DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
                                        
  Fauna- WATERBIRDS II  

 

This page collects photos of water-oriented birds, other than those which once fell into the Orders Pelicaniformes and Ciconiiformes whose page may be found here.  The taxonomy appears to be in a state of flux, but most of this page was historically considered as parts of the Charadriiformes order (mainly gulls and waders), Gruiformes (rails etc.) and Anseriformes (mainly ducks).

A surprisingly large number of these birds breed in the Arctic or sub-Arctic summers, but then, like many gringos, they head south to warmer climates in winter.  Some stop in Mesoamerica, but others are only migrants there, preferring the temperate coasts of Chile and Argentina to the tropics.

 

A pair of Royal Terns (Thalasseus maximus or Sterna maxima) survey the Caribbean from westernmost Panama.  Here they would be addressed as Pagaza real.  They make a living by plunge-dive fishing and range south from the U.S. to Peru and Argentina. Click to see big picture (640x347 pixels; 83 KB)
A mixture of Royal Terns (orange beak) and Sandwich Terns (Thalasseus sandvicensis) at the mouth of the Rio Copalita in southwestern Mexico.
The Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia) breeds in North America, but tends to winter as far south as northern South America. Hydroprogue is an alternative genus. Although widely known as Pagaza Major, its reddish beak gives it the alternate name of Piquirrojo. Click to see big picture (640x424 pixels; 115 KB)
Gaviota de Franklin or Franklin's Gull (Larus pipixcan) winters on coastlines from Guatemala south to Chile and Argentina.  That one-legged stand seems typical to many shore birds. Click to see big picture (633x480 pixels; 51 KB)
It may look like a rail, but the Wattled Jacana (Jacana jacana) is not so classified.  It uses its big feet to hunt insects and invertebrates over tropical marshes and grasslands from here in Panama through the southern Neotropics..
Some Wattled Jacanas have brown, rather than black bodies.  This example from Colombia shows how it can use its big feet to hunt through swamp vegetation. Click to see big picture (576x480 pixels; 141 KB)
Himantopus mexicanus, the Black-necked Stilt shows off its long pink legs which give it that stilt appearance.  It is named for Mexico, but ranges from the U.S. to Chile. Click to see big picture (509x480 pixels; 97 KB)
These stilts also have long necks, the local name being Cigueñuela Cuellinegro-- sort of a 'black necked swanlet'. Click to see big picture (640x377 pixels; 141 KB)
A flock of American Avocets (Recurvirostra americana) heading back to the U.S. and Canada to breed.  Like many gringos, they prefer to spend winters in southern Mexico. Click to see big picture (640x281 pixels; 57 KB)
A Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopis), with its long, drooping beak, surveys a beach in southwestern Nicaragua.  Here it would be known as Zarapito Trinador.  Both resident and transient in Central America. Click to see big picture (636x480 pixels; 144 KB)
The Whimbrel is very cosmopolitan.  It breeds in circumpolar fashion, with populations wintering in Asia, Africa and both Central and South America. Click to see big picture (609x480 pixels; 79 KB)
Numenius americanus, the Long-billed Curlew has even a longer bill than the Whimbrel.  Here one gets to show it off in both shadow and reflection. Click to see big picture (529x480 pixels; 72 KB)
The Long-billed Curlew winters as far south as Costa Rica, where it would answer to Zarpito piquilargo. Click to see big picture (640x453 pixels; 106 KB)
The Willet (Tringa semipalmata) is both a winter resident in Central America, and a transient to as far south as Peru and Brazil.  Here it would likely be called Piguilo, although Tigui-tigui is also popular in places. Click to see big picture (640x376 pixels; 92 KB)
The Willet looks quite different in its breeding plumage.
It seems fitting to show the Wandering Tattler wandering.  And indeed, Tringa incana does get from Alaskan regions down to at least Peru, being mainly migratory in Central America, where it goes by the name Correlimos Vagamundo. Click to see big picture (456x480 pixels; 74 KB)
Tringa melanoleuca, known as the Greater Yellowlegs, winters through much of Central and South America, where it is one of the species known as Patas Amarillas.
Another long (but straight) bill belongs to Limosa fedoa, the Marbled Godwit.  It uses that beak to probe mudflat and beaches for insects and crustaceans. Click to see big picture (640x353 pixels; 69 KB)
Godwits breed in the marshes of U.S. and Canada, then head south even to Chile in the Winter.  It is mainly transitory in Central America, where it is known as Agua Canela. Click to see big picture (459x480 pixels; 133 KB)
The big, bright bill makes it easy to spot the American Oyster Catcher (Haematopus palliatus), which hunts mollusks on beaches throughout much of the Western Hemisphere.  When in Latin America, it goes by names such as Ostrero Americano. Click to see big picture (640x367 pixels; 78 KB)
Calidris alba, the Sanderlings may be small, but they are major travelers, breeding circum-polar and wintering in southern South America and Africa.  The term Playero Arenero relates to the fact that they prefer sandy beaches, such as this one on the Pacfic side of Darien Province in Panama. Click to see big picture (640x296 pixels; 75 KB)
The Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) in dawn light and its non-breeding plumage.  This species breeds in the north, but is seen in Central America both as a winter resident and as a migrant to as far south as Peru. One local name is Agujeta. Click to see big picture (637x480 pixels; 100 KB)
By the time the Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) has migrated to the beaches of Central America it is also in its non-breeding plumage and has lost its signature spots.  It breeds in northern North America, but may travel as far south as Colombia in the winter.
Solitary Sandpipers (Tringa solitaria) breed in the boreal northland, but winter in Latin America.  Here in the Pacific coast of southwestern Mexico, it is known as the Playero Solitario.
