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Bird species thrive in Monteverde Cloud Forest

By Catholic Online
August 25th, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve, located on the continental divide in the northeastern part of Costa Rica in the Tilaran mountain range, is one of the most outstanding wildlife sanctuaries in the Americas. Afforded both east and western exposures, unique weather affects the region year round.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Warm air from the Pacific block cold moisture from the Caribbean, creating cloudy, misty conditions in Monteverde year round.

The cloudy and moist conditions make for beautiful forests verdant with greenery. Mosses, bromeliads, orchids, ferns adorn branches of majestic trees. In addition, the number of epiphytes living upon a tree in the tropical forest can help determine the age of the tree. Older trees can have more than 400 unique species living upon their majestic branches.

The elevation variety within the reserve also creates a variety of habitats, including four distinct life zones. Monteverde houses more than 130 mammal species, 500 bird species, 120 amphibian and reptile species and more than 3,000 species of plants, including 500-plus different types of orchids.

Bird watching is popular on the reserve considering that more than half of Costa Rica's entire bird species are found there.

The Cloud Forest is especially known for the resplendent quetzal, three-wattled bellbird, black guan, bare-necked umbrella bird, golden-browed chlorophonia and other tanangers, of which there are more than 30 species in the Monteverde area. The best time for bird watching is during the dry season, December to April, although there is never really a bad time to visit.

Trees exposed to the high winds ad advanced elevations are often stunted, forming what is known as an elfin forest. With contorted branches bent over from the perpetual winds, and branches covered in mosses, algae and other epiphytes, the trees all appear to grow in one particular direction - the direction the wind blows. Travelers can find the north by looking for this growth pattern, realizing that the winds predominately blow from the north Atlantic slope.

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