I did not sketch any sparrows in Costa Rica but here is a painting of related sparrows I did a couple years ago. White-crowned sparrows are in the same genus (Zonotrichia) as the Rufous-collared Dave photographed in Costa Rica. They are super abundant in our yard in the winter.
This perky sparrow has an extensive geographic distribution occurring from Southern Mexico to the southern-most tip of South America. We encountered a small group of them at the entrance to Los Quetzales National Park, Costa Rica which is located near Cerro de la Muerte, the mountain of death, on the Pan American Highway. Once you drive this stretch of road the origin of “mountain of death” becomes apparent. These sparrows were seen around 9,000-10,000 above sea level.. It was a cold, blustery, gray day when I photographed these birds and I wished there was more light to work with, but their beauty stands out even so.
We ran into our first Silver-throated Tanager by accident when we saw something yellow flitting around in a nearby tree. We were amazed at its beauty. It’s namesake isn’t always apparent, the bright yellow head and the greenish wings with black lines catches the eye long before the silver throat.
One of the draws of driving to Merced National Wildlife Refuge is to see sandhill cranes. We did not see huge numbers as in past years but several groups were quite close. I love seeing the blue grey birds against dried grasses.
After awhile you don’t think much about the birds that occur where you live. This species is a desired bird to see by birders from all over the world. It only occurs over a small area of California. Whenever I run into someone who has come a long distance and is excited about seeing the Yellow-billed Magpie, it amazes me because they are just another local bird for me. I guess the same occurs when I go bananas over seeing a Dickcissel in Texas or a Fish Crow in Florida. One man’s rarity is another’s common bird.
Its cousin, the Black-billed Magpie has a much wider distribution over several lower states in the west, Canada and up into Alaska.
The last three winters we have driven two hours to Panoche Valley to look for Mountain Plovers with no luck. But this year they were there! In fact there was a flock of over 80. In spite of having ‘mountain’ in their name these are birds of short grasslands and were once associated with bison herds.
Golden-hooded Tanager (David Zittin, Costa Rica 2018)
I know I have posted this species earlier, but darn, it’s hard to get tired looking at such beauty. A few birds really take the breath from me when I encounter them in the field and this is one of those species.
Some quick sketches I did while Dave was photographing tanagers in Costa Rica.
It’s hard to describe the feeling that a birder has seeing one of these for the first time. They are strikingly beautiful with a color combination that takes the breath away from the viewer.
This is also the first time I’ve tried painting a scarlet macaw! It was amazing to see them in the wild.
My first ever Motmot painting! This was inspired by a sketch I made in Costa Rica trip.
Costa Rica was not all birds, we did see some frogs. This one in particular is stunningly beautiful. I had a 100-400 mm zoom telephoto lens which was not ideal for this shot. I had to back up against a mud bank while Floy held the leaves back so I could get a clear shot.
I found a sketch of a third honeycreeper, the Shining Honeycreeper which we saw on a hike later in the Costa Rica trip.
Honeycreepers are common in Costa Rica. They are often seen at places where fruit is put out to attract birds.
The Green Honeycreeper male is blue, but the female is green.
Walking across the Stone Bridge at the La Selva Research Station. I was more or less not paying attention to what was in front of me and you can imagine my surprise when I lifted my head and came eye to eye with an adult Broad-winged Hawk.
This hawk migrates across Costa Rica in large numbers and will flock with other hawks and Turkey Vultures. Some of these migrants will winter in Costa Rica and others keep going to locations further south.
Dave talked about blues which reminded me of a little sketch I did of Red Legged Honeycreepers and a Blue Morpho butterfly. Beautiful striking colors.
The Golden-hooded Tanage (Tangara larvata) is a neotropical bird mostly found in lowlands from Southern Mexico to Northwestern South America. As with other small, blue tropical birds, they catch the eye. The contrasting golden hood against blues and blacks makes this a neotropical delight. They are common around feeders and places where preferred food sources are found. Like many birds, they are opportunistic omnivores and will eat fruit and small arthropods.
Black-throated Trogons live mostly in dark forested areas of the American Tropics and can be difficult to photograph. Fortunately these two were cooperative. The one on the pipe rail just sat there and allowed me to approach to within about 20 feet. The one on the tree was next to a path and didn’t seem alarmed at my presence.
This trogon eats mostly insects, but will also take lizards and fruit.
This is a quick sketch of birds in the garden at La Selva, Costa Rica.
This beautiful blue neotropical bird is found from Nicaragua south to the northern half of South America. Like many birds, it is an opportunistic feeder eating insects, seeds and fruit.
The electric blue color of the male is eye catching. This one is probably a young male because it still has some green color on its wings. The female is an intense green with a blue head.