DixPix Photographs

     
TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA  
     
  Fauna- PERCHING BIRDS e

 

The Passeriformes is by far the largest Order of birds, in fact it includes somewhat over half of all birds, more than 5000 species in 110 families. The name is derived from the sparrows, which are numerous and varied in themselves.  The order is often referred to as Perching Birds, and to this end they have three toes forward and one gripping toe back.  Many of them are also accomplished singers.

 

Turdus grayi is the national bird of Costa Rica.  It is known in English as the Clay-colored Robin or Clay-colored Thrush, but the more common local name is Yiguirro.  The range is from Texas to Colombia. Click to see big picture (600x480 pixels; 87 KB)
One might ask why a country with so many spectacular birds would chose a dull brown thrush for their national symbol.  The Latin and English names certainly do not add appeal either.  I am told it was chosen because of its song and its adaptation to settlements. Click to see big picture (640x414 pixels; 109 KB)
Of the same genus is the Sooty Robin (or Thrush), Turdus nigrescens, which has the same yellow beak, but a darker plumage.  Here is one on Volcan Baru in western Panama. Click to see big picture (386x480 pixels; 115 KB)
The Sooty Robin, unlike its clay-colored cousin, tends to prefer the mountains.  It also has a restricted range in the highlands of Costa Rica and adjacent parts of Panama. Click to see big picture (369x480 pixels; 59 KB)
Turdus fuscater is known as the Great Thrush, and may be found in the Andes from Venezuela to Bolivia.  Here in a park in Quito it is known as Mirlo Grande.
A Rufous-backed Thrush (Turdus rufopalliatus) poses in an acacia tree on the Huatulco coast of southwestern Mexico.  Its range is more or less restriced to Mexico's Pacific coast, where it is known as Zorzal dorsirrufo.
On the Pipeline Road in Panama, a Rufous Piha (Lipaugus unirufus).  This is known as Guardabosque (forest guard), perhaps because it sounds a warning of approaching danger.
A far more common and colorful visitor is the Greater Kiskadee, Pitangus sulphuratus.  Widespread and sociable, it may be found from the southern United States and the Caribbean, south to northern Argentina.  Generally, it is just called 'Kiskadee'. Click to see big picture (640x434 pixels; 124 KB)
Being widespread, the Kiskadee goes by many local names, the intriguing Cristofue being one.  More commonly it is called Benteveo.  This is also written Bienteveo, a contraction of 'bien te veo', sort of "O.K. I see you".  As this would suggest, the kiskadee has adapted widely to human habitation. Click to see big picture (640x428 pixels; 94 KB)
There is also a Lesser Kiskadee, Pitangus (or Philohydor) lictor, which is widespread in South America, but only gets up into Central America as far as Panama. Click to see big picture (361x480 pixels; 114 KB)
The Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus) is found through most of the Neotropics, and is sufficiently similar in appearance to the Kiskadee that it is often called Benteveo Real and elsewhere as some form of Siriri.  The species is widespread and adapted to human settlement. Click to see big picture (640x464 pixels; 104 KB)
The Black Phoebe, is widely successful, found in North, Central and South America.  Sayornis nigricans in latin.
Dives dives is the Melodious Blackbird, which is distributed from Mexico to Costa Rica, and is expanding its range southward.  Tordo Cantor is one of the local names, which like its English handle refers to the species singing ability. Click to see big picture (426x480 pixels; 67 KB)
Red-winged Blackbirds, Agelaius phoeniceus, are common in marshes of Canada and the U.S., but some winter as far south as mid-latitude Central America.  There it is likely to be called Tordo Sargento or just Sargento, relating to the sergeant-like stripes.  On the left is the somewhat dowdy female. red-winged blackbird
A Nicaraguan Grackle on the shore of Lake Nicaragua. Quiscalus nicaraguensis is confined to that country and adjacent parts of Costa Rica.  Grackles in general are known as Clarineros or Zanates in Latin America. Click to see big picture (515x480 pixels; 121 KB)
Much more widespread is the Great-tailed Grackle, Quiscalus mexicanus.  It is named for Mexico, but can be found from the southern U.S. to Peru.  The common spanish name is Zanate Mexicano Click to see big picture (640x400 pixels; 57 KB)
The Great-tailed Grackle has come to dominate Panama City, where it is called Talingo.  This one is at Gamboa which is not far away.
The female Great-tailed Grackle looks less imposing, but still has that grackle 'evil eye'.  The species has adapted very well to civilization, in fact it is considered a pest in some quarters. Click to see big picture (634x480 pixels; 113 KB)
A brighter long tail belongs to Calocitta formosa, the White-throated Magpie-Jay, which graces forests from southern Mexico to Costa Rica.  Here it is in southwestern Nicaragua.  Local names include Pippia Azul and Urraca copetona.  (Urraca means magpie, Copetona can translate as well dress, arrogant, or drunk.) Click to see big picture (519x480 pixels; 99 KB)
