Thursday, November 11, 2010

City black birds

Driving around Panama City (after leaving Gloriela at the airport... she is in Mexico now) gave me some unexpected photographic opportunities, but also I realized that we have many all-black coloured birds in the city. Right at the parking lot of the airport (and perhaps elsewhere in Panama), the Great-tailed Grackles were feeding at the grass, looking for small insects and doing grackles stuff, harassing other smaller, all-black birds (Blue-black Grassquits). A curious young male (still with some brown feathers, dull yellow eyes and molting tail) got very close to me... surely he wanted a close-up photo, and I didn't denied it. The grackles were not the only black birds at the parking lot. In fact, other icterid was the most common one: Shiny Cowbird. A huge flock of more or less 50 birds, most of them adult males, were also at the grass and the fence, very close to the people and the cars. Is the first time I see so many cowbirds in the same place. I suppose that they are doing well considering the big number of individuals, or simply this is a favorite place for them, which is close to some pastures with cattle. Like many icterids, the females are duller, coloured in brown with streaks at the underparts. They are brood parasites of other songbirds, specially flycatchers, which are common too. In other places they are a big problem, reducing the populations of beloved songbirds, but that is not the case in Panama... yet. Anyway, they are expanding their range into the distribution of the ecological similar Bronzed Cowbird and now is not uncommon to see both species at the same sites (around Panama City, Cocle foothills, western Bocas del Toro, Chiriqui highlands, etc...). A third species of these parasites, the Giant Cowbird, is uncommon around the city, but I have seen it at the Summit Gardens, in the way to Gamboa where they laid their eggs at oropendola's hanging-nests. After leaving the airport, I passed through Costa del Este in my way to our apartment, detecting immediately the Smooth-billed Anis at their usual sites (the Groove-billed Ani is very uncommon here)... but what caught my attention was a group of six all-black birds with guttural calls flying from tree to tree in the middle of the main avenue... a flock of Greater Anis! This is the first time I see this species in Costa del Este, and they were not related with water at all. They can be confused with Great-tailed Grackles with a careless observation (similar size with long tail, bright yellow eyes), but note the completely different bill and different behavior (and vocalizations). So it is official, all three anis' species can be found at Costa del Este. The last black bird of this post is the only one called that way, and (ironically) the only one that is not completely black! A Red-breasted Blackbird (file photo) was perched conspicuosly behind the Parque Industrial when I left Costa del Este through the Corridor South highway. A bit of colour to this black-birds gallery!

No comments:

Post a Comment