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Curu Wildlife Refuge

Posted on Jan 14, 2015

Curu Wildlife Refuge is home to endless amounts of trees fruiting with coconuts, mangrove estuaries, and rows upon rows of mango trees that have long since forgotten how to fruit. Amongst one of these patches of mango trees is our other banding station, and tucked along the trails that bisect a unique edge habitat of White Mangrove trees are our nets. We placed the 22 nets strategically so they would bisect the many attributes of this unique habitat. We catch a wide variety of resident species, whose unique attributes and colors blend them into the harsh environment of this unique tropical habitat. This time of the year the new group of birds we call Neotropical migrants join them in mixed feeding flocks, or with some of the braver individuals they take up territories in their new habitat.

Over the last four years we’ve been banding here we’ve captured a countless variety of these native species and migrants. Due to the abundance of food available it creates the perfect mix for both inhabitants to thrive in the setting.

Philadelphia Vireo recapture 2

Philadelphia Vireos, one of the most charismatic species we band, always seem to be busy looking somewhere else when were banding them. For the first time this year we recaptured an individual we had banded in a previous year. At this point recapturing birds is starting to become a common theme, but we’ve banded only a few individuals of the species making this return interesting. This is especially true since there is even a vireo species that is a denizen of mangroves, hence the name Mangrove Vireo, but Philadelphia Vireos sneak in and manage to share the habitat for eight months or so during the year.

Philadelphia Vireo recapture

We had a nice variety of resident captures as well. We get Black-headed Trogons in our nets, and in fact this year they’re making a strong case for being one of our most commonly caught birds. The habitat is also home to two other trogons: the rare and elusive Elegant Trogon and the Gartered Trogon. We caught this nice male – their vibrant colors are stunning.

Trogon face

I took a few close-ups of the feathers; you’d never know these weren’t a bed of rare jewels and not just the feathers of a trogon.

Trogon feathers 2

Trogon feathers

Motmots visit us regularly and in particular at this site, the Turquoise-browed Motmot. Over the years we’ve caught numerous individuals, but this particular bird really took to its name. I’ve never seen eyebrows that really earned the species the name from a turquoise eye browed sheen more than this particular individual.

Turquoise-browed Motmot

The scene around the banding table can be a dynamic one as well.  For one thing there is more than one troop of White-faced Capuchins that utilize the area around our banding area.

White-faced Capuchins Curu

On most days at least one of the troops will emerge from the sounding trees and ascend into the mango orchid. Over the years I’ve spent a great deal of time watching them and their unique behaviors. Interestingly enough these tenacious creatures have the highest brain-to-body-size ratio of any primate other than humans.

White-faced Capuchin Curu 3

I’ve seen them utilize old tree cavities for sources of water before, but for the first time I saw a new interesting behavior. I watched as multiple individuals would go to this one particular cavity, dip their tail into it, and then quickly flip their tail up to drink the soaked fur. It was a particularly entertaining thing to observe.

White-faced Capuchin Curu 2

White-faced Capuchin Curu

Stay tuned for part two about additional interesting captures and some other tales from the field.

Sean Graesser
RTPI Affiliate