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Fig. 1.— The Tacarcuna wood quail, gallito del monte fajeado (Odontophorus 
dialeucos Wetmore), found on Cerro Mali and Cerro Tacarcuna, Darien (see 
page 327). Painting by Walter Weber. 




Part 1. — TiNAMiDAE (Tinamous) to 
Rynchopidae (Skimmers) 



Research Associate 
Smithsonian Institution 


(Publication 4617) 



DECEMBER 27, 1965 




Introduction 1 

The List of Birds 2 

Acknowledgments 4 

Order Tinamiformes 5 

Family Tinamidae : Tinamous ; Tinamous 5 

Order Podicipediformes 24 

Family Podicipedidae : Grebes ; Somormujos 24 


Family Diomedeidae : Albatrosses ; Albatroses 31 

Procellariidae : Shearwaters, Petrels; Pardelas, Petreles 35 

Hydrobatidae : Storm Petrels ; Painos 42 

Order Pelecaniformes 48 

Family Phaethontidae : Tropicbirds ; Aves del Tropico 48 

Pelecanidae : Pelicans ; Pelicanos 51 

Sulidae : Boobies, Gannets ; Bobas, Piqueros 55 

Phalacrocoracidae : Cormorants ; Cuervos Marinos 64 

Anhingidae : Snakebirds ; Cuervos de Aguja 69 

Fregatidae : Frigatebirds ; Tijeretas de Mar 72 

Order Ciconiiformes 78 

Family Ardeidae : Herons ; Garzas 78 

Cochleariidae : Boat-billed Heron; Garzota Cuchara 114 

Ciconiidae : Storks ; Cigiienas 119 

Threskiornithidae : Ibises, Spoonbills; Cocos, Garzas Paletas.. 122 

Order Anseriformes 129 

Family Anatidae : Ducks ; Patos 129 

Order Falconiformes 153 

Family Cathartidae: American Vultures; Buitres Americanos 153 

Accipitridae : Hawks, Eagles, and Allies ; Gavilanes, Aguilas, y 

Especies Afines 171 

Pandionidae : Osprey ; Aguila Pescadora 256 

Falconidae : Falcons, Forest Falcons, and Caracaras ; Halcones, 

Hal cones del Monte, y Caranchos 259 

Order Galliformes 293 

Family Cracidae : Curassows and Guans ; Pavones y Faisanas 293 

Phasianidae: Quails, Pheasants, and Peacocks; Codomices, 

Faisanas, y Pavos Reales 310 

Order Gruiformes 334 

Family Aramidae : Limpkin ; Carrao 334 

Rallidae: Rails, Gallinules, and Coots; Cocalecas y Gallinetas 

de Agua 338 

Heliomithidae : Finfoots; ZambuUidores de Agua 365 

Eurypygidae: Sunbitterns; Abanicos 369 




Order Charadrhformes 372 

Family Jacanidae : Ja^anas ; Gallitos de Agua 372 

Haematopodidae : Oystercatchers ; Ostreros 378 

Charadriidae : Plovers ; Chorlitos 382 

Scolopacidae : Snipe, Sandpipers, and Allies; Agachadizas; 

Playeros y AHados 393 

Family Recurvirostridae : Avocets and Stilts; Avocetas y Cigiieiiuelas. 427 

Phalaropodidae : Phalaropes ; Falaropos 429 

Stercorariidae : Skuas and Jaegers ; Gaviotas Salteadoras 433 

Laridae : Gulls and Terns ; Gaviotas y Gaviotines 438 

Rynchopidae : Skimmers ; Rayadores 463 

Index 467 




By Alexander Wetmore 
Research Associate, Smithsonian Institution 


The long, narrow Isthmus of Panama, which unites North America 
on the one hand and South America on the other, is a geographic area 
outstanding in its interest to biologists in the systematic field as the 
land connection between these two regions of the Northern and 
Southern Hemispheres. Present understanding of geologic history 
indicates that the two areas were separated by open sea in the Tertiary 
period for a vast space of time that began in the Paleocene epoch 
and extended toward the end of the Pliocene. For 50 million years 
South America remained isolated from other lands, while North 
America had periodic union with Asia through land connections in the 
present region of Bering Sea. The great diversity in plant and animal 
life that now marks the Panamanian land bridge is a reflection of 
invasions from the two adjacent continental areas. Study of present- 
day distribution, variation, and relationship in any group is of deep 
interest and valuable in details of scientific information. 

The present account is the first installment of a summary of what is 
known of the birdlife of the area. My personal studies in the field 
began in 1944 and have continued annually for approximately three 
months each year since 1946, with laboratory investigation of speci- 
mens and a survey of the published works of others who have made 
contributions in this region. 

The number of kinds of birds known from the isthmus is so large, 
and materials available are so extensive, that completion of the report 
has required more time than originally contemplated. As there is in- 
creasing demand for information on this subject, especially from those 
engaged in investigation of diseases where species of birds may be 
suspected as carriers, it has become desirable to present the summary 
accounts family by family as they are completed in order that the 
information may be available. This first installment covers the 
families in systematic sequence from the tinamous, family Tinamidae, 



through the order that includes the shorebirds, gulls, and their 
allies. A general account of personal field work, with a review of 
the studies of other ornithologists, and general discussions of the 
avifauna will be left for the end. 

It may be sufficient here to outline briefly the character of the 
isthmus as included in the present political boundaries of the Republic 
of Panama. The entire Caribbean slope and eastern Darien on the 
Pacific side are the regions of heaviest rainfall. In the northwest, 
in the Province of Bocas del Toro, there is no marked break in 
precipitation for any lengthy period throughout the year. The 
Pacific slope, from the Costa Rican boundary eastward, has a definite 
dry season, mainly between the latter part of December and the 
middle or end of April. Because of this difference the denser forest 
areas are found on the north and in Darien, where originally tree 
growth was continuous. On the Pacific side there are extensive 
areas of open savannas. And forest where found is more open and 
in part deciduous, so that many trees lose their leaves in dry season. 
These were the original conditions, now extensively modified over 
great areas that have been cleared for agricultural use. These 
changes are most marked from the western boundary in Chiriqui 
east through the Province of Panama, where most of the original 
forest cover is gone, and are proceeding rapidly elsewhere. The 
main areas that still are primitive lie on the Caribbean drainage in 
the inland mountain and hill area of interior Bocas del Toro, over 
the interior hills of San Bias, and on the Pacific side on the 
mountains and hills of the interior from the eastern end of the 
Province of Panama through Darien. 

The isthmus in the main is in the Tropical Zone, with subtropical 
zone forest in the mountain regions of the western half. Additional 
areas of the latter zone of lesser extent are found along the central 
spine of the Azuero Peninsula, and in the mountains near the 
Colombian boundary. Limited Temperate Zone conditions extend 
across the top of the Chiriqui volcano and on some of the higher 
ridges to the east in Chiriqui and Veraguas. 


Each family is introduced by a brief general statement on the 
group as a whole throughout its entire range. This is followed, where 
necessary, by a key to the species that have been recorded in 
Panama, based on the most evident characters of color, size, and 
form. While this may be of assistance in naming birds in Hfe, it is 


intended primarily for the identification of specimens in hand. The 
arrangement in the keys is artificial, and may not follow any order 
of close relationship. The order of the families is that in my latest 
revision of the classification for living and fossil birds of the world 
(Smithsonian Misc. Coll., vol. 139, no. 11, June 23, 1960, pp. 1-37). 

References to literature, given in parentheses, are sufficiently com- 
plete to allow their consultation if desired. A complete bibliography, 
and with it a gazetteer of localities, will be included in the final part. 

The account of each bird begins with the scientific name, followed 
by vernacular names in English and in Spanish. Where the species is 
divided into geographic races, if two or more of these are found in 
Panama, general information that applies to all is given under a 
species heading. This includes brief phrases on characters that may 
help in identification, and a description. The subspecies follow, each 
with its scientific name and reference, details of color, size, or form 
on which the race has been recognized, measurements, range in the 
Republic, and any other pertinent information. If the nominate 
form is included among these, reference to this name is given under 
the subspecies in question. Where this race does not reach Panama, 
the species heading carries this reference. In variable species of wide 
range, where only one of the forms is found all these data are in- 
cluded under the heading with the trinomial scientific name. Ver- 
nacular names used apply to the species as a whole. No such names 
are given to separate subspecies. 

Vernacular names have been selected with care, with particular 
reference to usage in standard works that cover the area. This fre- 
quently has involved choice, since in wide-ranging species divided 
in several geographic races it was early custom to assign such a 
name to each subspecies, often without regard to its related forms. 
Modern practice gives vernacular names to the species in its entirety, 
since the former method was cumbersome and frequently mislead- 
ing. In the case of migrants from the north, the names used are 
those of the official A.O.U. check-list (Check-list of North American 
Birds Prepared by a Committee of the American Ornithologists' 
Union, fifth edition, 1957). With others, particularly tropical species 
of wide distribution, names frequently have varied so that a choice 
has been necessary. The attempt with these has been to select the 
term most often used, and the one most appropriate. In this, the list 
proposed by Eugene Eisenmann (The Species of Middle American 
Birds, Trans. Linn. Soc. New York, vol. 7, 1955) is definitely 


The Spanish names in many instances offer difficulty. Where the 
species are known to Panamanian countrymen there is no complica- 
tion, but there are scores of kinds of birds that are not so recognized. 
With those that range widely in the American Tropics often there 
are appropriate names available from other Spanish-speaking coun- 
tries, and these I have taken wherever practicable. Occasionally 
with birds of obscure habit it has been necessary to propose names 
both in English and in Spanish, with care that they may be 

The scientific names follow the International Code of Zoological 
Nomenclature of 1961 (with certain reservations and some mis- 

Outlines of range and important records are based on an extended 
survey of literature and of specimens in museums, in addition to 
information available from my own work in the field. To avoid 
misunderstanding it should be explained that many of the names of 
localities on skins collected by J. H. Batty in Panama at the beginning 
of this century are not valid. This is particularly true of skins 
labeled from islands off the coast of Chiriqui. It is certain that 
Batty visited Isla Coiba, but a considerable part of the specimens 
that he labeled as from this island came from the mainland, and data 
attributing numerous skins to other islands in the area are without 
question fictitious. (See Wetmore, Smithsonian Misc. Coll., vol. 134, 
no. 9, 1957, pp. 6-8.) 


Throughout my personal field work in the Republic I have had close 
association with the Museo Nacional of Panama, through its director. 
Dr. Alejandro Mendez Pereira, and with the staff of the Gorgas Me- 
morial Laboratory, especially with its former directors, the late Dr. 
Herbert Clark and his successor. Dr. Carl Johnson, and with Dr. 
Pedro Galindo, entomologist. This collaboration has continued under 
Dr. Martin Young, who became the head of the Laboratory in 1964. 
During my studies on the avifauna of the Republic of Panama I 
have had the friendly cooperation of Dr. Eugene Eisenmann, who 
has placed at my disposal many records of occurrence and other data 
from his personal notes, in addition to the information in his numerous 
publications. All have been of major assistance. 

The illustrations, presented to show the form in characteristic 
species in each family, are from the skilful hand of Walter A. Weber. 


Governmental authorities of the Republic of Panama have been 
uniformly courteous in assistance, especially the officials of the Mi- 
nisterio de Relaciones Exteriores, through credentials that have rec- 
ognized the scientific nature of my travels and work. I have to thank 
especially Coronel Bolivar Vallarino, Comandante Jefe de la Guardia 
Nacional, for permission to visit Isla Coiba. Authorities of the 
Panama Canal Zone have been universally helpful, and I owe much 
to the assistance of the Air Force and of the Department of the 
Army located in the Canal Zone, especially in transportation to remote 
areas, accessible without such help with much difficulty if at all. In 
my travels in the course of my studies, which have taken me widely 
throughout the Republic, from the Costa Rican border in Chiriqui 
and Bocas del Toro to the Colombian frontier in Darien and San 
Bias, I have had courteous and friendly reception everywhere from 
residents of the country, and I owe much to many for their assistance. 


Family TINAMIDAE : Tinamous ; Tinamous 

The family of tinamous, presumed to be of South American origin, 
has more than 40 living species in the present range, from southern 
Mexico south through Central America and South America to the 
Straits of Magellan. The three found in Panama, known there uni- 
versally as perdices, are shy inhabitants of forests or thickets, seldom 
seen as they remain constantly under cover of the ground vegetation. 
All three are heavy-bodied birds, with long, rather slender necks and 
small heads. The short tail has its stiffened feathers hidden by the 
elongated upper and lower tail coverts, so that the body appears short 
and compact like that of a guineafowl. In traversing their haunts, one 
occasionally sees a tinamou burst out near at hand with a startling roar 
of wings, but usually the birds slip away on foot so that their presence 
is known mainly from their calls. The smallest of the three is the 
most common, being present universally throughout the Tropical Zone 
wherever there are thickets or second growth to offer it secure cover. 
The great tinamou is widely distributed wherever natural forest re- 
mains, from sea level to the lower edge of the subtropical zone in the 
mountains. Though important game birds, these two cannot with- 
stand excessive hunting. The highland tinamou is known only from 
the subtropical zone forests around the Volcan de Chiriqui, where it 
is local and far from common. 



1. Size large (equal to a small domestic fowl); wing more than 180 mm.; 

posterior face of tarsus rough, with upper margins of scutes prominent 

and projecting 2 

Size much smaller (equal to a medium-sized pigeon) ; wing less than 
130 mm. ; posterior face of tarsus smooth, like the anterior surface. 

Little tinamou, Cryptiirellus soui, p. 17 

2. Tarsus strong, with projecting upper margin of posterior scutes sharp 

and rough; toes, including claws, relatively shorter and heavier, with 
middle toe and claw less than 40 mm.; general color grayer; throat 

white or whitish Great tinamou, Tinamus major, p. 6 

Tarsus more slender with projecting upper margin of posterior scutes prom- 
inent but smooth; toes, including claws, longer, more slender, with 
middle toe and claw more than 45 mm. ; general color bright buffy brown, 
with throat brown (ochraceous tawny). 

Highland tinamou, Nothocercus honapartei, p. 14 

TINAMUS MAJOR (Gmelin): Great Tinamou; Perdiz de Area 
Figure 2 
Tetrao major Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 767. (Cayenne.) 

Size of a small domestic fowl, with heavy body, slender neck, and 
small head. 

Description. — Length 400 to 460 mm. Adult (sexes alike), above 
brownish olive to grayish olive, with narrow, irregular, black bars on 
back and wing ; crown sooty black to chestnut ; below grayish white to 
brownish white, barred heavily on the flanks, and narrowly and indis- 
tinctly elsewhere, with grayish black. 

Chicks, as they hatch, covered with soft down ; chestnut-brown on 
the body, darker above, paler below, and whitish on the abdomen; 
flanks barred with whitish ; rump and lower back barred with cream- 
buff ; crown paler brown, with a blackish-brown band, lighter in cen- 
ter, extending transversely from eye to eye ; a similarly colored band 
from the base of the bill back through the eye to the ear coverts ; sides 
of the head brownish beneath the eye, grayish above the ear region ; 
chin and throat grayish white. 

Juvenile wing quills begin to grow immediately, and the down is 
replaced quickly by a second plumage of firm feathers, in general 
appearance like those of the adult, but darker in color, barred less 
definitely above, but more heavily below, with the dorsal surface 
sparsely spotted with buff. 

An adult male {Tinamus m. saturatus, intermediate toward ftisci- 
pennis) shot near Mandinga, Comarca de San Bias, February 12, 
1957, had the iris dark brown ; maxilla dusky neutral gray ; mandible 


fuscous, with tip light neutral gray; tarsus and toes neutral gray, 
except for the roughened scales on the back of the tarsus, which are 
mouse brown. 

The great tinamou, resident in heavily forested areas of the 

Fig. 2,— Great tinamou, perdiz de area, Tinamus major. The head shows the 
smooth crown of the subspecies of western Panama, 

Tropical and lower Subtropical Zones throughout the Isthmus, is 
much in favor as a game bird because of the meat, white with a 
slight greenish tint, of the heavy breast. This is delicious in flavor, 
excelling that of any other bird known to me when properly 
prepared. Tinamous have been much reduced in number over ex- 
tensive areas through destruction of their forest cover and through 


hunting, but some are still found in most extensive tracts of original 
forest, where they are able to maintain themselves through their 
secretive habits. In unsettled regions, especially in hill country, they 
are often common. Occasionally several may be found together, but 
it is more usual to encounter pairs or single birds. In thinly settled 
sections they are unsuspicious and, though they seek cover, are not 
difficult to see ; but when much hunted careful approach is necessary 
to obtain a glimpse of them, as at any alarm they slip quietly away 
through the ground cover, aided in concealment by the dim light 
and heavy shadows characteristic of their haunts. Occasionally one 
that becomes startled will fly, rising at a sharp angle with a roar of 
wings to 3 to 15 meters from the ground, and then drive swiftly away 
behind the protective screen of the leaves of the undergrowth and 
lower branches of the trees. The flight does not continue far, and 
when once more on the ground it is seldom that the bird will flush 
again. In areas where they have been little molested rarely one may 
alight on a large tree limb, but this is unusual. E. A. Goldman in a 
manuscript note records one such incident, and on one occasion I 
had one stop briefly on a horizontal tree trunk projecting from the 
side of a wide barranca. Where the jungle is sufficiently dry it is 
common to find their dusting places in open areas on the forest floor. 

