While here in Nosara for three weeks, researching for an interactive, environmentally-engaged art project, we were lucky enough to get to hike though a nearby forest with an extremely knowledgeable conservation biologist. Felipe López, who’s doing a biodiversity study of the area, took us through the various zones of the diverse tropical dry forest biome, pointing out all sorts of amazing things. Though I somtimes lead nature hikes and foraging walks back home, I am still learning about the amazing and very different ecosystem here in Nosara…and tried to absorb Felipe’s every word. Luckily, he is just as big of a nature nerd as I am, and we both got really excited about the amazing “bird karma” we had during our hike. We were very lucky—not just to spot—but to get quite some time to watch two of the area’s rarest, most beautiful, and most interesting bird species: The Elegant Trogon (Trogon elegans) and the Long-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia linearis).
The Elegant Trogon is a relative of the better known Quetzal group, and is the rarest and showiest of the three trogon species here in the tropical dry forest. Its beautiful green plumage glowed in the sunlight as it flew from branch to branch ahead of us for almost 20 minutes.
The tiny, yet beautiful Manakin, with it’s red and blue head markings and long tail feathers, is known to be notoriously difficult to spot—and it’s elaborate and thrilling mating display tops many hard-core birder’s “must see” lists. The male we spotted hopped around in a single tree…and if that wasn’t cool enough, several minutes later his beta male showed up! Because these birds’ song and dance courtship strategies are so complex, younger males tend to “apprentice” with alpha males, both leaning the tricks of the trade, while helping the alpha stay in top shape and defend his territory as well. We had a wonderful time watching (and photographing) these and many other bird species, and I left truly impressed by Felipe and the stunning biodiversity of Nosara’s tropical dry forest.
Posted by Jenny Kendler
Jenny Kendler is an interdisciplinary artist, environmental activist, naturalist, social entrepreneur & wild forager who lives in Chicago and elsewhere. She is currently the first Artist-in-Residence with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).