It’s hard to write about something other than what’s happening in the USA these trying, change demanding days but I’m going to give it a shot. Because where would we be without birds? Without that particular aspect of life on this planet that keeps an inner fire burning, that keeps us looking for and always finding more beauty. You may need to bird with an open mind and watching eye but look close and even the pigeons flying through human-made canyons can be a source of inspiration, their swift flight transforming them into amazing creatures and taking us to other places. Like the Urban Birder says, “Look up!” and he’s right, there’s always more birds to see than you think, even in cities.

Crimson-fronted Parakeets- one of our city birds in Costa Rica.

Strength can be leveraged from that passion for watching, learning about, experiencing birds, and coupled with that inner fortitude, taking hold and growing from its deep buttressed foundations come the tendrils, branches, and leaves of hope. This is hope that when conjoined with countless others becomes a forest of unstoppable, unbreakable, actual change. May it happen and now.

Many birds give me strength, keep the secret fires burning, today, the one I will talk about is the Baird’s Trogon.

It’s not like when a birder is visiting Arizona and hoping for “the trogon” (aka Elegant Trogon) because when a birder walks in Costa Rica, there are nine of  these eye-catching beauties to look for. Yes, nine! Of those, two are only found in Costa Rica and Panama, the near threatened Baird’s Trogon of which is nearly exclusive to Costa Rica. Like several other species, this fancy one evolved to live in the humid forests of southern Costa Rica and adjacent Panama. Since it requires mature forest for survival and much of that habitat has been deforested where it used to occur in Panama, there are only a handful of sites where it can still be found in that birdy country, all of which are close to the border with Costa Rica.

A female Baird’s Trogon.

In Costa Rica, the Baird’s Trogon can still be readily seen in areas where mature forest occurs, the only problem is that a good percentage of that habitat in Costa Rica has likewise been cut down. This is why a birder usually needs to visit a national park or other protected area to see one but when you do, they aren’t all that hard to find. Listen for the distinctive song and watch for the bright colors of a perched individual or one hovering in flight to feed from fruiting trees in the upper levels of the forest. Visit places like the Osa Peninsula, Carara National Park, and other sites and you have a good chance of connecting with this fantastic bird. Since it often perches way up there in tall rainforest trees, I suggest bringing a scope because this is one bird that merits fine-tuned, scoped admiration.

I look forward to the day when I can go see this bird again but most of all, when other birders can visit Costa Rica and connect with Baird’s Trogons among hundreds of other species. This almost endemic and many other birds will be waiting, all birders are and will be more than welcome. I can’t wait to see you here.

Written by Patrick O'Donnell
Patrick O'Donnell became a birder at the age of 7 after seeing books about birds in the Niagara Falls, New York public library. Although watching thousands of gulls in the Niagara Gorge was sublime, more bird species (and warmer weather) eventually brought him to Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and other very birdy tropical places. A biologist by training, he has worked on bird-related projects in Colorado, Washington, Peru, and other locales, and has guided birders in Peru, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. These days, he lives in Costa Rica where he juggles guiding, freelance writing, developing bird apps for Costa Rica and Panama, posting on his Costa Rica birding blog, and discussing dinosaurs with his young daughter.