CREATED: May 2015
Every conceivable color in the spectrum is found on the many plumes of birds seen in Costa Rica. Yet in January, 1977, the Yigüirro (Turdus grayi), a Clay-Colored Thrush or Gray Thrush, was declared the National Bird of Costa Rica. Even birdwatchers have great difficulty identifying this bird. However, it is the Yigüirro that is a long-time favorite of Costa Rican farmers. Costa Rican farmers.
When in the countryside, you may hear a bird sweetly singing at around 4:30 AM during the months of April to June. If you are in Costa Rica you are likely listening to the Yigüirro (Turdus grayi), foretelling rain. At the start of the rainy season the Yigüirro sings a melodious tune after rising early, at about 4:30 AM, to start the day.
Costa Rica’s National Bird, the Yigüirro is a songster whose melodies are sung at mating time, which coincides with the start of the rainy season when Tico farmers often plant new crops, sometime between April and June. Though we don’t know why these birds prefer to live near people in rural areas, they build nests above the ground on supportive structures, sometimes on windowsills and under the eaves of buildings. The dome shaped nest is crafted by combining mud, feathers, leaves, moss and grasses. After mating the female will lay 2 to 4 light blue colored eggs, with gray and reddish-brown markings. Not a strict vegetarian, their diets comprise fruits, berries, and small insects. The Yigüirro does not walk but instead hops along and usually travel in pairs, although they do swarm when searching for food.
This clay colored Thrush bears some resemblance to the North American Robin, also of the Thrush or Turdus family. Adults range in size between, 2 cm to 27 cm (9” to 10’), and weigh, 75 g to 77 g (2 ½ oz. to 2 ¾ oz.). Those found in the humid regions are darker in color than those living in dry areas.
Identifying marks are:
There are migrating Yigüirro that travel from colder climates; but, there are also Yigüirro that reside all year in Costa Rica, kind-of-like the human ‘snow-birds’.
Every year millions of birds fly over Costa Rica during the two months that mark the start of spring on the continent of North America. They are making their return trip home after spending the winter, like many human visitors, enjoying the warmth of Costa Rica. Conservatively, over 221 species leave Costa Rica to return home in flocks. During the winter they are the welcomed guests of the 620 ‘resident-species’ of colorful birds residing here during the year.
During the time when the continent of North America was completely separated from the landmass of South America, before the Isthmus of Panama connected the two, bird migrations also existed. During the passing of millions of year, the volcanic activity and land movements created the Isthmus that is now Central America and species that came from the north joined others coming from the south. Many never left. The part that is now Costa Rica provided a temperate climate that offers ideal natural habitats for many bird species. The dry Pacific Coast of Costa Rica has plentiful mangroves, a haven for some. Rising from the coast, the landscape climbs through a chain of mountains, the Cordillera de Talamanca being the largest chain and combines with volcanic peaks that rise into the clouds. The base of the volcanoes, and much of the countryside, is shrouded in rainforest. Descending eastward, from the heights, the landscape slopes down to the wet Caribbean side, providing for its own special diversity.
Get to know the Yigüirro up-close at the Blue River Costa Rica Resort and Hot Springs inside the Botanical Gardens and the surrounding farms. Inside and around the Rincon de la Vieja, they can be found, along with many exotic bird species, feeding on the blooming flowers and fruit trees, waiting to be photographed. Many trees inside the botanical gardens are planted specifically to attract birds and butterflies. The section of the botanical gardens where source hot springs can be found is a completely different habitat for the plants and birds that live and grow together. Only the north side of Rincon de la Vieja is in the rainforest and has natural mineral hot springs and blue rivers. Depending upon the elevation and the geography there are different plants and animals. We hope you’ll visit our paradise on earth.