The Yellow-billed Cotinga is unique to Costa Rica and Panama. It is about the size of a pigeon; males are bright white with yellow bills and perform swooping flight displays to attract the duller-plumaged females. The species requires mature, upland primary rainforest for feeding, mangroves for roosting and nesting, and access to mature fruit-producing rainforest trees for feeding.
Unfortunately, both mangroves and tropical forests have been extensively cleared for shrimp farms and agriculture within the species’ range, which has nearly caused its disappearance from Panama. Its remaining stronghold appears to be in the mangroves of the Río Sierpe and Golfo Dulce estuaries on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula.
American Bird Conservancy has been working with Friends of the Osa to further understanding this little-known species and its conservation needs since 2007. This month, as part of a project funded by the Mohammed Bin Zayed Foundation, Yellow-billed Cotingas were caught for the first time ever and fitted with radio transmitters (view photo). It is hoped that important information on the seasonal movements and habitat use will be obtained from this study.