Updated: Oct 29, 2021
There are so many great things about treehouse living, but to me the best part is being up in the subcanopy, eye-level to so many creatures you would normally be squinting at, back contorted, through a thick canopy of leaves… getting occasional, frustratingly short looks. One particular day comes to mind for me. I was enjoying off-grid living in the Southern Zone on my El Fenix treehouse balcony in the Finca Bellavista Community, relaxing after a typical lunch of refried beans, tortillas, and a nice cold beer. Yes, you can be off-grid and still have a fridge! I thought I saw a brightly colored bird flitting about on the moss-covered trunk of a nearby tree. The bird, shiny blue-back above and bright yellow below, was investigating a small depression in the moss. Nearby a duller, olive green bird was perched attentively. I grabbed my binoculars and decided to watch from the comfort of my hammock. The more colorful bird I could now identify as a male Spot-crowned Euphonia, and the duller one his mate. The female is mainly olive-green but has a reddish-brown forehead and orangish lower belly – attractive in a more subtle way than her partner. These birds make a trilling call that sounds a bit like an old-fashioned phone, with two or three buzzy, trilling notes, burr-burr, chrr-chrr.
The male seemed to have selected a good nest site. He was gathering beakfuls of moss from nearby trees, bringing them to the small opening he had selected, and stuffing the moss inside. The female regarded this from a distance, occasionally changing perch, but always sitting with a good view of his activity. She once flew in to inspect his work, but did not help. Undeterred, he busily flew back and forth with his beak stuffed with moss. She would turn her head from side to side, chirping softly, not doubt providing a running commentary or critique of his actions.
Perched in my hammock, I spent a very enjoyable hour watching this, until the rain prompted the two birds to retire to a more sheltered spot.
The next day, the pair returned. The male immediately got to work on the nest, but this time he was joined by his partner. She too started gathering moss and disappearing into the cavity to shape it into a safe and secure place to lay her eggs. Clearly his earlier performance was good enough for her. Together they worked all morning and again over the next few days. It was only thanks to my elevated post on my treehouse balcony that I could easily watch their behavior some 30 feet above ground.
There is so much we can learn just by being in the right place at the right time. Pura Vida.
by Fiona A. Reid