Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Exotic birds

Many people keep birds in captivity for fun, to have company or for their beauty or songs. When these birds are not expected to occur naturally at the places where they are being held, then we call them exotic birds. That includes those species kept in captivity in places that used to be part of their normal distribution range, but that for one reason or another have been extirpated of it. That is the case of so many waterfowls. In Panama (for example) we used to have three species of whistling-ducks. Now, only the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck is commonly found, while the Fulvous Whistling-Duck is restricted to some marshes in the Herrera province of the Azuero Peninsula. A third species, the White-faced Whistling-Duck is no longer found naturally in Panama... but sometimes, an individual or two can be found in private collections or in zoos. The same for the Mallard (a female from Toronto's waterfront pictured here). Despite it can reach Panama as a very rare or accidental vagrant, many are kept in farms, zoos or private collections. Any sighting of Mallards (specially of gaudy drakes like the one reported some time ago) must be extensively investigated, always suspecting in its not natural occurrence. The term is not restricted to those eye-popping beautiful birds kept in cages. By definition other common birds are "exotic"... for example the Chinese Geese. They are so common at our farms that nobody would call them "exotic", but they are. Most exotic birds are parrots or waterfowls, but also common are finches, canaries and all sort of little passerines of other latitudes. If these birds occur naturally in any region close to Panama, then determining its natural occurrence could be a very difficult task. Some years ago, the inclusion of the White-cheeked Pintail to the official Panama list was determined only after an extensive search and investigation among zoos and private collections of waterfowls. As you can see, it is not alwalys easy... but most time it is (please, an Indian Peacock in Panama... com'on!).

1 comment:

  1. That's very interesting! I think most people feel that "exotic" birds are limited to those of rainforest origin, but even the rare bird of paradise in certain regions would be as common as a pigeon to urban dwellers.