A bird in the hand

Howdy! With this being my first blog post, I’ll introduce myself; I’m Kestin Schulz and I’m a Resident Naturalist here at UGA Costa Rica. I’ve been here for about 2 months now and have been enjoying every day! A major bonus of this job is the requirement to bird frequently. Yes, I said ‘requirement’. I’m a novice and only started birding a couple months before getting here, but am learning so much here. I find myself scanning tree canopies constantly and my binoculars are never too far from reach. I couldn’t ask to be in a better place to learn to bird.

A couple weeks ago, I encountered the first victim of a bird-window collision. Arturo, the Head Naturalist, found this little one (see below) on the porch of the Student Union. It’s a female Long-tailed Manakin that had crashed into one of the windows. She was obviously in shock, breathing and blinking rapidly. And the sudden flurry of excitement from others on the porch wasn’t helping her calm down either. Obviously this is an unfortunate accident, but what a way to see a bird so up close!

Pre-paper bag rest

Someone suggested we place her into a brown paper bag to avoid any more unnecessary stimulation. She stayed in there undisturbed for about an hour and when we looked in, she was sitting up on her feet, which appeared promising. It was a relief to see her breathing normally, but somewhat unsettling that she wasn’t trying to leave ASAP. In fact, she stayed very calm while I inspected her. Everything looked great, as far as I could tell. Her wings and legs looked fine and I didn’t see any external head damage, so we thought it time to put her back to the forest.

Post-paper bag nap

With the help of Edgar, one of our maintenance staff, we gently placed her on a fallen tree trunk outside of the Student Union. After about 30 minutes, we checked on her and she was gone. The long-tailed manakins are lekking now, meaning that pairs of males synchronize a complex song-and-dance mating display for the lady manakins to choose the best mate (here’s a video, filmed here on campus!). And I’d like to think that this little one is taking her pick of the duos that I can hear from our trail.

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