Elaenias are medium-sized flycatchers found only in the Americas, and then only from Mexico southwards. The name means ‘of olive oil’ and refers to the general colour of their plumage. Identification of many of the 21 species can be difficult, but in the Turrialba area only two of the four species that occur in Costa Rica are really common, the Yellow-bellied Elaenia (Elaenia flavogaster) and, at higher elevations, the Mountain Elaenia (Elaenia frantzii).
The latter descends to lower altitudes only seasonally, whileflavogaster, a very common and noisy garden bird, is rarely found above 1500 m in our area. I do have two isolated sightings from as high as 2200 m at Llano Grande, between the Turrialba and Irazú volcanoes. These two elaenias are additionally readily distinguished because of flavogaster‘s ‘bad haircut’ crest, which is generally held conspicuously aloft:
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