Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Beach and Motmots

During a familiar weekend at an all-inclusive resort in the coclesian Pacific coast (central Panama), I had the opportunity to have a close look at the resident motmot species: the Blue-crowned Motmot. A single individual (with no tail racquets) was eating the fruits of a palm tree. Of course, the motmot was not the only bird species detected in the gardens of the resort, we also saw many common residents like Boat-billed Flycatchers and the similar-looking Great Kiskadees, Palm and Blue-gray Tanagers and the very vocal Rufous-browed Peppershrike; but by far, the most colourful bird was the motmot. And it was not only beautiful, it is also intriguing. The Cocle province in central Panama is the extreme western end of the range for the conexus subspecies, part of what is described as Momotus subrufescens, or Whooping Motmot by the South America Checklist Committee (SACC), a change not recognized by the AOU nor by the Panama Audubon Society (you can see a distribution map here). The bird did not vocalize, which is the main field mark to separate this form from the lessoni group, the so called Blue-diademed Motmot of western Panama (and Central America). According to Stiles in his original paper, lessoni can be diagnosticable in the field based in 14 plumage characteristics. This bird showed characteristics consistent with conexus, the expected form in this part of Panama (not big contrast between chest and belly, bright green throat, contrasting thighs -as in the last photo-, lots of violet color in the posterior part of the diadem, etc...), except for the black border around the posterior diadem which was broad and conspicuous, as expected for lessoni. Considering that Cocle province could be a potential intergrade zone for the lessoni and conexus forms of this complex, I will try in the months to come to listen for these birds near my home in Penonome in order to address properly this issue about which form occurs in Cocle... so stay tunned!
Bonus, a young Green Iguana at the resort's gardens (abundant!).

This post was submitted to Bird Photography Weekly # 150, check it out!


  1. The Motmot looks such a beautiful bird. It will be very interesting to ID which species you are seeing around your area.

  2. I did see it was a Motmot! :) I am learning a lot about your spieces while I work on the CR birds. But I did not have the pleasure to see this one. :)

  3. I might be "hard to find" but I have two birdblogs.

    NF Fåglar/Birds
    Birds in Costa Rica
    Youre welcome to take a look.

  4. @mick: I'm leaving today to Penonome, to "see" what can I "heard" (the calls are the main field mark to identify these forms)
    @NatureFootstep: I have seen both of your blogs, great pictures!