The call note is a tremulous whistle, repeated several times, at first 
slowly and then, toward the end, more rapidly in slightly higher 
tone. Though heard in daytime, especially in early morning and 
late afternoon, their calls come also through the night, carrying to 
the human listener a feeling of the mystery that surrounds the 
nocturnal life of the darker hours. Occasionally a tinamou is en- 
countered in night hunting but though the birds may be seen the 
eyes are so small that it is sometimes difficult to detect their deep red 
reflection in the beam of the jack light. 

The accumulated data indicate a laying season in Panama that 
begins in January and extends to July. The available information 
covers a period of 40 years and comes mainly from the Pacific slope 
between Chiriqui and Darien and the Atlantic drainage at Barro 
Colorado Island. It indicates that the breeding period is initiated at 
the opening of the dry season and continues into the period of rains. 
It must vary in its period with individual groups of the birds, since 
so far as is known there is only one brood each season. 

The nests that I have seen have been placed against the base of a 
tree, living or dead, sheltered between the projecting flanges of 


buttressed roots. The location has been in heavy forest, with the site 
protected by undergrowth so that it is aside from the more open 
areas that would be traveled normally by predators. The nest sites 
invariably were carefully sheltered so that it has been chance that has 
brought them to my attention. Large dry leaves that have fallen be- 
tween the roots are molded to line a depression 250 mm. in diameter 
and about 75 mm. deep in the center. The parent sits close and flushes 
only at near approach, rising then directly from the nest. Native 
hunters say that it is always the male that incubates. On the two 
occasions on which I have shot incubating birds as they roared off 
on the wing they have been males. One killed two hours after sunrise 
had the cloaca and lower end of the intestine for a distance of 8 
centimeters packed with a bolus of feces almost 2^ cm. in diameter, 
indicating that it had remained on the nest through the night. The 
normal clutch seems to be 6 or 7 eggs. The shell of the egg is 
smooth, with a porcelainlike sheen that reflects light, causing the 
blue-green color to appear more brilliant than it really is. In fresh 
eggs the yolk is colored dark orange. The chicks are active and 
leave the nest within a day or so after hatching. As their wings 
begin growth at once, the young are able to fly when no larger in 
body than a brown robin. 

Usually this species is known as the perdis de area, though in the 
eastern part of the Republic I have heard it called perdis de montana, 
and in Bocas del Toro a common name is mountain hen. As one 
explanation of the first of the names mentioned, I was told an attrac- 
tive tale of local folklore. According to this, when the Rainbow of 
Promise appeared in the sky following the Flood, the brilliant colors 
so frightened the perdis that it flew out in terror from the company 
of other birds in the Ark of Noah to shelter in the forest, where 
it has remained hidden ever since ! 

The species ranges from southeastern Mexico through Central 
America to western Ecuador, eastern Peru, northern Brazil, and 
French Guiana. Four subspecies are found in Panama. In each of 
these there are two color phases, one of which is grayer, and the 
other more rufescent, a fact that needs to be borne in mind in 
identifying specimens. 

In the measurements under subspecies, in this and in the other 
species of the family, tail length has been omitted since the coverts 
above and below are so intermingled with the rectrices that the correct 
dimension may not be determined satisfactorily. 



Tinamus fuscipennis Salvadori, Cat. Birds Brit. Mus., vol, 27, after Sept. 6, 1895, 
p. 500, (Escondido River, and San Rafael, Nicaragua = Rio Escondido, 
Nicaragua, restricted by Peters, Checkl. Birds World, vol. 1, 1931, p. 13.) 

Characters. — Crown sooty black, usually with a few very small 
spots or narrow bars of chestnut, particularly toward the nape; 
averaging darker on the dorsal surface than the other races found 
in Panama, 

Measurements. — Males (7 specimens from Costa Rica and Bocas 
del Toro), wing 222-244 (233.3), culmen from base 33.3-37.1 (34,9), 
tarsus 67.4-74.2 (70.0), middle toe with claw (5 specimens) 36.4-39.4 
(37.6) mm. 

Females (8 specimens from Costa Rica and Bocas del Toro), 
wing 224-240 (233.9), culmen from base 32.0-40.0 (36,4), tarsus 
71.0-75.8 (72.7), middle toe with claw (7 specimens) 36.0-42.4 
(39.3) mm. 

Resident in the Tropical and lower Subtropical Zones. From the 
Province of Bocas del Toro (Changuinola, Almirante, Boquete Trail) 
eastward on the Caribbean slope across northern Veraguas and west- 
ern Colon, intergrading with T. m. saturatus in the valley of the Rio 
Indio in the Caribbean section of Code (El Uracillo) and in Colon. 
On the Caribbean slope it extends northward through Costa Rica to 
northern Nicaragua. 

It seems certain that birds of this race range into the lower Sub- 
tropical Zone in the mountains. There is one skin in the Museum of 
Comparative Zoology taken at about 600 meters on the Boquete 
trail back of Laguna de Chiriqui ; and another, a typical specimen, in 
the British Museum (Natural History), received from Enrique 
Arce, is labeled "Veraguas" without other information as to locality. 
It is probable that the latter was taken near the Continental Divide, 
presumably on the Caribbean side. 

Charles O. Handley, Jr., recorded a nest near Almirante, January 
23, 1960, with 5 fresh eggs, and another February 13 in which in- 
cubation was well advanced. Huber (Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phil- 
adelphia, 1932, p 206) reported the dimension of 3 eggs found April 
5, 1922, in northeastern Nicaragua, as follows: 59.2x46.4, 61 .7 X 
48.8, and 63.2x49.7 mm. 


Tinamus castaneiceps Salvadori, Cat. Birds Brit. Mus., vol. 27, after Sept. 6, 
1895, p. 507, pi. 6. (Southern slope of the Volcan de Chiriquf, Panama.) 


Characters. — Crown chestnut to chestnut-brown; dorsal surface 

Measurements. — Males (10 specimens from Costa Rica and 
Chiriqui), wing 219-232 (227.4), culmen from base 30.8-36.6 (34.4), 
tarsus 65.4-70.8 (67.7), middle toe with claw (8 specimens) 34,2-40.2 
(37.5) mm. 

Females (8 specimens from Costa Rica and Chiriqui), wing 221- 
240 (233), culmen from base 31.7-38.8 (35.6), tarsus 67.4-76.5 
(71.3), middle toe with claw (6 specimens) 38.0-40.9 (39.4) mm. 

Resident. In forests on the Pacific slope from western Chiriqui 
through central Veraguas and western Province of Panama to the 
Canal Zone, extending into the lower part of the Subtropical Zone to 
1,500 meters elevation in Chiriqui (Santa Clara, El Volcan). The 
extralimital range extends along the Pacific slope west to central 
Costa Rica (Puntarenas, Rio Pirrls). 

Intergradation with the subspecies T. m. saturatus begins near the 
original continental divide in the Canal Zone, as is shown by an adult 
male from Barro Colorado Island that has the feathers of the back 
of the crown very slightly elongated. Though this appears to be a 
hint of the nuchal crest that marks saturatus, the coloration is that 
of castaneiceps. 

Van Tyne (Occ. Pap. Mus. Zool. Univ. Michigan, 1950, pp. 2-4) 
gives the following data from 2 nests, one of 4 and one of 6 eggs, 
found on Barro Colorado Island: Size, 56x45 mm. to 62x50 mm.; 
weight 56.0 to 81.4 grams. He described the color as beryl green. 

In examining other races of this tinamou from northern South 
America one is aware immediately of the close resemblance of 
castaneiceps to T. m. zuliensis, the form that is found from the 
lower Rio Sinu Valley in Colombia eastward through the Santa 
Marta region to eastern and southern Venezuela. The principal 
characters of difference that mark castaneiceps are the somewhat 
duller reddish brown of the crown, the more buffy, less reddish brown 
of the hindneck and the sides of the head, and the average darker 
coloration of the upper surface. In considering the evident close 
resemblance one has the definite impression that castaneiceps and 
suliensis of today represent the descendants of one stock found for- 
merly throughout the tropical lowland areas from Panama to Vene- 
zuela that has been divided by the intrusion of the much darker 
saturatus, an intrusion permitted through environmental change 
occasioned by the heavier annual rainfall found in the range of the 
darker form. 



Tinamus major brunneiventris Aldrich, Scient. Publ. Cleveland Mus. Nat. Hist., 
vol. 7, Aug. 31, 1937, p. 28. (Paracote, 1 mile south of mouth of Rjo Angulo, 
Veraguas, Panami.) 

Characters. — Generally similar to Tinamus m. castaneiceps, but 
darker above and below; sides of head and crown darker brown 
(darker than in T. m. saturatus) . 

Measurements. — Males (2 specimens), wing 214, 234, culmen from 
base 34.0, 34.2, tarsus 67.6, 70.2, middle toe with claw 37.5 mm. 

Female (1 specimen), wing 229, culmen from base 34.0, tarsus 
69, middle toe with claw 37.1 mm. 

Resident. In forests of the Tropical Zone of southern Veraguas 
adjacent to Golfo de Montijo. Recorded to the lower Rio San 
Lorenzo (east of Bahia Honda), the western slope of the Azuero 
Peninsula at Altos Cacao (450 meters elevation, between the Rio 
Negro and Rio Mariato), and on the slopes of Cerro Montuosa and 
Cerro Hoya on the central divide. 

On Cerro Hoya Handley found it common through the forests 
to an elevation of 1,000 meters. Little is known of this race other 
than the few specimens that have been collected. 


Figure 3 

Tinamus major saturatus Griscom, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 69, April 1929, 
p. ISO. (Cana, 650 meters elevation, Darien.) 

Characters. — Differs from other races in Panama in having the 
feathers on the back of the head elongated to form a small crest; 
crown chestnut as in Tinamus m. castaneiceps, but dorsal surface 
darker, in this like T. m. fuscipennis. 

Measurements. — Males (14 specimens from Panama), wing 215- 
238 (227), culmen from base 32.8-37.5 (35.3), tarsus 64.5-73.1 
(69.3), middle toe with claw (6 specimens) 37.4-40.1 (38.6) mm. 

Females (12 specimens from Panama), wing 218-242 (230), 
culmen from base 33.0-38.5 (35.3), tarsus 66.5-73.3 (69.5), middle 
toe with claw (6 specimens) 38.1-40.2 (39.5) mm. 

Resident. In forest areas on the Pacific slope from the Cerro Azul, 
eastern Province of Panama, eastward through Darien ; and on the 
Caribbean side from Madden Lake through the San Bias; ranging 
upward in Darien into the Subtropical Zone (1,400 meters on Cerro 

Intergradation toward Tinamus major fuscipennis is evident in 


specimens from Cerro Azul, the Rio Pequeni (Salamanca Hydro- 
graphic Station), and Mandinga in the western San Bias. To the 
eastward this race extends into northwestern Colombia through 
Choco to northern Antioquia and Cordoba. 

On March 7, 1964, at Tacarcuna Village, Darien, when one of 
these tinamous flushed in dense undergrowth near the bank of the 
Rio Tacarcuna we found that it had come from a nest beside which 
rested two chicks a few hours old that proved to be male and female. 
The nest, the usual shallow depression molded in dried leaves 
accumulated between two buttressed roots at the base of a large 

Fig. 3. — Crested head of Tinamus major saturatus, the race of the great tinamou 
found from the Canal Zone through eastern Panama. 

tree, held the shells of the eggs from which the two had hatched, 
each divided in half near the center. In general pattern the down 
in the young birds was warm brown on the upper surface, across the 
breast, and on the sides, with the throat, foreneck, and abdomen 
grayish white. The side of the head was darker gray, barred nar- 
rowly with dull black. The lower back and rump were paler than 
the hindneck and upper back. One, which proved to be a male, is 
somewhat brighter colored, more reddish brown, with lower back 
and rump basally warm buff tipped with dull brown dotted faintly 
with dull black. The front half and sides of the crown are grayish 
white, barred narrowly and indistinctly with dull gray, with the 
forehead tinged with brown. A narrow black line borders the 
brown posterior part of the crown and hindneck, and a similar narrow 


black line leads back from the base of the bill to divide the gray 
anterior area in two portions. There is also a line of chestnut 
bordered narrowly above and below with black, that extends across 
the lores back beneath the eye through the auricular area. In the 
female chick the anterior crown area is slightly paler brown than 
the posterior section with only a faint, narrow median line. The 
brown lateral stripe is restricted on the loral region, and is reduced 
posteriorly to a brown spot back of the eye. The pattern of the 
markings in general outline is like that of the male but is only 
lightly indicated. The differences described need further check to 
determine whether they indicate two color phases that occur without 
regard to sex. 

A set of 6 eggs of this subspecies taken at the base of Cerro 
Chucanti in the Serrania de Maje, Province of Panama, March 10, 
1950, measures 62.8x47.3, 62.7x48.2, 61.6x45.9, 60.0x48.4, 
58.4x47.0, and 57.6x45.7 mm. Another set, also of 6 eggs, collected 
at Jaque, Darien, March 25, 1946, measures 60.3x46.5, 59,4x46.0, 
59.0x45.9, 58.5x48.6, 56.8x45.0 and 56.0x43.6 mm. Color in 
the two sets varies from glaucous-blue to light glaucous-blue. The 
shells of two eggs from Tacarcuna Village, from which the young 
described above had hatched, were lumiere blue, a brighter color. 

On the Rio Cangandi, back of Mandinga, Charles O. Handley, Jr., 
recorded eggs near hatching May 17, 1959, and a day-old chick, 
May 21. He found a nest with 4 eggs at the Mandinga airstrip on 
May 28. Near Armila, San Bias, a male and a female taken 
February 24 and 25, 1963, were breeding. 

Lionel Wafer, surgeon and traveler, undoubtedly refers to this 
race of the great tinamou in his account of Darien (Isthmus of 
America, 1699, p. 115) when he writes, "There is also a Russet- 
colour'd Landbird shap'd not unlike a Partridge; but has a longer 
Neck and Legs, yet a short Tail. He runs most on the ground, and 
seldom flies. His flesh is very good meat." 

The Cuna Indians at Armila called these birds putu. 


Perdiz Serrana. 

Tinamits jrantzii Lawrence, Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. New York, vol. 9, 1869, p. 140. 
(Cervantes, Costa Rica.) 

Size of a small domestic fowl; slightly smaller and definitely 
brighter brown than the great tinamou. 

Description. — Length 350 to 400 mm. Adult (sexes alike), crown 


and sides of head blackish; upper surface dark brown, with the 
feathers crossed by irregular black bars, so narrow that the two 
colors blend to produce an olive appearance; wings and lower back 
more or less spotted with buff; undersurface from the throat to the 
abdomen cinnamon-buff, with the throat plain, and the rest sparsely 
barred with narrow lines of black ; sides and under tail coverts olive 
brown, barred with black ; abdomen buff, barred with black. 

The finer black barring above and the cinnamon-brown throat, with 
smaller size, smoother posterior surface of the tarsus, and longer 
middle toe and claw, separate this bird from the great tinamou. 

A recently hatched chick in the Museum of Comparative Zoology 
from Costa Rica (no. 55339) has the crown and hindneck dull black, 
with partly concealed barring of dull white ; rest of dorsal surface 
mingled rufous and black; sides of head dull black, spotted with 
white ; throat whitish, spotted indistinctly with neutral gray ; under 
surface cinnamon-buff, with foreneck darker and mingled with black. 
The coloration as a whole is decidedly darker than that of the chick 
of Tinamus major. 

Jose Zeledon on the label of a specimen in the U. S. National 
Museum noted the following colors of the soft parts in a breeding 
female tal<en at La Palma de San Jose, Costa Rica : Iris brown ; 
base of mandible whitish, rest of bill black ; tarsi and toes plumbeous, 
with a slight olivaceous tint. 

Measurements. — Males (8 specimens from Chiriqui and Costa 
Rica), wing 200-209 (205), culmen from base 31.2-35.4 (33.1), 
tarsus 66.6-71.3 (69.0), middle toe with claw 48.4-52.0 (50.3) mm. 

Females (10 specimens from Chiriqui and Costa Rica), wing 
208-233 (220), culmen from base 32.7-36.8 (34.5), tarsus 68.1-74.6 
(72.5), middle toe with claw 50.2-55.4 (52.3) mm. 

Resident. Through the uppermost Tropical and Subtropical Zone 
forests of the Volcan de Chiriqui and the higher ridges adjacent. 
Recorded from 1,400 to 2,000 meters elevation near Boquete, and 
from 1,400 to 1,800 meters on Cerro Pando, above the Rio Chiriqui 
Viejo. It is found also in subtropical zone forests of central and 
southern Costa Rica. 

The present subspecies, A^. b. frantsii, a highland bird, is isolated 
geographically from its nearest relative, N, b. intercedens of the 
western Andes of Colombia, by the central depression of the Isthmus 
of Panama. It differs from intercedens, and from the three addi- 
tional races at present recognized from Colombia, Ecuador and 
Venezuela, as follows : General coloration more buffy, less rufescent, 


especially on the lower surface; dark color of nape extended down 
over less than half of hindneck, instead of nearly to the back ; under 
primary coverts plain, or with faint markings on the innermost, 
instead of appreciably barred throughout. 

This is a forest bird that is even more retiring than the great 
tinamou, so that little is known of it in Panama, aside from the 
few specimens that have been taken. 

In the Boquete region the Monniche collection has specimens from 
Alto de Chiquero, taken between April 19 and May 17, 1933, and 
Quebrada Velo, August 8, 1939, at elevations of 1,650 to 2,000 
meters (Blake, Fieldiana: Zool., vol. 36, 1958, p. 504). In the 
western area, beyond El Volcan, these tinamous are present in small 
numbers on Cerro Pando, above Palo Santo, west of the Rio Chiriqui 
Viejo. Two specimens from this area, taken February 18, 1953, and 
March 6, 1956, have been presented to the U. S. National Museum 
by Dr. Frank A. Hartman. I had report of this species on the 
forested ridge above the Quebrada Santa Clara farther to the west, 
and it is probable that it ranges from 1,400 to 1,800 meters or higher 
throughout the still unsettled forest section that covers the mountain 
slopes from Volcan Barii to the Costa Rican border. Available 
records from Panama come from the Pacific slope. 

