Updated: Mar 27, 2022
I am usually quite active, but there are times I really like to laze around. At Sylvan I didn't really experience the true joy of being a lazy birder until this year. Two things happened. In the summer of 2019 I started reducing the amount of worthless lawn - I left a part to grow however it chose, and I started planting fruit trees and flowering shrubs in the areas close to the house. I was very lucky in having a visit from botanist Willow Zuchowski. Gray-capped Flycatcher, by Dann Chesmore
Willow showed me a variety of native plants that could attract birds. I moved heliconias, lantana, Hamelia and more from the upper second growth to my lawn, and added several more nectar plants. Porterweed, in purple, red and blue, was a terrific addition. Some plants also came in by themselves. Calathea lutea, a plant with huge, rounded leaves, moved in with a vengeance, taking over the banana patch and forming a full backdrop to the unmowed area. This is a wonderful plant that deserves its own blog.
The second thing that changed life at Sylvan was the addition of a new level. The main building was old and crumbling, and in 2020 I had to make a choice - let it fall down and demolish the kitchen, or fix the roof. Jesus, who lived below that roof, opted for a new roof, and petitioned hard for a second level. He was very wise. With an upper level we not only had a lovely, airy, open ground floor, we had a huge raised balcony, with space for numerous hammocks. And terrific views of birds in the now-mature shrubs. I tried hard to read books in my hammock, but it was impossible. The birds did not allow it. So I decided to work on a list - the World Lazy-Girl Birder Hammock List!
1 Great Curassow (Crax rubra)
A pair of these amazing birds flew down onto a log by the river, then walked along the bank
Photo of the male by Dann Chesmore
2 Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens)
I first saw these birds on a very very long hike up to the top of the property. It was very cool to see them from my hammock! At first they were up at the top of the most distant trees (yeah I had to haul butt out of hammock and use my scope), but then they flew down toward the garden. Exciting.
3 Ruddy Ground Dove (Columbina talpacoti)
Nesting behind Cabin 1 and in a calabash tree
4 White-tipped Dove (Leptotila verreauxi)
5 Pale-vented Pigeon (Patagioenas cayennensis)
6 Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)
7 Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
8 Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)
In blue or white (juvenile plumage), along the river
9 Green Heron (Butorides virescens)
10 White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)
11 Gray-cowled Wood-Rail (Aramides cajaneus) –
They sneak across the lawn early in the morning, or sometimes in the evening, and also make a wonderful racket.
12 King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa)
Very exciting to see one, given the limited amount of sky that is visible from the hammock. It is not hard to spot them when walking around outside.
13 Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)
14 Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
15 Swallow-tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus)
16 Roadside Hawk (Rupornis magnirostris)
17 White-collared Swift (Streptoprocne zonaris)
18 Costa Rican Swift (Chaetura fumosa)
19 White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora)
They don’t visit my garden flowers, but occasionally appear and fly around catching insects.
20 Band-tailed Barbthroat (Threnetes ruckeri)
21 Long-billed Hermit (Phaethornis longirostris)
22 Stripe-throated Hermit (Phaethornis striigularis)
23 Bronzy Hermit (Glaucis aenus)
One especially endearing individual comes to clean off small spiders from the steel beams every morning at 6:30, and occasionally sips condensation too.
24 Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl)
25 Charming Hummingbird (Amazilia decora)
A common visitor to purple porterweed, and I have found nests near the river.
26 Violet-headed Hummingbird (Klais guimeti)
Another beautiful hummer that loves the porterweed
27 Blue-headed Parrot (Pionus menstruus)
28 Red-lored Parrot (Amazona autumnalis)
29 Mealy Parrot (Amazona farinosa)
30 Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana)
31Slaty-tailed Trogon (Trogon massena)
We have 3 other trogon species on the property, but I have yet to see them from the hammock.
32 Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)
33 Amazon Kingfisher (Chloroceryle amazona)
34 Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana)
35 Fiery-billed Aracari (Pteroglossus frantzii) Fiery-billed Aracari, by Meagan Allira
Seen in the far distance, then on another occasion in the mango that overhangs the building.
36 Yellow-throated Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus)
37 Long-tailed Woodcreeper (Deconychura longicauda)
38 Wedge-billed Woodcreeper (Glyphorynchus spirurus)
39 Slaty Spinetail (synallaxis brachyura)
40 Mistletoe Tyrannulet (Zimmerius parvus)
41 Common Tody-Flycatcher (Todirostrum cinereum)
These birds make messy hanging nests around the buildings. The nest is accessed from the side.
42 Ochre-bellied Flycatcher (Mionectes oleagineus)
43 Yellow-bellied Elaenia (Elaenia flavogaster)
44 Bright-rumped Attila (Attila spadiceus)
45 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris)
46 Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus)
47 Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)
48 Social Flycatcher (Myiozetetes similis)
49 Gray-capped Flycatcher (Myiozetetes granadensis)
The most common and vocal garden flycatcher, that also enjoys fruit, despite teh name.
50 Streaked Flycatcher (Myiodynastes maculatus)
51 Black-crowned Tityra (Tityra inquisitor)
52 Rose-throated Becard (Pachyramphus aglaiae)
Always fun to see these, the male and female so different.
53 Tropical Gnatcatcher (Polioptila plumbea)
54 House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)
House wrens moved in immediately, just as we were finishing a dorm they took up a small gap, before I had a chance to varnish it. They also took to the steel roof, building nests in the tubular steel.
House Wren, photo by Dann Chesmore
55 Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons)
56 Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi)
57 Tennessee Warbler (Leiothlypis peregrina)
58 Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)
59 Buff-rumped Warbler (Myiothlypis fulvicauda)
60 Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)
I was really surprised to see this warbler, especially as it was not at the water's edge, but quite high up a tree along the river bank
61 Gray-headed Tanager (Eucometis penicillata)
A new bird for Sylvan spotted by one of my fellow hammock-watchers!
62 Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra)
I seldom see these birds by day, but they roost in the trees around the garden at night, like Christmas ornaments.
63 Blue-black Grosbeak (Cyanoloxia cyanoides)
64 Scarlet-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus passerinii)
Our most common garden bird, with nests in the porterweed, passionfruit and Calathea.
65 Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus)
66 Silver-throated Tanager (Tangara icterocephala)
67 Green Honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza) - shown below
68 Variable Seedeater (Sporophila corvina)
Another very common resident that enjoys the developing seeds of Calathea lutea.
69 Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)
70 Buff-throated Saltator (Saltator maximus)
71 Black-striped Sparrow (Arremonops conirostris)
72 Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)
73 Spot-crowned Euphonia (Euphonia imitans)
Heard, but not seen right from the hammock
Great Tinamou (Tinamus major)
Short-billed Pigeon (Patagioenas nigrirostris)
Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius)
Crested Owl (Lophostrix cristata)
Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata)
Common Pauraque (Nyctidromus albicollis)
Lesson's Motmot (Momotus lessonii)
Black-hooded Antshrike (Thamnophilus bridgesi)
Chestnut-backed Antbird (Poliocrania exsul)