tanager (Piranga bidentata) male  Rio Savegre, CR  7 June 2012


                                                                                      © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  3 (m) one with bright white border of red shoulder patch;   ruderal roadside and utility lines, PBT

Great-tailed Grackle  (Quiscalus mexicanus)  10  on lawns, shorelines, in and around towns, PBT; BSC.

Nicaraguan Grackle (Quiscalus nicaraguensis)  1   roadside lawns, ruderal gardens, BSC.

Quiscalus sp.    1 (leucistic)   on river shore; showing white markings on head and tail, BSC (photo).

Quiscalus sp. leucistic  eastern shore of Boca San Carlos, Alajuela, CR   10 June 2012


                                                                                          © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Black-cowled Oriole (Icterus prosthemelas)  4 (ad, imm) at banana feeder in Adolfo's Garden, SR (photo); not found at LDL.

Black-cowled Oriole (Icterus prosthemelas) male  Santa Rita, Alajuela, CR  13 June 2012


                                                                                          © 2012 Callyn Yorke


Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma)   4     pairs frequent at banana feeders; courtship display by male extending upward with repeated calls to female perched on same branch, LDL

Olive-backed Euphonia (Euphonia gouldi)  1 in Adolfo's garden, SR (photo); 1 gardens of LDL

Olive-backed Euphonia (Euphonia gouldi)  Santa Rita, Alajuela, Costa Rica  13 June 2012


                                                                                                            © 2012 Callyn Yorke




Central Highlands, Volcan Poas, Rio Tarcoles, Punta Leona, Boca Tapada

(June 15-30, 2011)  © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Species Lists



This trip to Costa Rica in the latter half of June, 2011 gave us an opportunity to re-survey the Boca Tapada area (i.e. Laguna Del Lagarto) at the beginning of the rainy season. Additionally, we included a four-day survey of the Santa Barbara foothills overlooking the capital city of San Jose, together with separate one-day visits to Volcan Poas National Park and the Tarcoles River coastal area. The latter two locations I had not visited since 1999 when with my Tropical Biology class from AVC. Not surprisingly, our trip list of birds (118 species) and other animals was significantly enhanced by the addition of species associated with the interior highlands and Pacific coast.

Highlights of the trip included Volcan Poas National Park (Elevation 8,500 ft.), where a steaming caldera (inactive during our previous visit of 1999) was the centerpiece of our trek through the cloud forest. Birds found and photographed along the well-maintained trails included montane specialties such as Magnificent Hummingbird, Black-billed Nightingale Thrush, Sooty-capped Bush Tanager and Large-footed finch.


 Merissa Mendez and I at Volcan Poas, June 19, 2011.




Sooty-capped Bush Tanager (Chlorospingus pileatus) in Volcan Poas National Park June 19, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                                                  © 2011 Callyn Yorke

A boat trip on the  lower Rio Tarcoles produced several bird species not found elsewhere during our visit, including Roseate Spoonbill, Woodstork, White Ibis, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, and perhaps least expected, Yellow-headed Caracara. Although the boat trip had been designed primarily for tourists, the captain was a keen naturalist and usually pointed out wildlife of interest (e.g. Two-toed Sloth and American Crocodile. At one point  during the cruise, he got out of the boat to hand-feed a huge ( 18 ft. ) crocodyle named "Tornado." Reportedly, our boat captain is the only person who continues to do this insanely dangerous stunt for tourists; several other tour leaders have apparently resigned as a result of serious injuries suffered while hand-feeding large crocs (I think their names were "Lefty" Gonzalez and his brother "Speedy").

