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Dear Friends of RTPI,


Just before Christmas when snow and cold started to slow down our natural history studies at home, we shifted gears and started our seasonal work in the tropics. Have you ever wondered where our summer birds spend the holidays? Well, here are a few highlights of what we are finding at the RTPI-supported Nicoya Peninsula Avian Research Station (NPARS) in northwestern Costa Rica:

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
(Archilochus colubris)


The fact that a bird as small as a Ruby-throated Hummingbird can simply fly back and forth between the eastern USA and Costa Rica when it switches between its wintering grounds and breeding habitat is just mind-boggling... A bird that weighs as little as 0.1 oz and journeys up to 2,500 miles each way deserves our admiration and support! This Ruby-throated Hummingbird was caught and banded at the station last week (note the tiny band around its right leg!) and will hopefully help us better understand some of the challenges migratory birds face.

(Euphorbia pulcherrima)


Our bird banding efforts and other tropical research projects will continue throughout the winter and we will update you on our findings through our website and social media. However, one seasonal highlight we encountered last week was too good to pass up: this wild Poinsettia is native to the dry forest regions of Mexico and lower Central America where it flowers right around Christmas. Note how the flowers of this plant are small and white, while showy red leaves attract pollinators (such as Ruby-throated Hummingbirds - now you know what they do for the Holidays!) 

(Hylocichla mustelina)

The Wood Thrush is rapidly becoming a symbol for declining migratory woodland birds. Its beautiful song sparkles through our woods when they visit in summer, but we know very little about their habits when they are not here. Like the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, this Wood Thrush was recently banded in Costa Rica as part of our ongoing studies on the wintering habitat of our migratory birds. Please consider making your year-end gift to support the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History's important work and help us improve the chances that your favorite backyard birds return again next spring!

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Thank you for your support, and best wishes in the new year.
Twan Leenders signature
Twan Leenders, President