Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bulletin 193 - Panama #4 - miscellaneous birds

Lisa and I saw several birds in different families, but not enough to make a separate bulletin. So in this one, I will show some of the these individuals.

To me, one of the most exciting birds to find was the Common Potoo (Nyctibius griseus). The potoos are a tiny family of just 7 species confined to the new world, with most of them in the Amazon area. They are closely related to nighthawks, being nocturnal insectivores. They have huge eyes and mouths and catch insects from flying from a perch like a flycatcher. During the day they roost on the end of a broken limb and appear as a classic 'stick bird'. Most birders try to see these birds at night with a spotlight, as their eyes glow in the light. I have seen this bird previously, but not in the daytime. We found this bird our first morning.

Common Potoo

Puffbirds are another family of birds confined to the neotropics. They perch quietly for long periods and tehn fly out to catch insects or small vertebrates. They are usually black and white or brown and white. The White-necked Puffbird (Notharchus hyperrhynchus) is 9.5" long. It has a range from El Salvador to Argentina. The sexes are similar.

White-necked Puffbird
The guide watched him fly down and snare a small lizard and start to eat it. He called us to come and photo it, but we got there a moment too late. You can see something in his beak, but not enough to recognize.
White-necked Puffbird

The Bay Wren (Cantorchilus nigricapillus) and all the tropical wrens are elusive and extremely hard to see, let alone photograph. This one finally we were able to get. It is dark brown with a black head and some white on the face.

Bay Wren

Cotingas are another neotropical family, many of which are beautiful. We saw a male Blue Cotinga (Cotinga nattererii) too far away to photograph, but this female landed 10 feet over our heads. She is just brown on the back, and a scalloped appearance on the undersides. She has a wide-eyed look.

Blue Cotinga - female
We also saw several mammals. They are always exciting to find. The White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica) is also known as a coatimundi. It is about 3.5 feet long, 1/2  the length is tail. They are members of the raccoon family and unlike some others in the neotropics, do not have a prehensile tail. We had one run across the road in front of the car. We jumped out and watched a group of 3-4 fighting in the adjacent trees. Apparently they can be found in the USA in southern Arizona and also, they have been introduced into Florida, either as escapees from zoos, or being released as pets.

White-nosed Coati

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2014 David McDonald

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