Sandpipers are always hard to tell apart, but this appears to be the Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri).  It is at home from Alaska and Siberia down to Peru, but under the name of Correlimos occidental it is one of the more common shorebirds on the Central American coasts. Click to see big picture (640x445 pixels; 84 KB)
Many Killdeer spend their winters in Central America.  Although not truly a shore bird, they are often found there.  Charadrius vociferus is often called Tildio in these parts. killdeer
This is the winter plummage of the Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) which spends that season as far south as northern South America after breeding in Canada.
Turning now the the catch-all order of Gruiformes, the Common Moorhen or Gallinule (Gallinula chloropus) is not only a common rail, but widespread around the world.  There are many local names, most linking it to some form of chicken.  Gallareta Frentirroja is common in Central America. Click to see big picture (640x330 pixels; 104 KB)
The Purple Gallinule looks a lot like a moorhen, but wound up in another genus, Porphyrula martinica.  Locals know it as the Gallareta purpurea. Click to see big picture (531x480 pixels; 145 KB)
This photo from the Panama Canal Zone gives a better view of the facial markings of the Purple Gallinule.
The Purple Gallinule inhabits tropical marshes of the Americas, and typically uses its large feet to run across vegetation looking for food, which includes everything from bugs to fish and frogs. Click to see big picture (640x426 pixels; 127 KB)
Aramus guarauna is another bird of the tropical marshes, found from Mexico and the Caribbean to Argentina.  It is related to cranes, and eats mainly snails.  The English name is Limpkin, while Carrao is common in Spanish. Click to see big picture (441x480 pixels; 116 KB)
Sun Grebes (Heliornis fulica) are citizens of the inland waterways, from Mexico to northern Argentina.  This one is on the Sarapiqui River, Costa Rica.  Pato Contil and Tobaba are two local names. Click to see big picture (312x480 pixels; 60 KB)
Eurypyga helias is another lake and river specialist, ranging from Guatemala to Brazil.  It is known as the Sunbittern, the 'sun' referring to a pattern on its outstretched wings.  Garza de Sol and Tigana are more common in Latin America. Click to see big picture (640x431 pixels; 128 KB)
The American Coot (Fulica americana) is a rail of swamps and lakes, rather common from Canada to Chile.  In Central America coots are mainly wintering populations from North America, and tend to be called Focha Americana. Click to see big picture (640x370 pixels; 80 KB)
Now starting on the Anseriformes order, mainly ducks.  This is the Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata), native to marshes and grasslands of the Neotropics.  Known as Pato Criollo or Pato Real, it does not migrate, and is widely hunted and tamed.  When on the menu it is likely to be listed as Barbary Duck. Click to see big picture (508x480 pixels; 114 KB)
Dendrocygna viduata is the White-faced Whistling Duck, better known as Suiriri (or Pijije) Cariblanco.  It would be found somewhere in a swamp between Costa Rica and Bolivia, were it not in the London Zoo. Click to see big picture (537x480 pixels; 84 KB)
Dendrocygna autumnalis, the Black-bellied Whistling Duck ranges from Texas to Argentina, preferring fresh water marshes.  In Latin America it is known as Pijije Comun or Suiriri Piquirrojo, the latter referring to its red bill.  Some prefer to call it a tree duck rather than a whistling one. Click to see big picture (633x480 pixels; 122 KB)
A Ruddy Duck or Pato Tepalcate (Oxyura jamaicensis) turns its back on the camera.  The species can be found from Alaska to Terra del Fuego.  This one is in its winter plumage, and many winter in the Caribbean and Mexico (sounds like a good idea). Click to see big picture (313x480 pixels; 26 KB)
A pair of Green-winged Teals, latinized as Anas carolinensis, although some experts consider it a subspecies of the Eurasian Teal, A. crecca. Click to see big picture (640x400 pixels; 88 KB)
The Green-winged Teal breeds in the Arctic, but winters as far south as northern Central America where it would answer to Pato Aliverde. Click to see big picture (640x400 pixels; 92 KB)
Another green head, this one belonging to the American Wigeon, Anas americana.  Like the teal, it tends to breed in Alaska or other parts of the Arctic, and winters as far south as Panama.  One local name is Pato Calvo. Click to see big picture (640x427 pixels; 83 KB)
Anas acuta, the Northern Pintail, is another of those ducks that breeds circumpolar in summer, then heads south into Asia, Africa and Central America. Click to see big picture (640x431 pixels; 142 KB)
The reason for the Pintail name is clear in this photo, and the Spanish handle of Pato Rabudo makes a similar reference. Click to see big picture (640x426 pixels; 73 KB)
Known as Martin Pescador here in Costa Rica, the Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon) hunts both fresh and salt waters, and in winter may be found in Central America and the Caribbean. Click to see big picture (381x480 pixels; 119 KB)
The Ringed Kingfisher is a larger bird, and has now been given the title of Megaceryle torquata.  This one is overlooking Lago Bayano in the Darien of Panama, but it is at home from Texas to Tierra del Fuego. In Spanish it goes by names such as Martin Gigante Neotropical.
The Eared Grebe, Podiceps nigricollis, also dives for fish, the western hemisphere subspecies ranging from Canada to Guatemala.  This is its non-breeding plumage.  In Latin America it goes by names such as Zambullidor Mediano and Zampullin Cuellinegro, both referring to diving. Click to see big picture (640x434 pixels; 82 KB)
Although a very different type of bird, the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) deserves recognition among water birds, as it lives almost exclusively on fish, from both fresh and salt waters.  Here it is on Lake Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (640x473 pixels; 70 KB)
Sometimes called a Fish Eagle or Aguila Pescadora, the Osprey is found on every continent except Antarctica, but seldom far from water.  Click to see big picture (640x434 pixels; 49 KB)