Birds With Big Mouths


It has been a busy and eventful past few days on board the Sea Lion. After many delays Karen finally made it to Costa Rica on Friday night and met the new incoming group on Saturday at the airport. Then she took a two hour bus ride from San Jose to the ship where we were docked in Herradura. It was great to see her and so far the trip has been amazing! We were supposed to meet Mom and Dad back at Manuel Antonio on Sunday, but they got the times mixed up and arrived on the beach just in time to see us pull anchor and sail away. Que lastima!

It has been fun seeing the animals, wildlife, flora, scenery, etc… through a new set of eyes (Karens). I often overlook the beauty and uniqueness of the places we go to week after week, but having someone I know on board, who has never seen these things is exciting and fulfilling.

I led a great horseback ride along a forest trail just outside of Corcovado National park a few days ago. We wove in and out of the rainforest, moseying along the beach and shoreline until we reached the Rio Claro where the freshwater drains into the sea. I had a pinto colored horse (not sure of her name) and even though all of the horses are gentle and docile, this one liked to run. On the way back I let her fly over the long stretches of sandy beach, arriving on the other side huffing and puffing but still raring to go. Karens horse was a bit slower, but she managed to urge him into a gallop alongside several other mighty steeds.

Yesterday we spent the morning at Casa Orquideas, a botanical garden started 30 years ago by Ron and Trudy McAllister – two expat Americans who moved down here in search of a simpler life. They found it (Casa Orquideas is reached only by boat) and have since turned their property into a tropical paradise filled with plants, trees, fruits, flowers, butterflies, birds, and countless other critters. Needless to say, Karen loved it. Right as we stepped on shore we could hear several scarlet macaws making a racket up in the treetops. Beautiful birds, scarlet macaws have quite an obnoxious call. Think a loud, raspy squawk that drowns out any attempted conversation. Their bright red plumage with gold and blue wings and long tails make them magnificent, however, despite their clamor

Scarlet macaws have only recently been introduced into the area. Although no longer considered endangered, they are still very vulnerable due to habitat destruction and illegal capturing for the pet trade. In Costa Rica they suffered a significant decrease due to hunting, poaching, deforestation, and pesticide use from export banana farmers. A reintroduction program has been successful, but their numbers are nowhere where they used to be 10 years ago.

Scarlet macaws are the national bird of Honduras and range from south-eastern Mexico all the way down to Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. They live in natural cavities formed in tree trunks and will not build their own nests making them are even more susceptible to deforestation since they are so particular about where they lay their eggs. Scarlet macaws lay between one and three eggs, but usually only one chick survives. If the conditions are good and there is enough food, two chicks might survive a year, then they leave their parents. The birds are mainly vegetarians foraging primarily on nuts, fruits, and seeds and in captivity they have been recorded to live up to 75 years old (although 40 to 50 years is more common). That is if their owner can put up with their unruly squabble.

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One Response

  1. So glad you are having a great time with Karen! Dad and I are so enjoying Costa Rica. It’s beauty and diversity is amazing! Up in the mountains now…pura vida! Gorgeous views, air, birds, etc. Going on our first hike today. Dad’s gearing up for his ascent up Mt. Chirrapo tomorrow. I decided to stay here and do my thing.

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