Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bird of the Month: Green Honeycreeper

The Green Honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza) is a common member of the former honeycreepers family, now merged with the tanagers, probably closer to the Tangara tanagers. It inhabitates the forest canopy and edges in wet areas of the lowlands and foothills of both slopes along Panama. Compared to others honeycreepers, it is larger and with a thicker, but less downcurved bill (as you can see in the photo, a male Green next to a male Red-legged Honeycreeper). The males are strikingly beautiful... the turquoise-green feathers make them easy to find from long distances. I don't recall any other bird in Panama with such a bright green color! The females are duller, but still recognizable by their bill-shape. In any case, they usually are found in pairs, or alone and are frequent members of mixed-species flocks with tanager, euphonias and other colourful birds. They have a wide distribution, extending from southern Mexico to Brazil and Bolivia, which reflects their adaptability and success exploiting their niche. These birds are omnivorous, that is, they don't only feed on nectar, but also eat fruits and insects... and I have to say it, they can be quite aggresive when looking for food, taking advantage of their larger size to dominate the smaller birds in the best spots (like fruiting trees or feeders). Probably, the bandit mask (the male's black half-hood) is well deserved. For these, and many others reasons is why we choose the Green Honeycreeper as our bird of the month!
This post was submitted to Bird Photography Weekly # 123. Check it out!
Literature consulted:
1. Ridgely RS, Gwynne JA. A Guide to the Birds of Panama. 1993


  1. Gorgeous birds Jan and you got some excellent shots of them. I especially like the comparison photo of the Green with the Red-legged Honeycreeper.

  2. Thanks Larry... in the comparison photo notice that the Red-legged Honeycreeper seems bigger than what it actually is (it was closer to my lens)