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Featured Species: Black Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus)

The Black Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus tyrannus) is a large, black raptor of Neotropical forests. Its preferred habitats include humid and moist forests close to rivers, and several types of Woodland, and is found from central Mexico to eastern Peru, the south of Brazil, and far northern Argentina. They prefer semi-open areas, second growth forests, river areas and forest ridges, but have also been found in extensive forests.
Individuals often soar high overhead, where they attract attention with sharp, whistled calls. They feed on mammals, birds, and reptiles, taken largely from trees and detected from a perch. Though light and small compared to other eagles, this bird is a powerful predator that frequently hunts relatively large prey. It mainly eats large rodents, opossums and monkeys, as well as, occasionally, bats and birds, including large birds such as toucans, and chachalacas, and snakes and lizards. 

El Valle - the best place for Panama Birds & Wildlife Photos of 2017 (pt. 6) - Featured Species: Central American Bushmaster (Lachesis stenophrys)

La Verrugosa or Central American Bushmaster (Lachesis stenophrys) is the longest and most robust venomous snake in Central America, and one of the largest members of the Crotalinae family of pit vipers. The species is endemic to Central America, been found from the Caribbean slope of Nicaragua to Panama, occurring in tropical rainforest and lower montane wet forest. In the drier areas of Nicaragua, it can be found in gallery forests as well as forests that are seasonally dry. Is hardly encountered outside of old growth forest. The specific name, stenophrys, is derived from the Greek words stenos, meaning "narrow", and ophrys, meaning "brow" or “eyebrow”, due to its narrow postorbital stripe.

Verrugosa or Central American Bushmaster (Lachesis stenophrys)

These large tan or brown snakes with black or dark brown rhombs are easily recognized due to the strongly keeled and very protuberant dorsal scales, hence the vernacular name in Spanish, “Verrugosa”, which means warty in English. Another vernacular name is "Bocarac√° de Jabillo" in reference to the jabillo or sandpaper tree (Hura crepitans), which has a coarse and thorny bark.  Adults commonly grow to more than 200 cm (6.6 feet) and may exceed 330 cm (10.8 feet) in total length. Its back is light brown or cream-colored, with dark rhomboidal designs with light centers. It’s white or light yellowish below, and the tail ends in a small pointy needle. It has a medium-sized broadly rounded head, well differentiated, and is characterized by a non-elevated round snout profile, and a dark postorbital stripe which continues onto the neck.

Verrugosa or Central American Bushmaster (Lachesis stenophrys)

The Bushmasters in general are terrestrial and primarily nocturnal. They hide during the day under fallen trees, in burrows or hollow logs. Their prey consist mainly of small and medium sized mammals like rats and marsupials, and sometimes birds. These are ambush predators that may spend several days (even weeks) quietly coiled amid leaf litter waiting for passing prey. 

With the largest fangs of any pit viper, enormous venom glands and a very potent poison, the Bushmasters are deadly snakes. The poisoning of human beings occurs with some frequency, and is often rapidly fatal. Symptoms of poisoning (including by young specimens) include immediate pain, rapid pulse, swelling that progresses rapidly, numbness, shock, vomiting, diarrhea, stabbing muscle aches, and shortness of breath. Despite this, they are usually not aggressive, and you will be safe if you just walk away from them. 

Currently, four (4) species of Bushmasters are recognized:
  • South American Bushmaster, L. muta (the most widespread), 
  • Chocoan Bushmaster, L. acrochorda (Panama and northeastern South America),
  • Black-headed Bushmaster, L. melanocephala (western Costa Rica)
  • Central American Bushmaster, L. stenophrys (Nicaragua through Panama).

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