Armaguedon Hartmann, who is familiar with this bird in the 
Tisingal-Santa Clara area, tells me that in April, with the first 
rains, these birds begin to call, a double note quite different from 
the whistling of the other two tinamous found in the Republic. As 
they call usually when moving over the forest floor, it is difficult to 
approach them because of this movement and of the shelter of low 
growth in which they live. 

My only view of the bird in Hfe has been of one that I flushed 
above the Silla de Cerro Pando on February 6, 1960. I had hunted 
slowly out an old logging road and then returned to the main trail, 
when one rose from scanty cover, where it had hidden within 6 
meters of me, and flew 20 meters or so to disappear in a dense 
thicket. The wings whistled more loudly than in the other species 
of the family found in Panama, and the bird appeared very brown. 

The little that is known of the breeding habits of the race N. b. 
frantzii comes from a few observations made in Costa Rica, An 
tgg in the U, S, National Museum taken from the oviduct of a 
bird collected by Jose C, Zeledon at La Palma de San Jose (located 
in the depression between Volcan Irazii and Volcan Barba), on 
May 1, 1884, is deep glaucous-gray, the smooth surface of the shell 
reflecting light as usual in birds of this family. It measures 


72.6 X 50.0 mm. While the shell is fully formed, so that the measure- 
ments are accurate, the full depth of color had not been developed. 
Four eggs in the British Museum (Natural History) collected at 
Estrella de Cartage, Costa Rica, by C. F. Underwood (date un- 
known) are near myrtle green. They measure 74,2x49.6, 71.2x49.0, 
71.3x52.1 and 71.0x48.9 mm. Two other eggs in the same collec- 
tion ascribed to A^. b. frantsii, while said by Gates (Cat. Eggs Brit. 
Mus., vol. 1, 1901, p. 11) to be "of uncertain origin," are listed 
as purchased from M. Parzudaki, but without other data. They meas- 
ure 76.6x53.3 and 79.0x52.5 mm. Carriker (Ann. Carnegie Mus., 
vol. 6, 1910, pp. 377-378) on September 12, 1907, recorded a male 
accompanied by 5 small chicks, near Uj arras (de Terraba) near the 
southern end of the western slope of the Cordillera de Talamanca, 
Costa Rica, 

It is interesting that the eggs of this tinamou are larger than those 
of the races of the great tinamou, Tinamus major, found in Panama, 
though the bird itself is slightly smaller in body. 

CRYPTTJRELLUS SOUI (Hermann): Little Tinamou; Perdiz de Rastrojo 

Figure 4 
Tinamus soui Hermann, Tabl. Aff, Anim., 1783, p. 165. (Cayenne.) 

Smallest of the tinamous found in Panama; size of a large 
pigeon, with heavy body, very short tail, small head, and slender 

Description. — Length 200 to 230 mm. Two color phases, one grayer, 
the other more bufify or rufescent. Adult, male, general color, bearing 
this in mind, is grayish brown above, with a dark gray or blackish 
crown; below clay color to brown, with foreneck and upper breast 
distinctly gray and throat white. 

Female, much more rufescent below, except in the race modestus, 
where the two sexes are nearly alike. 

Back of the tarsus is smooth. Males are slightly smaller in body 
than females, 

A downy young (either C. s. poliocephalus or C. s. panamensis), 
less than a week old, is chocolate-brown above and on the sides; 
forehead and indistinct bars on the crown, flanks, and tail buffy 
brown; throat buffy white; rest of lower surface cinnamon-brown. 

This downy stage is followed by a second plumage as follows 
(description taken from American Museum of Natural History no, 
232292, C. s. panamensis, J* juv,. Chimin, Panama, March 6, 1927) : 
Crown dusky neutral gray, with the feathers ticked with cinnamon 



on sides; back, tertials, rump, and upper tail coverts dull cinnamon- 
brown, with a narrow tip and a broad crescent-shaped subterminal 
spot black ; under surface grayish brown, shading toward light olive 
on the sides, barred strongly but brokenly with black; under tail 
coverts sepia, tipped with clay color and light cinnamon. This very 
distinct plumage appears to be retained only briefly before it is re- 
placed by the adult dress. Few examples showing it are found in 
museum collections. 

Fig. 4. — Little tinamou, perdiz de rastrojo, Crypturellus soui. 

An adult male C. s. panamensis, taken at Puerto Obaldia, San Bias, 
March 15, 1963, had the iris orange; maxilla fuscous black, except 
the tip which was olive-brown; mandibular rami and gape honey 
yellow; distal part of mandible dull yellowish brown; tarsus and 
toes, including claws, dull greenish yellow. 

An adult female of the race C. s. poliocephalus, taken at Tonosi, 
Los Santos, March 28, 1957, had the iris light brown; base of 
mandible brownish (avellaneous) ; maxilla and tip of mandible dark 
neutral gray ; front of tarsus greenish gray, with the margins of the 
scutes brownish; back of tarsus and toes brownish; claws neutral 


gray. A male shot at the same time had the tarsal colors duller, 
more olive green. 

The perdiz de rastrojo is the most common species of the family 
and is resident throughout the isthmus from sea level to 1,500 meters 
elevation. It lives in thickets, in low vegetation, and in the second 
growth — the rastrojo — of abandoned plantations, and along the 
borders of cultivated fields. Where extensive stands of tall forest 
still remain it ranges mainly near the banks of streams. 

Like the other species of its family it is extremely shy and is 
seen with difficulty in the dense growths of grass, weeds and brush 
that it frequents, its concealment being aided by its small size. 
It has been able to maintain itself in many rather densely popu- 
lated areas in spite of constant hunting, as it is adaptable in shifting 
about when clearing for cultivation encroaches on parts of its habitat. 
On many occasions in small villages I have awakened at night to 
hear its call where it seemed hardly possible that the birds could 
exist amid the abundance of dogs, active small boys, and other 
potential enemies. Often I have heard them in daytime very near at 
hand, when even the sharp-eyed country boys with me could not 
see them. I recall in particular one Choco Indian house in Darien 
— the usual elevated platform with open sides — where a pair of these 
tinamous came ddly into the matted ground vegetation of the small 
surrounding plantation. Often they called not more than 12 meters 
away, but we never had a glimpse of them during a three weeks' 
stay, though we were certain that they were watching us from the 
depths of their cover. Rarely one may detect a slight movement 
as the bird retreats to a more secure location, and still more rarely 
is one seen walking quietly, or running. In early morning I have 
come on them in the open at the edge of fields or pastures when 
they often rise in rapid flight to disappear immediately in nearby 
cover. The call is a tremulous, whistled note, repeated several times 
in an insistent tone, with ascending cadence, gaining in strength 
and rapidity with each repetition, and then falling rather quickly 
into silence. It is common for others to answer. They call through- 
out the day, and their regular nocturnal whistling indicates activity 
at night, though I have never observed one during night-hunting 

Nesting seems to be irregular throughout the year. I have taken 
females with ovaries in breeding condition from February through 
May, and have records from literature of young hatching the mid- 
dle of July, and a nest with eggs on August 4. Two eggs constitute 


a set, placed on a few leaves and other dried vegetation in a slight 
depression on the ground. The site is selected in open brush or 
near the borders of woodland, and is concealed beneath overhanging 
leaves and branches. Gross (Ann. Rep. Smiths. Inst, for 1926, 
1927, p. ZZ7) describes one incubating bird that allowed him to 
touch it and that only left the nest when he moved his hands be- 
neath it to feel the eggs. Van Tyne has reported similar experiences. 
While working at Boca del Rio Indio, in western Colon, in 1952, 
a boy brought me two fresh eggs on February 18. Two more ob- 
tained through the same means on February 20 were about two- 
thirds incubated. In color these varied from pale to light brownish 
drab. Measurements of these are given under C. s. panamensis. 

In stomachs that I have examined I have found a variety of seeds 
and berries with a few bits of small insects, the egg case of a 
roach, and, in one, bones of a small frog. 

Occasionally, in places frequented by washerwomen or others, 
where the small perdiz is little molested, it becomes less shy and may 
even walk about in the open, but never far from cover. In the 
Province of Los Santos where sheltering vegetation is frequently 
too scant during the prolonged dry season to afford protection, 
country boys said that the perdiz often hides beneath piles of the 
dead leaves accumulated at this time of the year beneath the trees. 
In this province the birds were called tapara; elsewhere they were 
often known as perdicita. The Cuna Indians knew them as Su-ira, 
a term that was in common use for the species among Panamanians 
and Colombians at Puerto Obaldia. 

The species as a whole ranges from northern Oaxaca and south- 
ern Veracruz south through the tropical lowlands of Central America 
to eastern Bolivia and south central Brazil. There is much varia- 
tion in color in this vast area so that 14 subspecies are recognized, 
of which 4 are found in Panama. 


Crypturus modestus Cabanis, Journ. fiir Orn., 1869, p. 212. (Costa Rica.) 

Characters. — Differs from the other races found on the isthmus 
in having male and female closely similar in color ; the entire plum- 
age gray, except for a wash of clay color on breast and abdomen; 
in general darker colored than the other races of the Pacific slope. 

Measurements. — Males (9 specimens from Costa Rica and Chi- 
riqui), wing 121.8-128.5 (124.5), culmen from base 20.0-22.4 (21.0), 
tarsus 38.0-43.6 (40.0) mm. 


Females (6 specimens from Costa Rica and Chiriqui), wing 
127.3-135.5, culmen from base 20.3-22.7 (21.6), tarsus 38.8-42.0 
(40.3) mm. 

Resident. Found widely throughout the Tropical Zone on the Pa- 
cific slope in western Chiriqui ; recorded in the Subtropical Zone to 
1,250 meters near the Rio Chiriqui Viejo, west of El Volcan, and to 
1,600 meters on Horqueta, above Boquete. 

This is the form of western Costa Rica also. Birds from the 
highlands around the Chiriqui volcano are intermediate toward 
C. s. capnodes of the Caribbean slope. The most eastern specimens 
seen from Chiriqui are from El Banco, on the lower slopes of the 
volcano below Boquete. The subspecific status of birds of eastern 
Chiriqui and western Veraguas is uncertain. 

At the Finca Palo Santo, west of El Volcan, on February 15, 1960, 
I was given the shells of 2 eggs from which the young had just 
hatched. One of them, brought to the Museum for comparison, 
agrees in color with the eggs of C. s. panamensis collected at Rio 
Indio in western Colon. Skutch (Condor, 1963, p. 225) gives the 
following measurements of 16 eggs of this race examined near San 
Isidro del General, Costa Rica: 40.5-45.6x31.8-33.3 mm. He found 
the complete set to be 2 eggs. 


Crypturellus soui capnodes Wetmore, Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, vol. 76, 
Aug. 2, 1963, p. 173. (Almirante, Bocas del Toro, Panama.) 

Characters. — Darker throughout than C. s. modestus; darker red- 
dish brown above with crown blacker ; darker below, with the fore- 
neck and upper breast darker gray. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Bocas del Toro), wing 117.4- 
125.0 (121.9), culmen from base 19.4-21.3 (21.0), tarsus 38.1-40.8 
(39.7) mm. 

Females (4 from Bocas del Toro), wing 124.0-127.4 (125.5), 
culmen from base 20.0-22.1 (21.2), tarsus 40.7-42.8 (41.6) mm. 

Resident. Local in the tropical lowlands of western and central 
Bocas del Toro (Zegla, at mouth of Rio Teribe; Changuinola; Al- 
mirante; Cricamola). 

Birds from Cricamola on the Chiriqui Lagoon belong with this 
race, but begin to show an approach to C. s. panamensis. It is probable 
that C. s. capnades is found in the lower Sixaola Valley in Costa 
Rica. Specimens from the higher elevations of the mountains 


around Volcan Baru in western Chiriqui show indication of darker 
color, but belong with modestus. 


Crypturornts soui poliocephalus Aldrich, Sci. Publ. Cleveland Mus. Nat. Hist, 
vol. 7, Aug. 31, 1937, p. 30. (Paracote, east shore of Montijo Bay, 1 mile 
south of mouth of Rio Angulo, Veraguas, Panama.) 

Characters. — Compared with modestus, male browner above and 
more cinnamon-buff below; female decidedly different, being rufes- 
cent brown on the lower surface. 

Measurements. — Males (17 specimens), wing 116.3-126.7 (121.9), 
culmen from base 19.5-23.0 (21.3), tarsus 35.3-42.1 (38.3) mm. 

Females (8 specimens), wing 122.8-134.5 (129.7), culmen from 
base 20.5-24.6 (22.3), tarsus 38.7-43.4 (40.9) mm. 

Resident. Through the Tropical Zone on the Pacific slope, ascend- 
ing to the lower edge of the Subtropical Zone in the mountains ; from 
western Veraguas (Sona) to the Canal Zone (Empire), and the 
Province of Panama, eastward to the lower Rio Bayano (Chico; 
Chepo; San Antonio), including both slopes of the Azuero Pen- 
insula, south to the Tonosi Valley. Isla del Rey, in the Archipielago 
de las Perlas. 

Birds from Azuero Peninsula are slightly grayer on the crown 
than those from southern Code eastward, but the difference is not 
sufficient to warrant recognition of two races. The range of 
poliocephalus thus extends over most of the area included by recent 
authors under the name panamensis. Those taken by W. W. Brown, 
Jr., on Isla del Rey in 1900 and 1904 do not differ from birds of 
the mainland. It seems possible that the species was introduced there, 
either by Indians or later, as the bird is one that is kept frequently in 

An egg from the oviduct of a female collected near Chepo, April 
6, 1949, has the shell fully formed but lacks the full color and gloss 
of one completely ready to lay. It measures 41.2x30.4 mm., being 
slightly smaller than the two sets of C.s. panamensis seen. 


Crypturus soui panamensis Carriker, Ann. Carnegie Mus., Aug, (Sept. 7), 1910, 
p. 379. (Loma del Leon, Panamas Lion Hill, Canal Zone, Panama.) 

Crypturus soui harterti Brabourne and Chubb, Ann. Mag. Hist., ser. 8, 
vol. 14, Oct. 1914, p. 321. (Vaqueria, Province of Esmeraldas, Ecuador.) 

Characters. — Decidedly darker than C, s. poliocephalus in both sexes 
(the female being browner on the undersurface than the male) ; 


crown and hindneck blacker ; f oreneck and upper breast darker gray. 

Measurements. — Males (20 specimens from Panama), wing 117.4- 
128.0 (122.4), culmen from base 20.0-22.5 (21.1), tarsus 36.9- 
41.3 (38.4) mm. 

Females (20 specimens from Panama), wing 124.6-138.0 (129.8), 
culmen from base 20.0-22.6 (21.7), tarsus 37.4-42.2 (40.6) mm. 

Resident. Found in the Tropical Zone and lower Subtropical Zone 
on the Pacific slope from the far eastern area of the Province of Pana- 
ma (Rio Maje) through Darien; on the Caribbean slope from 
western Colon, east through the northern Canal Zone, the upper 
Chagres drainage (Rio Boqueron), and San Bias. 

Two sets of two eggs each from Boca del Rio Indio, western Col6n, 
taken February 18 and 20, 1952, are between pale and light brownish 
drab in color. One set measures 42.7x32.0 and 42.4x32.5 mm., 
the other 43.3x32.0, and 43.8x33.2 mm. The first was fresh, the 
second incubated about one-third. At the mouth of the Rio Paya, 
Darien, on February 24, 1959, I found the lower half shells of two 
eggs evidently recently hatched that are deeper in color than those 
described above, being near brownish drab. 

Van Tyne (Occ. Pap. Mus. Zool., Univ. Michigan, no. 525, 
1950, pp. 2-3) records the measurements of three sets of two eggs 
each found on Barro Colorado, as from 40.7 X 30.5 to 44.0 X 32.0 mm., 
with a range in weight from 20.4 to 23 grams. He reports the 
weight of a male bird in breeding condition as 209 grams. 

In laboratory examination of six stomachs, the greater part of 
the food was found to be seeds of a wide variety of kinds, among 
which grasses of the genera Paniciim and Paspalum, the sedge 
Scleria, Amaranthus, a spurge, oxalis, species of mallow, grape, and 
passionflower, Styrax, and Solatium were identified. Smaller amounts 
of animal food, often only traces, included fragments of a roach, 
ants, beetles, a bug (heteropteran), and bones of a small frog. Gravel, 
as a grinding agent, was present in varying amounts, up to 20 
percent of the contents. 

The name panamensis was proposed by Carriker in 1910 to cover 
the little tinamous of Panama east of the range of C. s. modestus. 
Griscom (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 1932, pp. 309-310) noted that birds 
from eastern Panama were darker and listed them under the 
name harterti Brabourne and Chubb. It has been readily evident that 
there are two populations in the central and eastern part of the 
isthmus, but there has been confusion relative to them owing to 
lack of comprehension of local geography, particularly in the Canal 


Zone, coupled with limited material available from the Pacific side 
in that area. Loma del Leon, or Lion Hill, the type locality of 
pmtamensis, now submerged in the northern area of Gatun Lake, was 
in the lower part of the Rio Chagres drainage of the Caribbean 
slope, about 10 miles south of Colon on the northern coast. It was 
therefore in the Caribbean area and well removed from the Continen- 
tal Divide that separates the Chagres Valley from the Pacific. Be- 
cause of lack of specimens from the Pacific side in the area between 
Veraguas and the eastern part of the Province of Panama it has 
not been recognized that these Lion Hill birds agree in color with 
the Caribbean and eastern Panamanian population, which is accepted 
at present as extending south through western Colombia to western 
Ecuador, the type locality of harterti. The name panamensis of 
1910 has application to this population, previously listed under the 
name harterti of 1914. All birds of the Pacific side between 
Veraguas and the central part of the Province of Panama, formerly 
listed imder panamensis, are now placed with poliocephalus of the 
Azuero Peninsula, as indicated above. 


