Los cusingos bird count.

Los Cusingos reserve and bird sanctuary was the home of Dr Alexander skutch, an avid ornithologist to whom we owe most of what’s known about CR bird fauna,  his life was dedicated to study the tropical birds, undoubtedly the teacher of birders.

Upon his death the land was then passed to the CCT (tropical science center) for its management and conservation, his house remains as a museum and is conserved just like the last day of his life.

Entrance to Los Cusingos


The birdcount began at 5:30 (April 5th) and the groups were sent to their respective routes. My group was sent to San Ignacio-Salitre which consisted mostly of coffee plantations, gardens and some secondary forest, for a total of roughly 8km.

Groups were dispatched at 5:20am in diferent vehicules including 4WD and pick up trucks.

Our day began at 5:45am I was a little disappointed since our group leader (seemed to me) was more interested to get home than giving the best for the good of the activity did not even explain what our route was going to be like and basic details, such as timing, who would take notes, how many species were seen in previous counts in the route or any instruction, so I then decided I was going to do my notes and then compare with the group’s if there were any I thought.

Site map.

The birding was actually great and there was a good variety of species as well as a good number of individual per species.

Many of the species with a common status that I get to see back in the Manuel Antonio area (e.g Esquipulas) were also quite common here and saw just so many of them, these are plain wren, yellow bellied Elaenia, rufous breasted wren, blue and white swallow, brown violet ear and others, with numbers between 15 to 50ish.

yellow bellied elaenia

yellow bellied elaenia, just before it flew.

Barn swallow

Blue and white swallow

I was hoping to see 2 new species of hummingbirds for my life list, both are found here; i.e white tailed emerald and snowy bellied hummingbird.

After several birds, we had a hummingbird that flew by us and fed on some flowers for just seconds but not enough for me to ID, I do think it was a female white wailed emerald but wont count it if a good view to diagnostic features  is not possible (many of you are the same I bet!).

Brown violet ear

Brown violet ear


yes, it had just landed there after its daily-hop workout while calling tzeerp!


Variable seedeater

As we walked up this hill (below) we came to a spot were there were so many brown violet ears, I indeed had never seen so many of them until today, there was also a garden emerald in a perfect spot for a picture, I just wished I had a real camera, but was able to get an ok with my phone and my scope.

We thought this was most of the hills we had to do, nope, it was just a sample of what was coming.

Garden emerald

While we enjoyed the garden emerald then a snowy bellied hummingbird flew to its perch in a tree near by, success! A lifer by 8:15am! This remedied the feeling of loosing a possible white tailed emerald.

Snowy bellied hummingbird, a lifer!

The snowy bellied is a common hummer in the southern pacific slope intermontane valleys, in the terraba and General valleys, between 300m to 1300 meters. Endemic to Costa Rica and Panama.

yellow bellied elaenia at nest

Olivaceus piculet, the smallest of all CR woodpeckers

After 9:00am as usual the bird activity slowed down a lot, although by then we had seen about 90% of the total list but the other 10% were completed with gartered and bairds trogon, orange collared manakin, mourning warbler, and other common, yet nice-to-see species.

Basically the rest of the morning consisted on surviving the heat and making sure we could get back ok.
The lack of water, extremely sunny conditions as well as the extremely dusty road, and in addition to that the fact that our leader had left ahead of us gave us a lot of those “should we take a right here or left?” questions. The day was interesting.

Dust all around

it was dusty!


yellow faced grassquit

streaked FC

After a long long hill, with plenty of sun and no water we found this oasis! that lemonade had been the best lemonade I’ve had in years!

