Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The "real" Panama's bird

With almost 10% of the known birds of the world, Panama is becoming a premier birding destination in the neotropics. With so many birds, and with five Endemic Bird Areas according to BirdLife International, it is absolutely expected that our country list harbors many birds' names reflecting part of their ranges (or ALL their ranges), like Chiriqui Quail-Dove, Veraguan Mango, Coiba Spinetail, Tacarcuna Bush-Tanager, Pirre Warbler, and so on.... But what about the birds exhibiting "Panama" in their common names? Many countries are honored with at least one bird species named after them in the Americas. For example lets see our neighbors: Costa Rica have two of them (Costa Rican Pygmy-Owl and Swift) and Colombia, three (Colombian Crake, Screech-Owl and Tapaculo). So, after an extensive research, "our" bird is... (drums): the PANAMA FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus panamensis)!
What? Was you expecting something more fancy? Well, is the only one we got. The Panama Flycatcher is a typical Myiarchus flycatcher, a group of very homogeneous, crested birds patterned in yellow, olive and gray (except the handsome Rufous Flycatcher of Peru); with distinctive voices. They are so similar, that most of them are named after countries, people or something about their crests. The Panama Flycatcher has a broad distribution, ranging from Costa Rica to northern South America (so, is not restricted to Panama) and is pretty common all over Panama in the right habitat.
They are quite confiding and lethargic, allowing close approach if you want to photograph them. They do not flycatch, like others tyrant flycatchers; they prefer to check the foliage in a skulking way. The adult lacks the rufous tones or the contrasting cap of the others two Myiarchus present in Panama: the Great Crested and the Dusky-capped Flycatchers. There is no other "Panama" bird, unless you are considering the proposal of Ridgely about the viridiflavus form of Scrub Greenlet found in Panama and adjacent Costa Rica as a full species... he proposed the name "Panama Greenlet"... but that is unlikely to become reality. So, next time you find a Panama Flycatcher in the field, think on it as the "real" Panama's bird!
This post was submitted to Bird Photography Weekly # 120. Check it out!


  1. Jan Axel, great blog! I'm a birder from Miami and I'm planning on coming to Panama real soon. I can't find your email address anywhere. How do I contact you?


  2. Hi, and thank you Raul,

    here is my e-mail: jcaxel@hotmail.com.