Family PODICIPEDIDAE: Grebes; Somormujos 

The species of this family are among those birds most specialized 
for life in the water. Their strongly muscled legs, placed far back 
on the elongated, streamlined body, project at an angle that permits 
maximum efficiency in swimming. Tail feathers are reduced to 
hairlike plumes, which may be erected in display, or while swimming 
in the sun, but otherwise are little apparent. The wings are small 
but are functional except in one species, Centropelma micropterum 
of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. The feet, in their adaptation for swimming, 
have the tarsi compressed, and the flattened toes, joined at the bases 
in webs, have broad lateral lobes at the ends. One curious cir- 
cumstance in birds of this family is found in the quantities of feathers 
invariably present in the large stomach. The body plumage is closely 
set and abundant, and as the birds preen, feathers are loosened 
and are swallowed. Often the stomach is filled with these, and 
the small pyloric lobe leading from the main stomach cavity to the 
small intestine may have a plug of partly digested feathers. The 
function concerned is not understood ; it is possible that the feather 
mass aids as padding for the harder fish bones or the chitin of 
larger insects, until these are digested. 


While grebes usually are confused with small ducks, and are 
called "paticos," they may be recognized by the slender bill. Two 
of the 20 species that are known are found in Panama. 



1. Bill longer and more slender, plainly colored; size smaller, 200 to 230 mm. 

long Least grebe, Podiceps dominicus, p. 28 

2. Bill heavier, with a distinct black band arotmd its center; size larger, 300 

to 350 mm. long Pied-billed grebe, Podilymbtis podiceps, p. 25 

Downy Young 

1. Forehead and nape blackish, with a single white or cinnamon line running 

back to a patch of the same color in the center of the crown. 

Least grebe, Podiceps dominicus, p. 28 

2. Forehead white, with two parallel white lines on either side extending back 

above the eye ; center of crown and band across nape cinnamon. 

Pied-billed grebe, Podilymbus podiceps, p. 25 

PODILYMBUS PODICEPS (Linnaeus): Pied-billed Grebe; Buzo 
Figure 5 

Larger than the least grebe with a heavier bill that is banded 
broadly through the nostrils with black. 

Description. — Length 300 to 350 mm. Grayish to dusky brown 
above; whitish more or less mixed with gray below, washed lightly 
with brown on the upper breast and lower foreneck; adult with a 
prominent black throat patch. 

Immature birds, in first plumage, resemble those of the least 
grebe, but have the sides of the neck spotted instead of streaked. 
Light streaks remain on the sides of the neck and head until the 
bird is well grown. 

Like the other grebe this species is completely aquatic, and by 
many it is considered to be a small duck because of this and of its 
general form. In Panama it is found on larger ponds and bodies 
of fresh water, where it is fairly common. It is a wary bird that 
seldom allows close approach, as it dives at any alarm, swims far 
tmder water, and often when it rises shows only the bill and the 
forepart of the head to allow it to look about while the body remains 
beneath the surface. Frequently its diving takes it to the shelter of 
bordering vegetation, or to a distance where it feels completely safe. 
While fairly strong on the wing it does not take flight readily, in 
this differing from its small companion. It is unlike that species 



also in being highly aggressive, so that, except during migration, 
only pairs or small family groups are found in company. 

In the nesting season the male has a loud call, cow cow cow cow 
cow repeated rather slowly, that carries for some distance. It is often 
given from cover. Males fight savagely and also attack other 
aquatic birds that may approach their nesting territory. The nests 
are rounded masses of wet vegetation, pulled together in raftlike 
form to project a few centimeters above the surface, located amid 
open stands of water plants. 

In Panama I have noted mated pairs from January to March and 

Fig. 5. — Head of pied-billed grebe, buzo, Podilymbus podiceps, with large, banded 


have seen fully grown immature birds at the same season, indicating 
a prolonged nesting period. The following notes are from eggs 
collected in the United States and Mexico. The usual set numbers 
5 to 7, but occasionally 10 are found. The pointed oval eggs are 
faintly bluish white in color, thick-shelled, smooth, or occasionally 
with small excrescences, and measure 39.0 to 47 mm. long by 28 to 32 
mm. wide. Their color is darkened irregularly by stain from wet nest 
material during incubation. 

The species ranges locally from Canada south through Central 
America and the West Indies, and throughout South America to 
Chubut in south central Patagonia. Two of the 3 geographic races 
reach Panama. The third, Podilymbus podiceps antillarum Bangs, 
of the Greater and Lesser Antilles, differs from the other two mainly 
in shorter wing {(^, 122-126; $, 112.8-114.2 mm.). 



Colymbus podiceps Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 136. (South 


Characters. — Adult, browner on the foreneck and on the sides 
of the head, and faintly lighter, on the average, on the dorsal surface ; 
juvenile, until nearly grown retains streaks on head and neck, with 
the background color of this area darker. 

Measurements. — Males (13 specimens), wing 124.6-134.3 (129.6), 
exposed culmen 20.8-23.7 (22.7), tarsus 40.0-43.8 (42.3), middle 
toe with claw 55.3-57.0 (56.2, average of 7) mm. 

Females (18 specimens), wing 115.0-125.7 (120.4), exposed cul- 
men 17.3-20.8 (19.3), tarsus 35.5-41.0 (38.5), middle toe with claw 
47.7-54.0 (51.7, average of 14) mm. 

Resident. Breeding locally in Bocas del Toro. Migrant elsewhere 
in western Panama during the period of northern winter. 

Mated birds were seen in February 1958 on one of the temporary 
water impoundments at Changuinola ; and on March 141 shot a laying 
female there. Eisenmann (Condor, 1957, p. 249) saw adults and 
young in juvenile plumage in the same area at the end of June 
1956. A skin of this subspecies recorded by Peters (Bull. Mus. 
Comp. Zool., vol. 71, 1931, p. 302) as a bird of the year, taken 
December 22, 1927, near Almirante, may have been from the 
resident stock or a northern migrant. It is probable that this race 
is the one that nests around the lakes near El Volcan in Chiriqui, 
where I noted males calHng in March 1954; and on February 19, 
1960, I saw one, apparently an adult male, that appeared to be 
guarding a nesting territory. Some of those seen there seemed to be 
northern migrants, as in 1954 I noted a decrease in their number at 
the end of the first week in March. 

Two immature birds in the British Museum (Natural History) 
collected by Enrique Arce in Veraguas, one of them, taken in 1869, 
marked "Castillo," also are of this race. It is probable that migrants 
will be found east as far as the Gatun and Madden lake areas. 


Podiceps antarcticus Lesson, Rev. Zool., vol, S, July 1842, p. 209. (Valparaiso, 

Characters. — The race antarcticus differs from typical Podilymbus 
p. podiceps in longer and heavier bill and in larger foot; wing on 
the average longer; adult somewhat darker on the dorsal surface. 


particularly on the hindneck ; grayer, less brown, on f oreneck, upper 
breast, and sides of head. 

Measurements. — Males (13 specimens), wing 130.0-138.0 (132.1), 
exposed culmen 23.6-26.1 (24.3, average of 12), tarsus 41.3-47.2 
(44.7), middle toe with claw 57.1-64.1 (60.7, average of 6) mm. 

Females (8 specimens), wing 119.2-131.0 (123.6), exposed culmen 
20.6-23.1 (21.9), tarsus 39.4-42.0 (41.5), middle toe with claw 53.3- 
59.0 (56.4, average of 2) mm. 

Resident. Fairly common locally in the Canal Zone on the back 
waters of Gatun Lake, and on the Rio Chagres above Gamboa; 
grebes seen on Madden Lake probably are of this race. Breeds 
rarely in the marshes of the Rio La Jagua, eastern Province of 
Panama, where I collected a fully grown immature bird on June 
27, 1953. There is also an immature in first fall plumage in the 
Museum of Comparative Zoology labeled Tocumen taken July 25, 

The first report of the race for the isthmus is that of Van Tyne 
(Auk, 1937, p. 379) who shot an adult male in breeding condition 
at Barro Colorado Island in Gatun Lake on August 5, 1927. I have 
taken several on the Rio Chagres between Gamboa and Juan Mina, 
where these birds are fairly common. 

There are no records as yet in Panama east of La Jagua. It 
remains to be learned whether birds that breed at the Cienaga 
Macana, near El Rincon, Herrera (that I saw here in March 1948), 
belong to the present subspecies or to the preceding one. 

On January 13, 1961, a pair had pulled together a mass of aquatic 
plants to serve as the base of a nest opposite the dock at Juan Mina, 
A few days later this had been destroyed and the birds had moved, 
disturbed by my traveling in and out in cayucos. By January 18, 
other mated pairs were scattered through the bays and side channels 
bordering the main river, but I saw no other nests. 


Figure 6 

Colymbus dominicus brachypterus Chapman, Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., vol. 
12, Dec. 23, 1899, p. 256. (Lomita Ranch, Hidalgo County, Texas.) 

Size and general form of a small duck, but with long, slender neck, 
thin, pointed bill, and feet placed far back on the body; in flight 
with definite white markings at the ends of the secondaries. 

Description. — Length 200 to 230 mm. Adult (sexes alike), dusky 
gray above, whitish below, with light-colored eyes. 



Immature, grayer colored, streaked with white on head and neck. 
These markings may appear to resemble those of the immature 
pied-billed grebe, but the bill in the present species is longer and 
more slender, the depth at the base being one half or less the length. 

Iris light orange to yellow ; bill dark neutral gray to nearly black, 
sometimes tipped lightly with yellowish white; tarsus and toes dull 
black, varying in some to greenish neutral gray on front and inner 
side of tarsus and on toes ; claws dusky neutral gray tipped narrowly 
with grayish white. 

Fig. 6. — Least grebe, tigua, Podiceps dominicus brachypterus, with slender bill. 

Measurements. — Males (23 specimens), wing 85.5-93.8 (90.7), 
exposed culmen 19.8-23.5 (21.7), tarsus 30.5-33.8 (32.8) mm. 

Females (26 specimens), wing 83.8-91.0 (87.4), exposed culmen 
18.2-22.7 (21.1), tarsus 29.3-32.5 (30.9) mm. 

Resident. Locally common on fresh- water ponds and lakes through- 
out the Republic, from coastal areas to 1,200 meters or more in the 

Actual records are as follows: Chiriqui (lakes near El Volcan at 
1,250 meters, pond at Palo Santo at 1,280 meters) ; Bocas del Toro 
(Changuinola, Almirante) ; Veraguas (old records at Laguna de 
Castillo, and Chitra) ; Los Santos (Pedasi) ; Herrera (Cienaga 
Macana) ; Canal Zone (Gatun Lake, Gamboa, Juan Mina) ; Panama 
(Rio La Jagua) ; Darien (La Laguna at 850 meters elevation on 
base of Cerro Mali) ; Isla Coiba. 


Least grebes are especially common on the extensive backwaters 
of Gatun Lake and the Rio Chagres above Gamboa. In Bocas del 
Toro many frequent artificial ponds made in connection with the 
banana farms around Changuinola. It is probable that they have 
increased in number in recent years because of the greater extent of 
suitable habitat, formed by dams, now available. On large expanses 
of water least grebes may congregate in groups of a dozen or may 
remain in scattered pairs. It is common to find them on smaller pools 
of 50 to 100 meters in extent, where usually they remain in the 
cover of aquatic vegetation. They seem to fly about to a considerable 
extent, as I have seen them appear overnight on small ponds in 
mountain areas several miles distant from larger lakes. 

They present an attractive appearance as they swim with head 
and neck erect, rest in the sun to preen, often rolHng far over 
on the side to reach the breast feathers, or dive alertly in feeding. 
When approached in a boat they may rise in flight and with wings 
beating quickly, gather momentum by pattering the feet on the 
water, and then, when fully under way, fly with neck and feet 
outstretched. Such flights, barely above the water surface, are of 
short duration, and usually when the bird alights it dives. 

In nesting they arrange a rounded mass of plant materials, 
anchored to twigs of a submerged tree or amid aquatic vegetation, 
with the top from 30 to 60 centimeters across, elevated sufficiently 
so that the eggs, placed in a slight depression in the center, are a 
few centimeters above the water. Such nest structures may be 
concealed, or in larger water bodies may be visible for some distance. 
The nesting season appears to be irregular, for I found half-grown 
young on Isla Coiba January 14 (1956), eggs at Changuinola March 
4 (1958), and fully grown immature birds at Pedasi March 17 
(1957). Eisenmann (Condor, 1957, p. 249) records them as breeding 
in June and July near El Volcan. Information available, mainly from 
the northern end of the range of this subspecies, indicates that the 
eggs number 3 to 6 in a set and measure 30 to 38 mm. long by 22 
to 25 mm. broad (Bent, U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 107, 1919, p. 37). 
They are dull white in color when laid but become stained im- 
mediately to a deep buff from the wet material with which the parent 
covers them whenever it leaves the nest. One incubating bird that 
I shot in this act at Changuinola was a male. 

Zimmerman (Auk, 1957, p. 390) has recorded what appeared to 
be courtship display in these grebes seen at the end of April on a 
forest pond in Campeche. Two birds (apparently male and female, 


as they differed slightly in size) rested side by side until suddenly 
they raced across the surface for about a meter with bodies half out 
of the water at an angle of 45° and then sank down to a sudden 
stop. After preening and dabbling as though feeding, the display 
was repeated. Both had the throat patches somewhat distended, and 
one bird uttered a high-pitched nasal note. 

These grebes feed on aquatic life, from insects to small fishes. 
One taken at La Laguna, Darien, had the stomach crammed with 
large dragonfly larvae, mixed with fragments of aquatic beetles. 
The stomach regularly is filled with feathers from the bird itself, 
that are loosened and swallowed during preening. 

The least grebe as a species has a vast distribution from north- 
western Mexico and southern Texas south throughout the Americas 
to Tierra del Fuego, including the Bahama Islands and the Greater 
Antilles. The present subspecies ranges locally from southern Texas 
south through Mexico and Central America. 

The subspecies P. d. brachypterus, compared to P. d. dominicus 
of the Bahama Islands and the Greater Antilles, has the bill slightly 
smaller and the white color of the secondaries reduced in extent 
toward the tips of the feathers. The race P. d. speciosus Lynch 
Arribalzaga of South America is similar in size of wing and bill to 
brachypterus but has the white markings on the secondaries extensive, 
more so than in the typical race dominicus. 

(The eared grebe, Podiceps caspicus calif amicus Heermann, of 
western North America is recorded in winter south to Guatemala 
and also on the eastern Andean lakes of Colombia (De Schauensee, 
Birds Colombia, 1948, p. 350). It is possible that it may be found 
as a migrant in Panama. It resembles the least grebe in slender bill 
and yellow eye, but is similar to the pied-billed grebe in size.) 


Family DIOMEDEIDAE: Albatrosses; Albatroses 

Though the narrow wings and general body form of albatrosses 
are like those of their cousin shearwaters, their much greater size 
identifies them with no uncertainty. When away from their nesting 
grounds they are birds of the open seas. Little is known of their 
occurrence in Panamanian waters. The only records are of vagrants 
that have been encountered in the Gulf of Panama. The range of 
those species that may be expected lies in the Pacific Ocean to the 



1. Size large, decidedly more than a meter long, body white above and below. 

Wandering albatross, Diomedea exulans, p. 33 

2. Size smaller, less than a meter long 3 

3. Rump white Gray-headed albatross, Diomedea chrysostoma, p. 32 

Rump dark, barred narrowly with white. 

Galapagos albatross, Diomemea irrorata, p. 34 

DIOMEDEA CHRYSOSTOMA Forster: Gray-headed Albatross; Albatros 


Diomedea chrysostoma J. R. Forster, Mem. Math. Phys. Paris, vol. 10, 1785, 
p. 571, pi. 14. (South Georgia; designated by Murphy, Oceanic Birds of 
South America, vol. 1, 1936, p. 516.) 

An albatross with head and neck light gray ; sides of the bill black. 

Description, — Length 700 to 800 mm. Head and neck light gray ; 
upper back dark gray ; wings black, with a grayish wash ; a dull 
black mark around eye; under surface, including under side of 
wings, white. 

Iris brown; bill black on the sides, with a bright yellow stripe 
down the culmen, that is darker on the hook at the tip ; a yellow line 
on the side of the mandibular rami ; tarsi and toes bluish gray ; claws 
whitish. (From Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer., vol. 1, 1936, pp. 

Measurements (from Murphy, cit. supra, p. 515). — Males (14 
specimens), wing 480-555 (510), tail 175-205 (195), exposed culmen 
106-122 (114.3), tarsus 79-91 (85.6) mm. 

Females (5 specimens), wing 473-523 (504.3), tail 175-199 
(189.3), exposed culmen 108-119 (114.7), tarsus 79-89 (84.6) mm. 

Accidental. One report on the Pacific coast. 

