Introducing our newest blogger, Rowan Eisner and a rare oilbird sighting in the CER

Dear Rainforest Friends,

Recently I  returned from Costa Rica where I met with board and staff members of the Monteverde Conservation League (MCL).   There, all efforts are focused on protecting and expanding the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, as well as sharing it with others.   It’s a dedicated team!

While in Monteverde I was delighted to meet with our new blogger, Rowan Eisner, because this week, our blog is changing hands.  Mia Roberts, who gave us  many insightful blogs is now working full time on a Wyoming ranch.   We’re fortunate that Rowan, who lives in Monteverde can keep giving us news of the forest.   She has a wealth of interesting stories about the CER and community to share.

Rowan comes from Australia and has a background in environmental management research. She moved to MV two years ago looking to make a contribution in conservation after working on a tiger reserve in Laos.

Also, Richard Joyce, a long time explorer of the forest will write– in between his college studies.

Watch for weekly blogs with news  of animal sightings, conservation research, stories from travelers and interviews with MCL founders and workers.

For the forest!

Hi! Thanks for the intro Laurie.

We had a very exciting visitor to Monteverde last August. Allow me to introduce the guy on my t-shirt. He’s an oilbird, and extremely rare in Costa Rica – only four sightings till last year.

Oilbird in the Children's Eternal Rainforest

The oilbird is an extraordinary combination of unique traits. A nocturnal cave dweller it finds it food using sonar, like bats. But their clicks are lower, so we can hear them. We don’t know of caves anywhere near here, so where are they roosting? And they come from Venezuela – that’s a long way from here. They eat fruit – the only nocturnal frugivore – which they hover to collect, an amazing feat given their size. Their wingspan is over 3 feet.

They stuff their young so full of food in the nest till they weigh one and a half times the adult weight, which gives rise to their unfortunate name. The babies used to be boiled up for oil.

Well, the word went out that one had been seen near the Friends school and that was it. Anyone interested in birds flocked to the spot from all over Costa Rica. There we were, huddled in small groups in the cemetery in the dark, speaking in hushed tones, occasionally scouring the treetops with a spotlight.

Then suddenly, there it was in a whoosh of wing beats. Of course! It doesn’t have to be quiet – it’s a frugivore. Avocados don’t run away! It was feeding on the ocotea monteverdensis or little avocado, a local endemic whose numbers have plummeted since settlement and are still threatened. Quetzals and bell birds rely on them too. Strange the way they hover to feed, almost like a giant hummingbird. And those clicking sounds too. What a rarity – really one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences!

When it came to the annual Christmas bird count for the Audubon Society, the obvious choice for the t-shirt was the oilbird. The drawing was done from the best photo from its visit to Monteverde, taken in The Children’s Eternal Rainforest, where three more were also seen.


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