Birding Palooza: Costa Rica, Part 3

Having been suitably smitten with the outstanding birds in the Caribbean Lowlands, the Funky Tourist Bus puttered us next to Mount Arenal in La Fortuna in the Northern Lowlands, just on the fringe of the Talamanca Mountain range.

Arenal is one of the most heavily touristed areas in Costa Rica, but we managed to avoid the throngs of people. We stayed at the lovely Arenal Observatory Lodge and Spa. Nothing rustic about this place. Beautiful accommodations, gardens, trails, views and birds!

Entrance to the lodge from inside the Funky Tourist Bus.
Lots of beautiful tile designs.
Dormant Arenal Volcano from the hotel deck.
Lake Arenal from the same vantage point.
A beautiful room all to myself, complete with a Towel Pig.
Close-up of the Towel Pig.
My view.

Let the eye candy begin!

The hot and humid tropical jungles of this area are home to, what else, but beautiful neotropical birds.

The inappropriately named Red-legged Honeycreeper.
“Sapphire Blue Honeycreeper” works much better, if you ask me …
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird contemplating life.
Bananaquit enjoying a nectar breakfast.
Blurry Bay-headed Tanager.
Baltimore Oriole.
Black-cowled oriole.
Collared Aracari. These bills are massive! Aracaris feed on fruit, insects and invertebrates and often raid other birds’ nests , eating eggs and fledglings.
Black-mandibled Toucan. These birds can be as large as 22 inches.
Black-striped Sparrow. Probably the prettiest Sparrow species I’ve ever seen.

Behold, The Watermelon Tree!

A rather strange, mind-blowing event happened every day at the lodge. A huge metal structure was festooned with a variety of tropical fruits and cranked up high into the air. We dubbed it “The Watermelon Tree.”

As we gathered ’round the edge of the viewing platform, binoculars and cameras at the ready, the large Montezuma Oropendolas, who clearly had first dibs, swooped in to claim the booty. The smaller birds arrived next. It was truly a feeding frenzy!

Montezuma Oropendolas up all over that thing.
Look at the size difference between the Montezuma Oropendola (16 – 20 inches) and the dimuinitive Golden-hooded Tanager (5 inches).
Golden-hooded Tanager.
Golden-naped Woodpecker.
Female Green Honeycreeper.
Male Green Honeycreeper.
Emerald Tanager with a Blue-and-gold Tanager below it.
Blue-gray Tanager.

Curious Coatis

A pack of Coatis were hanging around The Watermelon Tree, awaiting the fruit festooning. This Coati was particularly adventurous, as he managed to climb all the way up the pole to the top of the structure high in the air, and reach up over the top to eat the fruit pieces that the birds dropped as they were eating.

I didn’t get a picture of the entire structure top-to-bottom, but suffice to say this thing was very high and the coati had to slide down the pole when he was done eating. It was a hilarious thing to watch!

“Hmmm … I wonder if I can climb this?”
“Well, I made it to the top but there’s not much here!”

Next up: Birding Palooza, Part Four.

Next we traveled to the Puntarenas Province on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica to a VERY rustic lodge called La Ensenada. More birding adventures awaited us there.

A sleepy Pacific Screech-Owl whoooo would rather not be bothered.