Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cloud Birding

The Cloud Forests of Costa Rica are old growth forests. I was surprised to learn that many of the trees are giant oak trees. Nearly 50% of the bird species recorded from Cerro de la Muerte are endemic to the Talamanca range. These include fiery-throated hummingbird, timberline wren, sooty robin, black-billed nightingale-thrush, peg-billed finch and volcano junco.

In the morning, the sun shines brightly, but by noon, you can watch the clouds rolling in. The forest is moist whether it rains or not, although it does rain frequently even in the dry season.
Because of this abundant moisture, everything that doesn't move is covered in moss. Each tree is a community in itself, home to mosses, ferns, bomiliads, orchids and other epiphytes. The diversity is incredible. I had trouble keeping up with the group because I stopped to look at some little fern.
Gray-breasted Wood Wren
Because of the density of the vegetation, it can be very difficult to find the birds. Glenn knew they were there from their calls, but I had a really tough time locating them myself. Plus, the narrow trails make it hard for those in the back of the group to get the right angle for the bird. By the time we reached the front, it had usually flown away. See if you can find the birds in these photos.

Glenn heard a Quetzal on our first hike into the high forest. Can you see it here? Talk about warbler neck!
This is the best look at the Flame-throated Warbler that I ever got. Many birds are shades of brown, gray and black, making a perfect camouflage for them in the shadows. This seems such a good evolutionary adaptation that I asked Glenn what predates on these birds. He replied some hawks, but hawks would not be able to penetrate the heavy forest growth well. Other than that, he couldn't think of many predators for them.

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