Saturday, June 19, 2010

From white to black... and some yellow!

I visited the area of Amador in Panama City under the heat of a midday sun just to see if I could find some yellow in the form of a Cattle Tyrant that has been reported there several times. Instead, I found a lot of white, black and different shades of gray in the form of many common birds in the surroundings... most of them Fork-tailed Flycatchers. These amazing birds have very elongated rectrices (tail feathers) that they display while chasing the flying insects which they eat, mostly with acrobatic aerial maneuvers. They are pretty common in the open habitats of the Pacific slope all along Panama (except the Darien province), where you can see one or many individuals calmly perched atop a bush waiting for an insect. They breed in Panama, but we also have migrants from the north and maybe from South America too. The exact movements of this species in Panama are not well known yet. For example, I saw a huge flock in the Gatun locks of the Panama Canal last january in the Caribbean slope, where it is supposed to be uncommon. Maybe it was a flock of migrants. Now, I saw also a huge flock in Amador, with at least 100 birds scattered along the extensive gardens and fields of the area. The Birds of Panama Fieldguide mention that it is possible that these birds leave their breeding grounds in big flocks and who knows if this is an evidence of that. Anyway, they are funny to see. Some even descended to the sidewalk to drink water and others were feeding with fruits of a palm tree. Sometimes thery were joined by the Great-tailed Grackles and the Tropical Mockingbirds that abound in the area (then, giving some black and gray to my former black-and-white linen). Two white dots in a distant field turned out to be a pair of White Ibises feeding in the grass like Cattle Egrets, not even noticing the group of kids playing soccer in the field next to them. According to some reports, the flock of ibises feeding in the grass of the Amador area can have dozens of birds, just like in other grassy areas within the city, like the Omar Park and others. So, now it is not rare to see White Ibises outside the coast of the city. And what about the yellow? Well, I did not find the Cattle Tyrant, but found others common tyrannids, like the omnipresent Social Flycatcher and the more-than-familiar Tropical Kingbird. A day without these two is not a day in Panama! Both birds are known in Panama as "pechiamarillo" (yellow-breasted), just like all the other medium to large-sized flycatchers with mostly yellow underparts, so including also the kiskadees, the Boat-billed Flycatcher and many others Myiozetetes flycatchers. Both, the Social Flycatcher and the Tropical Kingbird, have light yellow underparts; but the bright yellow tone for the visit was given by the hordes of Saffron Finches that patrol the fields, mostly females and immatures, but always with two or more bright males accompanying them. What a beautiful bird and what a beautiful combination of colors in Amador!

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog! I have been living in Panama for 6 months now trying to learn about all the different kinds of birds that are found here. Your blog has been one of the most informative sites I have found. Thank you for sharing.