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Tirimbina: On the Bird Route

Let’s imagine for a moment what our country was like some 500 years ago: actually a “sea” of forest with some small “islands” of savanna, lakes, and openings created by rivers. Today the panorama is quite the opposite: we have vast expanses of open areas, pastures and cultivated fields that surround forested “islands”.

The fragmentation and elimination of the forest is definitively the greatest threat to the conservation of birds, since the great majority of species are dependent on the forest - the habitat in which they evolved.

Still, in the present situation of conservation, the Caribbean area of Costa Rica with its tropical rainforest is the region that harbors the most diverse avifauna of the country.

Resident birds such as the toucans, hummingbirds, jacamars, motmots, puffbirds, and parrots are, among other groups, the ones most identified and which define for us the essence of the tropical forest. Furthermore, the Caribbean region constitutes the most important route for migratory birds: millions upon millions pass over each year from the tropics to their areas of reproduction in the boreal and arctic regions of North America.

For this reason, monitoring studies and studies of migration periods, nesting, feeding behavior and habitat use of the birds are important tools which enable us to evaluate the status of bird populations and to establish models of conservation.

Tirimbina Biological Reserve, began this year monitoring studies and to date we have recorded about 300 species of birds.

At Tirimbina Biological Reserve, we are initiating monitoring studies this year, and to date we have recorded approximately 300 species of birds. Of these, twenty-eight are associated with aquatic environments and the rest with forest environments: primary forest, secondary forest, and early stage recovering forest. Sixty-two migratory species that nest in North America have been recorded, and four intratropical migrators (those which reproduce in Central America and migrate to the Amazon).

Several endangered species reproduce in the Reserve or use it as a feeding site; examples include the Ornate Hawk -Eagle (Spizaetus ornatus), Black Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus), the Great Curassow (Crax rubra), Great Green Macaw (Ara ambiguos) and other species that have almost disappeared from Sarapiquí such as the White-fronted Nunbird (Monasa morphoeus).

We are also conducting a comparative study of the avifauna of diverse agricultural environments and forests in different states of succession. Some of these habitats are important for certain species of birds and therefore these properties can play an important role in linking areas in protective states. On the other hand, some agricultural environments are truly green deserts with a poor representation of the natural avifauna of Sarapiquí.

It is hoped that the research and the educational programs at Tirimbina Reserve, combined with the conservation efforts of the Bird Route Program, may guarantee the protection of the tropical rainforest and its associated avian diversity.

Black-crested Coquette (Lophornis helenae)
Photo: Melquisedec Gamba

PWhite-fronted Nunbird (Monasa morphoeus) Photo: Julio Sánchez
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