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2014, great year of birding. A top ten of my best birds.

2014 had been no doubt a great year for birding, lifers, new species for CR, vagrants, rarities, simply couldn’t ask for more. During this year I also had the opportunity to meet excellent CR birders as well as foreigners, with whom I had the pleasure to bird with, I thank them for using my services during this year.

I am thankful for the companion of my wife Karina S. on the field, as well as my excellent friend Roy Orozco who has always been there in the battle field and his wife Magaly, and of course! our friend Johan Fernandez who has shared knowledge and time at the field with us.

In this post I want to highlight a top ten of the best birds I got this year, some of the birds featured here deserve to be here either because they are rare, vagrants or simply quality lifers, those “simple” lifers that are common within their distribution are not included.

Now without further ado:

10- Sedge wren: (No picture).

A specie with a critical status due to its extremely small habitat which has been declining over the years. A bird which I saw on December 10th, 2013 at Lagunas de Doña Ana, Cartago, but this year we got 2 different individuals at 2 different sites; Lagunas de Dona Ana and at Paraiso de Cartago, near the RTV headquarters.

9- Brown billed scythebill: (No picture)

I saw this bird at Altamira de Bioley, At Parque Internacional La Amistad on October 1st, 2014 during a trip we did with Roy O. and Johan F. We were looking for it as well as bran colored Flycatcher, spotted wood-quail and more.

8- Red billed tropic bird:

Red billed tropicbird, picture taken at Panama

A bird I really wanted to see during our trip to Panama on May 8th 2014, we got good looks at Swan kay AKA isla pajaros, we also got to see one in Quepos, Costa Rica during a pelagic trip we took on September 3rd.

7- Ocellated crake: (No picture).

I got this bird at Durika on September 16th, where its well known to be found, boy! this bird is extremely hard get as it is very small and lives well hidden under tall grass.

6- Yellow billed cotinga:

One of the most endangered species of birds of CR, endemic to CR and Panama, possibly extirpated in Panama. Seen at Rio Rincon de Osa. Nov 21st.

5- Yellow headed Blackbird:

Yellow headed blackbird

A bird not reported in CR since 1950’s, we got this one at Coto 47 on the 26th of October with Roy O. back then my wife couldnt go so I then took her on my second trip this time accompanied with Johan F. as well. Thanks to Leo Garrigues and Kevin Easley for the report.


4- Scaled antpitta:

This beautiful antpitta was seen on February 24th at Rainmaker, near Manuel Antonio, then I called it “then best bird of the year” not knowing what was cumming for us later on.

3-Rosy thrush-tanager:


A bird that is considered common to uncommon in the southern pacific. Really wanted to see this bird for a few years now and tried a trip to Durika on Nov 3, 2013 with no luck,  then my wife and I got the bird at Panama, at the pipe line road and Metropolitan park several times, and the bird cooperated a lot, however we tried Durika again on Set 16th 2014 and finally got it for our CR list, oh boy that bird is hard to see! Considered by R. Garrigues as the hardest-to-see in CR.

2- Inca tern:


I just love this tern, my favorite of all terns, a vagrant from south America, first reported in northern pacific CR during the months of December and Januray, 2 times only, and then reported in Quepos by a local catamaran tour guide on May 22nd. Next morning during a tour to MANP clients showed me this picture of a bird the guide had never seen before, I couldn’t believe my eyes!, we booked a tour with the exact same company my clients were with and after long time searching the bird came to our boat towards the very ending of the tour, we are just the luckiest guys!

1 –yellow backed oriole:

A new specie for our country, found by my wife Karina at my mother’s town/house! at Portalon, near Quepos on Oct 14th 2014.

Interestingly this bird specie is found from Mexico to Colombia, Venezuela and Guiana, but until now it has never been recorded in CR.

Thank you all for checking my humble blog during this year, hoping that you had found some helpful information here for your birding in CR, during this year, now I am looking forward to the next year hoping that this year is better than the one that is about to end.

Happy birding and happy new year!

Johan Chaves


Johan Chaves

Johan Chaves





Yellow headed blackbird

Yellow headed blackbird

Yellow headed blackbird


We got this bird for a second day at Coto 47th, it seemed very comfortable.

This bird has some very few reports in CR with the last report from the 50’s presumably. One of the best birds of the year!

Yellow Headed Blackbird and “bobolink”? in Costa Rica.

Birding here in CR has been just amazing lately, 2014 has been a year full of great birds and surprises, rarities, new species, just superb!

Inca tern, black billed cuckoo, sooty shearwater, yellow backed oriole (new specie for CR), and today Bobolink (see clarification at the end) and yellow headed blackbird. Not to mention the many other species that to my wife, my great friend Roy O and to me had required hours of dedication to get.
Yesterday an AOCR member posted an alarm on yellow headed blackbird at Coto 47 (again Coto surprising us with quality birds!) So my friend Roy and I (unfortunately my wife who is a trooper couldnt go today) went today to try to find the bird based on directions provided by Leo Garrigues and other fellow birders who found it yesterday, and after some exhaustive search we found something almost as good, Bobolink! A rare passage migrant for CR.

Bobolink, a very rare passage migrant.

Bobolink, a very rare passage migrant.

After a while we went to a well known spot for a recent panama invasive specie; sapphire throated hummingbird which Roy had not seen yet, and we got to see! Then we returned to the spot and there was the blackbird! How amazing has our luck been!

Yellow headed blackbird, this would be the second individual reported for Continental CR apparently.

Yellow headed blackbird, this would be the second individual reported for Continental CR apparently.

Asociated with bronzed cowbirds and some shiny cowbirds, as well as grackles

Asociated with bronzed cowbirds and some shiny cowbirds, as well as grackles

The emotions of getting quality lifers aren’t the same without my wife, who is so jealous, so we are returning tomorrow!

If you are birding Manuel Antonio national park or if you are staying near by, a visit to Coto should be productive, particularly during the wet season, its a 3hr drive or so.

( EDITED) NOTE regarding to the “bobolink”:

Today the committee of rare birds of the AOCR confirmed that this bird is NOT a Bobolink, it is indeed a female RED BREASTED BLACKBIRD, we lost a lifer but gained experience, now thanks to their experience and suggestions we now know what to look for next time. Thanks to Jim Zook, Kevin Easley, Leo Guarrigues, Richard Guarrigues and others who helped to short this one out.  

More about Coto:





Crested oropendola, a recent Panama invasive, one of the many good reasons to keep birding coto area

Eastern meadowlark


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