American Crocodile (Crocodilus acutus) Rio Tarcoles  June 18, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                                                             © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja) Rio Tarcoles  June 18, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  © 2011 Callyn Yorke


The foothills overlooking San Jose near Santa Barbara, Heredia (Elevation 4,360 ft.) also supported bird species we did not find elsewhere during our visit. These were, Tropical Screech Owl, Black Swift, Beryl-crowned Hummingbird, Long-billed Starthroat, Hoffman's Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Torrent Tyrrannulet (La Paz Waterfall), Brown Jay, Blue and White Swallow, Ochraceous Wren, Yellow-green Vireo, Bronzed Cowbird, and Grayish Saltator.

Hoffmann's Woodpecker (Melanerpes hoffmannii) Santa Barbara, Heredia, June 20, 2011


                                                                                                 © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Our primary focal point for the visit was Laguna Del Lagarto lodge (LDL), located a few miles north of Boca Tapada adjacent to the Rio San Carlos in northeastern Costa Rica (see map from the April 2011 report). We spent 9 days there surveying primary and secondary lowland rainforest for birds and other animals. We included surveys of adjacent pastureland, riverine forest, lagoons, and a small section of the Rio San Carlos adjacent to Makenke, the relatively new ecolodge near Boca Tapada. Most of the birds we found during our April, 2011 survey (see previous report) were found again. However, additional species were noted, including Black-bellied Whistling Duck, White-tipped Dove, Scaled Pigeon, Striped Cuckoo, Green-breasted Mango, Yellow-bellied Elaenia and most surprisingly, Chestnut-headed Oropendola (new for the LDL bird list). Some bird species seemed scarce during this visit, including Keel-billed Toucan and Chestnut-mandibled Toucan; both of these birds were quite common and conspicuous during our visit in April. Several bird species were engaged in nesting and/or feeding young during our present survey. These were: Brown-hooded Parrot, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Collared Aracari and Clay-colored Robin. A major attraction of LDL was the appearance of the wonderfully hideous and generally scarce King Vulture (five adults and one immature) at a bait station next to the bird observation bunker built by wildlife photographer Bence Máté. As a result of the close proximity and eye-level orientation of the hide, we obtained excellent views of behavioral interactions among free-ranging King Vultures, Black Vultures (numerous) and Turkey Vultures (2 or 3) feeding on pieces of meat and bone placed there the prior evening (photos). From these observations we learned that a relatively small amount of beef attached to bone fragments was sufficient to immediately attract these birds and keep them at the site for several hours.


Black Vulture(Coragyps atratus) and King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa) at LDL bait station June 25, 2011.

                                                                                                                                                            © 2011 Callyn Yorke                                                                 



Although our visit was during what generally is called "rainy season" in Costa Rica (roughly June - November), we were seldom inconvenienced by wet weather. This may have been due to annual climatic variation or symptomatic of global climate changes. No one is really sure. During our visit mornings in the lowlands were often overcast, while afternoons and evenings produced light to moderate rainfall. Occasional thunder storms with heavy rainfall occurred at LDL, largely between sunset and sunrise (a forceful tornado hit the LDL area briefly during this time last year, snapping mature trees like match-sticks and causing significant tree-fall in isolated patches of the nearby forest). In the lowlands, partial clearings during the day resulted in uncomfortably high temperature and humidity, approaching 90F and 90%, respectively. Subsequently, breezes from the northeastern tradewinds tended to reduce  afternoon temperatures to a  more comfortable range of 70 - 80F. Highland temperatures were cooler overall; early morning and late evening air temperatures dropping into the low 50F range. These temperatures could be lowered a few degrees further by afternoon low fog and wind. As is often observed in the tropics, bird activity increased after rains. This was especially apparent on clear mornings following lengthy overnight rainstorms.


Brown-hooded Parrot ( Pionopsitta haematotis) LDL  June 23, 2011

                                                                                                                                                                                       © 2011 Callyn Yorke


BIRDS NOTED (June 15-30, 2011)

 (Reference: Stiles, F.G and A. F Skutch. 1989. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Cornell Univ. Press. 511 pp.)

Observers: Didier Castro (DC); Merissa Mendez (MM); Callyn Yorke (CY).

