As I write this we are enjoying our last day in Panama. It has been a wonderful trip and I would recommend it to anyone — especially someone interested in birds! I have seen 388 species here in 10 weeks. That’s more than I’ve seen in Canada in the last ten years!
Two of the most abundant bird families in Central and South America are the hummingbirds and the tanagers. We’ve seen 24 species of hummingbird and 19 of tanagers. There are a great many more of both, but to see them requires a fair bit of travelling around. Quite a few are restricted to the higher mountains, and since we are living in the lowlands there is limited opportunity to get into the mountains. But when we did, we were rewarded with a bundle of new birds.
Another family often associated with the tropics is the parrots. We have seen six of them. All but one of the sightings occured right around our house. As is the case with many of the world’s parrots, green is the predominant colour. Most of the local species here are named for a feature of their plumage which is not green. For example, the Yellow-crowned Parrot is almost entirely green but for a yellow cap on top of its head. Similarly, the Orange-chinned Parakeet is green with a small orange patch just below its beak. Others we have seen are Blue-headed Parrot, Brown-hooded Parrot and Red-lored Parrot. (The lores are the small area between the eye and the beak.)
During the first two weeks of March, the beginning of the spring migration became quite evident. One day we saw a thousand Western Sandpipers on the mudflats — we had seen none previously. We’ve also been seeing good numbers of hawks flying over. One afternoon about one hundred Broad-winged Hawks and about thirty Swainson’s Hawks passed over the house. I’m sure the coming days will bring many more northbound migrants returning to North America after wintering in South America. But by then I’ll be back home, waiting for them to return to our valley!