Salvin (Cat. Birds Brit. Mus., vol. 25, 1896, p. 451) records an 
adult specimen secured by Thomas Bridges on the "Coast of 
Panama." Salvin and Godman (Biol. Centr.-Amer., vol. 3, 1904, p. 
438) list it as "said to have been procured in the Bay of Panama," 
and Godman (Mon. Petrels, 1910, p. 355) cites the same bird as 
"obtained by Mr. T. Bridges, near Panama." Griscom (Bull. Mus. 
Comp. Zool., vol. 78, 1935, p. 291) undoubtedly refers to these 
sources when he lists the species as "off coast of Chiriqui (once)." 
The specimen has disappeared. It is not included in a manuscript 
list of the albatrosses in the British Museum (Natural History) 
prepared in 1951, nor could I find it in the collections in July 1954. 
A further search in the museum catalogs in September 1964, did not 
locate this bird. Thomas Bridges came to Panama in 1855, where 


he collected mollusks for several months in the Bay of Panama, 
then proceeded to David, where he arrived in January 1856 (Sclater, 
Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1856, pp. 138-142). It is possible that the 
albatross may have been obtained during the sea journey from 
Panama City to David. 

The gray-headed albatross breeds on various islands in the far 
south, ranges mainly over south temperate seas, and is found casually 
northw^ard. In considering possible occurrence in Panama it should 
be borne in mind that Murphy (Oceanic Birds S. Amer., 1936, pp. 
515-516) points out that sight records for the gray-headed albatross 
may not be accepted, as other species that range along the vv^est 
coast of South America resemble it closely. He indicates especially 
that Diomedea hulleri and D. cauta salvini are so closely similar 
that they may not be identified except by those familiar w^ith these 
species with the bird in hand. In D. hulleri the raised base of the 
culmen is decidedly broader back of the nostrils, with a transversely 
flattened posterior margin. D. c. salvini averages somewhat larger 
and has the bill gray, with the culmen shell ivory and a black spot 
at the end of the mandible. 

DIOMEDEA EXULANS Linnaeus: Wandering Albatross; Albatros Errante 

Diomedea exulans Linnaeus, Syst. nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 132. (Cape of 
Good Hope.) 

Largest of the albatrosses to be expected in Panamanian waters, and 
one of the largest of living flying birds. 

Description. — Length about 1^ meters; wing spread about 3^ 
meters. Adult (sexes alike), wing feathers, and part of coverts 
blackish ; rest of plumage, including under side of wing, white. 

Immature, dark brown with white face and throat. 

Iris brown ; bill salmon-pink (except in breeding season, when it 
is buffy yellow) ; tarsi and feet bluish gray (from Murphy, Oceanic 
Birds S. Amer., vol. 1, 1936, pp. 538, 550). 

Measurements (from Murphy, I.e., p. 539). — Males (10 speci- 
mens), wing 590-674 (644), tail 186-202 (195), exposed culmen 
156-173 (168), tarsus 115-128 (120.7) mm. 

Females (4 specimens), wing 585-611 (601), tail 177-200 (187), 
exposed culmen 157-167 (161), tarsus 111-119 (114) mm. 

Accidental. One record for the Bay of Panama. 

Murphy (Condor, 1938, p. 126) reports one captured in August 
1937, brought alive to Balboa, where it was photographed by Lee B. 


Carr, and then released. He describes it from the photo as "a year- 
ling, with white face and wing-lining." 

The species is one of southern range that wanders casually into 
northern seas. Two races differing in size, particularly of the bill, 
are recognized. The typical form, D. e. exulans, is found in its 
wanderings in both Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The other race, D. e. 
dabbenena, which is smaller (exposed culmen 144-149, tarsus 108- 
109 mm.), breeds at Gough Island and in the Tristan da Cunha is- 
lands. As this form is known to range in the South Atlantic, prob- 
ably also in the Indian Ocean, it may be presumed that the record for 
the Gulf of Panama is of a bird of the typical subspecies. 

DIOMEDEA IRRORATA Salvin: Galapagos Albatross; Albatros Galapagiieiio 

Diomedea irroraia Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1883, p. 430. (Callao Bay, 

Differs from other smaller albatrosses in shorter tail, and much 
larger bill. 

Description. — Length, a little less than a meter ; wing spread about 
2.3 meters. Adult, head and neck white, washed with yellowish 
buff ; above grayish brown, with white markings ; below blackish 
brown freckled with white ; bill yellow. 

Immature, brown throughout; under wing coverts grayish white. 

Iris dark brown; bill yellow (in life), tarsi and feet dull leaden 
blue (from Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer., vol. 1, 1936, p. 530). 

Measurements (from Murphy, I.e., pp. 530-531). — Males (9 speci- 
mens), wing 517-551 (542), tail 130-138 (134), exposed culmen 
149-156 (152.8), tarsus 99-105 (102.1) mm. 

Females (5 specimens), wing 491-555 (528), tail 127-140 (133.8), 
exposed culmen 137-148 (141.6), tarsus 93-100 (96.6) mm. 

Uncertain. Reported as a casual visitor. 

Eisenmann (Trans. Linn. Soc. New York, vol. 7, 1955, p. 10) 
says "ranges north to Panama," and De Schauensee (Birds Colom- 
bia, 1952, p. 1141) reports that it "ranges northward to the Gulf of 
Panama." No definite record is known to me. 

This species breeds on Hood Island in the Galapagos group and 
comes to the offshore waters of South America. De Schauensee, 
on the basis of information from Robert Cushman Murphy, reports 
it on the Pacific coast of Colombia between Octavia Rocks and 
Bahia de Aguacate; hence it may wander casually into the Gulf of 


Family PROCELLARIIDAE: Shearwaters and 
Petrels ; Pardelas y Petreles 

Only one species of this family, a race of Audubon's shearwater 
that nests on a rocky islet on the coast of Bocas del Toro, is a 
permanent inhabitant of Panamanian waters. Others have been 
recorded as ocean wanderers from the outer reaches of the Gulf of 
Panama, or casually from nearer the Pacific coast. Most of the re- 
ports have been sight records of uncertain status, since not many 
naturalists have had sufficient experience with the shearwater and 
petrel group to identify them in life. It is probable that several 
species will be found regularly, and others casually, when more 
information is available. 

The name fardela by which shearwaters are known along the 
western coast of South America, appears to be a corruption of pardela, 
the usual term in the Spanish language for birds of this group on 
the coasts of Spain. 


1. Tarsus heavier, much compressed; space between nostrils as wide or wider 

than the nasal openings (genus Puffinus) 2 

Tarsus heavier, not compressed; space between nostrils narrow, less in 
width than the nasal openings (genus Pterodroma). 

Dark-rumped petrel, Pterodroma phaeopygia, p. 35 

2. Tail nearly half the length of the wing, definitely graduated, wedge-shaped. 

Wedge-tailed shearwater, Puffinus pacificus, p. 42 

Tail definitely less than half of the length of the wing, rounded, or only 

slightly graduated • 3 

3. Under surface white; smaller, wing less than 200 mm. 

Audubon's shearwater, Puffinus Iherminieri, p. Z7 
Under surface gray, or dusky, wing more than 260 mm. 

Sooty shearwater, Puffinus griseus, p. 36 

Petrel; Petrel de Rabadilla Oscura 

Oestrelata phaeopygia Salvin, Trans. Zool. Soc. London, vol. 9, May 1876, p. 
507, pi. 88, fig. 1. (Chatham Island, Galapagos Archipelago.) 

A large petrel with sides of the head black. 

Description. — Length 400 to 431 mm. Brownish black above; wings 
and tail black with concealed white patches; forehead and under 
surface white ; sides of head black. 

Iris brown; bill black; tarsus and base of toes bluish flesh color; 
distal part of web and toes, with most of outer toes black. 

Measurements (from Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer., vol. 2, 


1936, p. 698).— Sexes alike (5 specimens), wing 294-304 (299), tail 
134-137 (135.4), exposed culnien 33.0-34.8 (34), tarsus 37.1-39.3 
(38.2) mm. 

Reported as casual in the Gulf of Panama. Sight records of Robert 
Cushman Murphy (Eisenmann, Trans. Linn. Soc. New York, vol. 7, 
1955, p. 11). 

The bird nests at the Galapagos and wanders toward the coast of 
South America from off Peru to Colombia. Murphy (in De 
Schauensee, Birds Colombia, 1952, p. 1142) reports it as found 
regularly off Malpelo Island, Colombia, to the south of the Gulf of 

PUFFINUS GRISEUS (Gmelin): Sooty Shearwater; Pardela Sombrfa 
Procellaria grisea Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 564. (New Zealand.) 

A shearwater with the size of a small gull ; lower surface of body 
dark in color. 

Description. — Length 430 to 460 mm. Blackish brown above, paler 
on lower surface; under wing coverts white, marked with gray at 

Iris brown ; bill fuscous or black ; outer side of tarsus and outer 
toes blackish ; inner side of tarsus, inner toes and webs bluish neutral 

Measurements (from Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer., vol. 2, 
1936, p. 667).— Sexes alike (40 specimens), wing 280-309 (293), 
tail 84.0-99.2 (89.4), exposed culmen 38.0-45.6 (41.7), tarsus 52.5- 
59.5 (55.4) mm. 

Status not certain. Recorded as a visitor in the Gulf of Panama. 

A specimen taken June 8, 1915, by Thomas Hallinan, found floating 
with several others, all appearing exhausted, near Naos Island at 
the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal, was identified originally 
as Puffinus tenuirostris (Hallinan, Auk, 1924, p. 306). The bird, 
now in the American Museum of Natural History, is, however, the 
present species (see Serventy and Eisenmann, Emu, 1962, p. 200). 
Robert Cushman Murphy saw shearwaters of this species near 
Isla San Jose on February 21, 1941, a sight record substantiated by 
specimens that he secured nearby while traveling on the schooner 
Askoy. Another report is that of Robins (Condor, 1958, p. 300), who 
made scattered sight records on 8 days between July 15 and 26, 
1957, from near Isla Taboga through the eastern side of the Gulf to 


45 kilometers south southwest of Bahia Pifias. Through the courtesy 
of Oscar W. Owre I have examined the skin of a male caught by 
Robins in a dipnet at Isla Camote, on July 25. 

Apparently this species, which nests far to the southward, may 
enter Panamanian waters with some regularity during its wanderings 
outside the nesting season. 

PUFFINXIS LHERMINIERI Lesson: Audubon's Shearwater; Pardela Chica 

A small shearwater, pure white underneath. 

Description. — Length 300 to 330 mm. Blackish brown above, white 
below ; under tail coverts black and white. 

Iris brown; bill black, becoming dark neutral gray on mandible, 
and at base of culmen; outer side of tarsus and outer toes dull 
black ; inner side of tarsus, rest of toes, and webs, flesh color. 

Three subspecies of Audubon's shearwater are recorded from 
Panama, one a wanderer from its nesting grounds in the Galapagos 
Islands, one established in a breeding colony on the coast of Bocas del 
Toro, and the third recorded from a single specimen taken on the 
Caribbean coast near the Colombian boundary. 


Pufflnus (sic) Lherminieri Lesson, Rev. Zool., vol, 2, no. 3, April (May), 1839, 
p. 102. (Guadeloupe, Lesser Antilles.) 

Characters. — Like P. I. loycmilleri in color but larger in size. 

Measurements. — Males (31 specimens from Bermuda, Bahama 
Islands, and Lesser Antilles), wing 195-209 (201), tail 83.5-95.0 
(88.2), culmen from base 28.1-31.8 (30.0), tarsus 37.8-42.5 (40.2) 

Females (29 specimens from Bermuda, Bahama Islands, and Lesser 
Antilles), wing 193-210 (200), tail 83.7-95.0 (88.9), culmen from 
base 25.7-31.0 (29.2), tarsus 38.0-41.8 (40.4) mm. 

Casual on the Caribbean coast. One record for eastern Comarca 
de San Bias. 

A male in the Herbert Brandt Collection in the museum of the 
University of Cincinnati was collected by Wedel at Puerto Obaldia 
on March 10, 1934. The wing measurement of 202 mm. places it 
with the typical subspecies. The nearest known breeding colony of 
this form is the one on Crab Cay off Isla Providencia mentioned 
in the account of the race P. I. loyemilleri that follows. 




Puffinus Iherminieri loyemilleri Wetmore, Proc. Biol. Sec. Washington, vol. 72, 
April 22, 1959, p. 19. (Tiger Rock, Tiger Cays, off Cabo Valiente, Bocas 
del Toro, Panama.) 

Characters. — Like P. I. Iherminieri but smaller. Tail longer than in 
P. I. suhalaris, 80 millimeters long or more, and flanks white. 

Measurements. — Males (6 specimens), wing 185-193 (188), tail 

Fig. 7. — Audubon's shearwater, pardela chica, Puffinus Iherminieri, at entrance 

of nesting burrow. 

80.7-87.7 (85.2), culmen from base 27.1-30.1 (29.3), tarsus 38.4- 
39.8 (39.3) mm. 

Females (5 specimens), wing 185-195 (190), tail 82.8-88.5 (86.3), 
culmen from base 27.7-31.2 (29.2), tarsus 38.2-40.0 (39.0) mm. 

Resident. Breeds on Tiger Rock in the Tiger Cays at the end of 
the Valiente Peninsula, Bocas del Toro; recorded off the nesting 
colony and at Puerto Obaldia, Comarca de San Bias. 

The Tiger Cays lie in line from 3,000 meters north to 5,000 meters 
northwest of Cabo Valiente. The outermost, nearly submerged 
rock, is called Tiger Breaker on the sailing chart (no. 5029, Laguna 
de Chiriqui). Next is a higher rock bearing a navigation beacon, 
which is designated Tiger Rock on the chart, and then comes a 
slightly larger islet that is not named. Following this to the east is 


a longer island, separated in several sections, which is known to 
local fishermen as Tiger Rock. At the western end the higher part 
is nearly divided by a cleft through which storm waves may wash. 
The shearwater colony is located in burrows at the summit of the 
eastern sector of this islet, on the steep, landward slope beneath a 
scattered grove of guarumos and coconut palms, with undergrowth 
of cafia blanca, coarse-leaved grasses, and other herbaceous plants. 

The birds were noted here first by Loye Holmes Miller in 1936, 
during a brief visit to the Chiriqui Lagoon area, where he had 
quarters on a survey ship of the Hydrographic Office of the Navy. 
According to notes that Dr. Miller has supplied he was told by a 
seaman of birds nesting in holes on a rocky island. He visited the 
site on March 12 and found 4 occupied burrows of Audubon's 
shearwater with eggs. He collected two skins, a skeleton, and some 
miscellaneous bones from bodies left by vultures. The specimens, 
in the collections of the University of California at Los Angeles, 
attracted no special attention, for it was not realized that they marked 
a considerable extension of range. 

During my work in the Almirante region in 1958 Thomas W. Dunn, 
through his detailed knowledge gained in fishing these waters, 
identified the locality shown on the sketch map Miller had furnished. 
And on February 28, with favorable weather, I crossed from Al- 
mirante to the Tiger Cays in a small cayuco driven by an outboard 
motor. Though a heavy swell prevented our beaching the boat, I 
landed without difficulty at the cleft on the leeward side of Tiger 
Rock and within a few minutes had located the shearwaters on the 
upper slopes of the island. The colony, or the part of it that I 
examined, covered an area about 10 by 20 meters on the leeward 
side of the eastern knob near its summit. The occupied section lay 
midway on the steep slope between the high ridge and the point where 
there was a nearly vertical descent to the sea. Here there was an 
accumulation of humus and fine clay, dotted with openings leading 
into the numerous burrows excavated by the birds. Since the soil was 
penetrated by tangles of roots of the broad-leaved plants that shaded 
the surface, the birds had difficulty in digging, as the average length 
of the burrows was less than three-quarters of a meter. Part, located 
in pockets where rainwater accumulated, were wet, so that breasts and 
ends of wings and tails of birds that inhabited them were heavily 
stained with mud. In nests with proper drainage birds and their eggs 
were clean. The series of 9 shearwaters collected included 4 males and 
5 females, each found with a single egg, except one, and there may 


have been an egg here that I did not locate. One egg seen lay in a 
depression beneath some roots with no bird near. All the birds were 
silent, the only indications of their presence being a few scattered 
feathers and droppings and the strong shearwater scent. It required 
an hour and a half to secure the specimens mentioned, when the wind 
began to freshen, so that I had to leave without exploring the island in 
detail. It is possible that there are other colonies on adjacent islets, 
or elsewhere along the coast. 

Because of smaller size, I have separated these Panamanian birds 
as the subspecies loyemilleri, named for Loye Holmes Miller, who 
first discovered them. The wing measurement varies from 185 to 195 
mm., compared to 193 to 210 mm. in Puffinus Iherminieri Iherminieri. 
There are no differences in color. 

In addition to the specimens from Tiger Rock, there are two males 
in the U. S. National Museum from 10 miles off Punta Valiente, taken 
May 30, 1962, by H. R. Bullis, Jr., and P. Struhsaker. Wedel 
secured two at Puerto Obaldia, Comarca de San Bias, January 31 
and June 22, 1934, which came to the Herbert Brandt Collection 
now in the museum of the University of Cincinnati. 