Equipment: B&L 10x42 binocular; Nikon D3x with 80-400mm AF VR lens; Nikon D3100 with 18-200mm AF VR lens.


                                                  Key to Locations

BC = Boca Tapada, Alajuela. Pastureland, farmland, primary and secondary lowland rainforest; riverine forest. 6/20-29.

CE = A. Coffin Estate, Santa Barbara, Heredia. About 2 hectares of lawns, ornamental shrubs and trees @ 4,360 ft. 6/15 -20.

LDL = Laguna Del Lagarto, Alajuela .  700 hectares of lowland primary and secondary rainforest, lagoons, pastureland @ 300 ft. 6/15-29.

LW = Lapaz waterfall near Volcan Poas, Heredia @ 5,200 ft.  6/19.

ML = Makenke Lodge, Boca Tapada. About 60 hectares of lowland primary and secondary rainforest, riverine forest, lagoons and gardens. 6/28.

PL = Punta Leona, Alajuela/south of Tarcoles. About 100 hectares of lawns, gardens, lowland primary and secondary forest; beaches.

RT = Rio Tarcoles, Alajuela. About 2 miles along the river, including the HWY 34 overpass including pastureland, secondary riverine forest. 6/18.

SR = Santa Rita village: a small village and lagoon near LDL.

VP = Volcan Poas National Park. Trails around the main caldera through primary cloud forest. 6/19.

Great Tinamou  Tinamus major   2  calls early AM and late evening, LDL.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck  Dendrocygna autumnalis    6   staying together on shore of lagoon, ML.

                                                                                               © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Brown Pelican  Pelecanus occidentalis    5  on offshore rocks, RT.

Olivaceous Cormorant  Phalacrocorax olivaceous   1 on offshore rocks, RT; 1 in lagoon, LDL.

Anhinga    Anhinga anhinga    2  resting on snag in lagoon, LDL.

Magnificent Frigatebird  Fregata magnificens   8  soaring over beach, RT.

Bare-throated Tiger Heron  Tigrisoma mexicanum   1   edge of lagoon, ML (DC).

Great Blue Heron   Ardea herodias   3   separated by 200-300 m on shore, RT.

Great Egret  Casmerodius albus   2  on shore; with YHCA scavenging meat scraps thrown to crocs, RT (photo).

Cattle Egret   Bubulcus ibis     12   on shore and in pastures, RT.

Green-backed Heron  Butorides striatus   1  in mangroves, RT;  in lagoon, ML.

Agami Heron  Agamia agami   1  in jungle overhanging shore of lagoon, LDL.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron  Nyctanassa violacea  1 (imm) on a log in tall grass on island, RT (photo).

                                                                                                                          © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Green Ibis  Messenbrinibis cayennensis   1  flushed from log perch in second lagoon, LDL.

Wood Stork  Mycteria americana    6  foraging on shore; resting with open wings, RT (photo).

                                                                                                                                           © 2011 Callyn Yorke

White Ibis  Eudocimus albus   1  on shore, RT.

Roseate Spoonbill  Ajaia ajaja     8  foraging on shore, RT (photo).

                                                                                                                       © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Black Vulture  Coragyps atratus   ubiquitous, abundant in and around of towns; patureland, rivers; readily attracted to garbage.

Turkey Vulture  Cathartes aura   ubiquitous, though locally uncommon; usually outnumbered by BLVU 10:1 in similar habitats.

King Vulture Sarcoramphus papa   6 (5 adults, one juvenile). feeding at bait station; interspecific agression; holds food with talons; shaves and tears meat off bone with bill; wary and shy; usually the first species to take flight when humans approach. Greatly outnumbered by BLVU at LDL and elsewhere in the region (photos).

