Birding Paradise - the best place for Panama Birds & Wildlife Photos of 2016 (pt. 5) - Featured species: Ecuador Sipo (Chironius grandisquamis)

As we continued our visits to Paraíso we were able to capture some species we had pending on our list of targets, with a scaly surprise included. Also, we were finally properly prepared for macro photography. We will cover the final visit to this paradise on this and the following post.

Buff-throated Saltator (Saltator maximus)


Snowy-bellied Hummingbird (Amazilia edward)


Golden-hooded Tanager (Tangara larvata)


Cherrie’s Tanager (Ramphocelus costaricensis) - male 
Cherrie’s tanagers are gregarious birds found on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and Panama. Though it was classified for many years as a subspecies of Passerini's Tanager (Ramphocelus passerinii), Cherrie’s Tanager was returned to species status in 1997 by American Ornithologists' Union, based on genetic evidence, lack of hybridization with its sister species, and differences in female plumage. Male plumage is a striking combination of mostly black plumage contrasting with a scarlet-red patch extending from the lower back to the rump

Cherrie’s Tanager (Ramphocelus costaricensis) - female 
Females have less conspicuous plumage, but have a bright orange rump and band across the breast. This species is most commonly found in forest edge habitat and second growth. 

Cherrie’s Tanager (Ramphocelus costaricensis) - female 
Most of our information on Cherrie's Tanager comes from long-term observational studies of this species by Skutch at one site in Costa Rica.


Sometimes, when your subject is so far away you can still make an interesting picture to show habitat and habits, like the ones below:

Variable Seedeater (Sporophila corvina)


Variegated Squirrel (Sciurus variegatoides)

Two species that were very elusive during our visits were the manakins. We literally chased them all over the place but we were fortunate to find males of two different species feeding.


Orange-collared Manakin (Manacus aurantiacus) - male
First we found the Orange-collared Manakin (Manacus aurantiacus) just in the moment he was trying to pluck out a heliconia fruit from the pod, and succeeding at it. We were fast enough to capture the moment as shown above. This species is endemic to Costa Rica and western Panama, where it is found in forests, secondary growth and plantations. It is a small, plump bird about 10 centimetres (4 in) long. Males have a black crown, mid back, wings and tail and an olive-green rump. The rest of the head, neck, breast and upper back are orange, and the belly is yellow


White-ruffed Manakin (Corapipo altera) - male
Then we found this White-ruffed Manakin (Corapipo altera) feeding on some berries, and apparently was so fed up that barely moved, then he started throwing up the excess berries. It is a small, plump bird about 10 centimetres (4 in) long. Males have glossy blue-black plumage with a white erectile ruff on the throat.

White-ruffed Manakin (Corapipo altera) - immature male
Females and juveniles are olive-green with a grey throat. We can tell this is a immature male because his face has started to molt to black.


Ginger inflorescence (Renealmia cernua)


Ecuador Sipo, Big-scaled Sipo or Shiny Whipsnake  (Chironius grandisquamis)
This species is found from Honduras to Colombia's Magdalena Valley along the Atlantic versant, and from the Pacific slope of central Costa Rica through the Pacific lowlands of Colombia to Ecuador. Elevational range in Central America extends from sea level to 1,600 meters. The name grandisquamis comes from grandis meaning "great" or "grandiose," and squama meaning "scale". The term refers to the size of its dorsal scales.

This is a diurnal species of tropical rainforests. It is found in premontane and lowland areas, and sometimes in open habitats. It is an egg-laying species, and its prey includes amphibians but Chironius species are typically dietary generalists.

There is a possible threat to this species in parts of Central America, and particularly in Panama, where subpopulations may have declined locally from a loss of food sources through amphibian declines within its range, but it is unlikely that this is more than a localized threat. It is also threatened by conversion of land to agricultural use (including pasture).

The snake is distinguished because the head is distinguished from the neck; the eye is large or very large, with the pupil rounded. The body is elongated and more or less compressed laterally, the tail is long, the back is uniform black with white belly subsequently turning black.


Yellow-faced Grassquit (Tiaris olivaceus) - male


Red-crowned Woodpecker (Melanerpes rubricapillus) - male


Lesson’s Motmot (Momotus lessonii)


Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus)


Crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica) - female


Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl)


Scaly-breasted Hummingbird (Phaeochroa cuvierii)




To be continued...