The 5 eggs that I was able to prepare ranged from fresh to 
heavily incubated. They are pure white, with the shell slightly 
pitted, and vary in shape from subelliptical to long subelliptical and 
long oval. The measurements are 48.3-53.9x34.5-36.3 with the 
average 51.8x35.2 mm. Bent (U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 121, 1922, pp. 
74-75) gives the following dimensions for the eggs of P. I. Iherminieri: 
49.2-57.3x34.0-40.8 mm.; average 52.5x36.2 mm. The eggs of 
the newly described race, as well as the birds, thus average slightly 

In the original description of the form of the coast of Bocas del 
Toro I overlooked one record of the species for the Caribbean area. 
Cory (Auk, 1887, p. 181) listed Audubon's shearwater among birds 
collected at Isla de Providencia by Robert B. Henderson "during the 
winter of 1886-87." Bond (Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, vol. 
102, 1950, pp. 52-53) during a visit on April 28, 1948, found that 
the colony was located on Crab Cay off the northeastern coast. Emmet 
R. Blake of the Chicago Natural History Museum has lent for 
examination the 10 specimens taken by Henderson on March 12, 
1887. Two are downy young, one of them recently hatched. Two 
of the adults have the tips of the primaries too badly worn and 
abraded to give an accurate indication of size, and a third has the 
wing in molt. The 5 remaining vary in length of wing from 195 


to 204 mm., which places them within the size range of typical 

Dr. W. H. Phelps writes me that specimens in the Phelps Collec- 
tion, taken at their breeding burrows on Gran Roque, in Islas Los 
Roques, and others secured at sea near Orchila, in Islas Los 
Hermanos, have wing lengths of 189 to 192 mm. and so agree with 
loyemilleri. Another record to be referred to this race is that of a 
specimen in the American Museum of Natural History with a wing 
measurement of 186 mm. taken at sea 100 miles (160 kilometers) off 
the coast of British Guiana on December 2, 1931. 

Enrico Festa secured an Audubon's shearwater on board ship in 
May 1905 at a point "300 miles" out from the port of Colon 
(Salvadori and Festa, Boll. Mus. Zool. Anat. Comp. Univ. Torino, 
vol. 14, no. 339, 1899, p. 13). As no measurements are available 
the race of this bird is not known. 


Piiffinus subalaris Ridgway, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., vol. 19, Mar. 15, 1897, 
p. 650. (Dalrymple Rock, Chatham Island, Galapagos Archipelago.) 

Characters. — Similar to P. I. loyemilleri of the Caribbean, but with 
more dark feathers on the flanks, and shorter tail, 68 to 71.8 mm. 
as compared to 80.7 to 88.5 mm. for the other form. 

Measurements (from Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer. vol. 2, 
1936, p. 667).— Sexes alike (10 specimens), wing 189-203 (194.8), 
tail 68-75 (71.8), exposed culmen 24.7-29 (27.7), tarsus 34-37 (36) 

Recorded as a visitor. Apparently wanders regularly to the south- 
ern area of the Gulf of Panama. 

There are sight records by Murphy (Fish and Wildl. Serv. Spec. 
Rep. Fisheries no. 279, 1958, p. 104) who recorded many November 
24-25 and November 30-December 1, 1956. Robins (Condor, 1958, 
p. 300) reported them (under the specific name P. Iherminieri) on 
July 21, 22, and 23, 1957, from 30 to 40 kilometers southwest of 
Bahia Pinas, These sight records appear to be validated by a female 
taken by Horace Loftin at Bahia Pinas, Dec. 20, 1964. There is also 
a specimen in the U. S. National Museum collected by Charles Fagan 
on the S. S. Santa Elisa while approaching Balboa, about 290 kilome- 
ters to the southwest. This would be near lat. 60° 30' N., about 
opposite the Gulf of Cupica on the northwestern coast of Choco, 
Colombia, and about 80 kilometers south of the Choco-Darien 


This is the race that breeds at the Galapagos Islands and that is 
known mainly from that area. 

water; Pardela del Paclfico 

Puffinus chlororhynchus Lesson, Traite d'Orn., livr. 8, June 1831, p. 613. (Shark 
Bay, Western Australia.) 

Like the sooty shearwater, but tail longer, wedge-shaped, with the 
lateral feathers much shorter than those in the center. 

Description. — Length 440-470 mm. Dark phase, blackish brown 
above ; grayish brown on under surface, including the under wing 
coverts ; throat somewhat lighter. 

Light phase, white from throat to under tail coverts, including 
under wing coverts ; sides gray. 

Measurements (from Loomis, Proc. California Acad, Sci., vol. 2, 
pt. 2, 1918, p. 145).— Males (17 specimens), wing 289-309 (299), 
tail 129-148 (138), culmen 36.6-41.2 (39.1), tarsus 41.4-48.2 (46.6) 

Females (30 specimens), wing 287-311 (298), tail 128-145 (138), 
culmen 36.6-42.1 (38.9), tarsus 43.8-48.1 (46.0) mm. 

Casual visitor. One record off the Pacific coast of southern Darien. 

Dr. Robert Cushman Murphy has permitted me to include the 
only record for this species, based on two specimens that he collected 
on March 5, 1941, at sea 5 kilometers northwest of Ensenada Guayabo, 
during the Askoy Expedition. The locality is offshore to the south 
of Jaque, Darien, a short distance north of the Colombian boundary. 

The race chlororhynchus, under present understanding of the 
populations of this shearwater, nests on islands off Australia, at Lord 
Howe and Norfolk Islands, and at the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. 
In the eastern Pacific it breeds on San Benedicto, in the Revilla 
Gigedo group, off Baja California, 

One of the two birds taken is in dark phase, and the other in 
light phase plumage. 

Family HYDROBATIDAE : Storm Petrels; Painos 

Three species of this family reach the Pacific waters off Panama 
during wanderings from their breeding grounds, one of them, Oceano- 
droma tethys, coming from the northwestern coast of South America, 
and the other two, Loomelania melania and Halocyptena microsoma, 
from islands near Baja California. Northern and southern groups 
thus range together in this intermediate area. 


It is certain that other kinds will be recorded when more is 
known of the bird life of the offshore waters. There is now a 
sight record for a fourth, Oceanites gracilis^ and probability of 
several others in Pacific waters. Others may come casually along the 
Caribbean. (One present sight record in the Gulf of Panama for 
Oceanodroma castro by C. A. Fleming (Emu, 1950, p. 177) from 
a steamer July 20, 1948, "approaching the islands in the Bay" appears 


1. Upper tail coverts white. 

Abdomen black Galapagos petrel, Oceanodroma tethys, p. 43 

Abdomen white Graceful storm petrel, Oceanites gracilis, p. 45 

2. Upper tail coverts dark, like the rest of the plumage. 

Smaller, not more than 150 mm. long. 

Least petrel, Halocyptena microsoma, p. 45 
Larger, 200 mm. long, or more Black petrel, Loomelania melania, p. 47 

OCEANODROMA TETHYS (Bonaparte): Galapagos Petrel; Danzarina 

A small petrel, with upper tail coverts and lower rump white; 
elsewhere dark colored ; tail slightly forked. 

Description. — Length 140 to 160 mm. Sooty black above ; browner 
on the lower surface and on the wing coverts ; lower rump and upper 
tail coverts white, with dark shafts ; some white on the outermost 
under tail coverts. 

Iris brown ; bill, tarsus, and toes black. 

This is a bird of the Galapagos Islands and the northwest coast 
of South America that after its breeding season ranges north in 
the eastern Pacific to waters off northwestern Mexico. As it has been 
found off Panama a number of times it appears that it passes regu- 
larly through this area though probably, in the main, well at sea. 

Two subspecies separated by differences in size currently are 
recognized with specimens of both recorded within the limits of the 
present work. 

Robins (Condor, 1958, pp. 300-301) saw petrels of this type 
following the fishing boat on which he traveled July 15 to 26, 1957, 
from near Taboga to beyond Bahia Pinas, Darien. Dr. Oscar Owre 
informs me that the specimen recorded by Robins as taken at Bahia 
Santelmo, Isla del Rey, on July 24, was prepared as a flat skin that 
could not be preserved permanently so that the race concerned in 
these records is not known. 

Dennis R. Paulson, when a student at the Institute of Marine 


Science, University of Miami, in 1961, during a cruise as naturalist 
on the yacht Argosy, A. Glassell owner, found these petrels common 
from September 6 to 14 in the Bay and Gulf of Panama, even among 
the boats anchored off Panama City. Apparently this was the 
period of their movement from their southern nesting grounds. As 
noted below one specimen taken was the typical subspecies. Another 
that came aboard ship in Colombian waters was the race kelsalli, 
so that it appears that both races were in company. 


Thalassidroma Tethys Bonaparte, Tagebl. der 29. Versaml. Deutsch. Naturf. 
Aerzte, Wiesbaden, Beilage, Sept. 25, 1852, p. 89. (Galapagos Islands.) 

Characters. — Larger, its greater size indicated by longer wing; 
Males (3 specimens, from the Galapagos Islands), wing 129.0-132.6 
mm.; females (3 specimens from the Galapagos Islands), 132.9-136.0 

Visitor to Pacific waters off Panama. 

This, the nominate race of the species, breeds on the Galapagos 
Islands, and after the nesting season ranges in the eastern Pacific 
north to the latitude of southern Baja California, and south to that 
of southern Ecuador. 

A skin in the British Museum (Natural History) collected by the 
St. George Expedition, with a wing measurement of 129.7 mm., was 
taken on September 9, 1924, "20 miles south of Panama." Another 
in the University of Miami Museum, with the wing 129.4, prepared 
by D. R. Paulson, came to lights on the yacht Argosy when near 
lat. 07° 10' N., long. 79° 04' W., a point due south of the western- 
most islands in the Perlas group and about midway on a line from 
the southernmost point on the Azuero Peninsula to the international 
boundary between Panama and Colombia. Though well offshore at 
the southern end of the Gulf of Panama, this is within waters that 
may be regarded as to be included for pelagic species. 


Thalassidroma tethys kelsalli P. R. Lowe, Bull. Brit. Orn. Club, vol. 46, Nov. 4, 
1925, p. 6. (Isia Pescadores, oflf Ancon, Peru.) 

Characters. — Similar to O. t. tethys, but smaller, with shorter 
wing: Males (4 specimens at sea off Peru, Colombia, and Panama), 
wing 122.7-125.9 rnm. ; females (3 specimens at sea off Colombia and 
Panama), 123.4-128.0 mm. 

Visitor to the Pacific waters of Panama. 


This form breeds on islands off the coast of Peru, where it is 
reported on Isla Pescadores and Isla San Gallan. Murphy (Oceanic 
Birds S. Amer., 1936, p. 731) records it as ranging south to the 
latitude of northern Chile, and his supposition that these birds may 
come northward as far as Panama is now verified. A male in the 
British Museum (Natural History) was taken by the St. George 
Expedition "near Balboa" on August 22, 1924. Two others of this 
sex in the American Museum of Natural History were collected by 
Robert Cushman Murphy, one during the Askoy Expedition, 4 miles 
west of Punta Caracoles, Darien, February 26, 1941, and another 
south of Punta Dirgado, Darien, September 11, 1937. 

Another, a male (now in the American Museum of Natural His- 
tory), was taken by William Beebe, March 28, 1938, at Banco Han- 
nibal, west of Isla Coiba. Dr. Beebe informed me that the bird came 
to lights used in the night-collecting of marine animals. (See Beebe, 
Book of Bays, 1942, pp. 280, 297.) 

OCEANITES GRACILIS (Elliot): Graceful Storm Petrel; Golondrina de 

Mar Chica 

Thalassidroma gracilis Elliot, Ibis, vol. 1, no. 4, Oct. 1859, p. 391. (Coast of 

A small petrel, with upper tail coverts and abdomen white. 

Description. — Length about 180 mm. Sooty black; upper tail 
coverts and abdomen white. 

Reported as a casual visitor to the Gulf of Panama, according to 
a sight record by Robert Cushman Murphy, cited by Eisenmann 
(Trans. Linn. Soc. New York, vol. 7, 1955, p. 11). 

The typical race, O. g. gracilis, known from the west coast of 
South America from Punta Santa Elena, Ecuador to Valparaiso, 
Chile, with breeding grounds at present unknown, has the wing 117 
to 132 mm., females being larger than males. Another form, 
Oceanites gracilis galapagoensis Lowe, recorded only near the 
Galapagos Islands, with nesting grounds also unknown, is larger, 
with the wing 130 to 146 mm. 

It is the nominate form that may be expected north to Panamanian 

HALOCYPTENA MICROSOMA Coues: Least Petrel; Golondrina de Mar 


Figure 8 

Halocyptena microsoma Coues, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, March- 
April (June 30), 1864, p. 79. (San Jose del Cabo, Baja California.) 


Size very small ; wholly dark colored. 

Description. — Length 145 mm. Plain sooty black. Smallest of the 
petrels found in Panama. 

Fig. 8. — Least petrel, golondrina de mar menuda, Halocyptena microsoma. 

Iris brown ; bill black ; tarsus and toes black. 

Measurements (from Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer., 1936, p. 
729).— Adult (sexes alike, 11 specimens), wing 118-125 (121), tail 
50-56 (53.4), exposed culmen 11-12 (11.4), tarsus 20.5-22 (21.2) 


Regular visitor off the Pacific coast. 

The least petrel nests in the north near Baja California, on the 
San Benito Islands off the western coast, and on several small islands 
in the northern third of the Golfo de Cahfornia. Bent (U. S. Nat. 
Mus. Bull. 121, 1922, p. 125) records egg dates from July 2 to 27. 
While these petrels are common outside the nesting season off 
Panama, there are few definite records. Those available are as fol- 
lows : February 12, 1950, two seen between Isla Pacheca and Taboga 
(Wetmore) ; Panama Bay, March 1888, the second known specimen, 
taken at night when it flew on board the S. S. Albatross (Townsend, 
Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., vol. 13, 1890, p. 141) ; March 14, 1944, 
half a dozen seen midway between Isla San Jose and Balboa (Wet- 
more) ; March 31, 1962, common in the area to the south of Isla 
Bona (Wetmore) ; May 23, 1941, near San Jose (taken by Robert 
Cushman Murphy) . 

Among the petrels seen in the Gulf of Panama and southward off 
Darien there may be noted an occasional bird of the present species, 
known at once from its small size coupled with uniformly dark colors, 
and rather long, wedge-shaped tail. They fly just above the surface, 
and may be told from the black petrels by their quicker movements 
and more erratic fluttering flight, in addition to the size difference. 
Also they tend to move more in the troughs of the waves. Occasionally 
they alight for a few seconds while they peck quickly at the water, 
and then rise easily, twisting and turning, to continue their wandering. 
Like the black petrel they are not attracted to small boats, for al- 
though sometimes I have seen them flying parallel to the course 
of launches on which I was traveling, they seldom approached nearer 
than 100 to 200 meters even when crossing in front. I have never 
had one come within gun range. 

On the evening of March 21, 1952, on Isla Taboga, while sitting in 
the brilliantly lighted, open dining room of the Hotel Taboga over- 
looking the sea, I saw what I thought was a bat flutter against the 
white inner wall and drop behind a door. On investigation I found 
that it was one of these small petrels. 

LOOMELANIA MELANIA (Bonaparte): Black Petrel; Golondrina de Mar 


Procellaria melania Bonaparte, Compt. Rend. Acad. Sci. Paris, vol. 38, no. 14 
(for Apr. 3), 1854, p. 662. (Vicinity of San Francisco, California.) 

A petrel of medium size, wholly dark in color. 

Description. — Length 200 to 230 mm. Sooty black throughout, 
somewhat paler on greater wing coverts ; tail deeply forked. 


Measurements (from Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer., 1936, p. 
744). — Adult, sexes alike (from 10 specimens from the California 
breeding grounds), wing 168-177, tail 80-86, culmen 15-16.5, tarsus 
31-34 mm. 

Iris brown ; bill black ; inside of mouth and tongue yellow ; tarsus 
and toes black. 

Regular visitor, off the Pacific coast. 

The black petrel breeds in the north around Baja California, at 
Los Coronados and San Benito islands on the northwest coast, and 
on islands in the northern third of Golfo de California. Bent (U. S. 
Nat. Mus. Bull. 121, 1922, pp. 157, 158) records eggs from May 

30 to July 23, and young in early September. Available dates of 
occurrence in Panamanian waters are as follows, arranged in order 
of monthly occurrence (without regard to the year) : January 16 to 

31 (I960), February 25 (1957), March 14 (1944), March 21, 24 
(1952), March 31 (1962), records by the writer; March 24 (1915), 
specimen taken by Hallinan ; July 18, 19, 23, sight records by Robins 
(Condor, 1958, p. 301) ; September 8, 9 (1924), specimens in British 
Museum (Natural History) ; November (1956), sight records by 
R. C. Murphy. Apparently the southward movement may start im- 
mediately when the first young are on the wing. At the end of 
March 1952, northward migration may have begun, as on the even- 
ing of the 21st one flew into the open, strongly lighted dining room 
of the hotel on Taboga Island. 

(Sight records of petrels in these waters on September 18, 1939, 
by Fleming, Emu, 1950, p. 177, reported as Oceanodro'nta markhami, 
may have been of this species.) 

In travel by launch in the Gulf of Panama, black petrels may be 
noted flying just above the water, moving somewhat erratically from 
side to side, but at the same time following a fairly direct course. 
In most instances the view is a distant one since they do not follow 
boats, and so are encountered only by chance. While they fly low they 
move less in the troughs of the waves than the fluttering petrel and 
also have a more direct line of flight. However, they travel with fair 
rapidity and soon pass from sight. Usually they range well away 
from land, though I have noted them within 8 kilometers of Balboa. 
Though most common in the Gulf of Panama they are found also to 
the south off Darien. 


Family PHAETHONTIDAE : Tropicbirds ; Aves del Tropico 

The three species of this family have an appropriate English name 
as they range tropical seas on either side of the Equator around the 


world. They are guIl-Hke in general form, marked by the long 
slender plumes of the central tail feathers, which, when fully grown, 
exceed the length of the head and body, Panama has the only 
breeding colony of one species, the red-billed tropicbird, in the whole 
of Central America. 

PHAETHON AETHEREUS MESONAUTA, Peters: Red-billed Tropicbird, 


Figure 9 

Phaethon aethereus mesonauta Peters, Occ. Papers Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., vol. 
5, Apr. 15, 1930, p. 261. (Swan Cay, oflf Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro, Panama.) 