BLVU and imm KIVU  LDL  June 25, 2011

                                                                                                                                                                                 © 2011 Callyn Yorke


                                                                                                                                                         © 2011 Callyn Yorke


BLVU and adult KIVU LDL  June 25, 2011

                                                                                                                                                                                  © 2011 Callyn Yorke


      Adult  KIVU pair LDL  June 25, 2011                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                          © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Double-toothed Kite  Harpagus bidentatus   1  in outer canopy of emergent tree, LDL.

Yellow-headed Caracara   Milvago chimachima   1  with GREG, attracted to meat scraps thrown to crocs on shore, RT (photo).

                                                                                        © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Great Curassow   Crax rubra   2   early morning calls ( a loud barking sound) from trees above our room, LDL (unseen).

Purple Gallinule   Porphyrula martinica   3  edge of lagoon, ML.

Northern Jacana  Jacana spinosa    1  lagoon, SR; 1 at edge of lagoon, ML.

Whimbrel   Numenius phaeopus  1  on shore, RT.

Scaled Pigeon  Columba speciosa  2  feeding on small fruits in a tall tree at edge of the garden, LDL (photo).

                                                                                           © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Red-billed Pigeon   Columba flavirostris   2  CE;  2  LDL.

Short-billed Pigeon  Columba nigrirostris   2   ML (photo).

                                                                                    © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Ruddy Ground Dove  Columbina talpacoti   4  roadside pastures, BC.

Inca Dove   Columbina inca   3  on lawn at roadside restaurant, RT (photo).

                                                                                                                                                     © 2011 Callyn Yorke


White-tipped Dove  Leptotila verreauxi   3   seen for several days on lawn in garden, LDL.

Rock Dove  Columba livia    common in and around towns everywhere.

Scarlet Macaw  Ara macao    4   feeding in fruiting trees (almond?) at beach PL (photo); 4  pairs vocal, flying over rainforest and clearings   LDL, ML

                                                                                                              ©   2011 Callyn Yorke


Orange-chinned Parakeet  Brotogeris jugularis   2   in leafless tree at the edge of the river, ML.

Brown-hooded Parrot     Pionopsitta haematotis    11  (ad, imm)  coming to banana feeder daily; adults feeding young, LDL(photo).  

                                                                                                                                                                                  ©   2011 Callyn Yorke


White-crowned Parrot  Pionus senilis    4   in canopy of tall trees in the garden; not seen at feeders, LDL.

Red-lored Parrot  Amazona autumnalis  6  highly vocal and active in canopy of flowering and fruiting trees around LDL (not seen at the feeders) (photo).

                                                                                                                                                   © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Mealy Parrot   Amazona farinosa    2   vocal, flying over clearings in the forest; once visiting fruiting tree in garden, LDL; not seen at feeders (phhoto).

                                                                                                                                                                                            © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Striped Cuckoo  Tapera naevia   2  calling from pastureland tree fences, BC.

Groove-billed Ani   Crotophaga sulcirostris   ubiquitous in clearings, pastures and disturbed habitats throughout the region (photo, CE).

                                                                                                                        © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Tropical Screech Owl  Otus choliba   1  roosting during the day in a small, unoccupied, open-door aviary in the garden, CE

Black and White Owl  Ciccaba nigrolineata   1   spotlighted  while calling in the subcanopy of large trees in the garden, LDL.

Gray-rumped Swift   Chaetura cinereiventris   6  flying 10 -100 ft., back and forth over grassy field and garden, CE (photos).


© 2011 Callyn Yorke                                                                                                © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Black Swift   Cypseloides niger    1-2  flying  fast from edge of forest with nearby waterfall, out over open areas with smaller GRSW for comparison.

Long-tailed Hermit  Phaethornis superciliousus    2  coming regularly to feeders on Tucan trail in forest; relatively tame, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                        © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Little Hermit  Phaethornis longuemareus   1  briefly visiting feeders on Tucan trail; wary and shy, LDL.

White-necked Jacobin   Florisuga mellivora   3 -5  regularly visiting Tucan trai feedersl; wary and quick, LDL (photo).

