Birding Without Borders

Day 114: Owls and Treats

Costa Rica’s north Pacific coast gets owlish.

April 24, 2015, Monteverde, Costa Rica — Johan and Roy have a special name for the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl: They call it George (“we can’t explain why,” Roy said). Sometimes, to attract small birds, they broadcast a recording of George’s vocalization in the forest—songbirds don’t like pygmy-owls, and they will form a flash mob to warn each other about the predator. It worked really well this morning in a patch of forest near Tarcoles, on Costa Rica’s central coast. Too well, actually; a pair of real Georges flew in to call our bluff!

I guess we have good owl karma because, later this afternoon, Johan led us to a pair of Spectacled Owls—a large, impressive, sometimes cross-eyed owl of New World tropical forests. Or, rather, Johan called his dad, who has been monitoring this particular pair of owls in a group of trees near his house. When we arrived, Johan’s dad had the two Spectacleds staked out on their daytime roost. Then Johan’s mom laid out a dinner of rice, beans, fried ham, salad, guanabana juice, and arroz con leche (a rice-milk drink) with a touch of rum. Roy, Johan and I drove up to Monteverde, in the relatively cool highlands, with full bellies.

It’s been a solid 24 hours of owls and tasty treats. Late last night Johan and I went looking for Striped Owls near Quepos (and found one on a telephone wire) with a visiting couple of birders from my home state of Oregon, Paul and Laura. They had planned to meet me here in Costa Rica during their vacation, and brought three precious packets of chocolate-covered hazelnuts (Oregon is a big hazelnut producer). I’ve been eating those hazelnuts all day, even though the chocolate totally melted in today’s heat. With all this good food, pretty soon I’m gonna get as round and soft as an owl.

New birds today: 23

Year list: 2246

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