Thursday, November 17, 2011

Penonome Motmots revisited

Some months ago, I adressed the Blue-crowned Motmot of Cocle province (central Panama) because this could be a potential intergrade zone between two distinct forms that have been considered as separate species by the South America Classification Committee (posted here). The day after Gloriela's Baby Shower, all the family went to the finca at the outskirts of Penonome city to have a BBQ and to breathe fresh air. With my camera, I walked to the creek and, as soon as I got there, two dark silhouettes flew from the banks to a nearby tree and immediately I heard a whoo-hoop, typical of a Blue-crowned Motmot, answered by a single hoop! by the second bird. They were incredible shy, always hiding behind foliage and flying away whenever I tried to approach them. Nevertheless, I did saw some important field marks, all of them matching the description of the conexus form, which is the expected form of Blue-crowned Motmot in that part of the country (part of the Whooping Motmot complex). They had some mud in their bills, so I think they were probably excavating a nest in the banks of the creek. In spite that the first vocalization I heard had two notes, it lacked the pause between them, characteristic of the lessoni form from western Panama and Central America (the Blue-diademed Motmot). There are still many questions about these motmots... is there any area of contact between these two forms? Are the motmots of the coclesian foothills conexus like the lowlands birds? Is there any hybrid reported? And so on... I'm pretty sure this is not the last time we hear about these guys!

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