                                                                               © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Green-breasted Mango  Athracothorax prevostii   1  (m) in garden, fruiting trees, ML.

Black-crested Coquette  Lophornis helenae   1  briefly visited Tucan trail feeders, LDL.

Crowned Woodnymph  Thalurania columbica   2  regularly visiting Tucan trail feeders, LDL (photo).

                                                                  ©   2011 Callyn Yorke


Beryl-crowned Hummingbird  Amazilia decora   1   garden trees, CE (photo)

                                                                                                                  © 2011 Callyn Yorke


  Amazilia sp. ? 1 (f imm )   visited Tucan trail feeder once, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                            © 2011 Callyn Yorke               


Rufous-tailed Hummingbird  Amazilia tzacatl    1 garden CE;  4 garden flowering shrubs and Tucan trail feeders, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                 © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Red-footed Plumeleteer  Chalybura urochrysia   2  regularly visitng Tucan trail feeders, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                    © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Magnificent Hummingbird  Eugenes fulgens   5  active and vocal in clearings of cloud forest, VP (photo).

                                                                                                                                    © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Long-billed Starthroat  Heliomaster longirostris  1  perched on utility line in garden, CE (photo).


©  2011 Callyn Yorke   


Turquoise-browed Momot  Eumomota superciliosa  1  roadside restaurant withmature mango trees, RT (photo).


                                                                                                                          © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Blue-crowned Momot  Motmotus  momota   1  subcanopy of broad-leaved trees in garden, CE (photo) 

                                                                                       © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Ringed Kingfisher  Ceryl torquata  1  lagoon, LDL; lagoon, ML.

Amazon Kingfisher  Chloroceryle amazona   1  lagoon, ML.

Green Kingfisher  Chloroceryle americana  1   shady branches at the edge of the river by the boat launch, RT (photo).

                                                                                                                         © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Pied Puffbird  Bucco tectus   1  in outer canopy of emergent tree, Tucan trail, LDL.

Collared Aracari  Pteroglossus torquatus   8   regular at banana feeder, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                 © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Keel-billed Toucan  Ramphastos sulfuratus   2   flying, calls, forest and clearings; not seen at the feeder, LDL.

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan  Ramphastos swainsonii    2  flying, calls, forest and clearings; not seen at the feeder, LDL.

Black-cheeked Woodpecker  Melanerpes pucherani   6   vocal active; regular at banana feeder; excavating nest cavity in dead tree a few feet below a pair of Masked Tityras outside our room (#21) LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                                                                                   © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Lineated Woodpecker  Dryocopus lineatus   1 (f)   foraging on 5" diameter branches in fruit tree, CE.

Pale-billed Woodpecker  Campephilus guatemalensis  1 (m)  foraging on trunk of leafless tree near the feeder; pursued by BCWO, LDL (photo).

                                                                                          © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Streak-headed Woodcreeper  Lepidocolaptes souleyetii   2   active, vocal in tall deciduous trees, working trunk and main branches, LDL (photo).

                                                         © 2011 Callyn Yorke


White-flanked Antwren  Myrmotherula fulviventris   3  active in undergrowth alongside Tucan trail, LDL.

Yellow-bellied Elaenia   Elaenia flavogaster   1   mid and lower levels of trees in garden, LDL.

Dusky-capped Flycatcher  Myiarchus tuberculifer   1  mid-level branches in garden, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                      © 2011 Callyn Yorke



Great Kiskadee Flycatcher  Pitangus sulphuratus  vocal, conspicuous and  regionally widespread in small numbers; occasionally at  banana feeder(photo,  LDL)

                                                                                                                     © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Boat-billed Flycatcher  Megarynchus pitangua   1   coastal trees and shrubs; vocal, active, PL.

Social Flycatcher  Myiozetetes similis   2   garden shrubs and trees; occasionally at feeder, LDL (photo).

