One of the most “desired” tropical species that everyone wants to see, when they visit the tropics, is the species I am going to talk about today. It’s easy to understand why, the sweet face, the lazy and extremely slow reputation attracts everyone’s attention. I am talking about the Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus).
The truth is that they are not as slow as most people think, and they do more, than most of us think they do. Some studies with animals in captivity show they can sleep an average about 16 hours a day, but studies with wild animals have shown they sleep about 9 and half hours, spending most of their time moving around looking for food, eating and scratching.
Three-toed sloths are found in Central and South America. At Tranquilo Bay this species is abundant and easy to find most of the year. On site we also have the Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus hoffmanni), which is a nocturnal species. On an island of the Bocas del Toro archipelago, is possible to find another specie of sloth the Pygmy Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus), an endemic specie, found in one special location on Escudo de Veraguas Island.
Today I am going to talk about a pretty and elusive ball of feathers, the Black-capped Pygmy-tyrant. This bird is one of those species that you can hear many times, but see only a few. Its size and the places where it likes to spend the most part of its time make them a little hard to see.
Black-capped Pygmy-tyrant (Myiornis atricapillus) has a large range of distribution, found from the south of Nicaragua, through western Colombia down to the north Pacific coast of Ecuador. Often found in the canopy of the humid forest, its easy to lose this 2.5 inch bird. And like living in the canopy wasn’t enough to make it hard to find, its call is like an insect.
This adorable little bird is one of the species we can easily hear, not so easily see, as I mentioned before, on to the excursion to the chocolate farm. Green Acres Chocolate Farm is located on the mainland, and is home to many species that we do not have on the islands of the archipelago.
The pictures are not the best ones, but good enough to show this tiny beauty.
Today, we have a video of some very hungry caterpillars. Metamorphosis takes a lot of work. The life cycle of butterflies and moths can be a very short process. During their caterpillar stage they really have an insatiable appetite, in this video, we see proof of it.
The beautiful bird I am talking about today, often catches the attention of the observer, because of its attractive color. It has a purplish blue plumage accompanied by the bright colors of its beak. When someone sees this bird’s feet for the first time the feet immediately take all the attention. Their very long claws help them to walk on top of the floating vegetation.
The juveniles’ coloration is somewhere between pale brown and green and it helps them hide camouflaged in the vegetation.
Purple Gallinules (Porphyrio martinicus) are omnivores. Their diet includes invertebrates, plants, and sometimes small frogs and fish that they catch in floating plants and shrubby areas.
This species has a large distribution range. It is found from the south-east of United States to the north of Argentina and Chile. This species breeds during spring and summer in North America and may breed almost year round in the tropics (from May until November). The habitat of this species is swamps and wetlands. Habitat loss is the main threat for this species, but it isn’t in endangered at this time.
Bird parasitism is when one bird lays her eggs in the nest of a different bird species, with the intent that this other bird, the host, will take care of the laying bird’s offspring. This is definitely a very smart strategy for the parasite birds, because thanks to this behavior, the parasite birds, do not have to spend all the time and energy raising their chicks. This allows parasitic layers them to produce more eggs per year.
Around Tranquilo Bay, is one specie of bird that is a parasitic layer of eggs in the nests of other birds. I´m talking about the Giant Cowbird (Molothrus oryzivorus) who lays her eggs in the Montezuma Oropendola’s (Psacolius montezuma) nest. In other areas, cowbirds parasite lay in the nests of several other species of oropendolas and caciques. All those species nest colonially (several nest in one single tree) and build long hanging nests.
Cowbirds are calm and quiet birds that like to spend time on grassland, looking for insects which is their main diet. The distribution range of the species goes from southern Mexico to northern Argentina.
Another example of parasitic nesting birds is the Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), that lay its eggs in other species nest, and when the chicks hatch they pull out of the nest the eggs and/or chicks of the host. In the case of the Giant Cowbird, the offspring do not destroy the eggs or chicks of the host specie (the photo at the top shows a Wren (left) feeding a chick of Common Cuckoo), source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/0407/03-moth-06.html )
The tower is perfect place to see the oropendolas flying by, and sometimes is possible to see a few cowbirds flying with them. I took this picture of a Giant Cowbird a while back, when a group of Montezuma Oropendolas stop on the balsa tree near the observation tower, and this cowbird was with them.