This Mexican version of the White-throated Magpie-jay has less blue in its plumage, photo from the Huatulco coast in the southwest coast.
The Brown Jay, Psilorhinus morio, has habits much like a Magpie, and in its range through most of Central America it is sometimes known as Urraca Parda. The yellow eye ring indicates a juvenile. Click to see big picture (640x378 pixels; 138 KB)
This form of Brown Jay with a white belly is typical of those in the southern end of its range.  It is also called Chara Papan. Click to see big picture (640x475 pixels; 117 KB)
The Grey-breasted Martin (Progne chalybea) may be found throughout most of the Neotropics.  Here it is posing in the Canal Zone of Panama where it would be called Golondrina Pechigris.
Brown-chested Martin or Golondrina Parda, checking out the possibilies in the town of Meteti in the Darien Province of Panama.  Progne tapera may be sighted from here south to Argentina.
Saltator atriceps is known as the Black-headed Saltator in English, translated to Saltator Cabecinegro in Spanish.   The Saltator refers to its hopping on the ground.  The family has been classed with the cardinals, but will likely be moved to the tanagers.  The range is southern Mexico to Panama. Click to see big picture (372x480 pixels; 84 KB)
This exotic looking creature as a male Weaver Bird, Psarocolius montezuma in formal company.  Known as Montezuma Oropendola, it is fairly common in sectors of its restricted range from southern Mexico to central Panama. Click to see big picture (375x480 pixels; 95 KB)
The other exotic thing about Oropendolas (Weaver Birds) are their nests. Usually these are hung from branches, but the one from Mexico on the right used an electrical wire. Click to see big picture (514x480 pixels; 86 KB)
Stock a feeding station with food in the Neotropics, and there may be a traffic jam.  This one primed with fruit attracts mainly tanagers.  Using seeds for bait attracts a different crowd.  A scarlet-rumped tanager here is showing off its namesake. Click to see big picture (640x420 pixels; 120 KB)
The Scarlet-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus passerinii) is also called Passerini's Tanager, and locally as Tangara grupirroja.  As with most Tanager species, the female on the right looks comparatively dowdy. Click to see big picture (404x480 pixels; 78 KB)
Two male Crimson-collared Tanagers tackle a bunch of ripe bananas.  This striking bird is burdened with the complex name of Ramphocelus sanguinolentus, and if that were not enough, some folks put it in the Phlogothraupis genus. Click to see big picture (475x480 pixels; 106 KB)
In Latin America, the Crimson-collared Tanager is usually called either Tangara rojinegra or Tangara capuchirroja.  Its range is from about Oaxaca Mexico, to Panama. Click to see big picture (573x480 pixels; 115 KB)
The Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus) eats mainly fruits, and has adapted well to gardens and human habitation.  It may be encountered in the tropics from Mexico to the Amazon. Click to see big picture (412x480 pixels; 66 KB)
The Blue-gray Tanager is not only a wide ranging species, but has varied into many subspecies.  It is hence no surprise that there are many local names, including Tangara Azuleja and Azulejo de Jardin.  That jardin (garden) reference again indicates its adaptation to humankind. Click to see big picture (640x469 pixels; 83 KB)
A Gray-headed Tanager, Eucometis penicillata, checks in at a feeding station.  This is a species of swamps and degraded areas through much of the Neotropics. The local name is Tangara Cabecigris. Click to see big picture (270x480 pixels; 58 KB)
A female White-shouldered Tanager, Tachyphonus luctuosus, working on a mango in the town of Zamboa, Panama. These range from Honduras to Brazil.
This is the Yellow-winged Tanager, showing just a flash of its yellow wing.  Thraupis abbas ranges from here in Nicaragua to southern Mexico, with a varied diet.  Locally translated as Tangara Aliamarilla. Click to see big picture (557x480 pixels; 114 KB)
Chlorospingus ophthalmicus is latin for the Common Bush-tanager. With its 25 subspecies, it pretty well covers the Neotropics, preferring highland forests and clearings.  Spanish names include Tangara de Monte Ojeruda and Tangara Oftalmica.  Both these and the scientific name relate to that spot over its eye. Click to see big picture (640x307 pixels; 75 KB)
A Variable Seedeater, Sporophila americana, picks through grass in eastern Panama.  It has a wide range through the Neotropics.  Here in Panama, this would be considered the Pacific-slope race, while those of the Caribbean-slope are almost entirely black.
Its called a Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, at home from Central Mexico to southern Peru in tropical Forests.  Arremon brunneinucha in latin, although it has been tried in other genera as well.  Many local names, including Salton Gargantillo and Rascadorcito gorricastaño. Click to see big picture (554x480 pixels; 131 KB)
