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Bird Sightings In and Around Chiriqui

Panama is home to some of the most amazing avian creatures in the world. And in and around Chiriqui is where you'll find species that would make a bird watcher's heart pound. Here are just some of the bird species spotted in and around the province of Chiriqui that you should look out for.

Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis) 

A falcon found in the Americas except in the Amazon Basin area. It has long wings and tails. Its average length is about 12-16 inches, has a wingspan of about 36 inches, and weighs between 250 to 475 grams.

'Aplomado' is a Spanish word which means 'the color of lead' and fairly describes the color of the upper body of an adult bird. Its throat is white as well as the upper breast. The lower breast has black patches on each side. It has a black tail that has white or gray bars. Young birds look almost the same except for the dark-colored upper body.

Band-tailed Pigeons (fasciata) 

This species can also be found in North America and is considered the biggest pigeon in that region. Its length is about 14-15 inches long and weighs between 250 to 450 grams. Its feathers are mostly gray with some darker areas in the upper body with the belly almost white. This bird has yellow bills and feet.

Bare-necked Umbrellabird (glabricollis) Endemic!

Found only in Costa Rica and Panama, the Bare-necked Umbrellabird is the largest passerine in its kind and the biggest in the cotinga family. The male bird can reach up to 16 inches and could weigh 550 grams. The male bird is black all over except for the throat pouch which is red. Its head has a crest that looks like a canopy or umbrella, thus the name.

This bird is considered a threatened species because of the lose of their natural habitat. Current estimates put the total population of this bird to less than 10,000 and it is quickly diminishing.

Black Guan (Chamaepetes unicolor) Endemic!

Like the Bare-necked Umbrellabird, the Black Guan is black entirely and can only be found in Costa Rica and Panama. It has a long tail and strong claws. This bird is also listed as threatened.

Blue-and-white Swallows (cyanoleuca )

Blue-and-white Swallow grows up to 4 ½ inches long and can weigh10 grams on average. Its upperpart is dark blue and has white underparts. Its underwings and the undersurface of its short forked tail are blackish. The young bird is brown above, buff-tinted below, and has a less forked tail. This is quite a common species and they thrive in man-made settlements. They love building nests in tree holes and bridges.

Crested Caracaras (plancus)

In Panama, this bird can weigh up to 955 grams. The body, wings, crest and crown are black. It has white neck and has white patches very visible on its wings. The tail is also white with black bars. The Crested Caracara prefers walking and running over flying and can be found with vultures feasting on carcasses. Interestingly, the vultures let the crested caracaras first!

Dusky Nightjar (saturatus) Endemic!

This species can only be found in Costa Rica and Panama. The Nightjar's size range from small to medium-size or about 6-16 inches and could weigh from 6 to 188 grams. They are nocturnal like owls with a small bill and large eyes.

Fiery-throated Hummingbird (Panterpe insignis) Endemic!

This bird is quite common in Chiriqui and nearby Costa Rica but not so elsewhere. It thrives in altitudes of 1400 meters and above. Its length is about 4.3 inches and weighs 5.7 grams on average. Its body is shiny green in color while the tail is blue and it has white spot just behind the eyes. The Fiery-throated Hummingbird, with the right lighting, will reveal a crown that's bright blue, a throat the color of fire and a blue patch on the chest. This small bird feeds on nectar of small flowers and some small insects for a dose of protein.

Glow-throated Hummingbird (ardens) Endemic!

This hummingbird can only be found in the Chiriqui and Veraguas provinces in Panama. This bird is quite rare and difficult to spot. It's only about 2.75 inches in length. This hummingbird can be identified rather easily one you find it because of its distinct features. It has a green back and bronze sheen with a black tail. Its breast is white as well as its bell. It's bill is relatively short, long and black. The population estimate for this bird is less than a thousand and it is decreasing.

Pearl Kite (swainsonii )

The pearl kite is a predatory bird, a raptor. It can reach up to 9 inches in length and weighs 90 grams on average. The crown, upper body, the wings and the tail are all black. This bird loves to eat lizards but can also feed on small birds and insects. This bird is spread globally and its population is estimated to reach 100,000.

Resplendent Quetzal (mocinno )

One of the most popular among bird enthusiasts, this bird was considered sacred to the ancient Mayans and Aztecs. Depending on the intensity and angle of light, this fabulous bird could appear green-gold or blue-violet. The male Quetzal with its long attractive tail is considered by many as the most beautiful bird in the American continents.

The Quetzal averages about 14 inches in length and the male's tail could be as long as 25 inches. Aside from that, the male's beak is yellow and the female's black.

In Boquete, Chiriqui, there's a trail called the Los Quetzales Trail where the Resplendent Quetzal can sometimes be sighted.

Rufous-collared Sparrows (capensis )

Known for the great variety of its vocalizations, is just about 6 inches in length and weighs 20-25 grams on average. The body is striped black and brown while the head is striped with black and gray. Juveniles have duller colors and the stripes, indistinct. Found in altitudes ranging from 600 to 1000 meters, this bird is quite numerous and you are most likely to easily tick this bird.

Silvery-fronted Tapaculos (argentifrons) 

This bird, though abundant and widely spread, are not as popular as the other birds already discussed and little information is available. Scytalopus birds are generally small birds of about 2 inches in length. They reside in the higher altitudes and if you can't spot it, you can probably hear it sing.

Three-wattled Bellbird (tricarunculata)

This bellbird averages 9.8 to 12 inches in length. It's head and neck is white in color while its body, tail and wings are brown. On the base of its bill, three wattles resembling worms hang and this is where it got its name. The females are not as impressive in appearance and they don't have wattles. The interesting thing about this bird is that it learns its song and not by instinct.

White-tailed Hawk (Buteo albicaudatus)

This hawk's average length reaches up to 24.40 inches average and its wingspan can be as wide as 4 feet. Yes this is one big bird. The upperparts are gray and the lunderparts are white and its white tail has a black band on it. Juvenile birds are colored a shade darker and they're tails are gray. This bird likes to eat small animals and can even eat chickens if there's no alternative. They prefer smaller animals like frogs, lizards, snakes, insects and other birds.

Yellow-green Finch (Pselliophorus luteoviridis) Endemic!

This another species endemic to Panama. It grows up to 6.7 inches average and is stocky. Its body is pale olive-green and has black wings, tail and cap. The sides of its head is greyish as well as the throat. It has bright yellow thighs that are easily identified. It has a population of about 10,000 to 20,000 but the number is decreasing. The Fortuna Forest Reserve is one of the few locations it has been sighted.


Yellow-headed Caracaras (chimachima )

A bird of prey, caracaras are mostly scavengers and can grow up to 18 inches in length and 325 grams in average weight. It has broad wings and long tails. Its head is buff with a dark streak just behind the eye. It also has buff underparts. The upperparts brown in color and you can see pale colored patches on its wings. The Yellow-headed Caracara is an omnivorous species and is now enjoying an increase in population.





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