my thoughts and observations about what lies along the trails of existence linda paul bascom tim mary rachel

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Birds of Paradise

Birding is for geeks, right? Well…not exactly. Sure, having a pair of binoculars constantly dangling around your neck and a bird book in hand may look a little funny, especially when it’s accompanied by the occasional “Oh my God honey, look, there’s a ------. Let’s find it in the book!” I never thought I would be one of those binocular dangling, bird-book toting exclaimers. Boy was I wrong.

In the Amazon you can’t help but notice birds, because they are everywhere. They represent some of the most socially interesting and colorfully resplendent animals on earth. When the only birds you previously knew by site were pigeons, seagulls, pelicans and hawks, seeing a bird with a bright neon-blue ring around its eye and full-on punk rock mohawk adorning its head is pretty exciting.

Before we left for our trip to the Amazon Gussy and I were given a book by an ornithologist friend called “Common Birds of Ecuador.” Although we were in Brazil we were able to spot 75% of the birds depicted in the book and this in itself was pretty cool. Standing on the top deck of our riverboat gave us a great vantage point for looking into the jungle through high-powered binoculars as we motored down the Amazon River, and seeing as many as 20 to 30 variety of bird within an hour's time was not unusual.

Many of them were beautifully exotic feathered creatures that could produce other-worldly songs. Quietly paddling along in kayaks or canoes was a perfect way to listen to the various whirs and whistles, chirps, chimes, ticks, hums and throaty calls that many of these feathered fauna created. Combine all this with the sounds of the myriad of insects, monkeys, frogs and other creatures of the tropical forest and you get an idea of the cacophony of sound that oozes from the Amazon jungle. All you had to do was close your eyes and listen and you couldn’t help but notice that the forest was VERY alive.

Here is a list of the birds that, with the help of our ornithologically knowledgeable guide, Junior (see below), we spotted and identified.

Horned Screamer
Snail Kite
Squirrel cuckoo
Blue-Gray Tanager
White-Breasted Wren
Black-Collared Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Black-Fronted Nun Bird
Tropical Kingbird
Black-Headed Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Greater Yellow-Headed Vulture
Oriole Blackbird
Large-Billed Tern
Black Heron
Stiated Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Wattled Jacana (Butterfly Bird)
Yellow-Rumped Cacique
Masked Tityra
White-Necked Heron
Capped Heron
Red-Headed Caracara
Yellow-Headed Caracara
Ring-Necked Kingfisher
Fork-Tailed Flycatcher
Yellow-Throated Spine Tail
Straight-Billed Woodcreeper
Long-Billed Woodcreeper
Black Caracara
Greater Ani
Black-Capped Donicobius
Purple Gallinule
Great Potoo
Brown-Chested Martin
Amazonian Kingfisher
Green Kinfisher
Social Flycatcher
White-Winged Swallow
Yellow-Tuffed Woodpecker
Red-Headed Woodpecker
Orange-Fronted Yellow Finch
White-Headed Marsh Tyrant
Scarlet Macaw
Plumbeous Kite
Brazilian Hawk
Black-Tailed Trogan
Masked Crimson Tanager
Blue-and-Yellow Macaw
Festive Parrot
Night Jar
Bat Falcon
Red-Billed Tuocan
Yellow-Hooded Blackbird
Barn Owl

Thanks for reading