Orange billed nightingale-thrush

at the end of the morning this was my list:

San Iganacio de PZ-Los cusingos, CR-SJ
Apr 5, 2014 5:45 AM – 11:45 AM
Protocol: Traveling
8.0 kilometer(s)
Comments: Birding count at Los cusingos
98 species

Great Tinamou 1
Gray-headed Chachalaca 3
Cattle Egret 17
Black Vulture 25
Turkey Vulture 10
Swallow-tailed Kite 1
Roadside Hawk 1
Gray Hawk 1
Pale-vented Pigeon 3
Ruddy Pigeon 3
Short-billed Pigeon 6
Ruddy Ground-Dove 6
White-tipped Dove 4
Squirrel Cuckoo 3
Smooth-billed Ani 3
White-necked Jacobin 1
Stripe-throated Hermit 1
Brown Violetear 30
Long-billed Starthroat 1
Garden Emerald 3
Violet-headed Hummingbird 1
Scaly-breasted Hummingbird 1
Snowy-bellied Hummingbird 6
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird 3
Blue-throated Goldentail 1
Baird’s Trogon 1
Gartered Trogon 2
Fiery-billed Aracari 1
Black-mandibled Toucan 5
Olivaceous Piculet 2
Golden-naped Woodpecker 2
Red-crowned Woodpecker 4
Lineated Woodpecker 2
Crested Caracara 2
Laughing Falcon 2
Crimson-fronted Parakeet 2
Orange-chinned Parakeet 8
White-crowned Parrot 19
Barred Antshrike 2
Black-hooded Antshrike 2
Cocoa Woodcreeper 1
Streak-headed Woodcreeper 4
Pale-breasted Spinetail 4
Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet 1
Yellow-bellied Elaenia 25
Paltry Tyrannulet 8
Common Tody-Flycatcher 4
Eye-ringed Flatbill 2
Eastern Wood-Pewee 1
Bright-rumped Attila 2
Great Kiskadee 5
Boat-billed Flycatcher 8
Social Flycatcher 2
Gray-capped Flycatcher 1
Streaked Flycatcher 8
Piratic Flycatcher 2
Tropical Kingbird 7
Orange-collared Manakin 4
Black-crowned Tityra 2
Masked Tityra 2
Scrub Greenlet 1
Lesser Greenlet 2
Brown Jay 5
Blue-and-white Swallow 52
Barn Swallow 7
Scaly-breasted Wren 7
House Wren 7
Plain Wren 12
Tropical Gnatcatcher 1
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush 3
Swainson’s Thrush 1
Clay-colored Thrush 30
Northern Waterthrush 1
Tennessee Warbler 3
Mourning Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 4
Chestnut-sided Warbler 3
Buff-rumped Warbler 1
Cherrie’s Tanager 25
Blue-gray Tanager 19
Palm Tanager 8
Golden-hooded Tanager 24
Red-legged Honeycreeper 7
Blue-black Grassquit 13
Variable Seedeater 25
White-collared Seedeater 2
Bananaquit 3
Yellow-faced Grassquit 25
Buff-throated Saltator 9
Black-striped Sparrow 8
Rufous-collared Sparrow 6
Summer Tanager 1
Scarlet Tanager 1
Great-tailed Grackle 10
Shiny Cowbird 1
Bronzed Cowbird 12
Baltimore Oriole 2
Yellow-crowned Euphonia 5

red legged honeycreeper and white necked jacobin

The birding at los cusingos sanctuary is rather great, excellent gardens and a nicely maintained trail system, if anyone is looking for white crested coquette and turquoise cotinga as well as a broad variety of tanagers this is the palce to come.

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About Johan Chaves

I am a birding guide and naturalist, with a deep passion for birds. I got into birding nearly a decade ago thanks to a friend, then he was fighting leukemia, during his recovery we became great friends and very competitive birders, we did a lot of birding and twitching some rarities through the country, is amazing how much one can learn from a birder friend! he, Roy Orozco left us on August 4th 2016 leaving a huge hole in our hearts. From this point every bird now has a different meaning to me, not just their beauty but the fact that constantly brings the memory of him, whom I owe much of the birder I am today.

Posted on April 5, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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