Sicalis flaveola, the Saffron Finch, is tolerant of humans, but not to other males.  It brightens up farms and gardens, and alas is sought in the pet trade. Click to see big picture (637x480 pixels; 77 KB)
The Saffron Finch can usually be told from other yellow finches by the slightly reddish coloration of its head.  It ranges from here in northwestern Colombia to Peru and Argentina, and is now spreading into Panama.  Jilguero Azafronado is a spanish translation but Jilguero Dorado is likely more common. Click to see big picture (535x480 pixels; 65 KB)
Spinus psaltria is known as the Lesser Goldfinch, which ranges from the southern U.S. down to Colombia.  This one has allowed portraits from three angles as it forages in the Darien Province of Panama.
A Yellow-thighed Finch, Pselliophorus tibialis, shows off its fancy garters.  Its usual menu is bugs and berries, but here is sneaking in some seeds.  It seems confined to the highlands of Costa Rica and adjacent Panama. Click to see big picture (640x376 pixels; 70 KB)
Thick-billed Seed-finch is a little easier to pronounce than Oryzoborus funereus, but by either handle this is the male in eastern Panama, and one might encounter him from southern Mexico to Colombia.
The Bananaquit, Coereba flaveola, has many subspecies, and may be divided into three species in the future.  It is a nectar-feeder, and in many ways mimics humming birds.  The collective assemblage may be found from Mexico and the Caribbean to Amazonia.  It is separated from the hummingbirds (picaflors) with the name of Pinchaflor, as it tends to pierce blossoms from the side for nectar. Click to see big picture (474x480 pixels; 66 KB)
And the offering of Bananas at El Dorado Lodge in northeastern Colombia bring out the Blue-naped Chlorophonia, a species found through much of northern South America.  Chlorophonia cyanea in latin.
Yes indeed, these are swallows, Blue and White Swallows just as they appear.  Notiochelidon cyanoleuca for those with agile tongues, they hunt insects in farms and other open areas from Nicaragua through South America. The direct translation Golondrina Azul y Blanco  is sometimes used, but for some reason Golondrina Barranquera seems more common. Click to see big picture (570x480 pixels; 89 KB)
A Silver-throated Tanager, Tangara icterocephala.  This wet specimen is a citizen of Costa Rica, but its range goes from here south to Ecuador. Click to see big picture (460x480 pixels; 67 KB)
A Rufous-naped Wren poses at a resort on the Huatulco Coast of Mexico.  Campylorhynchus rufinucha may be found on the Pacific slope from here to Costa Rica.
Another view of the Rufous-naped Wren, locally known as the Matraca Nuquirrufa.
Southern House Wrens (Troglodytes musculus) range from Mexico to Patagonia, often near habitation.  This one has chosen to nest at the Filo Tallo Lodge in Darien Province of Panama.
Likely a Mountain Wren, fluffed up against the cold on the paramo of Chimborazo in Ecuador.  Troglodytes solstitialis in polite company.  A species found through much of the tropical Andes.
A andean bird, the Orange-breasted Antpitta (Grallaricula flavirostris) in the Wildsumaco Reserve, Ecuador. 
Yellow-bellied Elaenia, a patient flycatcher above the mouth of the Palomina River in northeastern Colombia.  Elaenia flavogaster  is fairly widespread in the Neotropics.
The Common Tody Flycatcher (Todirostrum cinereum) is a small bird, but widespread in the Neotropics.  Here in the Panama Canal Zone, it is known as Titiriji.
The Myiodynastes maculatus or Streaked Flycatcher is also widespread in the Neotropics.  This one in Panama's Darien Province would likely be called Siriri Rayado, although Bienteveo Rayado is a more widely used name.
The Giant Cowbird, Molothrus oryzivora, is as close as I can come to this large, raven-like bird on the northeast coast of Colombia.  But there are significant differences.
Turning now to the Orioles.  On the southwestern coast of Mexico, a Streak-backed Oriole (Icterus pustulatus) checks out a garden flower.  From its location, this would be the formosa subspecies.
Another view of Icterus pustulatus formosa working the blossoms of an Erythrina tree. The local name is Bolsero Dorsilistado.
The female Orioles look very similar across a range of species.  I will not even hazard a guess at the taxon of this one, savoring an Acacia seed on the Huatulco coast of Mexico.
The Spot-breasted Oriole (Icterus pectoralis) may be found along the Pacific coast from here in southern Mexico to Costa Rica.  The local version is Bolsero pechimanchado.
Icterus maculialatus is known as the Bar-wing Oriole.  It inhabits the Pacific slope here in southern Mexico and in Guatemala.  In fact the local name is Bolsero Guatemalteco.
Cacicus melanicterus is of the same family (Icteridae) as the orioles.  It inhabits the pacifc coastal areas of Mexico and Guatemala where it goes by names such as Arrendajo de Alas Amarillas.  In English it is known as the Mexican Cacique or the Yellow Wing Cacique.
Mimus gilvus is known as the Tropical Mockingbird in English, and in Spanish goes by Cenzontle Tropical.  It may be encountered through much of the Neotropics, from Mexico to Brazil.  This one is about half way between, in eastern Panama.