When we first moved to CR I sent my inquisitive, science-loving nephew Nathan several nature questions to solve. For example, we have a particular kind of ground cover whose leaves close up when touched. I took some video of us touching it (this is NOT my video, btw.) and sent it to Nathan with the question, “what is this?” Nathan and his mom researched it and came back with the answer, “Mimosa or Shy Plant”. I bought myself a plant book after that.
My next question was concerning a very noisy and social yellow bird that woke me up every morning. He was large, yellow and black, and not afraid of people. I took pictures and sent them to Nathan. He decided it was a “Social Flycatcher”. I bought myself a bird book after that.
Once I took a picture of a butterfly that looked exactly like a leaf. And another time I snapped a picture of a clear butterfly! We have more species of butterflies here in CR than anywhere else in the world. We actually export butterflies… well, the cocoons really. I’ve posted pictures of strange fruits, trees, bugs, flowers, sloths, birds, monkeys, crocodiles, and sunsets. This country never ceases to amaze me with the wonders of God’s creation!
My last question involved a volcano near our city. The volcano has a lake in the crater, as many volcanoes do. The lake changes color from lime green, to grey, to turquoise, to redish depending on the level of heat and acid coming from the volcano vent under the surface of the water. Scientists monitor the color of the lake and the quality of the steam. They watch what happens to the vegetation around the crater to give them an indication of when the vapors turn toxic or more sulfuric or dangerous. So one day in the newspaper there was an article that claimed the the lake in Volcan Irazu had “mysteriously” disappeared. So I sent Nathan the question, “What happened to the lake?” Turns out it really is no mystery. It’s something that happens on occasion. We had had a particularly dry rainy season and then a crack had developed in the edge of the volcano crater which caused the water to drain down into the volcano for a time. After some hard rains, the lake was back again, cooling off the volcano again like a natural wet blanket.
So here’s my most recent nature question. I’m going to ask all of you readers too to see if anyone can come up with the answer. We saw this bird up in the cloud forest of Monteverde. I think it might be a kind of toucan, but I can’t find it in my bird book. What kind of bird is this? There is no prize for the right answer. Just the intrinsic satisfaction of being right.