                                                                         © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Torrent Tyrranulet   Serpophaga cinerea   1  on boulders in stream, LW (photo)

                                                                                                          © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Tropical Kingbird   Tyrannus melancholicus    1  garden trees, CE;  2  pastureland and roadside trees, BC.

Masked Tityra   Tityra semifasciata    1  tall trees in garden, CE;  2  nesting in dead tree above BCWO outside our room (#21) LDL (photo).

                                                                                    © 2011 Callyn Yorke

White-collared Manakin  Manacus candei   4   active and vocal as we approached the boat dock, second lagoon, LDL.

Red-capped Manakin   Pipra mentalis   2  vocal, active, mid-level branches, commonly at the forest edge and once in garden outside our room (#21), LDL.

Gray-breasted Martin  Progne chalybea  3 - 4   flying over clearing next to forest, CE.

Mangrove Swallow  Tachycineta albilinea  5  flying over river; perched on snags, RT;  1  on snag in second lagoon, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                   © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Blue and White Swallow  Notiochelidon cyanoleuca  20  flying low over lawns and garden; sunning on tile roofs, CE.

Brown Jay  Cyanocorax morio  2  feeding in banana trees; calls, CE.

Southern House Wren  Troglodytes aedon australis   2  vocal and active in garden, LDL.

Ochraceous Wren  Troglodytes ochraceous   1  active, vocal in trees above garden, CE (photo)

                                                                                                                        © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Rufous-naped Wren   Campylorynchus rufinucha   2  nesting in tall pine, CE (photo).

                                                                                                                   © 2011 Callyn Yorke

White-breasted Woodwren  Henicorhina leucosticta   3  vocal, active in disturbed vegetation next to fresh logging track, LDL.

Tropical Gnatcatcher  Polioptila plumbea    1   vocal, active in mid to upper levels of trees in garden, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                               © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Clay-colored Robin  Turdus grayi    ubiquitous in lowland and middle elevations; young in nest, LW; LDL

Black-billed Nightingale Thrush  Catharus gracilirostris  2   vocal, active on or near ground on forest trails, VP (photo).

                                                                       © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Yellow-green Vireo  Vireo flavoviridis  2  active, vocal in trees around garden, CE.

Bananaquit  Coereba flaveola   1  vocal, visiting flowering shrub in garden, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                                                        © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Golden-hooded Tanager  Tangara larvata   6    individuals visiting feeder fairly regularly;  vocal and acitve in forest canopy, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                                                                                         © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Blue Dacnis   Dacnis cayana    1 (f) visiting flowering shrub in garden, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                                                              © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Green Honeycreeper  Chlorophanes spiza  2   a fairly frequent visitor to banana feeder, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                                                    © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Red-legged Honeycreeper  Cyanerpes cyaneus   2  occasional visitor to banana feeder, LDL (photo)

                                                                       © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Sooty-capped Bush Tanager  Chlorospingus pileatus  2  active in clearings, mid-level in cloud forest, VP (photo).

                                                                                                                                                                                      © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Olive-backed Euphonia  Euphonia gouldi   2  canopy of trees in garden, LDL.

Blue-gray Tanager  Thraupis episcopus    ubiquitous; 4  vocal, active in canopy and subcanopy; frequent visitor at the banana feeder, LDL.

Palm Tanager  Thraupis palmarum    ubiquitous; 4  vocal, active in the canopy; frequent visitor at the banana feeder, LDL.

Scarlet-rumped Tanager  Ramphocelus passerinii  4  frequent visitor to banana feeder; m agressive toward f, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                                                                                              © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Grayish Saltator  Saltator coerulescens   2   vocal and active in trees around garden, CE (photo)

                                                                                             © 2011 Callyn Yorke


Large-footed Finch  Pezopetes capitalis   3 (ad, imm)  adults feeding fledgling on forest floor, VP (photo).

