While guiding some foreign birders two weeks ago, my friend Euclides "Kilo" Campos heard an unusual call in the bushes next to the Rio Mono bridge in eastern Panama province. After playing the recorded call, a Coccyzus cuckoo appeared calling back... but the sighting was to brief to make any positive ID. He returned to the same spot three days ago with Alexis Guevara and started to search again... this time, they found two birds and had enough time to take definitive pictures, but more important... one bird was sitting on a nest!
The news spread quickly: a pair of Pearly-breasted Cuckoos were found nesting in eastern Panama. My friend Venicio "Beny" Wilson saw the bird on the nest yesterday and today I went with Kilo and Osvaldo Quintero to watch them! We saw one bird sitting quietly on nest and took some photos, including the digiscoped image above with my cell phone. I took the next photos with my DSLR camera. All are similar. We didn't want to make any noise or to play recorded calls for not disturbing the bird; however, after 10 minutes motionless, the bird flew off abruptly... none of us saw the bird leaving the nest... it simply was gone.
We decided to explore some side trails ahead in the road, but it was really hot and dry. We returned to the bridge some 30 minutes later but the bird was not there. The fragile nest structure was empty, and through the scope it seems that the bird has not laid eggs yet. We just stayed for a couple of minutes more before leaving the place to have some cold drinks to celebrate!
There are several unconfirmed reports of this species for Panama, the most promising was that of Guido Berguido from Las Macanas marshes in june 2009 (report here), so this species was in the radar for some, but only as an accidental vagrant (it seems erratical everywhere, even in its main distribution in South America). So the news of a nesting pair is simply GREAT. In fact, this is the first Coccyzus nest ever recorded in Panama, if I recall well. I hope this nesting attempt will be successful.