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best birds in panama


I was multi-tasking while in Central America, but my husband and I managed to get in a good deal of birding every day. I went without any expectations of how many species I would see, and mostly just wanted to enjoy them. I kept a list, not because I am a competitive lister, but because I have a strongly anal-retentive streak. At the end of the first day, one of the first things we noted was how hard it was to pick which bird was most appealing, but just came up with a couple off the top of our heads. Thus, the “Bird du Jour” list was born. Here it is:

4 Aug, Metropolitan Nature Park, Panama City
Squirrel Cuckoo – bird du jour
Common Tody-Flycatcher – runner up
Tropical Gnatcatcher – 700th world bird

5 Aug, Barro Colorado Island, Panama Canal
Broad-billed Motmot – bird du jour (I took the photo up top with a 105mm macro lens!)
Dot-winged Antwren, female – runner up

6 Aug, Metropolitan Nature Park, Panama City
American Pygmy Kingfisher – bird du jour. A kingfisher the size of a sparrow! How great is that?
Crimson-crested Woodpecker – runner up

7 Aug, El Valle, Canopy Lodge area
Rufous Motmot – bird du jour, and also Bird of the Trip for me. Qualifications included beauty, interesting behavior (especially the pendulum-like tail swing), a fantastic mellow call, and accessibility (not too rare or hard to see, but also not too common).
Barred Antshrike, female – runner up

8 Aug, El Valle, La Mesa area
White Hawk – bird du jour
Black-faced Antthrush – runner up
Silver-throated Tanager – 100th life bird on trip

Pan_batfal 9 Aug, El Valle, Cerro Gaital National Monument, Caraiguana
Rosy Thrush-Tanager – bird du jour. An unbelievable color.
Chestnut-backed Antbird – runner up
Purplish-backed Quail-Dove – honorable mention, for drop-dead looks at a tough-to-see bird (hence, no good photo link)
Bat Falcon (left) – 800th world bird (although free-flying, we didn’t count this previous, rather tame Bat Falcon at Metropolitan Nature Park)
Scale-crested Pygmy-Tyrant – best name

10 Aug, El Chiru
Red-breasted Blackbird – bird du jour. Another stunner.
Pearl Kite – runner up

11 Aug, Canopy Tower, Plantation Road, Old Gamboa Road south
White-throated Crake – bird du jour, taking a long bath in road
Red-capped Manakin – runner up
Purple-throated Fruit Crow – best name
Bicolored Antbird – 850th world bird

12 Aug, Gamboa, Old Gamboa Road south, Ammo Dump ponds
Great Potoo – bird du jour
Boat-billed Heron – runner up

13 Aug, Pipeline Road (where birding was cut short by a broken-down vehicle and rescue vehicles stranded by a downed tree which had to be removed by machete, all in a drenching downpour. But hey, the trip was pretty cushy up to that point.)
Streak-breasted (Spectacled) Antpitta – bird du jour
Cinnamon Woodpecker – runner up

I ended up counting 233 species.

Recommended: A Bird-finding Guide to Panama

Filed in Me, Travel

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Clare August 18, 2005, 8:53 am

    Jealous. I'm just jealous.

  • ceibatree August 18, 2005, 12:07 pm

    I'm not a birder really, but wow, that must have been a lot of fun!

  • Wisecrow August 18, 2005, 4:57 pm

    Enjoyed your nuthatch post on I and the Bird #4, so I came to visit. As someone who's spent a lot of time in the neotropics doing ornithology, I really enjoyed this post as well! I'll be back.

  • Eva Van Houdt March 10, 2007, 9:01 am

    It is strange how people's lifes cross. I was looking 4 info about birds in Panama, when I came on this site. I myself am from Belguim, Europe and I just wanted 2 let you know, I read your texte about the Panama birds. =) I know it's strange, maybe even stupid. But I just felt like making contact 2 someone on a totally different side of the world. So, good luck with your site, hope you read this, and goodbye :)

    Greetings, a young woman (15) from Belguim

  • Nuthatch March 10, 2007, 9:32 am

    The nicest part of writing a blog are the people you get to know through the comments. Thanks for stopping by, Eva, and I hope you visit again!

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