The Golden-browed Chlorophonia, belonging to the Fringillidae family, is a small songbird that can only be found in southern Central America. Its range extends from the northern part of Costa Rica to western Panama. The bird is known for its stunning mix of yellow, green, blue, and purple colors. It has a yellow breast and supercilium, which are absent in females. The male sports a bluish-violet crown (females have a bluer crown), blue eye ring, and a line of blue down its mantle towards its breast. This species is quite unique within its range due to its bright green color, setting it apart from many other species. Additionally, it’s the only Chlorophonia in its range. The Golden-browed Chlorophonia is typically rare and local, inhabiting the canopy of highland forests in subtropical or tropical moist montane forests above 750 meters (2,460 feet) elevation. In Panama, it’s uncommon in western foothills and highlands from the Costa Rica border eastward to Coclé.
Male birds are easily recognizable due to their striking appearance, which includes bright grass green upper parts, throat, and upper breast. The rest of their underparts and broad supercilium are yellow, while the lower flanks have a patch of bright green. Additionally, the crown of male birds is violet-blue.
Female birds of this species are not as easily distinguishable, but they do possess the same blue crown and nape as males. They also display some yellow coloration on their underparts, but are primarily green in appearance.
The bird emits a gentle whistle that sounds like “wheeeeuu.” In Costa Rica, it is commonly known as the rualdo, and there is a local legend about how this bird once had a beautiful singing voice but offered it to the Poas volcano in exchange for sparing a young woman from sacrifice and preventing the volcano from erupting.
The primary food source of the Golden-browed Chlorophonia is mainly composed of fruits. This particular species of bird obtains its sustenance from trees. A research study conducted in Monte Verde, Costa Rica, observed this bird feeding on fruit from as many as fourteen different plant species, including Strangler Figs (Ficus), Melastomes (Conostegia), and Mistletoes (Gaiadendron).
This particular species seems to practice monogamy. During our trip to Boquete Tree Trek in Palo Alto, Boquete, Chiriqui, we came across a nesting couple. The Chlorophonias constructed their nest in a cave located beneath a rock surface covered with lichen. It was situated in an open area and close to the ground. Interestingly, they didn’t seem to be afraid of humans at all and were even seen perching on man-made structures like a zip-line wire.