20 February 2016

Where's My Wandering Parakeet?

My youngest sister-in-law possesses many talents. But the gift that I find most endearing, most charming, is her ability to loudly call Kah-Kaw, Kah-Kaw, as if imitating some bird. I know of no bird that actually makes that sound. Undoubtedly there exists some bird somewhere that calls Kah-Kaw, Kah-Kaw . . . I’ve simply yet to encounter this bird. I can rule-out all Costa Rican parrot and toucan species (even macaws) as well as hundreds of birds from North American and from Western and Southern Africa. Nevertheless, I’m confident that somewhere some bird indeed calls Kah-Kaw, with Patti’s hint of a screech and her head-turning plaintive cry.

My first trip to Costa Rica was over a decade ago. We stayed in Northern Guanacaste near or on Playa Conchal. Way back then our resort was part of the MeliĆ” Hotels chain: it’s now part of the Westin group. Anyway, over the course of a few years with friends and family we made more than one trip to that lovely property . . . played golf, took the requisite bus-in-the-tourists day-trips to local sites, and foolishly believed that we were experiencing Costa Rica . . . despite the fact that we never left the resort but for the dive trips that departed from the beach and the day trip(s) to Buena Vista Lodge.

Anyway, perhaps Patti cried Kah-Kaw prior to our holiday at Playa Conchal, but I date her first bird-like calls to that trip. It was an effective and efficient way to announce loudly yet unobtrusively that cocktails are served . . . or we’re on the way to your suite for sun-downers. Now I say unobtrusive because let’s remember the piercing, blood-curdling sound of the howler monkeys. Compared to a vociferous troupe of howlers, Patti might as well have been whispering Dinner is poured from her bungalow many meters away. Patti became widely recognized for this talent, which was quickly adopted by our group of friends and family and was subsequently carried throughout the Western Hemisphere to many Mexican and Caribbean resorts. Hey, in the days before mobile devices, it worked. 

But Rob and Jenny?!? When and where did they adopt and perfect the Kah-Kaw?! Is it some Michigan-thing? Did I unknowingly (read: in some drugged or drunken state) reveal this secret Kah-Kaw call? I have no idea. But both Rob and Jenny arrived at Mil Colinas with perfect Kah-Kaws.

When humans attempt to imitate a bird, perhaps there is an unspoken understanding of the sound's meaning; i.e., predator! cocktails! Or worthy site ahead . . . or go to church, or ridiculous observation noted . . . or simply an I gotcha and I wholeheartedly agree. Who can say? But I found it remarkable that Rob and Jenny possessed the same call as Patti (now adopted by many in our family), with the same intonation, the same usage, and the same spontaneous-and-perfect timing. Rob, Jenny, and I had many bonding moments during the weeks that they visited us; but perhaps none remain more permanently entrenched in my memory than the Kah-Kaw.

But let's move along with our tale. Rob, Rusty, and I wandered from north of Liberia to near the central valley of Costa Rica (not to mention up and down the Nicoya Peninsula that we call home) in search of adventure and photo ops. In doing so the only mammals we missed were the big cats. As for every other Costa Rican land mammal, we saw 'em . . . from the little agouti to packs of pizotes. Thus, here, as promised, is the oh-so elusive sloth. One could live in Costa Rica for years and never see a sloth outside of a zoo. They're that rare. But I found one (thanks to a German photographer at Rio Celeste) and then found Rob to get a good shot of it. I'd say that Rob did an amazing job . . . worthy of several Kah-Kaws, which we saved for the ride home not wanting to alert any other tourists to our sloth.


Rob's photo of this Amazon parrot was taken right outside our front door in the palm tree on Kat's hill. Rob's ability with his camera is so perfected that Rob gets shots in near-darkness that would only appear as silhouettes with my Nikons. 

Important note: I've promised Rob that I'd link-back his photos to his FB or personal blog, as I'm doing here. We have literally hundreds of photos of sloths, the collared toucan, coati mundis, monkeys . . . and the list goes on. In upcoming posts I'll try to include as many of Rob's superior-to-mine photos as possible because they are, after, all, superior to mine. It's true, A. Kaye, those Canons are unparalleled. Lo que hay.