Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bird of the Month: Costa Rican Swift

The Costa Rican Swift (Chaetura fumosa) is a small aerial master endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama.  In Panama, this is a local species, restricted mainly to the last remaining patches of forests (and borders) of extreme western Chiriqui province, where I took the photos of this post (and where all the recent records come from).
Costa Rican Swift
This is one of those species that has become rare in Panama due to habitat destruction... it is more common and widely distributed in Costa Rica, so I actually agree with the name!  Like many swifts species, it can be hard to identify.  The best field marks are shape, pale throat and, of course, the large and pale rump patch.
Costa Rican Swift
The Costa Rican Swift was split from the Band-rumped Swift (Chaetura spinicauda) from central Panama eastward.  Martin M. (2000) proved this based on ranges and morphologic data among the so-called "pale-rumped" group of Chaetura swifts in the New World.  My friend Osvaldo Quintero photographed this Band-rumped Swift in central Panama some years ago.  Notice the chunky shape and the smaller pale rump of this bird (that actually looks like a "band").
Band-rumped Swift.  Copyright Osvaldo Quintero, used with permission.
For these and many other reasons is why we chose the Costa Rican Swift as our Bird of the Month!
Costa Rican Swift
Literature consulted:
1.  Marin M.  Species limits, distribution and biogeography of some New World gray-rumped spine-tailed swifts.  Ornitologia Neotropical 2000; 11(2):93-107.
2.  Angehr G, Dean R.  The Birds of Panama. A field guide. Zona Tropical, 1st edition. 2010.

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