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Spot This! Costa Rica Woodpecker

Hoffmann's Woodpecker

Birdwatching can be a fascinating pastime in Costa Rica and the Costa Rica Woodpecker is no exception

While most people think of Costa Rica’s wildlife as exotic, there are some familiar faces that are just as beautiful and charming as some of the country’s more showy inhabitants. One such creature is the lineated woodpecker.

Locally known as the “carpintero,” which literally translates to carpenter, this woodpecker easy to spot and easy to love. With its shock of bright red head plumage, black and white body, and signature white lines, the bird will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has seen its close relative, the pileated woodpecker, pecking away at trees in the United States.

As far as woodpeckers go, the carpintero is one of the largest, measuring 12 to 14 inches in length and weighing between 6 and 8 ounces. Its habitat ranges from southern Mexico to northern Argentina, and, while it prefers open areas like pastures and forest edges, it also lives in dry, humid and coastal forests. This makes it easy to find in many different places across Costa Rica.

The carpintero mainly eats insects, including ants, termites, spiders, grubs and beetle larvae. However, it also indulges in nuts, seeds, fruits and berries. The carpintero does its characteristic to get to the tastiest treats. But it also performs its drum song to attract the best mates, and to burrow a home or a nest for itself.

Carpinteros are a model of marital cooperation: they mate in breeding pairs, and stay together throughout the breeding season. They often use specific pecking sounds to communicate. Both males and females help to make the nests, which are built in cavities of dead trees. Breeding takes place during spring months, and both parents help care for the chicks. During the day, females feed and care for the young, while males guard the nest. At night, Dad takes his turn caring for the chicks.

Carpinteros are well-known and well-loved for several reasons, the most obvious being their bright red, “punk-rock” hairdos and their attractive black markings. But avid birdwatchers also delight in their vocalizations, which sound like crazy laughter, and their habit of not spreading their wings to fly until they have very nearly hit the ground.

Lineated woodpeckers often travel in groups, and are abundant in Costa Rica. While they are more abundant in lowlands, carpinteros are plentiful and can be seen in nearly every Costa Rican national park and nature reserve.

 

 

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Bird Watching in Costa Rica

 I’m a Bird Watcher and Costa Rica Fills My Aviary Appetite

Guest post by Bobby H.

bird-watching-costa-ricaI am what you call an aviary enthusiast. You may not have heard that term before, and if you told me that you hadn’t, I wouldn’t be surprised. Many have heard the term “bird watcher”, but I do not just watch birds. I love to learn all that I possibly can about birds. I am retired now from the aviary that I used to work at, but my love for the feathered kind has not diminished. I spend my time traveling to foreign places learning about birds all over the world.

Costa Rica is one of my favorite places to go to observe my fine-feathered friends because they are so beautifully colored. I recently visited Costa Rica and stayed in a condo rented from HRG real estate on the Los Sueños Resort. What a gorgeous place! Some of the aviary species I wanted to see were readily available even on the resort itself! I do have many passions in life, not just studying and observing birds, and golfing is definitely up there near the top of my list.

Los Sueños Resort has an 18 hole, 72 par, world championship golf course. This amazing course offers breathtaking views of the ocean right from the greens! It is bordered by rainforest where monkeys chatter and play and gorgeous, bright-colored macaws nest in the trees.

The scarlet macaw is one of the most beautiful birds I know of. This Central American parrot is the one that you often see in pictures from the tropics. It is usually a bright red color from its head to its upper back where the color changes quickly to bright yellow, then to a bright green at the ends of its beautiful plumage. The South American macaw differs from its Central American relative only in that the ends of the feathers are blue rather than green. Both Central and South American macaws have a beautiful deep red color with a metallic gold iridescence on the undersides of their flying feathers and wings. These birds are just so gorgeous.

Some of the unique facts about the Scarlet Macaw are that they mate for life and that they can live for 40 to 50 years in the wild and up to 75 years in captivity! The squeaks and screams produced by the macaw’s voice box are able to carry for many miles. This helps them find groups of other birds like them in order to stay safe. Even birds find safety in numbers. It was such a treat to be able to see the macaws in their natural habitat while in Costa Rica and an even bigger treat to have seen them in the trees just off the golf course while I played!

One of the special trips I made while on this vacation was to The Ara Project. This non-profit organization, just a little over an hour northeast of Los Sueños, has a goal of conserving the two native species of macaws of Costa Rica: the Scarlet Macaw and the Great Green Macaw. The Ara Project was founded in the 1980’s by two of my personal heroes. Richard and Margot Frisius are an American expatriate couple who had relocated to Costa Rica to start a licensed zoological park in order to take care of the government confiscated or private owner dumped parrots in the area. The started a breeding program in 1992 to participate in macaw conservation and established what is now known as the Ara Project; then known as “Amigos de las Aves” (Friends of the Birds). They have since created the biggest captive collection of Great Green Macaws and are successfully introducing a Scarlet Macaw reintroduction program.

I loved my trip to Costa Rica to see the Macaws in their natural habitat and the conservation efforts being made to recolonize them in larger numbers.

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