                                                                                                                                                         © 2011 Merissa Mendez

Black-faced Grosbeak  Caryothraustes poliogaster  1 (f)  active in second-growth along Tucan trail, LDL.

Blue-black Grassquit   Volatinia jacarina    4  active in weedy fields bordering pastures, BC.

Variable Seedeater   Sporophila aurita   1  in garden, LDL.

Rufous-collared Sparrow  Zonotrichia capensis   3  on lawns and in garden, CE;  2  clearing next to volcano overlook, VP.

Thick-billed Seedfinch  Oryzoborus funereus   4   common, active in garden, LDL (photo)

                                                                                                      © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Great-tailed Grackle  Quiscalus mexicanus    ubiquitous in southern and central lowlands in and around towns and villages.

Nicaraguan Grackle  Quiscalus nicaraguensis   2    farmland and pastureland, BC (photo).

                                                                                    © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Bronzed Cowbird  Molothrus aeneus   3   active on lawns and in trees; m displays, CE (photo).

                                                                                                                                                                          © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Scarlet-rumped Cacique  Cacicus uropygialis   1   visited feeder early one morning , LDL (DC).

Chestnut-headed Oropendola  Psarocolius wagleri  1  visited garden trees briefly early one morning, LDL (DC). A new LDL record.

Montezuma Oropendola  Psarocolius montezuma    2 flying over, CE; 6  frequent visitor to banana feeder, LDL (photo).

                                                                                                                                                                                          © 2011 Callyn Yorke

Red-winged Blackbird  Agelaius phonecius    2   lagoon and wetlands, BC.

House Sparrow  Passer domesticus   conmon in and around San Jose.








































Northeastern COSTA RICA  (April 1-10, 2011)  © 2011 Callyn Yorke 

Map showing our route

Photos of Laguna Del Lagarto and adjacent areas

Amphibians and Reptiles



Photo Gallery 



    © 2011 Callyn Yorke                                                                  © 2011 Merissa Mendez


                                                                                 © 2011 Callyn Yorke





Our visit to Costa Rica began at the San Jose international airport (SJO) where we were met by Randall, a friendly and knowledgeable Costa Rican driver sporting a 4WD Mitsubishi. Randall was employed by Extreme Adventures of Costa Rica and contracted by Laguna Del Lagarto (LDL) for our transportation. Like many Costa Ricans, he was well-educated and fluent in English. Randall informed us that mid-April was near the end of the dry season; this region receives 2 - 5.5 meters (78 - 225 inches) of rainfall annually. The Antelope Valley, California, by contrast, averages about 10 inches of rain annually. Laguna Del Lagarto, our final destination in northeastern Costa Rica, receives an average of about 4 meters of rainfall annually, most of which falls between May and January. Even at the height of the dry season at LDL, prevailing winds from the northeast bring heavy rainfall nearly every evening. Our umbrellas would come in handy.

We proceeded on a zig-zag route northward 140 km to Laguna Del Lagarto (see map) on narrow mountain roads (reaching a maximum elevation of about 1600 m), passing through the scenic towns of Naranjo, Zarcero, and Quesada.The latter town I mistakenly referred to as "Quesadilla." Randall was mildly amused. We stopped at a cafe for lunch in Pital, the nearest large town to LDL (the driving time between Pital and LDL is about 1.25 hr.), located on the north side of the lower slopes of the Cordillera Central (the old route to LDL was partially destroyed on January 8, 2009 by a devastating earthquake (mag. 6.1) centered near Volcan Poas). From Pital, our journey was on an unpaved secondary road, passing through farm land and villages in a bucolic setting amongst rolling hills of the San Carlos River region. Then, easily missed altogether if one had momentarily dozed off, the last major town along the route (a cluster of small homes, an elementary school, a general store, a bar, a hand-made furniture factory, and a cell phone tower), Boca Tapada. Earlier, about 2 km south of Boca Tapada, we made a couple of roadside stops to observe birds such as, Ruddy Ground Dove (Columbina talpacoti), Common Ground Dove (Columbina passerina), Groove-billed Ani (Crotophaga sulcirostris), Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melanocholicus), Common Tody Flycatcher (Todirostrum cinereum), and Scarlet-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus passerinii) in shrub-covered fence lines, adjacent cattle pastures and ploughed taro fields. Most unexpectedly, a pair of Yellow-crowned Parrots (Amazona ochrocephala) was seen quite clearly flying over pastureland. This bird is a South American and southern Panamanian species which is apparently unrecorded in Costa Rica (Stiles & Skutch, 1989).

