Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula – A Key Stopover Site and Home to Young Conservationists

Karen Leavelle is the Director of Osa Birds, “an avian conservation program  that focuses on the monitoring and protection of bird-friendly habitat on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. Our projects include scientific investigation of endemic and endangered bird species, monitoring of the abundance and long-term health of both resident and migratory bird populations, and activities and partnerships promoting bird conservation throughout the Americas.” Following a successful International Migratory Bird Day Festival held in early March, she is still seeing many migratory species pass through the area.  Karen recently shared with us some of the migratory species that have shown up on Mexico’s Osa Peninsula this spring, as well as some of Osa Bird’s educational programming efforts in the region.

An arm of land that juts out from Costa Rica’s south Pacific coast, the Osa Peninsula is a habitat island in a very fragmented landscape of MesoAmerica. Representing an area of high biodiversity and myriad ecosystems, the Osa Peninsula is extremely important for Neotropical migratory birds that depend on it either full time or as a stopover site, and is home to more than 400 species of birds. National Geographic calls the Osa Peninsula one of the most biologically intense areas left on earth.
We are seeing the Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus) and Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) coming through the Osa Peninsula. Most of our Neotropical species only migrate as far north as the Peninsula and stay throughout the breeding season, but we do have a handful that pass through to points north. We are also seeing more and more Golden-winged Warblers (Vermivora chrysoptera) on the Peninsula. Ecologically, this is a positive sign for the Golden-winged Warbler, which is a species of conservation concern and threatened in some states. Many of our migrants are still here but should be on their way any time this month, with a few slows laggers like the Yellow Warbler (first to come and last to leave) and the Baltimore Oriole.
Leading up to the annual International Migratory Bird Day festival that was held on March 4th this year, Osa Birds visited all of the elementary schools on the peninsula to give educational programs about migratory birds and the importance of healthy stopover sites.Students played a Bird-BINGO game to help them torecognize and identify common (and not so common) migratory birds. We do this every year building on the themes from previous years developed by EFTA. They now know very well why migratory birds and healthy habitats are important and ways to conserve them! **all photos are from Karen Leavelle or the Osa Birds website**

Environment for the Americas is highlighting stopover sites throughout the Western Hemisphere as part of the IMBD conservation theme. Would you like your unique stopover site to be highlighted on our blog? Please email Laura Koloski directly at [email protected] for more information.
International Migratory Bird Day events are gearing up for spring migration as more and more birds make their way towards breeding grounds. Check out events and festivals in your area. Many birds are still in South and Central America at their wintering sites, but numbers have been increasing at staging and stopover sites along northbound migratory routes. You can join this year’s IMBD conservation theme “Migratory Stopover Sites: Helping Birds Along the Way” by including resources and event materials in your IMBD event.

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