Monday, November 29, 2010

A Most Delicate Berry Eater

Our friends Rosabel and Karl have many native trees and bushes on their property, among which is Ortiga, which translates as "nettle." Ortiga is a Spanish name given to numerous plants with irritating hairs, most of them in the stinging nettle family, Urticaceae. The Ortiga tree near their house appears to be Urera baccifera, and the birds are wild for the tiny, pale pink fruits that began to appear on it in late October. Among the species we have seen feeding on these fruits are Tawny-capped and Fulvous-vented Euphonia, Blue-gray Tanager, Palm Tanager, Plain-colored Tanager, Emerald Tanager, Speckled Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, Summer Tanager, Hepatic Tanager, Clay-colored Thrush, Red-legged Honeycreeper and Green Honeycreeper.

Jan Axel's blog mentions an even bigger bonanza of birds that he and some friends saw in the Ortiga and Ortiguillo earlier this month, and he captured some great shots of many of them.

Marco concentrated his video efforts (see below) on just one bird for this blog post - the female Yellow-eared Toucanet (Selenidera spectabilis.) As Jan Axel observed, she was not even a little bit shy. She was "confiding", as birders like to say about birds that allow prolonged observation from very nearby. We were enthralled watching her meticulously and delicately pick the small fruits off the Ortiga with her sizable bill.

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