A few minutes later, dodging numerous potholes, we reached the village of Santa Rita, within view of the impressive gallery forests of LDL. The journey by car from the SJO airport to LDL had taken us about 5 hours and went without incident (our largely non-stop, return trip from LDL to the SJO airport was completed in 3 hrs.and 17 minutes). We spent 10 days and 9 nights at the lodge in attractive, clean accomodations. The very reasonable rates included all meals (simple, tasty dishes with fresh fruit and veggies, beef, pork and chicken), canoeing, access to trails and photography hides, and expert guides.

This was Merissa's first trip to Costa Rica, my third (June, 1997 and January, 1999).  My previous visits had included two extended stays at LDL, the most recent one with my Tropical Biology class from AVC. In addition to scouting the area for another AVC Tropical Biology class, I planned to make comparative surveys of birds to see if any significant changes had occurred over the past decade. Luckily, a young ornithologist working at LDL, Didier Castro, made himself available for bird surveys. With his help we identified about 103 species of bird in and around LDL, representing about one-third of the bird species documented to occur there.

During the past decade, LDL has been upgraded and expanded to comfortably accomodate around 40 lodge guests and features a new biology laboratory for visiting college and university classes. In addition, a young Hungarian wildlife photographer, Bence Máté, winner ot the 2010 British Museum of Natural History international competition for best wildlife photographer, had built three high-quality photography hides at LDL, providing excellent opportunities for visiting naturalists and wildlife photographers. We were delighted to learn upon arrival that Bence Máté's winning photo of  nocturnal leaf-cutter ants was made only steps away from the room we would be staying in at LDL. His webpage may be found at: or


. Together with a mapped and well-maintained trail system (including freshwater lagoons, grassland-savanna, primary and secondary rainforest), LDL , covering an area of about 500 hectares (1,235 acres), holds almost limitless potential for conducting biological field work (see Student Projects). LDL promotes sustainable resource use, eco-tourism and supports student-volunteer work at the lodge. Recently developed programs have aimed at assisting villagers in the fields of nursing, applied agriculture and language skills. Further information about LDL can be found at:

Our surveys included several brief visits to the local village and lagoon of Santa Rita, located about 2 Km south of LDL. Among other rarities, we were specifically looking for Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius) , which we found to be represented by three nests, two with chicks. Nearby, at the home of LDL manager Adolpho Gonzalez, we were treated to close-up views of many bird species, including, Blue Dacnis (Dacnis cayana) , Shining Honeycreeper(Cyanerpes lucidus) , Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus) and Buff-throated Saltator(Saltator maximus ) , all visiting garden feeders baited with fresh bananas. We also spent one morning surveying the swift-flowing San Carlos river by boat, between Boca Tapada and Boca San Carlos (see map). Several more bird species were added to our list, including Green Ibis (Mesembrinibis cayennensis), Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana), Ringed Kingfisher (Ceryle torquata) and Mangrove Swallow (Tachyicineta albilinea).  Along the muddy, snag-ridden river edges, our sightings included, American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus), Tropical Slider (Chrysemys ornata) and two sleepy squadrons of  Long-nosed Bat (Rhynconycteris naso) clinging to emergent branches.