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Catching up in Costa Rica

As spring migration draws near, the Flyway of Life production team has been hard at work filming the numerous migratory bird species that call Central America home throughout the winter months. In late February, the film crew traveled down to the southernmost tip of the Atlantic Flyway, highlighting Costa Rica’s unique bird life and conservation efforts.

To get there, the crew utilized Cessna planes which are among the main methods of reaching landing strips deep in the Costa Rican jungles. This made for some spectacular views of the varied Central American landscape - a healthy mix of jungle, dry hilltops, and lush coastline.

Director Tomas Koeck poses with a Cessna plane, one of the main modes of travel in the bush.

It was here that we met up with Judy Richardson, master bird bander for the Connecticut Audubon Society and the crew’s liaison in Costa Rica. Richardson sponsored the team’s expedition through the tropical forests, identifying numerous endemic and migratory avian species throughout the primary forest.

Costa Rica is the home to over 900 species of birds, more than 220 of which are migrants. These forests are the winter home for a wide range of species, serving as the starting point (or the final destination) for the annual migration along the Atlantic Flyway.

The Broad-winged hawk is an example of a raptor that winters on the forest edge in the tropics, before setting off on a journey up to the temperate deciduous forests of the eastern United States and southern Canada where they will breed. They are long distance migrants, conserving energy by soaring along thermals and mountain updrafts. Unlike the majority of North American raptors, Broad-winged hawks travel in “kettles,” with flocks sometimes reaching into the thousands.

Living alongside the part-time residents are a number of vibrant year-long inhabitants. Some iconic species native to the region include the Yellow Throated Toucan, Fiery Billed Araçari, and Blue-crowned Motmot.

(Left to right): Judy Richardson, Tomas Koeck, Maggie the Pug, and Collin Moura

Through collaboration with Judy Richardson, the film was able to partner with the Finca Cántaros Environmental Association, a non-profit organization based out of San Vito de Costa Brus. Founded by Dr. Lilly Briggs in 2019, their work focuses on environmental education and forest restoration in the Western Hemisphere.

It was at Finca Càntaros where the crew observed the Motus Wildlife Tracking System in action. An international cooperative research network, the Motus utilizes coordinated automated radio telemetry to simultaneously monitor hundreds of bird species through coordinated data collection.

Cameraman Collin Moura posing for a quick pic while out looking for birdlife.

Thanks for following along on the team’s journey along the Flyway! See you soon!



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