Friday, July 16, 2010

Must Be the Season of the Snake

Last Friday morning we were readying ourselves to head down the hill and run a bunch of errands in town. At about 8:30 we heard a big ruckus across the creek, in what we call the "wild section" - it's a hillside on the east side of our property, a little finger of the Chagres National Park extending into the development, with many native trees and the creek at the bottom. Some of the native trees there are usually either blooming or fruiting, attracting quite an interesting variety of wildlife. On this particular morning, approximately 25 birds were chipping and scolding in one area of the wild section, very agitated by something. It took a few minutes, but Marco finally espied a serpent (our third for the week!) that had captured a bird. It was immediately apparent that the serpent was a Boa constrictor, since it had the recognizable pattern on its back and had coiled itself around its prey, slowly tightening its grip. At first we thought the bird was a large one, and since it was in a rather unusual posture in the "clutches" of the snake, we had a little trouble with the ID. It turned out that the boa was rather small, and the bird wasn't so big after all - it was a member of the Crimson-backed Tanager family that had been partaking at our feeders. One of the chicks that had fledged about 10 days prior was now breakfast for a boa.

Marco set up his camera and captured some interesting footage of the boa as it slowly suffocated the young tanager and continued the process of constriction, repositioning, and swallowing.

Our departure was delayed by over an hour, but you just can't walk away from experiences like this.

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