Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bulletin 206 - Panama #13

Parrots are the another special bird. Everyone wants to see them, especially the macaws. However, as anyone who as actually done birdwatching in the tropics can tell you, they are difficult to see perched. Flyovers are very common. Despite the fact that there are 22 parrot species in the Panama bird book, we got photos of only 3. The sexes are similar.

The first was a distant photo of the Blue-headed Parrot (Pionus menstruus). This 9.5" parrot was perched at the top of a bare tree. Fortunately we were on a 100' canopy tower, so able to get him at eye level, but he was still about 100 feet from us.. He is green with a blue head and red undertail. Also this genus, pionus, is noted for their deep wing beats when flying. Most other parrots have very shallow wing beats.

Blue-headed Parrot

The other 2 species were parakeets. These birds have long pointed tails, unlike the parrots which have square tails. The first was the Brown-throated Parakeet (Eupsittula pertinax). This is a 9" green parakeet with brown cheeks and throat. There is an orange patch under the eyes that is helps with the ID.

Brown-throated Parakeet

This bird has a more yellow than orange patch. Maybe a juvenile?

Brown-throated Parakeet

The small (6.5") Orange-chinned Parakeet (Brotogeris jugularis) gave us the best photos of any parrot on the trip when several came to a feeder. His colors are almost iridescent. And like many birds, the name of the bird is a field mark that is almost never seen because it is so small. However, his orange chin can be seen in the photo. The brown shoulders are the best ID mark. This is the most common parakeet in Panama.

Orange-chinned Parakeet

We also photographed 3 species of swallows. The first is the Gray-breasted Martin (Progne chalybea). This 6.5" swallow has a bluish back, white chin and gray breast. It has a moderate length forked tail.

Gray-breasted Martin

The tiny (4.5") Mangrove Swallow (Tachycineta albilinea) is similar to our Tree Swallow, but has a white rump. here is a frontal view showing the blue-green back and the snow white underparts.

Mangrove Swallow

Here he is turned around to show the white rump.

Mangrove Swallow

Lastly is the 5" Southern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx ruficollis). It is brown-backed and has a cinnamon throat.. The underparts are light. This may be a juvenile with the rusty flanks and white edging on the wing feathers.

Southern Rough-winged Swallow

Most surprising to me was that I caught a glimpse of a Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) and snapped a single photo. This bird has been a nemesis bird for me to photograph in the USA. It migrates through east Texas spring and fall but I have had only a couple of photos in 8 years. Also, I missed it last summer in Michigan on its breeding grounds. It is listed as a fairly common winter bird in Panama. It is IDed by the golden crown and wing patch and black facial pattern.

Golden-winged Warbler

We saw only a single member of the manakin family. This is a 52 member family of small fruit-eating songbirds in the neotropics. You may have seen videos of the courtship routine of these birds in which several related males will perform an elaborate dance routine to attract a mate. The males are brightly colored and the females are usually dull olive. The Blue-crowned Manakin (Pipra coronata) is a tiny (3") bird. The male is black with a blue crown and the female is bright green. We saw only the female, but she was close and sat still until we got some photos.

Blue-crowned Manakin - female
A common distinctive neotropical bird is the Masked Tityra (Tityra semifasciata). It is a medium-sized (7.5") mostly white bird with black on the face and wings. The bill is red and it has red periorbital skin.

Masked Tityra - male

The female has a brownish wash to the head body.

Masked Tityra - female
The last bird is called a tanager, but it is actually in the sparrow family. The Common Bush-Tanager (Chlorospingus ophthalmicus) is a 5" bird with a dark head and distinctive white spot behind the eye. The back is olive and the underparts yellow.

Common Bush-Tanager

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2014 David McDonald

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