August 2019

Research and Volunteers:

Dylan  presented the preliminary results on a new camera trapping program we have been setting up in the reserve. The new program has set up 8 cameras in the reserve, that we rotate through 16 locations every 2 weeks. This allows us to cover more locations in the reserve with fewer resources, but still allows us to sample each location 2 weeks out of every month. While previously, camera traps in the reserve have been set up along trails. For this study, the locations were set up in a grid pattern across the reserve to randomize the locations and Dylan and various other interns and volunteers helped him break trails to each of the locations, some of which were quite challenging to reach! These new locations have already yielded some great images of rare and interesting animals, including: Armadillo, Tayra, Oncilla, Ocelot, Paca, Coyote, Cacomistle, and our second ever recorded Tapir!




Leah Kahn finished up a study on Sulphur-winged Parakeets this month. Sulphur-winged Parakeets are a small parrot that are endemic to the Talamanca Mountains of Costa Rica and western Panama. Found at altitudes between 1300-3000 m, these parrots have not been studied much and little is known about their biology. Leah was interested both in the food trees they used, as well as the parrots’ social interactions. She observed the parrots feeding on three main types of trees: Güitite (Acnistus arborescens), Guayaba (Psidium guajava), and Jocote (Spondias purpurea).
Having found a couple of fruit trees where the parrots regularly hung out every day, she also conducted daily activity budgets to determine how they spent their time and used these to see if the amount of time they spent on social activities changed between the wetter month of June and the drier month of July. This was done by observing a single individual for 5 minutes and recording what they were doing (social, comfort, alert, feeding, and locomotion) every 10 seconds. Leah found that the parrots spent less time feeding, but more time being social in July, although these results were not significant. She is hoping to be able to pursue a longer-term study in the future to be able to see if their behaviour changes throughout the year and if factors like weather have an impact on how they spend their time.
Hi my name is Alina and I am from Germany. I‘ve been a volunteer already last year at Cloudbridge for a week. This year I am having an internship for five months at Cloudbridge. I am doing the camera trapping project to estimate the abundance of different species in the reserve. My greatest finds so far were a puma, an ocelot and a coyote! I hope I will catch a Jaguar or even a Tapir in the next four months on one of the 16 camera sites. Keep your fingers crossed! Pura Vida
 I’m Emma from Australia! I came all this way after completing my bachelor of science to see the amazing floral and faunal diversity that Costa Rica has to offer. It has not disappointed and has given me a newfound appreciation for plants, birds, and more. I am researching hummingbird diets within Cloudbridge reserve, and have had the pleasure of watching them go about their business within their natural habitat. Stay tuned to see what I find!

Eric Livasy was with us over the summer continuing our study on Mixed Species Foraging (MSF) flocks in the reserve. MSFs are when groups of birds of 2 or more species move through the forest together to forage. It’s thought that this is an adaptation to improve foraging success and provide additional protection against predators. While MSFs occur all over the world, they are particularly prevalent in the Neotropics and are poorly studied in mountain environments.

Building on the work done by our earlier MSF interns, Eric was looking at how MSF flocking changed throughout the day. He would survey the same trail 3 days in a row, one day starting at 6 am, the next at 8 am, and the last at 10 am. He found a slight decrease in the both the number of flocks and the number of individuals within flocks as the start time progressed, although there was not enough data to determine if these differences were significant.

Not surprisingly, the 2 most common birds in the reserve were also the 2 most common birds found in the MSFs, Common Chlorospingus and Slate-throated Redstart. However, Eric found that the Common Chlorospingus were much more abundant in the early morning flocks, while Slate-throated Redstart were more abundant in the later morning flocks. This finding raises a lot of questions about why this is occurring (possible competition between the two birds?) and warrants further study.


Amanda Rajala and Gloria Greenstein were at Cloudbridge for several months working on a variety of projects, including our monthly owl surveys and our new bat survey. They used the Echo Meter Touch 2, a small device that attaches to a smartphone and detects the echolocation sounds that bats make while flying, to record the bats’ calls while out in the reserve at night. The device also provides a potential ID for the bat based on a database of bat echolocation recordings. However, the device’s database is still being developed for Central America, so many of the detections were not identified, but hopefully, as the database grows, we’ll be able to identify them in the future. Using bat detectors is a much more humane way of studying bats than mist netting and other methods of bat capture, and eliminates the dangers to humans of handling bats and potentially getting bitten by them.

Since June, 26 bat species were identified by the device, however, some of those identifications are questionable as some of them were species that are not known to be in Costa Rica. So there is still a lot of work to be done reviewing the data before we can draw any conclusions from it. However, some of our more reliable detections included: the Mexican Dog-Faced Bat (Cynomops mexicanus), the Hairy-Legged Myotis (Myotis keaysi), and the rare but widespread Northern Ghost (Diclidurus albus).
We’re looking forward to seeing where this new technology takes us and what we can learn from it!
Mexican Dog-faced Bat. Photo by: Jose G. Martinez-Fonseca.
Hairy-legged Myotis. Photo by: Gerald Carter.
Northern Ghost. Photo by: Steven Easley.


 Jordan Chambers – I’m a 25 year old student residing in sunny California. I’m a landscaper by trade and I’ve been actively pursuing field biology and research for the past couple years. This is my second time at Cloudbridge and it definitely won’t be my last! I first arrived here in 2017 to conduct research on the native and migrant Warblers at Cloudbridge. This time around I’ve been working as a volunteer and part-time research assistant for some of the other projects, including the reforestation efforts, which are very dear to my heart. I’m so grateful to be back with my cloud-forest family, and I cant wait to return!


Activity update:

Jenn Powell has done us proud with her participation in the Aguas Eternas 13 km Cross Country run.  Congratulations for finishing this gruelling run up the mountain, over streams and through the valleys!


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