A Man a Plan A Strained Back – Panama

I hurt my back, and it is raining, so… what better reason than to reminisce of warmer, more mobile times?
Did I ever tell you about that one time I went to Panama in the year of our lord, two thousand and eighteen?
Oh, I did? Well, did I show you photos?
Oh, I did? Well, look at ’em again!

Hook-billed Kite

Let’s just start it off with what might be the best/luckiest bird I saw.
Its a Hook-billed Kite.
I only know that it is good because eBird flagged it as Rare
Also, the way that it looks.

Crimson-backed and white-faced.

Panama was incredible. I think everyone should go there.
Even if you don’t like birds.
But even if you do like birds.
This Crimson-backed Tanager is a fairly common bird in Panama.
Besides the red… look at its beak!
Hyper-matte white on red? Crazy!
I loved these guys.

Malachite is both a rock and a butterfly.

Here is a convincing list of pros and cons based on my experience
Panama pros:
Everything else (including this Malachite Butterfly)
You have to go home too soon

A spider big enough to photograph from the safety of a boat.

Man, that spider is both big and red.
Two things I look for in spider avoidance 101.
If you look closely, behind the spider you will see a White-headed capuchin.
It is hard to tell if it is looking warily at the spider,
Or eyeing it as a spicy treat.


Ooooeee! Another good bird!
Snail kite, with a snail, freshly plucked from the canal.
Their hooked bills are perfectly suited for getting tasty morsels from the inside of an otherwise too-crunchy container.

Best bird buds

Panama is great for Flycatchers.
I saw 10 species of flycatchers while in Panama, including these Social flycatchers.
They hang out in pairs and small social groups and catch bugs on the wing.
One of the more ubiquitous Panamanian flycatchers,
They seem to thrive in city parks, on rooftops, in gardens, and forest edges.

A very special bird.
The Blue dacnis, also called a turquoise honeycreeper.
I married a honeycreeper (who happens to also love turquoise).
So, I may have a natural affinity to them.
But, I remember feeling elated and overjoyed when I first saw it.
Such a brilliant blue, and such cool patterning.
I wish it was my job to photograph tanagers…
I look at this photo literally every day,
I think this is my favorite bird photo of the trip.

Just hangin’ out.

Panama City has a jungle park, a short taxi ride from downtown.
In it, you can find monkeys, sloths, terrestrial crabs, frogs, insects, weird rodents, and lots of good birds.
And also this Hoffman’s Two-towed sloth
Taxi to sloth, its incredible.

Can I get the spinach tortilla, and then just fill it with sour cream? Thanks.

This is the equivalent of eating a burrito in one bite with no hands.
Black-throated Trogon
Man, I can’t wait to see Trogon’s again.
The whole family is soooooo coooool! It includes Quetzals too.
I want to see all of them.
This might be the best reason for me to retire as soon as possible.

Industrial sized Egret

I visited the Panama Canal too!
This was probably my best photo from the canal.
I like that it makes it look like a techno-wasteland
Maybe a Great Egret,
Maybe a poorly disguised government drone.
Definitely the moody urban aesthetic I look for in a good bird photo.

Streaked Flycatchers love black licorice

The crazy thing about the trip is that it wasn’t necessarily a “bird watching” trip.
I was supposed to be a chaperone to a herd of middle schoolers.
They were, fortunately for me, very well behaved.
And I had a lot of time to hang at the back of the group and look at birds and take photos.
This streaked flycatcher was in a tiny park a few blocks away from our downtown hotel.


Another bird just a short walk from the hotel.
A Saffron finch new just where to perch so it would have the most interesting background.
Almost accidentally, I saw 97 species of birds this trip.
I bet I could have seen 100 if birding was my main objective.
In about an hour and a half, I saw 25 bird species, just walking through downtown!

Young apprentice Yellow-crowned Night-heron

Arguably the best night heron.
The heron design is just perfect.
Eyeball to Head/bill ratio + antennae + thicc legs


Green Herons are surprisingly accommodating in Panama
In Portland you have to look hard, scan pond edges, look under manhole covers.
But in Panama, they just exist in the open.
I wish I could explain why.
Probably one of those solvable mysteries I hear so much about.

Black Vulture Senior Portrait

Well, it has been fun looking through and re-editing all of these old photos.
I loved Panama more than my trip to the DR, or my trip to Peru.
I want to go back, and if you go, I want you to take me with.
I am a very enthusiastic bird partner, and I will bring snacks.

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