Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bird of the Month: Pearl Kite

The Pearl Kite (Gampsonyx swainsonii) is a small raptor of open habitats quite common in most part of its range within Panama.  However, this was not always the case.  The Pearl Kite once was considered rare and local, but naturally it expanded its range further north into Central America (definitively thanks to the clearance of the forests along our Pacific slope), and now, it is regularly found up to Nicaragua, with a recent report from El Salvador.
In Panama, it was first recorded in 1977.  Since then, this lovely, but lethal, bird has become a familiar sight in many parts of Panama, including around the city and, specially, around my house in Penonome (central Panama), where the surrounding savannas offer an excellent habitat.
Look it close... it is not only the smallest of our hawks (in general), but also one of the most beautiful patterned.  It looks kestrel-like, and share with them aspects of its biology.
For these, and many other reasons is why we chose the Pearl Kite as our Bird of the Month!
Literature consulted:
1.  Angehr G, Dean R.  The birds of Panama.  A field guide.  2010.
2.  Ridgely RS, Gwynne J.  A guide to the birds of Panama. 1993.

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