White-throated Mountain-gem

White-throated Mountain-gem

Birds of Nakusp

With two weeks to go, Gary Davidson reflects on his visit to Panama.

We’ve been in Panama for eight weeks now and have just two weeks left. It’s been a good experience and the birds have not disappointed. My species count is now up to 334. Most of our time has been spent in the general vicinity of Panama City and the Panama Canal. But last week we drove to the western end of the country and up into the mountains. We spent four nights there and it was a delightful relief to get away from the tropical heat for a few days. Our first accommodation was a cabin in the jungle at 2300m elevation, (about the same height as the top of Saddle Mountain). But unlike Saddle, where there is little but rock and a few bits of grass, here there was thick rain forest. The climate is perfect here in the mountains; in the mid- to high- 20’s during the day and cooling off considerably at night.

The combination of the western location and the high elevation made the bird life very different. We added a few dozen species to our trip list and that included 22 “lifers”, (species I had never seen before).

Picking two photos to include with this article was difficult, there were so many to choose from! We saw seven different species of hummingbird; they always look good in photos. We also saw more than a dozen Resplendent Quetzals. This bird is quitespectacular and is more-or-less restricted to the mountains of Costa Rica and Panama. It would have been the ideal image to represent the area, but they like to feed high in the trees and good photos are hard to get. Some of the families of birds we are seeing down here are also well represented in BC, albeit by different species. Sparrows and vireos, for example, are quite common in BC. But none of our sparrows are quite as colourful as the Rufous-collared Sparrow found here. Even though the local vireos here have ‘colourful’ names like Brown-capped, Yellow-winged and Yellow-green, the colours are generally quite pale and subdued. In the end I decided on one hummingbird, the White-throated Mountain-gem; and one sparrow, the Rufous-collared Sparrow.


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