Back to the Tropics: Banding in Costa Rica

In early November, I packed my bags and migrated south to Costa Rica. Leaving behind frigid temperatures in Colorado, I arrive in Costa Rica ready for another winter in the tropics. For three months, I will be banding birds for Costa Rica Bird Observatories. First, I ride a bus up the winding Pan-American Highway to Madre Selva, a field station in the Cordillera de Talamanca. Here in the cloud forest, there is an extremely high density of regional endemics. Beyond the familiar North American migrants, I am bombarded with an exciting new suite of birds. With my coworker, Steve Dougill, we begin to familiarize ourselves with the amazing bird-life of the region.

Collared Redstart (Myioborus torquatus), one of the many birds endemic to the highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama.
Spot-crowned Woodcreeper (Lepidocolaptes affinis)
Banding in the Clouds
Black-faced Solitaire (Myadestes melanops)
Chestnut-capped Brushfinch (Arremon brunneinucha)
Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), one of the wintering North American migrants of the region.
Black-cheeked Warbler (Basileuterus melanogenys), a regional endemic.
Gray-breasted Wood-Wren (Henicorhina leucophrys)


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Bird Banding with FUNDAECO

14 February – 11 March 2017

The Foundation for Ecodevelopment and Conservation (FUNDAECO) in Guatemala runs the¬†longest continuous bird banding and monitoring program in Latin America. For nearly two decades, Guatemalan biologists have been banding birds in the Izabel province. Thanks to¬†FUNDAECO’s banding crew, I join local field researchers for nearly a month. Most days consist of ten hours of banding in mature forests, camping in remote locations, swimming in pristine rivers, laughing together, and snacking on corn tortillas with hot sauce.

Thank you Alexis, Miguel, Obdulio, Antonio, Yaquelin, and Thelma for a truly remarkable and memorable experience!

White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis). These elusive birds inhabit Central American rainforests and consume all sorts of interesting prey including spiders, frogs, and snakes.
Red-capped Manakin (Ceratopipra mentalis), on of the most abundant birds at the field sites.
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher (Terenotriccus erythrurus), a flycatcher smaller than a kinglet (8 cm).

A Tawny-winged Woodcreeper (Dendrocincla anabatina) that was banded a previous season.

Ruddy Woodcreeper (Dendrocincla homochroa)
Ivory-billed Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus flavigaster), one of the largest woodcreepers (23 cm).
Wedge-billed Woodcreeper (Glyphorynchus spirurus), one of the smallest woodcreepers (15 cm).


Crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica) and Long-billed Hermit (Phaethornis longirostris)

Orange-billed Sparrow (Arremon aurantiirostris)
Blue-black Grosbeak (Cyanoloxia cyanoides)
Female Dot-winged Antwren (Microrhopias quixensis)
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher (Mionectes oleagineus)
Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus)

Royal Flycatcher (Onychorhynchus coronatus)

Lousiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla)
Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorum), one of the most abundant North American migrants captured.
Swainson’s Warbler (Limnothlypis swainsonii), an incredibly rare North American migrant.
Sunset on the Guatemala/Belize border.
Hooded Warbler (Setophaga citrina)
Plain Xenops (Xenops minutus)
White-breasted Wood-Wren (Henicorhina leucosticta)
Bright-rumped Attila (Attila spadiceus)
Northern Schiffornis (Schiffornis veraepacis)
The FUNDAECO Banding Crew in Action
We used waterways and boats to access our field sites near the Belize border.