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Oropendula in flight

Oropendula in flight

During November thru April the Oropendola breeding season is in full swing at La Anita! These birds, which are only found in the tropics, are very comical and make incredible sounds as they flip around tree branches caling to one another. Their nests that are totally unique in the animal world, and play an integral role in a symbiotic relationship that the oropendola maintains with the cow bird during mating season.

The oropendula’s intricate hanging nest is made entirely by the female while the male watches and performs his duties of constant female devotion. The oriopendola is known for its gregarious life in an almost constant party mood singing and playing at all times. The bird is a gymnast and if you are able to watch the birds for a time you will see them not only singing but also gripping the branch with their feet and make a complete summersault around the branch while bellowing out their song. Oropendulas also maintain a unique symbiotic relationship to the cow bird…

During mating season, the cowbird, a small black bird, stays nearby and goes almost totally unnoticed by the oriopendola colony. The cowbird is a “brood parasite:” she enters the oriopendola’s nest and lays her eggs so the oropendula will protect the egg and raise the chick.

The oropendula often cares for the cowbird eggs in order to protect its own young. The oriopendola chicks are blind and have no feathers, making them vulnerable to the parasitic bot fly that inhabits the canopy. Contrarily, the cowbird chick has a thick layer of down that protects it from the bot fly parasite. Additionally, the cowbird eats the bot flies and their larvae therefore protecting the oropendula chicks from this deadly parasite. Without the cowbirds the oriopendola chicks have a much lower chance of survival, so the oriopendolas parents embrace the adopted chick into their family.

So in addition to watching the oropendula’s summersault acrobatics, during your stay at La Anita Rainforest Ranch you can scrutinize the nesting area for the cowbirds hanging around waiting for the right opportunity to gain a stepmother for their chicks.

Everyone dreams of coming to visit the rainforest and seeing all of the wildlife that lives here. Some friendly animals are easily spotted even at the edge of the forest – hummingbirds, toucans, squirrels, monkeys, and even an armadillo every once in a while.

paw prints left in the mud

paw prints left in the mud

But the majority of rainforest species are not so easily visible because of their camouflage, nocturnal habits, and/or large territories. However, these animals often leave behind records of their presence. Snake skins, animal droppings, and footprints left in the mud after a rainstorm help us keep track of the rainforest creatures with which we share the farm and surrounding rainforest.

Yesterday we found some unique footprints on the side of the road near the lagoon. After photo documentation and careful inspection of our wildlife guides, we came to the conclusion that we have a Tolomuco – also know as a Tyra or Eira Barbara – in the area.

A furry friend

A furry friend

The Tolomuco is a member of the weasel family and moves easily both on land and in trees. They are usually active in the early morning hours so to see one bounding around you’ll have to get up quite early!

April Goals:
1. Keep up with the blog!!
2. Offer irresistable specials for Ranch guests… here they are:

April Specials – Enjoy the perfect spring getaway at La Anita Rainforest Ranch with these special last-minute packages!

Our April packages include:
-2 or 3 nights in our beautiful rainforest ecocabins (double-occupancy)
-A delicious breakfast each morning on our rainforest deck overlooking two volcanoes
-La Anita Rainforest Ranch tour (a walk in our medicinal plant garden, visit to the plantation, interactive heart of palm cooking class, and a delicious lunch prepared with food fresh from the ranch)
-and all local taxes

2-night package: $149 per person double-occupancy
3-night package: $199 per person double-occupancy

Packages valid from April 1-15, 2009.

Visit our website for more information and Contact Us to make your reservation today!

More blogs coming soon…

In Costa Rica we use ginger as a treatment for a wide variety of diseases and illnesses including arthritis, coughs, colds, fever, asthma, and stomach/intestinal ailments. Ginger is applied directly to the skin to treat arthritis pain and tan be put in bath water to treat headaches, spine aches, sinusitis, and menstrual cramps. We think everyone can benefit from a little more ginger in their lives so we have tons of it growing in our medicinal plant garden here on the farm!

