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Macaws with your coffee - a perfect morning!

Sam Williams, PhD | Jan 24, 2017


scarlet macaw

So there I was, feeling pretty good. I love early mornings, I’d had my first great night’s sleep in ages and I had a cup of local coffee steaming in my hands. It was 6am and the sun was just coming over the hill. The light was delicious. And as I stood there taking it all in a Scarlet Macaw flew into the tree in front of our kitchen window. As you can imagine feeling “pretty good” quickly became feeling “woohoo ye-ah!”  

Rightly or wrongly I’m pretty dedicated to my morning cup of coffee, this morning’s being a zingy perfect-first-thing Costa Rican brew. This was too much though and I couldn’t resist grabbing my camera and running out. The tree’s local name translates to “tongue of the cow” Now, I haven’t snogged too many cows but I believe it gets that name because the leaves are pretty rough. It produces loads of tiny little fruits and at this time of year it draws loads of birds to our garden. It seems odd for the macaws with their huge beaks to be foraging on this stuff but given how many different birds show up I guess the fruit must be super yummy. Mmmm mmmmmm cow tongue fruit!  

I’d just got outside when another two Scarlets joined the first and I tried to get a few pictures. Despite being released and pretty tame in other situations the macaws were fairly cautious about me. That’s a good thing. I was against the light and with a steep down hill on the other side of the tree. I had to make it work. The results are not perfect poses but I like them.

Scarlet Macaw

Another favourite bird of mine was in the tree: The Long-tailed Manikin. The males have two thin tail feathers but the fella I got a picture of had one that was damaged. These handsome guys do some fancy courtship, jumping over one another (look on youtube!). Competition is hot so I think this one is not going to have a good year.


The auto focus struggled to keep up with the fast moving birds particularly with the complex backdrop of leaves so I switched to manual focus which was hard work. Through the lens I got a blurry but still pleasing look at a Rose-breasted Grossbeak, I haven’t seen one since Bonaire where they are migrants, here they breed.


Social flycatchers were chattering away and catching bugs in the back of the tree. One took a breather and had a preen up on an exposed branch nearby and I got the wing outstretched picture.    


Several hummingbirds zipped and buzzed around but wow are they ever hard to get a picture of?! And on manual focus too! I must have taken 50 or more duds before I got one decent picture. I’ve no idea what species.   


A lovely Yellow-throated Euphonia made an appearance along with a rather more subtle but still lovely green and yellow female. You’d imagine the with male’s bright colours they would be easy to identify but there are half a dozen species of Euphonia that all look basically the same. Sort of like all the different Rainbow Lorikeets.




While I’d been busy enjoying the other birds the Scarlet Macaw pair had popped up to the nest box hanging behind the house. Several of the released birds are doing the rounds and checking out nest boxes at the moment. Mrs Macaw was in and out, weighing up the pros and cons and trying to decide whether she liked it or not. Here’s hoping she does. It’ll be woohoo ye-ah every morning if we get a pair of Scarlets nesting in our back yard!

macaws on nestbox