Chiriquí birds & wildlife August 2015 tour

During my August visit to Chiriquí, besides dedicating time to the Scarlet Macaws Reintroduction Program, I also spent time in other places around the Province, and was able to make pictures of certain regional endemics and hard-to-photograph birds.

First Day

On my way to Boquete I stopped at Río Cochea were I saw a Ringed Kingfisher perched on a wire, then its couple arrived, it was a female/male pair, unfortunately they didn't cooperate but a smaller relative, a Green Kingfisher, did. She was controlling the area from her watchtower, well, actually from the bridge, very high above the river.


Green Kingfisher (Chloroceryle americana) - female

As I went up to Alto Chiquero I stopped on several gardens were I tried to make photos of the Lesser Goldfinches, Yellow-Bellied Siskins and Yellow-faced Grassquits that were hanging around.  Only getting this picture of the bird feeding on flowers.

Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)


I spent a couple of hours in Parque Nacional Volcán Barú, in Los Quetzales trail entering by Alto Chiquero 's station. I saw a lot of birds, mostly specialties of the place but good photo opportunities were not as numerous.

Black-cheeked Warbler (Basileuterus melanogenys) is a wood-warbler which is a resident breeding endemic to the mountains of central and southern Costa Rica and western Panama. It is common in this area but its foraging habits make it somewhat difficult to photograph. After several tries with  different individuals I was able to make this shot while it was taking a few seconds of meditation to catch an insect. It is found in lower levels of forest and woodland, in western highlands from Veraguas westward to  Costa Rica border.

Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) inhabits mature forests in the Bahamas, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States. In Panama it's common only in western highlands from Ngöbe-Buglé westward to Costa Rica border. The race present in Panamá is considerably darker than the one present in USA and Canada.


Spotted Barbtail (Premnoplex brunnescens) is a species in the Furnariidae (Ovenbirds) family. It is found in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. In Panama it's common, and found on foothills and highlands from 600 to 2,250 m (2,000 to 7,500 ft) in lower and middle levels.


Tufted Flycatcher (Mitrephanes phaeocercus)

By this moment I had to leave and return to Boquete to meet Ralph, who was taking me to see the Scarlet Macaws of my previous post. I closed my list for the place with two squirrels, Ruddy Treerunners, Yellow-thighed Finches,  a female Silvery-fronted Tapaculo (Yes! I finally saw it), Collared and Slate-throated Redstarts, Orange-bellied Trogon, Spot-crowned Woodcreeper, Acorn Woodpeckers, lots of Mountain Thrushes and Black-faced Solitaires, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Spangle-cheeked Tanagers, a female Scintillant or Volcano Hummer and lots of Prong-billed Barbets.

Second day

On the second day I started visiting the Scarlet Macaws, they are so beautiful that I wanted to see them again. I made no pictures this time, I just enjoyed the sighting, something I can't do while I am working on my pictures. Then we left to the savannahs of Querévalo, passing by Playa La Barqueta where the interesting thing was a Barn Owl. Apparently, it was hunting and we only saw him flying by. Later, we arrived to Estero Rico, the estuary where Río Escarrea flows to the Gulf of Chiriquí. 

Along the road I was able to make the following pictures. I have already introduced to you most of these birds, so I won't enter into details about their natural history. Disregarding the fact that I already had pictures of them, I never waste the opportunity to make more pictures, specially now that I have new (and better) gear.


Pearl Kite (Gampsonyx swainsonii) is a very small raptor found in open savanna habitat adjacent to deciduous woodland. It is the only member of the genus Gampsonyx. And un-surprisingly, like other species with the swainsonii taxon, commemorates the English naturalist William Swainson. It breeds from Costa Rica south to Bolivia and northern Argentina, with populations in Nicaragua and Trinidad. In Panama it's uncommon on entire Pacific slope but lately I always see them in Chiriquí, perched on wires along the roadside, as shown in the picture. They are also very rare in the Caribbean slope in Bocas del Toro and Canal Area.




Lesser Yellow-Headed Vulture (Catharses burrovianus)

 Bare-throated Tiger Heron (Tigrisoma mexicanum) - immature

 Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa)

 Roadside Hawk (Rupornis magnirostris)

White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)

Orange-chinned Parakeet (Brotogeris jugularis) and nest


We went to Boquete, had lunch and finished the tour in Los Quetzales with these additions:


Black-faced Solitaire (Myadestes melanops) is a species in the thrush family endemic to highlands in Costa Rica and western Panama. In Panama it's common in western highlands, in middle levels of forest, and could be hard to see. 


Could a diet based on these berries explain it's coloration?

White-throated Mountain-Gem (Lampornis castaneoventris)

Prong-billed Barbet (Semnornis frantzii) is an endemic species in humid highland forest in Costa Rica and western highlands of Panama. Eats mainly fruits of trees and epiphytes, although it occasionally takes insects or flower petals. I personally have seen them eating both, insects and petals. The scientific name commemorates the German naturalist Alexander von Frantzius. They are found usually in small groups, and in Panama it's uncommon in all levels of forest in western highlands from 1,500 to 2,250 m (5,000 to 7,500 ft).


Golden-browed Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia callophrys) is a species in the Fringillidae (True finches) family. It is found in Costa Rica and western highlands of Panama. In Costa Rica, its local common name is Rualdo. In Panama it's uncommon in upper levels of subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, and clearings with trees, in western foothills and highlands above 750 m (2,500 ft) elevation from Coclé westward to Costa Rica border.


And last but not least, I had a great opportunity with a Buffy Tuftedcheek (Pseudocolaptes lawrencii), although we saw two of them. This is another species in the ovenbird family, which breeds in Costa Rica, western Panama and the Andes of Colombia and Ecuador. The scientific name commemorates American amateur ornithologist, George Newbold Lawrence.  In Panama it's uncommon  in western highlands from Coclé westward to Costa Rica border, in middle and more often upper levels of forest. It forages actively amongst mosses, vines, bromeliads and other epiphytes for insects, spiders, and even small amphibians. Which makes it hard to photograph.

This bird amazed me because I was not expecting it to be as beautiful. It has a long bright rufous tail. The back is brown, and the wings are blackish with buff wingbars. The head has a buff-streaked dark brown cap and dusky eyestripe. The cheeks sport a tuft of richly buff feathers. The throat is buff and the underparts are olive brown with diffuse spotting on the breast