Friday, August 21, 2009

The Melastome Eaters

Tomorrow morning we wrap things up here in Cerro Azul and head for the Canopy Lodge, where we will spend our last 4 nights in pure birding luxury before returning to San Francisco. So this morning (August 21), for our last birding hike in Cerro Azul (of this particular trip), we decided on the Maipo Trail. It goes right into Chagres National Park, and is teeming with birds, many of them the type we don't see in the less wild areas of C.A. Quite a few of the melastome trees were full of berries, and that's where we saw the most birds. Amongst the species eating these berries were Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Red-capped Manakin, White-ruffed Manakin, Olive Tanager (abundant, traveling in large flocks, and very noisy), Palm Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Fulvous-vented Euphonia, White-vented Euphonia, Bay-headed Tanager (abundant), Emerald Tanager, Speckled Tanager, Yellow-and-black Tanager, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Blue Dacnis, Green Honeycreeper, Shining Honeycreeper. Carlos has told us from the beginning that planting melastome trees is the way to go - we are believers.

Two of the Red-capped Manakins were in full display mode, landing on a branch with lowered heads, wings held at an angle, fluffing up their ruffs and shuffling sideways along the branch. Sorry - no video - but it was quite a sight to behold.

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