Gull-like in general form, with greatly elongated central tail 

Description. — Length 760 to 880 mm. (including the fully de- 
veloped central tail feathers) ; white, often tinged lightly with pink; 
upper surface irregularly barred with black; lengthened middle tail 
feathers, including shaft, white. Plumage firm and compact. 

Iris brown ; bill red ; tarsus and basal half of toes dull yellowish- 
buff ; end of toes, with connecting sections of webs and claws black. 

Measurements (from Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer., 1936, p. 
798). — Sexes alike (18 specimens from American localities), wing 
293-317 (305), tail (normal feathers) 94-115 (105), (central tail 
feathers 428-658), exposed culmen 60-66 (63.2), tarsus 26-29 (27.8) 

Resident. Nests on Swan Cay in the Caribbean off Isla Colon, 
northeast of the entrance of the pass Boca del Drago. The birds fly 
out over the sea to feed but apparently do not range far. 

Swan Cay, approximately 70 meters long, is a rounded quarter 
moon in shape, pierced by two openings through one end, and rises 
55 meters at the highest point. On the southern side, sheltered from 
the northeastern trade winds, there is a small sandy beach below a 
higher level area. Bushes and other vegetation cover the summit, and 
there is a small clump of coconut palms at the low end. On January 
26, 1958, as Thomas Dunn and I, traveling in his fishing boat, ap- 
proached the island a tropicbird passed high overhead, and presently 
others circled among the brown boobies that flew out as we came 
near. The tropicbirds soared easily, with long tail streamers un- 
dulating in the wind, graceful and attractive in every way. On the 
leeward side of the islet several rested on nests placed on narrow 
ledges on the rock faces above the sea, where they were sheltered 
by overhang above. Some were low down, a meter or two above the 


height of maximum storm waves, others higher, I estimated that 
the colony consisted of 30 to 35 pairs. Scattered birds rested on 
the water in addition to those that perched on the cHffs, or circled near 
the island. 

The eggs are oval, some broader than others, verging toward 
short-oval. The shell is pitted, and the ground color is dull white, 
but in most so solidly dotted with Natal brown to bone brown that 
the lighter base is almost completely obscured. In some the dots 

Fig. 9. — Red-billed tropicbird, rabijunco, Phaethcni aethereus mesonauta. 

are more concentrated at the larger end, and occasional eggs have 
scattered irregular spots, or are less heavily marked so that the 
pale base color is seen. Bent (U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 121, 1922, p. 188) 
gives the measurements, taken from 40 eggs, as ranging from 50.5 
to 63.2 mm. long by 36.5 to 46. mm. broad, with the average 56.4 by 
41.7 mm. 

This is the only colony in the western part of the southern Carib- 
bean Sea, the nearest known neighbors of the species being on Los 
Roques off the north coast of Venezuela, 1,600 kilometers distant. 
There has been some confusion in published accounts as to the 
location of Swan Cay. Peters (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 71, 


1931, p. 295), who described this race of tropicbird from specimens 
from this island, was not able to find it on maps available to him, 
and wrote that it "is said to lie between Isla Bastimentos and Isla 
Popa," which are two of the islands on the eastern boundary of 
Almirante Bay. The true location is given in the reference to the 
original description above. 

The red-billed tropicbird is reported to nest on Isla Malpelo, in the 
Pacific Ocean off Colombia, but apparently does not wander ex- 
tensively. The only record for the Gulf of Panama is one seen by 
Dennis R. Paulson on September 7, 1961, when traveling on the 
yacht Argosy between Balboa and the Pearl Islands. 

(The statement by Loye Miller (Condor, 1937, p. 16), that "a 
single yellow-billed tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus) was seen on the 
Caribbean coast" between the Canal and the Chiriqui Lagoon, with- 
out much question refers to the present species.) 

Family PELECANIDAE : Pelicans ; Pelicanos 

The eight species of pelicans, world wide in distribution through 
temperate and tropical regions, are heavy-bodied birds, with long 
bills that support bare throat pouches, used as scoops in capturing 
their food of fish. While some frequent fresh water for part of 
the year, the brown pelican, the only species that reaches Panama, is 
confined to a salt or brackish-water habitat. 

The American white pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos Gmelin, 
has been listed as reaching Panama in its winter wanderings south- 
ward, but this is in error, as the bird is not recorded in Central 
America beyond Guatemala. (See Hellmayr and Conover, Cat. Birds 
Amer., pt. 1, no. 2, 1948, p. 116). 



FlGtTRE 10 

Pelecanus carolinettsis Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 571. (Charles- 
ton Harbor, South Carolina.) 

Large, with a huge pouch, bare of feathers, that extends from 
the upper foreneck to the end of the long bill. 

Description. — Length 1.2 to 1.4 meters. Adult, upper surface, in- 
cluding wings, gray; under surface grayish brown; head white. In 
breeding dress, the hind neck is very dark brown with a line of 
white on either side ; in winter the neck is entirely white. 



Immature, above, including head and neck, dark gray; below 
white, with sides streaked with brownish gray. 

Measurements. — Males (28 specimens from the United States), 
wing 500-550 (526), tail 123-158 (136), culmen 280-348 (319), 
tarsus 70-89.4 (80.5) mm. 

Females (23 specimens from the United States), wing 483-528 
(501), tail 122-153 (136), culmen 280-333 (294), tarsus 68-83.7 
(75.7) mm. 

Fig. 10. — Brown pelican, alcatraz, Pelecanus occidentalis carolinensis. 

Iris yellow; bare skin around eye bluish gray; bill dull gray to 
grayish white spotted irregularly with orange, with the tip of the 
maxilla and distal half of the mandible dull black, the whole with 
more or less grayish white exfoliation ; pouch dull grayish brown to 
olive brown ; cms, tarsus, toes, and claws black. 

Resident. Common along the Caribbean coast; more abundant 
along the Pacific, especially in Panama Bay. The recorded breeding 
colonies are as follows: Isla Iguana, on the coast of Los Santos 
above Punta Mala; islas Pacheca, Pedro Gonzalez, Seiiora, and 
Galera in the Archipielago de las Perlas; Isla Bona, Isla Chame, 


Isla Urava, islets near Isla Taboguilla, and Isla Taboga, in Panama 

The brown pelican is one of the most prominent of the sea birds of 
the Republic, seen constantly along beaches, and found over the open 
sea among the islands, often to the number of hundreds. Flocks fly 
in procession over the water, alternately flapping the wings and sailing, 
in this following the pattern of the one in the lead, so that the 
change in method of progression flows ripplelike back over the line. 
Often the birds fly low, almost touching the water, at the proper 
point over the crest of a long roller where they are aided in 
support by up draft in the air currents, and so progress with a 
minimum of effort. 

When fish are sighted the birds dive instantly. The neck is extended 
before reaching the water and the birds submerge completely. Then 
usually they turn so that as they rise to the surface they face in the 
direction opposite to that in which they had been flying. If a fish 
has been captured the bird floats with the tip of the bill down to 
drain the pouch, when the head is thrown up and the fish swallowed 
with a gulp. When the pouch is especially full it may be pressed 
back against the neck to accelerate the flow of water. Often a 
laughing gull is in attendance to snatch at the food if at all possible, 
a thievery to which the pelican pays no attention. 

In another method of fishing, usually in shallow water, the birds 
swim with the tip of the bill cutting the surface, and as fish are 
sighted thrust suddenly at them. Young birds, perhaps not yet fully 
skilled in diving, often feed by this method in deep water. Where 
schools of fish remain stationary, pelicans, young and old, rest on 
the water in close flocks, stabbing at their prey with open bills. 

When satisfied they rest in groups, on rocks, or in trees or bushes. 
Frequently they remain thus at low water, to become more active 
with change in the tide. On various occasions I have found them 
fishing at night, even when there was little light. 

Pelicans pass constantly across the isthmus, commonly over Gatun 
Lake, and regularly at other points. The common belief that they 
have learned to fly the trans-isthmian route by following the canal 
since it was completed has no foundation. Napoleon Garella (Project 
Canal travers Istme Panama, 1845, p. 73), who made a survey for a 
possible canal route in 1844, mentioned pelicans crossing between 
the head waters of the Rio Caimito of the Pacific side, and the Rio 
Paja, tributary to the Rio Chagres of the Atlantic slope, and cited 
their flights to support his location of this pass as the lowest point 


on the continental divide. Wagner (Abh. Math.-Phys. CI. Kon. 
Bayer. Akad. Wiss., vol. 10, 1866, pp. 86, 88) verified these observa- 
tions of Garella. Pelicans are not restricted in transisthmian journeys 
to the depression at the Canal Zone, as on occasion they cross else- 
where, even where the land is high. Charles O. Handley, Jr., in- 
forms me that on March 15, 1959, while on Cerro Mali, near the 
head of the Rio Pucro in Darien, he saw a flock of 8 pelicans en 
route from the Atrato basin in Colombia to the head of Rio 
Tacarcuna, bound evidently for the Pacific. They were flying at an 
elevation of about 2,000 meters. 

While brown pelicans fish mainly on salt water they follow channels 
at the mouths of the larger rivers inland, usually at ebb tide, and 
may be found then to the head of tidewater. 

Nesting is somewhat irregular but appears to come mainly from 
January to April. On Isla Taboga, in 1952, I found well-grown 
young on February 3, and later, on March 15, I collected a set of 
one-fourth incubated eggs. In 1955 they had not yet come to the 
colony to nest on December 24. In 1960, at Isla Pacheca, several 
birds were on their nests on January 20, and others were colonized 
on Isla Galera on January 28. At Isla Bona, March 31, 1962, I 
noted nearly grown young still in the nest and others only recently 
on the wing. Maj. Gen. G. Ralph Meyer collected eggs ranging from 
fresh to slightly incubated on Isla Chame on February 15, 1942, 
and freshly laid eggs February 21, 1943. The nests are broad, ir- 
regular platforms of fair-sized twigs, 400 to 750 mm. across, 
strongly made, though not especially thick. The 2 or 3 eggs in a 
set are chalky white, rough-shelled, and usually marked with blood, 
sometimes heavily when first laid. Stain usually increases as in- 
cubation progresses. In form the eggs are somewhat more pointed at 
either end than subelliptical. Measurements of two sets of two, and 
two sets of three eggs from islas Chame and Taboga are as follows : 
Length 72.2 to 76.8 mm.; width 48.8 to 51.4 mm., average 74.4 by 
50.2 mm. 

Fishermen and others have told me that they know of no nesting 
colonies of pelicans on the Caribbean coast of Panama, the nearest 
to the north of which I have found record being on Isla Contoy, off 
the coast of Quintana Roo. In the opposite direction, I was informed 
in 1941 that these birds nested on rocky islets off Santa Marta, 
Colombia, but I was not able to verify this. However, there may 
be breeding places nearer at hand, since on February 20, 1958, at 
Boca del Drago, I saw one young pelican that obviously had not 
been long away from parental care. 


The subspecies carolinensis ranges from the southeastern United 
States along the continental coasts of the Gulf of Mexico and the 
Caribbean Sea. It is found also on the Pacific side from Guatemala 
(possibly from southern Mexico) south along the Isthmus of 
Panama. Birds from the Pacific side of Panama usually show an 
approach in darker color of the hindneck to the race Pelecanus 
occidentalis murphyi Wetmore of the Pacific coast of Colombia and 
Ecuador, but are to be placed with carolinensis. 

Pelicans are known locally among fishermen as cuacos. Those 
who speak English around Almirante call them "Old Joe." 

Lionel Wafer (Isthm. Amer., 1699, p. 120) wrote of the pelican 
that "under the throat hangs a Bag or Pouch, which, when fill'd is 
as large as both ones Fists. The substance of it is a thin membrane, 
of a fine grey, ashy Colour. The Seamen Kill them for the sake of 
these bags, to make Tobacco-pouches of them ; for when dry, they 
will hold a pound of Tobacco; and by a Bullet hung in them they 
are soon brought into shape." Berthold Seemann (Voy. Herald, 
vol. 1, 1853, p. 263) describes a deer call that he saw used by 
hunters in Veraguas made from the wing bone of a pelican "covered 
at one end with a peculiar kind of cobweb, which forms an instru- 
ment that will imitate the cry of a young deer so closely that the 
old ones, in the belief that some mishap has befallen their kid, repair 
to the place and are shot." 

On the San Bias coast, the Cuna string segments of hollow wing 
bones of pelicans, usually the ulna, as pendants on necklaces. 

Family SULIDAE : Boobies, Gannets ; Bobas, Piqueros 

The species of this family, like others in the order Pelecani formes, 
range worldwide. Gannets are birds of the temperate zones ; boobies 
are found through tropical seas. Four of the 7 living species of the 
latter group range along Panamanian coasts, confined wholly to 
salt-water habitat. The family as a whole is an ancient one in avian 
history, and numerous fossil species have been named from bones 
found in deposits that range in age throughout the vast reaches of 
Tertiary time. 


1. Feet red or reddish in all plumages Red-footed booby, Stila sula, p. 63 

Feet greenish, yellow, yellowish, or orange ; never red 2 


2. Plain sooty brown above, and on throat and upper breast, the latter sep- 

arated posteriorly from the white or grayish brown lower breast by a 

definite line Brown booby, Sula leucogaster, p. 56 

White above, or grayish brown, variegated with white 3 

3. Tail black Blue-faced booby, Sula dactylatra, p. 60 

Tail grayish, or grayish and white Blue- footed booby, Sula nebouxii, p. 61 

SULA LEUCOGASTER (Boddaert): Brown Booby; Piquero Moreno 

Figure 11 

Adult with neck and upper breast dark, set off sharply from the 
white of the rest of the under parts. 

Description. — Length 660 to 760 mm. Adult, brownish black, with 
the lower breast and abdomen white. 

Immature, dark grayish brown, with the under surface paler, 
somewhat mottled, usually with a faint indication of the sharply 
defined line that in the adult separates the white and dark areas of 
the breast. 

Brown boobies, found along both coasts, are more abundant in 
the Gulf of Panama than in the Caribbean. To see them it is neces- 
sary usually to go offshore, though occasionally they come along the 
mainland, around rocky headlands, or at the heads of bays. Over 
the Gulf of Panama they appear regularly as single birds or small 
groups that course with set wings, low near the water shifting at 
intervals in the air currents to rise 10 to 15 meters above the surface. 
Angular in form, they are streamlined gliders from the tip of the 
sharp-pointed bill, back over its swelling base and the increasing 
diameter of the head and the thickened neck, with no appreciable 
break in outline. This smooth contour swells over the body, and then 
tapers to termination in the long, pointed tail. The narrow wings, 
held stiffly without flapping at right angles to the body, are the 
efficient sail-planes that support the bird, and through slight shifts in 
angle guide its course and regulate its speed. Only in take-off from 
the water, or from a perch on land does the booby stroke its wings, 
and then only to gain sufficient momentum for support on the air 
currents over which it rides. 

Brown boobies live mainly around small offshore islands, on some 
of which they nest. They rest usually on the face or summits of 
cliffs or on jumbled rocks above the shore. When the air is calm 
they remain inactive, but when the wind freshens they range out to 
feed. In travel by launch through the waters that they frequent one 
often sees boobies swing briefly near at hand and then, their 
curiosity satisfied, veer off, intent on their fishing. It is mainly the 
immature birds that show continued interest, and follow boats for 



any length of time. Such unsuspicious individuals sometimes ride 
along near at hand on the favorable air currents generated by the 
passage of the launch. 

When fish are sighted they plunge, often from a fair height, 

Fig. 11. — Brown booby, piquero moreno, Sula leucogaster. 

sometimes directly down, sometimes at an angle. As they surface 
after a dive they are headed in the same direction as when they 
entered the water, since they do not turn and reverse as does the 
brown pelican. 

Boobies in their search for food are birds of the sea, the isthmus 
forming a barrier of land that they do not cross. While the present 


species is found in both the Caribbean and the Pacific adjacent to 
the shores, the two oceans are inhabited by subspecies distinct from 
one another in characters of color. 

Pelecanus Leucogaster Boddaert, Tabl. Planch. Enlum., 1783, p. 57. (Cayenne.) 

Characters. — In this race the adults, male and female, are similar 
in color. The female differs from that of S. I. etesiaca of the Pacific 
side in having the back, wings, and tail paler brown than the head, 
neck, and chest. 

Iris grayish white ; bare skin around eye dull gray, except for the 
eyelids which are blue; gular pouch, bare skin of forehead and 
around gape, yellow; base of bill yellow, changing to pale dull 
grayish brown at tip; tarsus, toes, and webs yellow; claws dull 
neutral gray. 

Measurements (from Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer., 1936, p. 
854).— Males (13 specimens), wing 372-391 (381), tail 169-198 
(186), exposed culmen 87.8-101.0 (92.7), tarsus 42.0-48.4 (44.3) 

Females (10 specimens), wing 384-415 (400), tail 162-198 (180), 
exposed culmen 91.8-102.0 (96.3), tarsus 45-48 (46.8) mm. 

Resident. Fairly common along the Caribbean coast. 

The known breeding colonies in Panama are on the following 
offshore islands: Swan Key, off Boca del Drago, and islets off the 
western end of Isla Escudo de Veraguas, Bocas del Toro ; Farallon 
Sucio, off Punta Cacique, between Portobelo and Nombre de Dios, 
Colon. There is also a breeding colony on Isla Tonel, Colombia, 
located on the western side of the entrance to the Gulf of Uraba, 
a few miles beyond the eastern boundary of the Comarca de San 
Bias. The eggs are like those of Sula I. etesiaca. 

