DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  Fauna-WATERBIRDS #1  

 

Here are collected photographs of some of the birds which once fell into the closely related Pelecaniformes and Ciconiiformes Orders.  This is an arrangement of convenience only, as both these groups are being torn asunder and changed beyond recognition with the study of their DNA.  The orders may eventually be combined and hashed together with everything from penguins and flamingos to falcons.  Among the more familiar groups here presented are the Pelicans, Cormorants, Darters, Herons , Storks, Egrets and Ibis.

 

Looking downright primeval, an American Darter (Anhinga anhinga) watches over a Costa Rican river.  Also known as Snakebird, or locally as Pajaro Serpiente, the most common term in both languages is likely just Anhinga. Click to see big picture (546x480 pixels; 34 KB)
Anhinga lack glands to oil their feathers, and are commonly seen with wings spread to dry them out.  In two subspecies, their range is from the U.S. to the Amazon. Click to see big picture (625x480 pixels; 146 KB)
Female and young Anhinga have light colored necks.  Note the red eyes, and that long, sharp, fish-stabbing beak. In Costa Rica, this is the leucogaster subspecies. Click to see big picture (425x480 pixels; 61 KB)
Another primitive type of bird that has to dry its wings are the Cormorants, of the tongue-twisting Phalacrocoracidae Family.  Cormorants are called Cormoran in Spanish. Click to see big picture (640x452 pixels; 102 KB)
The Neotropical Cormorant (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) has Brazil in its name, but may be found near water throughout the tropical Americas.  Click to see big picture (498x480 pixels; 80 KB)
Some authorities refer to the Neotropical Cormorant as Phalacrocorax olivaceus, although it seems to have little of olive coloring. Click to see big picture (558x480 pixels; 112 KB)
A Cormorant Colony, nesting on an island in Lake Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (640x479 pixels; 147 KB)
The Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) has a range from Alaska down to southern Mexico, where it is known as Cormoran Orejudo. Click to see big picture (322x480 pixels; 28 KB)
Turning now to the Pelicans, this is Pelecanus erythrorhynchos, the American White Pelican.  It breeds in North America, but migrates as for south as Central America in winter. Click to see big picture (617x480 pixels; 128 KB)
The Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is a feature of the Pacific coast from Northern U.S. to northern Peru.  In Latin America it is the Pelicano Pardo. Click to see big picture (407x480 pixels; 38 KB)
An immature Brown Pelican, growing up on the Panama Canal Click to see big picture (537x480 pixels; 120 KB)
Pelicans have a habit of flying in formation.  One style is in a staggered line low over the waves.  When flying higher, they often are in this classic "V" pattern. Click to see big picture (640x474 pixels; 76 KB)
And the Brown Pelican is one of the species which does Kamikaze dives for fish. Click to see big picture (449x480 pixels; 89 KB)
This appears to be the dark phase of the Red-footed Booby, Sula sula.  It is looking out over the Caribbean from Isla Colon in westernmost Panama, where it goes by the name Alcatraz patirrojo. Click to see big picture (273x480 pixels; 63 KB)
Fregata magnificens, the Magnificent Frigatebirds are common off the coasts of the Americas.  A pelagic soaring bird that never lands on the water, it is capable of flying day and night.  It is the female with the white breast. Click to see big picture (640x460 pixels; 45 KB)
The Great Egret (Ardea alba) is widespread in the warmer parts of the world.  Both sexes develop frilled plumage on their backs in breeding form, as can be seen here. Click to see big picture (640x436 pixels; 85 KB)
A Hooded Merganser is outlined in the reflection of a great egret.  Lophodytes cucullatus is mainly a North American species, but may also be found in marshes and tidal flats in the Caribbean and Mexico, where it is known as Mergo de Caperuza. hooded merganser
The Great Egret is not placed in the same genus as the other egrets, being more closely related to the 'great herons'. Click to see big picture (640x436 pixels; 166 KB)
Ardea alba was once hunted for its feathers, but it is the most widespread of the egrets and entirely successful.  The usual name in Mesoamerica is Garceta Grande. Click to see big picture (492x480 pixels; 90 KB)
Largest of the Central American herons is the Great Blue (Ardea herodias).  It breeds on the coasts from Alaska to Chiapis, and in winter is found as far south as Colombia.  Garzon Azul is one of the Central American names. greatblue heron
The Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) with yellow feet, is relatively small.  It may be found from northern U.S. to Argentina, but northern birds usually winter in Central America, where their most common name is Garceta Nivosa. Click to see big picture (640x412 pixels; 56 KB)
Egretta thula again.  This group is watching for a morning meal on the southwest Coast of Mexico, near Copalita Park.