Organic Ginger and Lemongrass!

Organic Ginger and Lemongrass!

We serve a delicious and refreshing ginger-honey limeade to everyone who comes to visit the Ranch to share some of this amazing plant’s healing properties with each and every one of our guests. Not to mention, it tastes wonderful especially after a hike on our rainforest trail.

A refreshing thirst-quencher!

A refreshing thirst-quencher!

We get so many requests to share this recipe we decided to make it available to you – we only hope you can find some very fresh ingredients in a market near you! There’s nothing like harvesting fresh ginger, limes and mint from the garden in the morning and enjoying this refreshing drink just a few hours later. You’ll have to come visit us to try the real thing!

La Anita Rainforest Ranch’s Famous Ginger-Honey Limeade

Ingredients:

1 3-inch piece fresh ginger root
5 cups water – separated into 2 cups and 3 cups
Juice from 3 limes (or lemons)
½ cup honey (or more to taste)
1 sprig of mint

Directions:

1. Wash the ginger root well and grate on a small grater.
2. Boil 2 cups of water, remove from heat, and add ginger. Let sit 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 3 cups of water, juice from the three limes, and sprig of mint in a pitcher.
4. Strain the ginger-infused water to remove ginger pieces and add to the pitcher
5. Stir in honey, sample to taste and add more as needed.
6. Refrigerate and enjoy in a tall glass with ice!

Make a deliciously refreshing cocktail by combining one part citrus vodka with two parts ginger limeade, serve over ice and garnish with a lime wedge!

Double-rainbow!

Double-rainbow!


After a 3 month hiatus, we are back online and committed to keeping up our blog! We were inspired to continue writing by some of our recent guests, Paula and Shel from Arizona (check out their vacation adventures at: http://www.shelandpaulaexcellentadventure.blogspot.com), not to mention and the constant requests for our homemade recipes. We figured this would be a great avenue to both keep in touch with past visitors, give future guests a glimpse into life here at La Anita, and to share some of our favorite moments here with you!

The quick update: We had a wonderful and rainy few months since we last wrote, with the cabins really starting to fill up during the month of December. We had a wonderful New Year’s Eve party and have already welcomed visitors from around the world to the Ranch this year. Last week we got to celebrate one of our guests 82nd birthday – which he celebrated by going on the zip-line canopy tour!

We are happy to have anyone who wants to escape into the rainforest for anywhere from one night to a month! We are hosting some very exciting retreats over the next few months – Photography Retreats in February and April, Rainforest Yoga in March, and are planning to schedule Costa Rican home-style cooking retreat soon. Please e-mail us if you are interested in coming to stay at La Anita!

As promised to Stephanie, Steve, Frank, Claire, Anne Ruth and Bram, the next entry will include the recipe for our homemade ginger lemonade… stay tuned!

La Anita Rainforest Ranch is located in a lush valley between the Rincón de la Vieja and Miravalles Volcanoes in Costa Rica. In this area, three climactic zones merge, creating an incredible explosion of biodiversity. According to world-renowned biologist Daniel Janzen, in the 20 square miles surrounding the farm, we live among more plant and animal species than exist in all of North America!

We know that most of our biodiversity comes from the plethora of insects that cohabit this small area of Costa Rica with us. We also know that people are most impressed by the amazing variety of birds that also make La Anita their home – the very predators who feast on this incredible number of insects. Around the ranch we have recorded sightings of over 357 species of birds! Of course, the amount of insect species is practically immeasurable.

On our rainforest deck, we host day-tours, yoga classes, photography workshops, and serve delicious meals prepared from produce harvested in our organic gardens. Many of the species of insects, birds, and other rainforest creatures that live around the farm and in the surrounding forest visit the deck and surrounding garden throughout the day. We wanted to share with you a few of these unique species that we were able to photograph right from the deck!

