This field guide covers all regularly occurring birds in Panama. The authors have compiled over 900 species of birds in a compact format. The book features species accounts and range maps.
Birds of Panama is more user-friendly than its predecessor. For beginners, this guide is ideal for those just beginning to explore birding in Panama.
It includes a chapter on the Black-faced Solitaire and is packed with useful information about the bird species of Panama.
What will I learn?
The Tody Motmot is a monotypic species of momot in the family Hylomanes. It lives in Panama, S Mexico, and NW Colombia.
The color of the tody motmot’s plumage is green and blue, but its head is cinnamon-rufous with a black eye mask. Its broad bill is whitish and its tail is red. The Tody Motmot feeds on Morpho butterflies, spiders, and small snails.
Tody Motmots live in the shady understory of tropical lowlands, and they are rarely seen. They sit quietly while feeding, occasionally waving their tails.
Their wings beat in a low whirl, but they are not racket-tipped. These details make the Tody Motmot an attractive bird for any garden. The Panamanian Tody is an important symbol of the country.
The Rufous Motmot is one of Panama’s most popular species, with a length of nearly half a meter. Its orange-rufous head is surrounded by a black mask, and its body is green.
It is similar to the Broad-billed Motmot, but the Rufous has a green chin, unlike its sister. While its size is an important factor in identifying this bird, it is not the only one.
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The Resplendent Quetzal of Panama is a beautiful bird, found in the montane forests of eastern and western parts of Panama and southern Mexico.
They live in undisturbed environments, up to 10,500 feet above sea level, but often move to lower elevations to breed. Although they are solitary birds, they will sometimes gather at heavily fruiting trees, such as avocados.
In fact, there are approximately a thousand of these beautiful birds in the wild, making them one of the most fascinating bird species in the world.
The male Resplendent Quetzal is distinguished by its magnificent tail feathers, which are red and decorated with silvery-blue spots. The female Resplendent Quetzal has a grey-green head and a bright yellow bill.
The male Resplendent Quetzal also has a crest that is covered with silvery hair and a black or bronze-colored head. The female Resplendent Quetzal lacks the prominently colored crest and is more dull-colored overall.
If you’re looking to see the Resplendent Quetzal in its native habitat, make sure to plan your trip during the dry season, when the bird is more active.
This is the best time to spot these birds, as they’re often feeding in midday. Bring a binocular with you if you’re planning on seeing quetzals. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of one while you’re walking along the road.
The white-throated mountain-gem of Panama is a fairly common bird found throughout the country’s rainforests. They feed mainly on nectar and epiphytic plants.
They also take small insects as protein. This bird is quite aggressive, and will often protect its feeding territory from other hummingbirds. They also help to pollinate many plants, as their tubular-shaped flowers tend to exclude most other pollinators.
The female White-throated mountain-gem is a specialty of western Panama and the CR. The species forages in lower and middle levels of oak forests, as well as the forest edge and gardens.
In this image, the female was photographed near Cabinas El Quetzal, in the town of San Gerardo de Dota. The female carries its head on its chest and is a striking addition to the area’s fauna.
The Black-faced Solitaire Birds of Central and Western Panama are endemic to the highlands of both countries. They typically live at elevations of 750 meters or higher and build cup nests in tree crevices.
The Black-faced Solitaire’s song is a whistle-like flute and it is feared that this endangered species will become extinct. Its plight is compounded by its high value in the caged bird trade.
From late September to mid-November, approximately two to three million Black-faced Solitaire birds pass over Panama City. During the 2013 season, there were over three million birds counted.
In 2014, over two million were counted, a record high since coordinated counts began in 2004. The previous record for a single day was 900,000 birds. The highest numbers were seen over Cerro Ancon.
Other notable birds include the Pygmy Owl, Red-capped Manakin, and Blue-and-gold Tanager. In Panama, you can also spot the Rufous-vented Ground Cucko and Yellow-green Tyrannulet.
These species are common in Panama but are rarely seen elsewhere. They prefer dense forests and are found in the highlands, mountains, and valleys. Regardless of your ancestry, you’re bound to encounter at least one of these rare species at some point in your life.
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The Golden-brown Chlorophonia of the Americas is a colorful little bird. Its range extends from northern Costa Rica to western Panama.
Known as a “golden-brown” bird, the male has a blue eyering and a bright green mantle. It is one of a few chlorophonia species found in the Americas. If you haven’t seen one before, you might not know they exist until you learn more about them.
The Golden-brown Chlorophonia feeds on trees. A study in Monteverde, Costa Rica, revealed that the species eats fruit from fourteen different species of trees, including strangle figs (Ficus), melastomes (Conostegia), and Gaiadendron.
The tamarin’s habitat is highland and subtropical moist montane forests.
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A great-tailed grackle is a common bird in Panama. The male is black with yellow irises and a long tail. The female is smaller and brown, with a dark crest around its eye.
It is a highly social bird, and can be found in both the Panama Canal zone and the mainland. The Panama Canal is the world’s third largest city, and the Great-tailed grackle is abundant there.
This large blackbird is an impressive sight to behold. It has a long, flat-headed profile with a stout, straight bill. The tail is long and tapered, nearly equaling the length of the body.
A distinctive V-shaped tail distinguishes males from females. Great-tailed Grackles usually live in dense flocks, and the sound of their raucous calls can be heard throughout the day.
In western Panama, the Resplendent Quetzal is commonly seen at feeders and is a popular bird in the country. Its long tail feathers give it a distinctly snake-like appearance, and its red belly and white tail make it easy to identify.
The species is considered sacred in Mayan culture. Another spectacular bird that lives in the highlands of Panama is the Violet Sabrewing. Its long bill and white spot behind its eye make it a spectacular sight to watch.
The males in particular are fairly unmistakable, and the females are only slightly smaller.