Friday, August 7, 2009

The Terrace

Birding from the terrace of our apartment here in Cerro Azul is spectacular. The activity begins a few minutes before 6:00 each morning. First arrivals are usually small flocks of tanagers, then the flycatchers show up, along with a few hummingbirds, seedeater types, woodpeckers and the ever-present House Wrens.

Les began putting halved bananas on the wide railing of the terrace when we moved in here, and it took less than a day for the tanagers to discover this favored snack. He filled two of the long-ignored hummingbird feeders (5 or 6 were hanging empty and moldy when we arrived - nobody lives here full-time), and by the following morning, the hummers were chasing each other away from them.

The following list includes our "every day" terrace birds - species we can see within 25 feet of the terrace:

White-necked Jacobin, Snowy-bellied Hummingbird, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Tropical Peewee, Social Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Gray-breasted Martin, House Wren, Plain Wren, Clay-colored Robin, Hepatic Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Thick-billed Euphonia, Plain-colored Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager (they arrive in noisy little flocks and are the most numerous species we see from the terrace), Blue Dacnis, Green Honeycreeper, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Variable Seedeater, Yellow-faced Grassquit.

On at least one day so far, we have also seen Keel-billed Toucan, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker (a Panama endemic), Bran-colored Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, White-shouldered Tanager, Black-striped Sparrow, Giant Cowbird, and just a few minutes ago we saw a lifer from the office doorway - Shining Honeycreeper.

A couple of nights ago as it was getting dark, I was sweeping the terrace and accidently swept across the head of a long, slim snake that was mostly hidden by a log near the wall. It was another lifer - a beautiful and very docile Blunt-headed Tree Snake (Imantodes cenchoa).

Looking a little farther away (using a scope) we have seen White-faced Monkey. And we have heard the quavering calls of Great Tinamou.

It's hard to go anywhere else in the mornings with so much action just outside the doors, but getting up early enough to watch it is never a problem.

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