It's a bird...it's a plane...
Wait, it is a bird, the size of a plane (that happens to look like superman), and sounds like it's dying.
That is when you know you are in Costa Rica. A flash of brilliant red circling over head, a boisterous and ferocious squawk piercing the jungle silence, two determined wings delicately slicing through the salty ocean breeze.
Usually heard before they are seen, these vibrant scarlet macaws are the only macaws found on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. Giant rainbow birds, they display fire-engine red with a stroke of royal blue, and a dash of sunshine yellow, making quite a colorful display in the sky.
They are magnificently awesome and will make a birdwatcher out of anyone.
Scarlet Macaws are loyal and romantic birds, as they mate for life. Rarely will you see an odd number. Typically you will see them flying in pairs, or in groups, but in distinct sets of two.
They are the ultimate love birds.
Sometimes you may be lucky enough to see them traveling in small family groups, and at times they may even merge into large flocks of 25-50. My husband Andy and I have seen over 20 flying by at once, and here is a distant photo I managed to snap of 16 scarlet macaws circling the valley by our house.
Occasionally you will see a rare odd number. Typically the odd-man out may be a rebellious juvenile macaw who has yet to take on a life partner, and is still enjoying the bachelor life.
Macaws are the largest parrots in the Americas and can live to be up to 60 years old. Scarlet macaws were once nearly extinct in Costa Rica because of poaching, the illegal pet trade, and loss of habitat due to deforestation.
However in the last 12 years isolated populations of scarlet macaws have expanded into healthy flocks in Costa Rica. Today an estimated 1500+ scarlet macaws inhabit the tropical lowland forests along the Pacific coastline of the country. They can be seen from the Jaco/Manuel Antonio to the Carara National Park. Flocks can also be seen in abundance on the Osa Peninsula and along the Golfo Dulce region.
My husband and I are lucky enough to live in one of these unique areas. All of these photo were taken from our home in Osa Mountain Village/Toucan Valley. We spend hours each day, on our balcony, watching the macaws circle and soar above us. They groom each other while bickering, pausing only to munch on some almonds, or mingle with the toucans.
If you're not staying in one of the parts of Costa Rica that the macaws inhabit, you can still tour any animal rescue center or sanctuary to visit rescued macaws, and to experience a rare, up-close macaw encounter.
Or schedule a quick visit to Osa Mountain Village/Toucan Valley for an in-person macaw sighting in the wild: http://www.osamountainvillagecostarica.com/
The scarlet macaw is distinct and unmistakable. With long and pointed tail feathers, vibrantly-painted plumage, and an ear-piercing shriek, the macaw makes a life-long impression.
It is a pleasure to live amongst their presence, and to get to witness them in their natural habitat in the wild.
May you be lucky enough to one day experience these awesome creatures in person...
until then, pura vida amigos.
Kari Pinkerton Silcox
It would be a tragedy to die, having never really lived. Which is why my husband Andy and I quit our jobs, sold our house and decided to chase our dreams. We moved to Costa Rica without a plan, and this is the story of our adventure.