Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Raptors on streetlights

We have been visiting Costa del Este (Panama City) several times during this past weekend trying to locate all those rare gulls that have been reported (with success I must say!). Yesterday, I went with Gloriela and Osvaldo Quintero to the mouth of the Matías Hernández river in Costa del Este where we found two others birders (Cindy & Leslie Lieurance of Petrels in Panama) scoping the flock of gulls. The tide was too high, and the birds so far away, that we decided to drive around the streets and upriver just to see what we can get. It was a good idea since we found some interesting birds, including many raptors perched on the streetlights. Despite the lots of construction projects in the area, there are still some grassy open areas and gallery forest along the river and the coast where this raptors can hunt. By far, the most common raptor in Costa del Este (and in Panama City) is the Yellow-headed Caracara, commonly seen or heard and even very tame in some places. Its raucous screams are heard from far away. Is not unusual to find several individuals of this species. We also found a young Crested Caracara. They are more heavily builted than the Yellow-headed Caracaras, and much more uncommon in the city, but they become commoner just to the west and to the east (specially if the open areas are extensive). Later, we found a pair of American Kestrels perched on streetlights too. This beautiful little falcon is becoming widespread in Panama, just like in other countries. It used to be only an uncommon northern migrant, but now we have a resident population and nest activity have been reported from several places. The new colonizers came from the south. The males can be told apart in the field by differences in the crown and breast patterns (notice the unspotted breast of this individual). Its expansion is similar to that of the Pearl Kite some years ago. The streetlights are not the only perches in Costa del Este, nor the tallest. Other raptors, like Peregrine Falcons and Ospreys, prefer taller lookouts sites. That was true for the Osprey we spotted at the top of a construction crane, wherefrom it was thrown towards the river, probably in search of its next prey. Well, nice to see that some other birds are still surviving there, taking advantage of man-made perches!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting your photos! They were helpful for identifying some birds we saw further north in Costa Rica.