~ by Susana García
Competing with the Rainbow
Often our gardens are filled with feathers of a thousand colors, mainly due to a group of birds that compete with the rainbow. The tanager family in Costa Rica is composed of more than 50 species of multicolored birds that feed mainly on wild berries and fruits.
There are also tanagers specialized in feeding on nectar of flowers, such as the Green Honeycreeper and the Red-legged Honeycreeper, which have finer and more curved peaks, like the small Bananaquit. The tanagers arrive mostly in pairs, sometimes in a family, as is the case of the Cherrie´s tanagers (Ramphocelus costaricensis). Males are velvety black with an intense red rump, while the female and the juveniles are olive green, rust and orange colored. One of my favorite species is the Speckled tanager (Tanager guttata) with its cute yellow, black and white plumage. Usually male and female appear together.
This is the case of the Golden-hooded tanager and the Blue Dacnis. Of the most common are the blue-gray tanagers (Thraupis episcopus), which are a soft sky blue, and always arriving in pairs or with their chicks. At our average elevations, from 1,000 above sea level you also find the beautiful Juanitas, also called ray of sun for its bright yellow coloration.
If anything distinguishes these birds it is their altruism and family cohesion. In some species the juveniles of previous nests care for their younger siblings and collaborate with the attention of the nest in the new generations of pigeons. As seed dispersers, they are planters in our forests.
I feel privileged to live among the birds of El General, so varied in color, plumage, songs and behaviors. Have Breakfast with Tangaras, photography and birdwatching at Casa Cotinga Gardens, Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor and the private gardens of members of AMACOBAS Community Rural Tourism and Costa Rica Birding B & B.