Years ago, I began experimenting with Habanero peppers and came up with a nice and fresh hot sauce. Around here they named it “La Bomba.” This name is not because it is really hot, but because it adds a lot of flavor to anything you eat it with.
To continue with the chile saga (months ago, I wrote some blog posts about the chile, if you have not read them, and want to know a bit more about one of the most important spices in the world) here are the links:
Today I´m going to tell you how to make this salsa, but I must say, I do not have an exact recipe I follow every time. I always make little changes. Some times I use more of one of the ingredients or it varies a bit based on vegetable availability. But I think after you make it the first time, you can start playing with the amounts and the ingredients to make it the way you like it. It is important that everything needs to be fresh.
Cilantro (as much as you want, some people love it, some people…)
Any kind of hot peppers
1 bell pepper
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
Vinegar (If you used jarred jalapeños: you do not have to add vinegar to the preparation)
Clean, peel and cut into medium size pieces all the big vegetables, then add all the ingredients to the food processor, and process until smooth. Keep it refrigerated and enjoy it when you want!
Last week, when some guests and I where preparing to go for a hike, we started by enjoying the hummingbird activity outside their cabin. To our great surprise, in the group of hummingbirds feeding was an uncommon species for this part of the country, a gorgeous male Blue-throated Goldentail, also known as Blue-throated Sapphire (Hylocharis eliciae).
The bird stayed around the entire day feeding on the same plant, and everybody that wanted to see it, got to enjoy it and photograph it. And off course, after the hike I came back with my camera to get some pictures.
This species has been observed on the Tranquilo Bay grounds only one time before. This time we have been allowed to enjoy it for a long time, because it is still coming back to the same plant to feed. It is chasing away the Crowned Woodnymphs, Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds and Stripe-throated Hermit, that are feeding on the same plant.
We all love sunny days. Everything is pretty, you can do all type of outdoor activities, but, we’ve got to face it: without rain, we would not have all the green we have at Tranquilo Bay year round, and associated with that, all the diversity that comes with it. Well, all this explanation in order to tell you about a little inhabitant of the rain forest, the mud turtles!
The Kinosternon genus is only found in the Americas. With 25 species, it has one of the highest numbers of species for mud turtles, and from those, three are found in Panama. These turtles are small animals in comparison to other fresh water turtles. They have an oval shape shell, usually dark brown, which helps to camouflage themselves. A particular characteristic of this genus is the presence of one or two “hinges” in their plastron (bottom part of the shell), This adaptation allows them to close themselves completely to keep them safe from most predators.
They are often found in ponds and other habitats associated with calm fresh water and a muddy soft bottom. They feed on a variety of things, being mostly carnivorous, but sometimes they eat fruits and/or plants. Some mud turtles can burrow themselves in to the mud or underneath dead leaves during times of drought, and stay “semi-dormant,” until the rain comes.
At Tranquilo Bay, we usually get to see one of these after a strong rain, sometimes crossing the side-walk, moving from one temporary creek to other, or just there, with their head sticking out, like enjoying the rain.
A couple of weeks ago I posted about the first observations, for this year, of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), a migratory hummingbird that it is uncommon in this part of the country.
So far we know that its been around, since the end of February, and we have photographed three different Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, a male, a female and an immature male. Christine Warren, one of our guests, got a picture earlier this month of the young male. You can just see the first red feathers coming in on its throat. Thanks a lot Christine for sharing your picture with us!
Two days ago, Ramon and a guest saw a male and female of an uncommon but quite punctual migrant hummingbird at Tranquilo Bay, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). This observation is the third we have had of the species in the last four years, with very few days of difference between observations.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is an uncommon migratory species in this part of the country. The day Ramon and the guest saw the elusive migrant they saw a female and a male. So, of course the next day, as soon I got a chance I went to wait for the visitor. After a little more than half an hour waiting, a female Ruby-throated showed up for a quick visit to the same plant the two birds visited the day before. I patiently continued waiting and the female bird came again. I got to take some decent pictures to share with you. We will keep an eye on the bird and keep you posted about the extent of this 2016 visit.