Thursday, May 2, 2013

Birding the forest or the backyard?

When birding the Chiriquí highlands in western Panamá, the variety birds is so high, that even inside the forest you can cross a huge flock with many different species.  In other parts, usually you see more birds in the open habitats and the forest borders, but here... well, you'll see.  During our last journey to the highlands, I managed to get some shots of both forest and backyard birds.  Lets start with the common ones, we found the next species in the gardens and streets of the little town of Guadalupe, above Cerro Punta.  Of course, the ubiquitous Rufous-collared Sparrow is impossible to miss!
Not only singing adult birds, also immatures were around, as you can see in the second photo.  Another singing bird was this male Flame-colored Tanager.  We saw several pairs of these well-named tanagers.
With a sweet voice too, these Yellow-bellied Siskins were quite busy feeding in these bushes.  Male, female and immature male in quick succession.
Another hard-to-miss species in the highlands is the Slaty Flowerpiercer.  Notice the unique bill, adapted to steal the flowers' nectar.
An impressive (and common) bird in the highlands is the Long-tailed Silky-Flycatcher.  Usually is seen perched very high in the trees, but this individual was very low taking some berries.
However, it is in the forest were most of the rare and elusive species are (except, of course, if you find a Lincoln's Sparrow sharing a field with Rufous-collareds!).  Just minutes from Guadalupe,  La Amistad International Park offers an excellent opportunity to see these special birds, like the Barred Becard attracted after playing a tape of its call.
Or the Large-footed Finch feeding in the forest floor.
A hard-to-see bird is the strange-looking Wrenthrush (though I prefer its spanish name: Zeledonia).  More often heard, my marginal photo shows at least the main field marks of this species, the ball-shaped body and the contrasting orange crown.
The last bird we saw in the park is a relatively common one; however, for some reason I had missed this one in my more than 15 years of birding in Panama (and other countries)... my life Lineated Foliage-Gleaner really really put on a show for us, giving exceptionally good views and photograph opportunities.
That is the way to end a trip to the highlands!  

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