Egretta rufescens, also checking out the southwest coast of Mexico.  It ranges from southern U.S. and the Caribbean to northern Venezuela, with names such as Reddish Egret and Garzetta rojiza.
Bubulcus ibis, the Cattle Egret, started out on the other side of the world, but has now exploded into the warmer parts of the Americas, where Garza de Gandado is one common name.  It is more a heron than an egret, but a very successful species.  On the right is the breeding plumage. Click to see big picture (586x480 pixels; 161 KB)
Known as the Tricolor Heron, or in Spanish as Garceta Tricolor (Egretta tricolor) has three colors in every name.  It haunts both tidal and inland marshes from the southern US and Caribbean into the Amazon.  This one is watching the Pacific coast of Panama's Darien Province. egreta tricolor
Locally known as Garza Azul, a Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) watches a tributary of the Rio San Juan in Nicaragua.  It is at home from the U.S. to Peru and Uruguay. Click to see big picture (637x480 pixels; 113 KB)
When a Little Blue Heron raises its neck, it really isn't so little.  The surprising thing, however, is that the immature start out almost pure white, as shown on the right.
A Striated Heron (Butorides striatus) hunts in a backwater of the Panama Canal. This is a very successful species, which has adapted widely in the warmer parts of the world.  Here it would be known as Garcia Estriada
And then there is the Green Heron, Butorides virescens, that lays claim to marshes from Canada to Panama and the Caribbean.  One smart bird, it is known to drop grubs in the water to attract fish.  On the right is a juvenile, not yet sporting those yellow legs.  The locals call it Chocuaco. Click to see big picture (640x424 pixels; 103 KB)
Hidden in the foliage of Copalita Park, southwest Mexico, a brooding Boat-billed Heron.  This strange variation of the heron lineage inhabits the Neotropics from here in southern Mexico to southern Brazil, and might answer to the name of Garza Cucharon.  In Latin Cochlearius cochlearius.
There are three species of Tiger Heron.  This one near the Nicaragua--Costa Rica border appears to be the Fasciated Tiger Heron (Tigrisoma fasciatum), but its swampy habit suggests that it is just a small T. Mexicanum. Click to see big picture (577x480 pixels; 138 KB)
Likely the same species, watching a river from a tree.  The Tiger Herons are known in Spanish as Garza Tigre, or in a more local context as Hoco'. Click to see big picture (410x480 pixels; 70 KB)
Standing tall, with a yellow throat, this appears to be Tigrisoma mexicanum, the Bare-throated Tiger Heron.  It is named for Mexico, but ranges from there as for south as Colombia.  This is an adult. Click to see big picture (352x480 pixels; 52 KB)
The juveniles of the tiger herons all look about the same, and all seem to have that confused expression. Click to see big picture (564x480 pixels; 129 KB)
The White Ibis, Eudocimus albus in Latin, crops up through most of the Neotropics.  The Spanish handle is a direct translation- Ibis Blanco.  It nests in huge colonies. Click to see big picture (547x480 pixels; 112 KB)
So what happened to this off-white Ibis?  Perhaps he ate too many pink crustaceans here in Laguna Camarones in northeastern Colombia.  There are also cases of crosses between white and scarlet ibises. 
Off the coast of Panama's Darien Province, this is an ibis nesting sight with immature birds.  They look a lot like their parents, but have dark bills.
The Roseate Spoonbill is of almost comical appearance.  Its latin name, Ajaja ajaja clearly sounds like laughter.  Note that the genus name is sometimes written Ajaia or even assigned to Platalea.  But it is successful, ranging from the southern U.S. down into Argentina. Click to see big picture (640x415 pixels; 107 KB)
As with Flamingos, the pink coloration is derived from the Spoonbill's diet, so there is a wide range in the depth of color.  Here on an island in Lake Nicaragua.  Espatula Rosada in Spanish. Click to see big picture (640x471 pixels; 134 KB)
Roseate Spoonbills on the shore of southern Mexico.  Here, however, they are mixed with a larger wading bird, the Wood Stork. Click to see big picture (617x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Wood Storks (Mycteria americana) are a large wading bird.  Like several other species, it is at home from the southern U.S. to northern Argentina-- basically the Neotropics.  The Mesoamerican term Cigueñon makes a dubious comparison to a swan. Click to see big picture (637x480 pixels; 54 KB)
The Jibaru, latinized as Jabiru mycteria is at home from Mexico to Argentina.  It is a big stork, the tallest flying bird in Latin America. Click to see big picture (605x480 pixels; 130 KB)
Phoenicopterus ruber, the Greater Flamingos, in the saline waters of Laguana Camarones of northeastern Colombia.  They are also known as the American Flamingos although they are found in Europe and Africa as well as the Americas.
A spectactular site, as a flock of Greater Flamingos takes to the air over Laguna Camarones.