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Let’s talk about the Montezuma Oropendula

By Paul Gerace

One of the more interesting birds found in our area is the Montezuma Oropendola. When you hear its call there will be no doubt about what it is. The sound is a very strange kind of gurgling.

This class of bird is aptly named for the golden (oro) yellow color of its tail feathers and for the pendulum (pendola) type of movement that it makes when courting. It actually swings by its feet, dips down, and then back up again in repeated sequences.

It has chestnut colored body feathers and an orange cone shaped bill. I think that shaped bill gives it an aerodynamic advantage during flight which is evidenced by the smooth sound it makes when flying overhead.

They nest in colonies. The nests look like hanging baskets and hang delicately from very tall tress as protection from predators.

Montezuma Oropedula

The Montezuma Oropendolas are one of 3 types of Oropendolas found here in Costa Rica. The others are the Chestnut-Headed and the much less common Crested Oropendolas.

You can see more of my images at www.photosofcostarica.com


Red-Lored Parrot

Red Lored ParrotThe Red-Lored Parrot is one of 17 species of parrots and parakeets found in Costa Rica. They are commonly seen from eastern Mexico and down south through Central America to Ecuador.

Red-Lored Parrots are distinguished by the bright red color on the surface on each side of its head between the eye and the upper base of the beak, known as the “lore”. You will almost always hear them before seeing them as they are very loud.

From afar they appear to be mostly green but upon closer inspection you can see beautiful lilac blue colored feathers on top and on the back of their heads. Their wings show red, yellow, black, and white while their tail feathers have shades of yellow, blue, & green.

They are monogomous for life and can be seen traveling in pairs or as part of a large flock. Red-Lored Parrots, like other parrots, are considered to be highly intelligent and can also live up to 75 years!

I took this image in the Dominical area. You can see more of my images at www.photosofcostarica.com


Fiery-Billed Aracari

Fiery-Billed AracariFiery-Billed Aracaris are members of the Toucan family. I think of them as their smaller cousins. They are one of two types of Aracaris found here in Costa Rica. The other is the less colorful Collared Aracari.

Fiery-Billed Aracaris have a very limited range of habitation and are found in the rainforests on the Pacific side of southern Costa Rica
and in western Panama. This one was photographed in the Dominical area.

I find them to be mischievous, goofy, proud, prehistoric looking, and very social in their behavior. Their brilliantly colored beaks and
bright feathers are a stark contrast to the green of the rainforest. They are not graceful flyers and can often be seen hopping from one branch to another.

You will have a better chance of seeing them when they are most active. That’s when the weather is a bit misty and not too hot. They can often be seen feeding in papaya trees when the fruit is ripe and also in Cecropia trees.


Let’s Talk About Birds – The Resplendent Quetzal

Resplendent QuetzalResplendent Quetzals are startling emerald jewels of the cloud forest. They shimmer from one shade to another, blending almost magically with the wet green background of their constantly misty high altitude homes. Their color seems ephemeral for a reason; quetzals are not green at all. It’s hard to believe, but quetzals are actually brown.

They are colored by melanin, the same pigment that causes tanning in humans. Highly magnified, quetzal feathers are alternately translucent and dark brown. The magic comes from melanin pigment stripes regularly spaced 5,400 angstroms apart causing interference that “traps” most colors of light but reflects green light, which bounces back to your eye.

A similar interference pattern with different spacing on Morpho butterfly wings are what make them appear blue.

The optimal viewing season corresponds with the breeding season which varies from February through July over the quetzal’s range in the mountain cloud forests from Southern Mexico to Panama.


Let’s Talk About Birds

Blue Crowned Mot MotThis month’s bird is not only colorful, but also uniquely interesting in appearance and behavior.

The Lesson’s Mot Mot, formerly known as the Blue-Crowned Mot Mot, features a long tail with racquet-tipped feathers. The tail feathers are sometimes seen swinging from side to side in a pendulum-type of motion. This happens when the Mot Mot feels threatened. This is its way of communicating to the prey that, “I see you so don’t waste your time and energy in trying to attack me”

The definitive light blue crown features feathers that appear to be iridescent and is quite striking when seen in the sunlight. However, they prefer to stay in the shadows and may come down to the ground to feed on insects and lizards.

I have seen and photographed them in several locations throughout the Southern Zone, including my hometown area of Dominical.

Just one of the many types of colorful birds that you can find when visiting our amazing area.

Paul Gerace, photosofcostarica.com

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