May 222017
Great Kiskadee and Lookalikes

Everytime I go to Mexico I love seeing Great Kiskadees. They’re beautiful birds, and they’re always calling, it seems, so you always know they’re around. But there are other species of flycatchers that look very much like them. The Social Flycatcher has a smaller bill and a slightly different facial pattern. I’ve seen those in […]

May 012015
New Species of See-Through Frog Found, Looks Like Kermit

Calling all Muppets fans: A new species of see-through glass frog found in Costa Rica looks just like Kermit. The lime-green amphibian, which took the Internet by storm this week, has bulging white eyes with perfect black pupils, much like Jim Henson’s musical puppet. But this frog can’t carry a tune. In fact, it has […]

Mar 012015
After a cruel attack, an injured toucan will get its beak back, thanks to 3D printing

It was a shocking case of animal cruelty that caused outrage in Costa Rica and beyond last month. The victim? A male toucan, since nicknamed Grecia, whose beak was horribly mutilated by a group of teenagers. Grecia’s story inspired people all across South America to turn their anger into action – and thanks to a […]

Nov 142014
Hummingbirds Use Their Delicate Beaks as Dagger-Like Weapons

The study, published in the journal Behavioral Ecology, focuses on the Long-billed hermit (Phaethornis longirostris) – a large species of hummingbird native to Costa Rica, central Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and western Ecuador. This bird averages 15 cm long and has a mass of 6 grams. It has a very long bill that is more than […]

Aug 192014
Scientists catalog the world's 10,000th reptile

As of this year, scientists have named and described over 10,000 reptiles, marking a new milestone in cataloging one of the most diverse vertebrate groups. Last week, the Reptile Database, an online catalog of all the world’s living reptiles, announced it had passed 10,000 species. “Officially, we have logged 10,038 reptile species into the database, […]

May 012014
Help Save Wood Thrush: Drink Bird Friendly Coffee

The Wood Thrush is an ambassador for the forest birds of eastern North America, and a modern-day “canary in the coal mine.” According to the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), this species has declined by over 50 percent since systematic counts began in the late 1960s. I wrote about the demise of the Wood Thrush in […]

Jan 132014
Loco for Cuckoos: My Search for the Bay-breasted Cuckoo

Nearly everyone involved in bird conservation has an unseen bird that haunts them—a “ghost bird,” so to speak. My ghost bird, for years, was the Bay-breasted Cuckoo, also known as the “Cua” for its cooing call. Like most other cuckoos, this bird is exceptionally furtive, but also beautiful, with big eyes and a long, spotted […]

Jan 122014
Dolphin megapod seen for the first time – in pictures

A gathering of 3000-5000 spinner dolphins, known as a megapod, is filmed underwater for the first time for a BBC series, Dolphins – Spy in the Pod. Two robotic ‘spy creatures’ with cameras in their mouths and eyes view the dolphins gathering to socialise in the nutrient-rich waters off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica […]

Nov 282013
Longline fisheries in Costa Rica hook tens of thousands of sea turtles every year

Hundreds of kilometers of commercial fishing lines slither along coastal waters in Costa Rica, hooking thousands of mahi-mahi and many other marketable fish. But when scientists scrutinized fishermen’s catch, they were shocked by the staggering number of sea turtles accidentally snagged on the lines. A study published Aug. 20 in the Journal of Experimental Marine […]

Nov 212013
Fishermen get crafty to circumvent shark fin ban

Authorities in Costa Rica have identified a new method used by fishermen to circumvent a ban on killing sharks for their fins. According to an INTERPOL alert, fishermen are now leaving a band of skin to keep the fin attached to the spine when they kill sharks. This approach takes advantage of an apparent loophole […]

Nov 162013
Thought-to-be-extinct 'halloween' frog rediscovered in Costa Rica

A breeding population of a critically endangered harlequin toad thought to be extinct in Costa Rica has been discovered in a tract of highland forest in the Central American country, reports a paper published in Amphibia-Reptilia. Atelopus varius, an orange-and-black harlequin toad, was once relatively common from central Costa Rica to western Panama. But beginning […]

Jul 172013
Scientists build app to automatically identify species based on their calls

New technology makes it possible to automatically identify species by their vocalizations. The software and hardware system, detailed in the current issue of the journal PeerJ, has been used at sites in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica to identify frogs, insects, birds, and monkeys. Many of the animals identified by the system are typically difficult […]

Jun 192013
Costa Rican Murder Shines Light on Poaching, Drug Nexus

The murder of an environmental activist in Costa Rica has shaken the country’s ecology-minded public and has cast a light on what appears to be the growing overlap between animal poaching and drug trafficking on the country’s Caribbean coast. Early on the morning of May 31, masked gunmen abducted 26-year-old Jairo Mora Sandoval from a […]