A Sample Species Page

Here’s a sample of just one species page featured in the upcoming book Regional Endemic Birds of Costa Rica and Central America (working title). This of course includes the painting, descriptions, calls and maps both elevation and distribution. Where necessary there will be botany drawings included.

Keeping the content relatable is important, quick access to the level of information you want at that moment in the field is the hallmark of a good field guide.

eBook page sample image shown.

Black-faced Solitaire

Myadestes melanops

Spanish name: Jilguero

Collective: A Hermitage of Thrushes

Family: Turdidae

Size: 17 cm (6.75 in)

Weight: 33 g (1.6 oz)

Physical Appearance

The elegant, unique colour combination and exquisite metallic song are characteristics of this solitaire. 

Upperparts mostly slaty-grey, may appear bluish depending on the light. Black face, forehead and chin. Short orange bill, dark brown iris. Wings and tail dusky-black, with slaty-grey edgings, particularly conspicuous on flight feathers and coverts. Pale buffy-grey base of flight feathers seen only in flight. Underparts slightly lighter than upperparts. Bright orange legs, shorter than most thrushes.

Juvenile Differences 

Upperparts range from sooty-grey to olivescent-grey, densely spotted with buffy specks fringed with sooty-grey. Wing coverts conspicuously tipped with a rich buff. Pale grey underparts, heavily and obscurely spotted with buff. Whiter towards belly with sooty and buff mottling. Culmen dark grey, rest of beak and legs pale orange.

Similar Species / Differences 

No other bird shares this colour combination in Costa Rica.

Status, Distribution, Altitude Range

Endemic to Costa Rica and western Panamá. 

Common to uncommon resident of high and middle elevations of wet mountainous forest, from 1000 m (3300 ft) to 2850 m (9350 ft), occasionally higher. Downward altitudinal migration can occur outside breeding season, particularly on Caribbean slope. Descending to 450 m (1500 ft),  occasionally, as low as 100 m (330 ft). 

Cage-bird trade has depleted populations in unprotected areas.

Conservation Status



Forages through dense Chusquea bamboo patches and shrubby understory of mature middle and high elevation wet forests. Typically exploring low and middle layers. Occasionally feeding or singing higher up in canopy. Also found in old or early second growth and brush studded streams traversing farm land. Will venture onto adjacent open areas and gardens with scattered trees and bushes. 

Feeds mostly on small fruit and seeds. Gathered with quick sallies or by hovering for a couple of seconds. Occasionally takes insects. 

Its song is a beautiful, rippling metallic flute-like whistle, reminiscent of a rusty swing or gate. The highly sought-after, unique call gives rise to a huge demand for the Solitaire as a cage-bird. Illegal capture has compromised the population of this species in many locales. 


A light to ponderous cup of greenish mosses and liverworts. Lining of thin rootlets, thin moss and liverwort fibres. 

Nestled in a cavity on a mossy bank or trunk, or inside a mass of mosses and epiphytes in a branch crotch. Two to 3 eggs, pinkish-white to white, blotched with rufous-brown. April to June.

© Noel Ureña Chacón / Bryan Pollock 2020


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