Unspotted now Spottable! by Kevin Easley

It was back in the fall of 2012 that Ernesto Carman, after many long nights up Turrialba Volcano, found and photographed an Unspotted Saw-whet Owl. It was considered rather mythical here in Costa Rica though we knew it occurred here. Steven and Magda went up that night and refound and photographed it at point blank range. I went up the next evening only to find rain and wind. A subsequent search with Steven, Magda and my Dad and Mom produced a sighting of the owl, albeit not at point blank range. Ernesto then found it again up Irazu Volcano and I have been able to see and show clients those birds just about every fall and early winter since then. Clients included Bart Brown with Steven, and with me, Tony & Martha Bauer, David & Susanne Cohen, Mike Mulligan twice, Ron Cicerello, and Ken Havard. Best time to look for it is prior to their breeding season when they are the most responsive; mid September to mid January. We have seen them in fog and a very light rain with some wind but if conditions are worse they tend not to show or most often times not call either. It is bone chilling cold up there at above 8,000 ft in altitude and you have to go prepared. Once into the nesting season you may get a response but they seem to go away rather than toward you which was the case in April of 2017 with owl enthusiasts Vaughan & Sveta Ashby. It has also been reported up Cerro de la Muerte and Chirripo as well with varying regularity. It is a spectacular owl to say the least and the most difficult of all of our Costa Rican owls.

Photo by Steven Easley, Turrialba Volcano

Photo by Kevin Easley, Irazu Volcano