Keel Billed Toucan

Keel-billed Toucan

The Keel-billed Toucan

We have four different kinds of toucans on the farm – the Chesnut-mandibiled, Collared Aracari, Fiery-billed Aracari, and the Keel-billed Toucans. This beautiful Keel-billed toucan visits the deck area regularly to enjoy organic bananas grown in our garden and often flies from tree to tree making lots of noise.

Ringed Kingfisher

Ringed Kingfisher

The Ringed Kingfisher

This male Ringed kingfisher enjoys two spots on our farm – the laurel tree overlooking the pond, or on a fence post at the pond’s edge. Not very easy to photograph because of his acute sense of sight! Every once and a while he will dive into the water and emerge with a snack.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

The Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Taking a picture of a hummingbird is not an easy task! But sitting on our rainforest deck with the tiny birds zooming all around inspires the photographer in everyone – some are lucky enough to get a good shot. This Rufous-tailed Hummingbird is taking a drink from one of the beautiful orange avesilla flowers that surrounds the deck.

Leaf-mimicking Mantis

Leaf-mimicking Mantis

The Leaf Mimicking-Mantis

Many people are familiar with the walking-stick bug but have you ever seen a walking-leaf bug? This Leaf-mimicking Mantis (also known as the Leaf-mimicking Katydid) lives in the foliage of the avesilla plant and is easily overlooked because of its ability to blend right in. Crouching down next to the plant you can see that this insect is a sister to the more common praying mantis.

Leaf-mimicking Katydid

Leaf-mimicking Katydid

It is really incredible how so many insects have adapted to hide from their prey. Amazingly, this little creature made it onto 2 blogs! We showed it to a great family who was staying here at the ranch and they decided it was their favorite insect here so it’s practically famous! You can read about their stay at La Anita and see their mantis photos Here.

Pleasing Fungus Beetle

Pleasing Fungus Beetle

The Pleasing Fungus Beetle

Believe it or not, this beetle is called the “Pleasing Fungus Beetle” – or Gibbifer californicus. True to its name, it feeds on fungus among other things. Beetles have been on earth longer than the dinosaurs and contain more species than any other order of insects.

We hope that you will come visit us at La Anita and help us to enjoy and protect the incredible biodiversity that surrounds us here.

This is a very exciting time at La Anita Rainforest Ranch –
the very beginning of Mangosteen season!!!
The queen of all fruits
The queen of all fruits
Mangosteen fruit - straight from the tree
Mangosteen fruit – straight from the tree

Anyone unfamiliar with the mangosteen fruit is really missing out – they are just incredible! The Garcinia Mangostana L. is a unique tropical fruit that is considered to have amazing health benefits. Described as a “superfood” in today’s health lingo, this fruit has been used for centuries in traditional medicine throughout much of Asia.

Mangosteen, banned from US import until 2007, can now be found in the States in everything from supplements and juices to coffee mangosteen ice cream!

Snapple's Mangosteen

Check out this ad for Snapple Peach Mangosteen Juice Drink:

Rumor has it that Queen Victoria of England offered knighthood to anyone who could bring her a Mangosteen in edible condition. Easy enough, you say? Malarkey! This fruit soon became known as the queen of fruits. What makes it so precious is that when discovered, it required five years to grow in extreme tropical conditions in far-off lands. It’s no picnic to harvest, either: the usual method is to climb the tree to avoid letting the fruit hit the ground or be handled roughly. Oh, and did we mention that Snapple Peach Mangosteen has immunity-building qualities? Enjoy, your majesty.

Try one - you'll love it!
Try one-you’ll love it!

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If you don’t want your magnosteen diluted with water, sugar, pear and apple concentrate, natural flavors, citric acid, vitamin C, vitamin A palmitat, vitamin E acetate, and acacia gum, just come to the Ranch between August and October to taste one fresh off the tree!

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