Sunday, January 16, 2011

Punta Culebra for a while

Just to spent time of our free weekend, Gloriela and I decided to make a quick visit to Punta Culebra, in Panama City. The place is well-known by its marine exhibitions (operated by the STRI), but is also very quiet, close to the city, and with an interesting array of common birds and other animals that it is always a good choice. Typical of the dry season, the Bougainvilleas were completely bloomed in a variety of bright colors, including the scarlet-pink one being visited by a female Garden Emerald. This is just one of several species of hummingbirds residing there, and probably Punta Culebra is the most reliable site within the city to find it (pretty easy in fact). Some usually-hard-to-see species are more confident there, probably they are used to the visitors and are not longer afraid of them. That is the case of the Plain Wren. Several pairs are found around the installations, very easy to see, specially when singing (which they do a lot). Usually, this species (as many others wren species) prefers the entangled and dark understore of forested areas, where even a glimpse of them becomes difficult. After a couple of minutes, it started to rain, so we sheltered in our car, and had a nap before continuing with our walk, finding immediately a Red-crowned Woodcreeper working the main trunk of the tree at the parking lot (you can enlarge the photo). These "zebra-backed" woodpeckers are the most common member of the family in the city (and all over Panama), and exhibit a wide variation of color tones and patterns. This particular one was quite brown to the head and underparts, while others are immaculate white in these parts. We found many more common city birds, including tons of Variable Seedeaters feeding both in the ground and high in the trees. The females and immatures outnumbered the adult males, like the one I'm showing here with the spike. Other common birds recorded were Blue-gray, Palm and Crimson-backed Tanagers, Tropical Mockingbird, Scrub Greenlet and Great-tailed Grackles. We also saw a family group of Yellow-crowned Euphonias, with several females (photo) and a singing male that remained elusive. By the end, again at the parking lot, a group of confiding Crab-eating Racoons were assaulting a trash can, like real bandits. One did not resist the curiosity and climbed a fence to watch us better... great way to call it a day!


  1. Looks like a fantastic city spot. At the end of Amador Causeway?

    Seeing the Yellow-crowned Euphonias and Garden Emeralds will be high on my list. We'll try to take our next week's guest out there, for sure.

    We enjoy seeing the Red-crowned Woodpeckers in our yard. (We knew what you meant.) And racoons are up here in Cerro Azul, too.

  2. @ Leslie: both species are very easy in that spot. The entrance is behind "Mi Ranchito" restaurant (in the first island).

  3. Wow! You are so lucky to live in Panama. My husband and I have caught the bird watching bug after our first trip to Panama in 2008. We have just returned from our 5th trip now and have made it to Punta Culebra each time. I came upon your blog when I was googling Punta Culebra birds, hoping to identify a hummingbird we saw there about a week ago. It was enjoying a rain shower on the trees just outside of the turtle/shark pool. I was thinking it was likely a Garden Emerald as the size was right. Regardless it was fascinating to see this bird enjoying the rain so much. Keep up the great blog!