Some rare and uncommon migratory birds for Panama, in pictures

In February during the winter of the northern hemisphere (our dry season and colloquially known as summer) we were able to observe and photograph birds that migrate to our country. These pictures were made at different marshes and wetlands, and flatlands nearby, over several days. 

Bird migration is a regular seasonal movement, often northbound and southbound along a flyway, between breeding and wintering grounds. In these cases we are focused on northern hemisphere migrants, birds that breed on northern latitudes and winter in southern latitudes. Sometimes reaching Panama as vagrants, transients, uncommon or rare temporarily (winter) residents.


American Coot (Fulica americana), also known as a mud hen, is a bird of the family Rallidae. It's a migratory bird that occupies most of North America. It lives in the Pacific and southwestern United States and Mexico year-round and occupies more northeastern regions during the summer breeding season. In winter they can be found as far south as Panama.

In Panama it's an uncommon winter resident in the western half of the country, found on lakes and ponds, usually seen swimming.

Although it swims like a duck, the American Coot (Fulica americana) does not have webbed feet like a duck. Instead, each one of the coot’s long toes has broad lobes of skin that help it kick through the water. The broad lobes fold back each time the bird lifts its foot, so it doesn’t impede walking on dry land, though it supports the bird’s weight on mucky ground.


Common Gallinule (Gallinula galeata) is another bird in the family Rallidae. It was split from the Common Moorhen by the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). It lives around well-vegetated marshes, ponds, canals, and other wetlands in the Americas, and is the most widely distributed member of the rail family. Populations in areas where the waters freeze, such as southern Canada and the northern USA, will migrate to more temperate climes but in contrast to his relative above, the Gallinule is found year round on most of its range, including Panama. In Panama it's common in freshwater marshes and on larger lakes and ponds, often swimming in open water.


American Wigeon (Anas americana) - female
Bill is bluish-gray with black tip.


American Wigeon (Anas americana) - male
Males have white or cream-colored forehead and forecrown and broad dark-green patch extending from behind eye to nape, and was formerly known as "Baldpate" because the white forehead and stripe of the male resembled a bald man's head.


American Wigeon (Anas americana) - male

American Wigeon (Anas americana) is a common and increasingly abundant duck in North America breeding in northwestern North America and found throughout the rest of the North American continent in migration and in winter, reaching south to Colombia and Venezuela during winter. In Panama it's a rare and irregular winter resident in freshwater habitats in lowlands.



Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera) - male

Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera) - male

Cinnamon Teal (Anas cyanoptera) is a species of duck found in western North America and South America, and as matter of fact is the only duck with separate breeding populations in North and South America. In the northern hemisphere their breeding habitat is marshes and ponds in western United States and extreme southwestern Canada. They are migratory and most winter in northern South America and the Caribbean with some wintering in California and southwestern Arizona. In Panama is a vagrant species.


Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) - female

 Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) - female
Females are rich brown with a contrastingly pale cheek, a white patch near the bill, and a whitish eyering.

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) - male
Males are bold black-and-gray ducks with a dark head, black back, and gray sides with a white hash mark on the chest. Adult males have a prominent white ring on the bill.

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) - male

The Ring-necked Duck's (Aythya collars) common name (and its scientific name "collaris," too) refer to the hard-to-see chestnut collar on its black neck. It’s not a good field mark to use for identifying the bird, but it jumped out to the nineteenth century biologists that described the species using dead specimens.

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) - male

Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) breeding habitat is wooded lakes or ponds in the northern United States and Canada. The main breeding area is Northwest boreal forest territories. Their breeding habits also take place in the eastern boreal region of Canada but no where near the same amount in the northwestern region. On winter months they are usually found in southern North America in lakes, ponds, rivers or bays, reaching Central America and the Caribbean. In Panama it's a very rare winter resident in freshwater habitats.


Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) - male

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) is similar in shape and color pattern to Ring-necked Ducks, whereas Ring-necked Ducks have jet-black backs. It's a small North American diving duck that migrates south as far as Colombia in winter. It is colloquially known as the little bluebill or broadbill because of its distinctive blue bill. Their breeding habitat is inland lakes and marsh ponds in tundra from Alaska through western Canada to western Montana; few breed east of James Bay and the Great Lakes. They are rarely seen as vagrants in western Europe. Vagrant lesser scaups have also been recorded on the Hawaiian Islands, Japan, possibly China, and in the Marianas, as well as in Ecuador, Surinam, Trinidad and Venezuela (in winter), and Greenland (in summer). In Panama it's a rare winter resident in freshwater habitats.


Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) - male
Males have dark glossy green head, black bill, black back, white chest, chestnut-brown flanks and belly, and yellow eyes.

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) - female
Females are grayish-brown overall; some feathers have light edging with darker centers. Bill olive-green with yellowish base and edges. Eyes are brown.

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) - female

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) - male

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) - male

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata), sometimes known simply as the shoveller, is a common and widespread duck. It breeds in northern areas of Europe and Asia and across most of North America, wintering in southern Europe, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Central America, and northern South America. It is a rare vagrant to Australia. In North America, it breeds along the southern edge of Hudson Bay and west of this body of water, and as far south as the Great Lakes west to Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon. In Panama it's a rare migrant found in freshwater habitats in lowlands.


Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) - male
Males  have a dark, iridescent-green head and bright yellow bill. The gray body is sandwiched between a brown breast and black rear.

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) - female
Females and juveniles are mottled brown with orange-and-brown bills

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) - male

Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) - male and female

The Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) or wild duck is a dabbling duck which breeds throughout the temperate and subtropical Americas, Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and has been introduced to several locations. In Panama it's a vagrant species and maybe escaped stock.


Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) is a species of the grebe family of water birds primarily found in ponds throughout the Americas. This species is a resident breeder in Panama being common in western and central parts of the country but population is augmented by northern migrants in winter.


Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)

Killdeer get their name from the shrill, wailing "kill-deer" call they give so often. Eighteenth-century naturalists also noticed how noisy Killdeer are, giving them names such as the Chattering Plover and the Noisy Plover.

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
The white chest is barred with two black bands, and the brown face is marked with black and white patches.

 
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) are graceful plovers common to lawns, golf courses, athletic fields, and parking lots of North America. They are migratory in northern areas and winter as far south as northern South America. They are rare vagrants to western Europe, usually late in the year. These birds forage for food in fields, mudflats, and shores, usually by sight. In Panama it's an uncommon transient and winter resident; and very rare breeder near Las Macanas Marsh.


Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) is another resident breeder in Panama that is supplemented by migrants in winter. Is a member of the Dove family, Columbidae. It's uncommon on Pacific slope in western Panama.


Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) - female


Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) or Hen Harrier (as known in the Old World) is a bird of prey that breeds throughout the northern parts of the northern hemisphere in Canada and the northernmost USA, and in northern Eurasia. It migrates to more southerly areas in winter. Eurasian birds move to southern Europe and southern temperate Asia, and American breeders to the southernmost USA, Mexico, and Central America.

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) - female

Males are gray above and whitish below with black wingtips, a dark trailing edge to the wing, and a black-banded tail. Females and immatures are brown, with black bands on the tail. Adult females (as pictured) have whitish undersides with brown streaks, whereas immatures are buffy, with less streaking. All Northern Harriers have a white rump patch that is obvious in flight.



Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) - female

During winter the northern harriers use a range of habitats with low vegetation, including deserts, coastal sand dunes, pasturelands, croplands, dry plains, grasslands, old fields, estuaries, open floodplains, and marshes. In Panama is a rare transient and winter resident mostly on Pacific slope, in lowlands, in grassy areas and marshes.