Bird Guide Determines Biological Wealth of Isla Caballo in Costa Rica

    An exhaustive work of observation, recognition and gathering of information

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    An ambitious project of the Coastal Interdisciplinary Program (PIC) of the Institute of Social Studies in Population (Idespo) of the National University (UNA), which had the support of the Fund for the Strengthening of Student Capacities in University Extension (FOCAES) of The Vice-Rector of Extension, took on the task of quantifying and classifying the resident and migratory birds of Caballo Island, in the Gulf of Nicoya.

    The result was the publication of the Guide to Birds and Knowledge of Isla Caballo, whose presentation was made on January 31, at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the UNA.

    The authors, María Isabel Vargas, David Romero and Randall Montoya, told the details of this scientific work that began in November 2019 and managed to successfully overcome the pandemic in its implementation stage and which culminates with the publication.

    Variety of species

    From the first moment, the research team dedicated itself to having permanent contact with the inhabitants of Isla Caballo, who, due to their knowledge of the territory, have identified many of the species that are part of this guide. Along with this work, they entered the corners of the island, in exhaustive work of observation, recognition and gathering of information.

    This is how they learned about the pouter or pelican, a water bird that is constantly seen skirting the coast in search of sardines, or the yellow-naped parrot, which is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Nature Conservation (IUCN).

    The white-billed cuckoo, the striped-breasted warbler, the bull’s blood, the vultures—better known as zonchos, by the community—and the cuyeo, are part of this compilation.

    In its 116 pages, the guide establishes for each of the identified species its scientific name, common name, description, diet, distribution (where it is usually observed), as well as its conservation status and status (if it is a resident or migratory).

    For David Romero, one of the authors of the guide, this effort “generates fundamental information about the biodiversity of our islands, contributes to awareness about the vulnerability of the territory and favors community interests, since based on the biological documentation that is presents, sustainability mechanisms and strategies can be implemented through tourism.”

    The result of the research showed the quantification of 71 species by counting and 14 by local recognition. The families with the most species richness were Tyrannidae (yellow-breasted), Columbidar (pigeons), Trochilidae (hummingbird or sparrow) and Parulidae (warbler). Furthermore, 30% of the birds observed correspond to a migratory population.

    During the activity, public recognition was made to the Ornithological Association of Costa Rica, a non-profit organization, which is dedicated to the study and research of wild birds and their habitats, which contributed to the taxonomic review of the species included on the list. . It was María Isabel Vargas, one of the researchers and authors of the guide, who in 2021 made contact with the Association.

    Dialogue of knowledge

    The director of Idespo, Norman Solórzano, highlighted that, since its founding, UNA has had a constant presence in support of the sustainable development of the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya, such as Caballo Island. “Our presence dates back to the 1970s, through systematic action of what we know today as our Interdisciplinary Coastal Program, which has found a home within Idespo, to enhance and enrich our natural legacy.”

    The vice chancellor of Extension, Martín Parada, highlighted that knowledge comes from the University’s involvement with society. “It is part of a cogeneration with the populations that inhabit the territories. This bird guide is a product of that vision, it is an initiative that recognizes the work and integration of the student, their knowledge and skills with respect to academic skills.”

    “The work presented is part of one of our purposes at the UNA, which is the ‘dialogue of knowledge’, which offers us the possibility of breaking the fence of the university faculty to enter into contact and in a dialogue that generates knowledge,” emphasized Solórzano. .

    The guide is a pictorial and informative tour of the richness of bird species. But it goes further: its authors dedicated a space to refer to Isla Caballo as “the most beautiful island in the world” and closes with a message dedicated to “the inhabitants of Isla Caballo, to those who are there and to those who will come. To the birds of the sea and the land. To the fisherman and fisherwoman who appreciate the company of the pouter and the earwig; and to whom, with joy, from his window, he contemplates the charisma of the parrot and the eagerness of the sparrow…”

    It is available at:

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