Saturday, April 30, 2011

How many tones of yellow you see?

Recently, during one of those weekends that Gloriela and I spent in Penonome (central Panama), I noticed that most, if not all, of the birds that I photographed were mostly yellow... Mother Nature have an infinite variety of tones and mixtures of colors, making the word "yellow" not good enough. For example, what can be more yellow than a Yellow Warbler? By this time of the year most of the individuals are gone, and those that you are lucky to see exhibit the bright yellow plumage honoring its name. Nice yellow don't you think? But then a male Yellow-crowned Euphonia appears and you have to re-define your concept of "bright yellow"!

Probably the contrast with the black parts makes its yellow to look brighter... or maybe it is simple BRIGHTER! Well, now compare these two with the modest Yellow-bellied Elaenia's yellow belly. I think it is attractive in spite of its dullness, giving a bit of color to a mostly grayish bird.

In general, the small tyrannids are simply duller than others species. In a short walk near the stream, bordering the property, I found almost side-by-side a Mouse-colored Tyrannulet (thanks to its characteristic call, which to me sounds like a maniac little laugh) and a Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant (also by its pretty loud call, specially considering that it is a really tiny bird). Both are dull yellowish, one with brown tones, the other more greenish. Notice the pale legs and the white iris of the Pygmy-Tyrant. Both species are typical of dry areas, so its ocurrence around Penonome is completely expected because the town is located almost in the heart of Panama's dry arch, the area of coastal lowlands in the Pacific slope of central Panama with a marked dry season. Of course we found others birds typical of this habitat too, like Lesser Goldfinches, Lance-tailed & Golden-collared Manakins (the former with no yellow at all I have to admit, but seriously gorgeous), Tropical Kingbirds, and Rufous-sided Warblers showing also its nice yellow underparts. I found several of these active and curious warblers while walking along the stream, in the most shaded areas. I think they are my favorite birds in Penonome due to their curious behavior and the contrasting patern of the head with the underparts. It was a nice combination of yellow tones and good birds!

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