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+800-451-7111 For USA and Canadian Guests
+506-2761-1800 For Costa Rican Guests
+352-377-7111 Outside Costa Rica, USA and Canada

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Selva Verde Lodge Blog

“Your presence here is changing the way this country is developing. By investing your time and resources to come to Costa Rica to enjoy its biodiversity, you add value to it, and thus to the country.”

Dr de la Rosa at CRIBC by Christa Markley

Dr. Carlos de la Rosa, the director of the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) at La Selva Biological Station, wrapped up the inaugural Costa Rica International Birding Conference (CRIBC) with that lasting message.  During the previous three days, participants at the conference had met with experts, explored the rainforest, and came away with a greater understanding of conservation in Costa Rica – and the important role that ecotourism plays.

Today, 27% of Costa Rica’s land is protected by law, and the country is a world leader in conservation initiatives. But it wasn’t always this way: in the 1980s, Costa Rica had the highest deforestation rate in Latin America, posing a huge threat to its own rich biodiversity living among the trees.

So how has Costa Rica become a conservation success story?  Many people think about the concept in terms of planting trees and protecting endangered species, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Costa Rica’s conservation landscape connects business, science, agriculture, economics, and tourism, and all elements are factors in the progress the country has made since the 1980s.

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Coffee 4 by Ashley Loza

As nature lovers, many of us already take measures to protect the environment—we recycle, carry reusable shopping bags, and plant pollinator-friendly gardens—but we sometimes overlook a daily habit in our own home. If you’re ready to take the next step toward protecting your favorite wildlife, look no further than your morning cup of joe.

It’s estimated that Americans consume approximately 400 million cups of coffee every day; worldwide, the beverage is a $100 billion industry. However, the environmental implications of conventional coffee farming can include deforestation, soil erosion, runoff, and pollution.

As a result, some coffee drinkers are turning to an option that's friendlier to the planet, and specifically birds and wildlife: shade-grown coffee.

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2 red lored parrot r alison 278x299Red-Lored Parrot

Sonographic analysis shows that many local vocal dialects occur within the total range of the species. These dialects are distinct and reflect the general reluctance of these parrots to venture far away from their home areas; consequently geographic vocal variance occurs within subgroups. The vocalizations are innate, but parrots that do venture into new areas rapidly learn the dialects they encounter and thereby avoid being shunned as outsiders.

Red-lored amazons (Amazona autumnalis) are about 14 inches long; the striking plumage is mainly green with red speculum, forehead and lores.

These are vigilant birds, and often quite nervous, spooking noisily at the approach of human or other intruders. But, in the Selva Verde area, most are quite approachable–except in the vicinity of nests. Recent studies confirm that one of the most critical factors contributing to the breeding success of this species is its overall shyness and wary aloofness, and in particular, its inconspicuousness around the nest site. Such behavior minimizes the chances that a nest will be discovered, and potentially destroyed by predators.

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Shining Honeycreeper 00Shining Honeycreeper

The shining honeycreeper (Cyanerpes lucidus) is one of two similar and strikingly-colored honeycreepers common in upper level forests and semi-open areas of Costa Rica. The bright yellow legs and feet of the shining honeycreeper are a primary distinguishing feature. At Selva Verde, it is most often encountered in pairs or small family groups.  Although its prominent curved beak is specialized for nectar feeding, its main diet comprises succulent fruit.

 

The call is an unimpressive series of sharp staccato chitters, often intermixed with high thin peets.  Researchers confirm this species illustrates the general rule that birds with elaborate colorful plumage often have inferior vocal endowments.

After pair formation, males of this species use song to stimulate females and to maintain the pair-bond. Often, song is used by both adults simultaneously, in duet fashion. Tests show that in this species, there is much individual variation in vocal components and local song dialects occur. The high degree of individuality in song is important for pair members attempting to maintain contact in thick cover.

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11 costaricafeb08 131 300x201Blue-Gray Tanager

The blue-gray tanager (Thraupis episcopus) is one of about 230 species of tropical and subtropical tanagers, and one of the most common and unmistakable birds in Costa Rica. It is a generalist frugavore (fruit-eater), found in a great variety of different habitats, most often in pairs.

It is plentiful and highly visible at Selva Verde, where it regularly frequents bird-feeding trays. Its primary diet comprises succulent fruit from trees, shrubs and vines. Recent studies confirm it has remarkable discriminatory capabilities and can detect 0.09 percent protein variations in food.

These tanagers are restless, always on the move. Their call is a raspy squeaky twittering. In flight, they are easy to distinguish because they seem to bounce through the air, alternatively flapping their wings, then gliding with the wings tucked close to the body.

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ara ambiguaGreat Green Macaw

The great green macaw is arguably the most spectacular bird at Selva Verde. At almost 32 inches in total length and weighing close to three pounds, it is the 2nd-largest New World parrot. It is easily recognized by its robust body and long tail. It has an extraordinarily powerful bill and dexterous toes that grasp food items that are being eaten.

 Unfortunately, despite its iconic status, the future of the great green macaw in Costa Rica is precarious. In 2006, it was listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and since then its numbers have continued to decline. At present, it is believed there are no more than 200 in Costa Rica; the breeding population is roughly 35 pairs. Selva Verde is on the edge of the range of the last remaining population in Costa Rica; none of the approximately 20 known active nests are in the Sarapiquí zone, where Selva Verde is located.

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4 Rufous Motmot r alison 300x200Rufous Motmot

The rufous motmot (Baryphthengus martii) is the largest of six motmot species in Costa Rica; three others occur elsewhere. Motmots typically have short broad beaks, often decurved, and striking plumage coloration. There is no significant sexual dimorphism.  All motmots in Costa Rica  have two elongated central tail feathers; racket-tipped because loosely-attached barbs upshaft fall off, leaving much of the shaft itself bare.

These are mainly solitary birds, sometimes occurring in pairs, which usually perch inconspicuously in shade, with the tail swinging frequently like a pendulum. Foraging involves aerial sallying from a perch, capturing insects and plucking fruit from foliage.

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