Downy young of good size were noted March 1, 1958, on the 
islets at Escudo de Veraguas. Though the birds wander to some 
extent, and so are seen occasionally off Colon harbor, and elsewhere, 
they are found more frequently near their nesting colonies. They are 
common in Almirante Bay and at sea off Boca del Drago. 


Sula etesiaca Thayer and Bangs, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 46, June 1905, 
p. 92. (Gorgona Island, Colombia.) 

Characters. — Male strikingly different from that oi S.l. leucogaster, 
as the forepart of the head is distinctly gray. Female similar to 


that of the other race, but with back and wings uniform in color 
with the head, neck, and chest. 

An adult male taken at Pacheca, January 20, 1960, had the iris 
Marguerite yellow; space around eye dull blue, becoming dull bluish 
green on the base of rami, and leaden blue on the gular area; base 
of maxilla dull greenish buff; rest of bill greenish drab, except cul- 
men which was fuscous ; feet and tarsi light greenish yellow. 

An adult female shot off Isla Canas, on the same day, had the 
eye colored as in the male; a large spot in front of the eye dull 
leaden blue; rest of bare skin around eye, base of bill all around, 
and gular sac light yellow ; bill light avellaneous ; tarsus and toes 
light greenish yellow ; webs between the toes bright yellow. 

Measurements. — Males (15 specimens), wing 360-384 (370), tail 
163-187 (181), culmen from base 82.0-93.3 (88.6), tarsus 44.8-48.0 
(45.5) mm. 

Females (14 specimens), wing 385-408 (397), tail 182-198 (189), 
culmen from base 89.6-103.2 (95.8), tarsus 46.8-49.8 (48.2) mm. 

Resident. Common along the Pacific coast, particularly in the Gulf 
of Panama. 

The following nesting colonies are recorded : Isla Bona ; Farallon 
Rock, off the southern side of Isla Taboguilla ; Isla Pachequilla, Isla 
Pacheca, Isla Saboga, and Isla Galera, Archipielago de las Perlas. 
Friends who fish in the Gulf of Chiriqui have told me of a colony of 
boobies on Islas Ladrones, doubtless the piquero moreno, as this 
is the common one in those v/aters. Murphy (Vert. SCOPE, 1957, 
pp. 133-134) reported many near these islands on November 25, 1956. 
Hellmayr and Conover (Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 2, 1948, p. 136) 
are in error in their inclusion of Isla Chepillo and Isla del Rey in 
their list of breeding colonies, since these localities are merely records 
of birds seen many years ago by Bovallius (Rendahl, Ark. Zool., 
Bd. 12, 1920, p. 10), or where specimens were collected in 1904 by 
Brown (Thayer and Bangs, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 46, 1905, 
p. 141). 

Three sets of eggs of 2 each, in the U. S. National Museum, 
collected by Maj. Gen. G. Ralph Meyer, are chalky white, with a 
slightly roughened surface. The outer chalky deposit completely 
covers a base color of pale bluish white which is visible only when 
the shell has been scratched sufficiently to cut through the outer 
coating. All the eggs are considerably stained. One set with incuba- 
tion advanced, from Farallon Rock taken December 13, 1942, was 
placed among rocks on the ground, in a depression about 300 mm. 


across, lined with twigs, leaves, and grass stems. Freshly deposited 
eggs were noted here on another visit on January 23, 1944. Hallinan 
(Auk. 1924, p. 306) recorded nests with eggs (Dec. 5, 1915) "on a 
rocky, wooded islet about ^ mile off shore" from Taboguilla, evi- 
dently Farallon Rock. The two additional sets collected by General 
Meyer were taken April 23, 1944, on Isla Pachequilla, from nests 
that were depressions in the ground on the level summit of the island. 
Some were in the open, others among bushes and low trees. In 
some the depression was partly lined with twigs. The six eggs 
measure in length 57.9-64.4 and in breadth 38.7-41.8 with an average 
size of 61.2x40.1 mm. 

Near Isla Galera I saw immature birds alight on the water and 
thrust their heads repeatedly below the surface. I could determine 
no reason for this, unless possibly they were feeding on plankton. 
Three adult males taken here at 8 :30 in the morning seem to have 
left their sleeping quarters recently, as in all the stomach was empty. 

This is the booby most often seen in Panamanian waters, as it out- 
numbers the blue-footed booby, S. n. nebouxii, and is far more 
abundant than the Caribbean representative of the species. 

SULA DACTYLATRA Lesson: Blue-faced Booby; Boba Borrega 

Adult white, with black tail. 

Description. — Length 750 to 850 mm. Adult, white, with wing 
feathers, greater wing coverts, and tail black; bare face and throat 
dark blue. 

Immature, upper surface, head, and neck, dark brown, becoming 
paler on breast, and whitish on abdomen. 

This booby, largest of the species of the family reported from 
Panamanian waters, is known there only from a few sight ob- 
servations. It has been reported from both coasts so that two sub- 
species are concerned, but the records need verification by specimens. 
The two geographic races that should occur differ in size, the supposed 
color differences in bill and foot color being those that distinguish 
male and female. 

Iris yellow; bare skin of face black; bill orange-yellow at base 
in males, light red in females, distally horn color in both sexes; 
tarsus and toes olive-drab in males, plumbeous in females. (From 
Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer., 1936, pp. 846, 848.) 


Sula dactylatra Lesson, Traite Orn., livr. 8, July 11, 1831, p. 601. (Ascension 
Island, South Atlantic Ocean.) 

Larger in size. 


Iris yellow; bare skin of face black; and of bill dull brown, with 
base orange-yellow in male, pale red in female ; tarsus and toes dull 
brown in males, bluish neutral gray in females. 

Measurements (from Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer., 1936, p. 
846).— Males (9 specimens), wing 406-433 (424), tail 153-173 
(166), exposed culmen 92.6-97.2 (95.6), tarsus 53-56.2 (54) mm. 

Females (7 specimens), wing 417-440 (429), tail 151-180 (164), 
exposed culmen 91.6-99.0 (95.7), tarsus 52.0-54.6 (53.4) mm. 

Casual visitor to the Caribbean coast. 

The only reports are those of sight records by Griscom (Amer. 
Mus. Nov. 282, 1927, p. 3) who recorded 4 on February 9, 1927, and 
30 on February 13, 1924, off Colon harbor. These boobies nest in 
scattered colonies on islands off northern Yucatan, in the southern 
Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, the Grenadines, Los Hermanos north 
of Venezuela, and Los Monjes between the end of the Guajira 
Peninsula and the island of Aruba. From these breeding places 
they wander widely through the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. 


Sula granti Rothschild, Bull. Brit. Orn. Club, vol. 13, Oct. 31, 1902, p. 7. 
(Culpepper Island, Galapagos Islands.) 

Similar to S. d. dactylatra but averaging larger. The difference, 
however, appears slight, perhaps too little to be worthy of recogni- 

Color of soft parts as in Sula d. dactylatra. 

Measurements (from Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer., 1936, p. 
846).— Males (5 specimens), wing 413-443 (429), tail 172-181 
(177), exposed culmen 102.0-104.4 (102.7), tarsus 52.3-58 (55) mm. 

Females (6 specimens), wing 427-468 (450), tail 176-189 (183), 
exposed culmen 102.0-114.5 (106.5), tarsus 54-59 (57) mm. 

Reported as a casual visitor in the Gulf of Panama. 

Robins (Condor, 1958, p. 301) recorded one seen in company with 
brown boobies at sea 30 kilometers off Bahia Pinas, Darien. Dennis R. 
Paulson recorded others in this same area Sept. 13 and 14, 1961, 
when traveling on the yacht Argosy. 

This form is one of probable occurrence as it breeds at Isla de 
Malpelo, Colombia, about 550 kilometers southwest, as well as in the 

SULA NEBOUXII NEBOUXII Milne-Edwards: Blue-footed Booby; Camanay 

Sula nebouxii Milne-Edwards, Ann. Sci. Nat. Zool., ser. 6, vol. 13, art. 4, 1882, 
p. Z7, pi. 14. (Pacific coast of America.) 

Head and neck gray, mottled with white. 


Description. — Length 760 to 860 mm. Adult, back (except for 
center), wings, and tail, grayish brown, the feathers in the center of 
the back tipped with white ; head and neck gray mottled with white ; 
under surface, upper back, and base of neck, white; central tail 
feathers white, bordered by gray. 

Immature, mottled with dark grayish brown on breast and abdo- 

An adult female taken at Farallon del Chiru had the iris clear 
yellow, while in another from Isla Villa, not as old, it was light 
grayish brown, with an indistinct line of Marguerite yellow around 
the external margin. In both the bill was light greenish gray, shad- 
ing posteriorly into the grayish blue of the face, bare throat, ramal 
area, lores, eyelids, and a narrow line on the forehead back of the 
bill ; tarsi and feet light bright blue, with the front of the tarsi, and 
the basal joints of the toes grayer; claw of middle toe horn color, 
of other toes neutral gray; bare skin surrounding anus light blue 
like the webs between the toes. 

Measurements (from Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer., 1936, p. 
830).— Males (7 specimens), wing 387-413 (403), tail 165-218 
(190) ; exposed culmen 94-106 (99.7), tarsus 47-54 (50.4) mm. 

Females (7 specimens), wing 403-426 (416), tail 165-215 (190), 
exposed culmen 106.0-109.5 (107.5), tarsus 51-57 (55) mm. 

Resident. Fairly common in the Gulf of Panama. Breeding colonies 
are recorded at Isla Villa, off the coast of Los Santos ; Farallon del 
Chiru, off Santa Clara, Code ; on Isla Pachequilla (probably also on 
Pacheca and Galera) , Archipielago de las Perlas ; and on Isla Bona. 
A few pairs probably nest on rocky islets off the western side of 
Isla Taboguilla. 

At Isla Villa on February 28, 1957, a dozen circled off the rocky 
summit when the birds resting there were alarmed. And at Farallon 
del Chiru, on the same day, I noted another dozen pairs. With those 
at this second locality there were a few dark-colored young. Birds 
seen flying off Riomar, March 15, 1958, are presumed to have come 
from this same locality. In the Archipielago de las Perlas, Mrs. 
Sturgis (Birds Panama Canal Zone, 1928, p. 112) records that "we 
saw them in considerable numbers in the Pearl Islands on Pacheca 
and Galera on the ledges of the cliffs." This implies breeding but 
is not definite; it seems to be the basis for the report of Hellmayr 
and Conover (Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 2, 1948, p. 124) of nesting 
on these two islands. On two days in January 1960 I found 20 
grouped on a cliff edge on Isla Pachequilla, and saw several isolated 


nesting sites on small ledges on the higher cliffs. Some of these held 
nearly grown young. The largest colony that I have seen is on Isla 
Bona, where I observed them in numbers flying off the steep rocky 
slopes on March 31, 1962. Robins (Condor, 1958, pp. 301-302) in 
July 1957 found this the most common booby around Isla Camote 
and Isla Galera and off the coast between Punta Garachine and 
Bahia Piiias, Darien. This seems to imply either more extensive 
breeding colonies than have been reported or that birds that nest 
elsewhere come to the Gulf of Panama when food is abundant. I 
saw one near Isla Pelado, off the mouth of the Rio Chiman, on 
February 15, 1950, but noted no indication of nesting. A specimen in 
the American Museum of Natural History was taken by Dr. Murphy 
on the Askoy Expedition, at Ensenada Guayabo, southern Darien, on 
March 2, 1941. 

As these boobies circle and swing about they appear very large 
against the sky. When seen from the side the gray-brown head 
and neck are outlined clearly from the white breast. 

The population found at the Galapagos Islands has been separated 
by Todd (Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, 1948, p. 99) as Sula 
nehouxii excisa on the basis of average larger size. Murphy (Oceanic 
Birds S. Amer., 1936, p. 830), the first to point to this distinction, 
listed wing measurements as follows : 

Pacific coast, 7 males, 387-413 ; 7 females, 403-426 mm. 

Galapagos Islands, 3 males, 406-433 ; 3 females, 444-448 mm. 

The difference is slight but appears valid in the specimens that I 
have examined. 

SULA SULA SULA (Linnaeus): Red-footed Booby; Boba Blanca 

Pelecamis Sula Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 218. (Barbados.) 

Adult, white or grayish brown ; tail white in both phases. 

Description. — Length 660 to 700 mm. Adult, white, with primaries 
black, washed with gray on the outer webs ; or in the darker color 
phase, grayish brown, with rump and tail white. 

Immature, plain grayish brown. 

Gular sac black in males, bluish black in females ; feet red. 

Measurements (from Murphy, Oceanic Birds S. Amer., vol. 1, 
1936, p. 862).— Males (9 specimens), wing 362-385 (372.1), tail 
206-231 (217), exposed culmen 76.3-85 (81.2), tarsus Z2.7-Z6.9 
(33.7) , middle toe and claw 66.2-74.5 (69) mm. 

Females (7 specimens), wing 378-405 (389), tail 198-215 (207.4), 


exposed culmen 80.5-86.0 (83.7), tarsus 35-40.3 (37.3), middle toe 
with claw 70-75.5 (72) mm. 

A visitor to the Caribbean coast. Not much is known as to its 

The first record is that of Griscom (Amer, Mus. Nov. no. 282, 
1927, p. 3), who reported two in Colon harbor on February 23, 
1927. Thomas Imhof informs me that he saw one 5 miles off Colon 
on February 23, 1943, and I recorded one that was fishing off the 
mouth of the Rio Indio, Colon, to the west of the Canal Zone, on 
February 20, 1952. In addition to these sight records I have an 
excellent color photograph of a red-footed booby taken on December 
14, 1955, by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Barnard. The bird, in gray plumage 
with white tail, found on board a ship at Cristobal, was brought to 
Balboa, photographed, and released there. The U. S. National 
Museum has an adult female given to me by Charles L. Fagan, when 
wireless operator on the Grace Line vS". 5. Santa Elena, taken August 
27, 1924, in the Caribbean, 300 kilometers N.N.E. of Colon. The 
species is not known to breed in Panamanian waters, the nearest 
nesting colony of which there is record being on Half Moon Cay 
off British Honduras. 

Murphy (Oceanic Birds S. Amer., 1936, pp. 861-865) after de- 
tailed discussion on the color variations in these boobies does not 
find clearcut grounds on which to distinguish geographic races. 
These are to be expected as the species ranges through tropical seas 
around the world, and other current treatment recognizes separate 
forms for the Atlantic and the eastern Pacific. The eastern Pacific 
population, which nests in the Revilla Gigedo Islands, on Cocos 
Island off Costa Rica, and in the Galapagos, may range casually into 
the Gulf of Panama. This Pacific group, described as Sula sula 
wehsteri by Rothschild, is supposed to differ from typical Sula s. sula 
on the basis of a slightly longer wing. The only report to date is an 
uncertain one by Mrs. Sturgis (Birds Panama Canal Zone, 1928, p. 
HI), who says that it is found "about the Pearl Islands" without 
more definite statement. This reference, however, without much 
doubt, refers to one of the other boobies. 

Family PHALACROCORACIDAE: Cormorants; Cuervos 


The range of the 30 species of this aquatic family covers much of 
the world, as cormorants have adapted to life in both salt and fresh 
waters, as well as to a considerable range of temperature. The spread 


of the family as a whole extends from the far north through tem- 
perate and equatorial regions to southern waters. In their modern 
form cormorants became established before the Middle Tertiary, 
while ancient allied stocks are recognized in fossil deposits in 
Paleocene time of more than 60 million years ago. 

[PHALACROCORAX BOUGAINVILLII (Lesson): Peruvian Cormorant; 


Carbo Bougainvillii Lesson, in Bougainville, Journ. Nav. Thetis et Esperance, 
vol. 2, 1837, p. 331. (Valparaiso, Chile.) 

The only present basis for inclusion of this species is a report by 
Eisenmann (Trans. Linn. Soc, vol. 7, 1955, p. 14) of a sight record 
"off Darien, once, R. C. Murphy." The guanay, the principal species 
concerned in the production of the great guano deposits on the bird 
islands off the coast of Peru, breeds also in isolated colonies on 
islands in Chilean waters. In times of change in coastal ocean 
currents when normal food supplies fail these birds wander widely. 
They have been found casually north along the Pacific coast of 
Colombia to Gorgona Island, and to Bahia de Malaga near Buena- 
ventura (De Schauensee, Birds Colombia, 1948, p. 355), and may 
straggle rarely farther into Panamanian waters. 

The species is 700 to 760 mm. long and is marked by pure white 
breast, with a white patch on the side of the neck, the rest of the 
body being black, more or less glossed with green.] 

Cormorant; Cuervo Marino 

Figure 12 

Pelecanus oUvaceus Humboldt, in Humboldt and Bonpland, Recueil d' observa- 
tions zoologie et d'anatomie comparee, vol. 1, livr. 1, 1805, p. 6. (EI Banco, 
Rio Magdalena, Magdalena, Colombia.) 

Large, dark-colored, with the bill hooked at tip. 

Description. — Length 660 to 710 mm. Adult, black; upper surface 
and wings brownish slate, the feathers edged with black; a white 
line bordering the gular sac ; in breeding dress, head and neck with 
scattered filamentous white feathers. 

Immature, grayish brown; in the first season much paler, some 
being white on the under surface. 

W. W. Brown, Jr., listed colors of an adult female taken March 
19, 1904, at Isla del Rey as follows: Iris sea green; gular patch 
yellow, darker in the center; tarsus black (a color that in the skins 
includes the toes). 



Measurements (from adults taken in the breeding colonies on Isla 
del Rey and Saboga). — Males (6 specimens), wing 283-298 (291), 
tail 160-184 (172), culmen from base 58.7-67.4 (63.8), tarsus 53.7- 
58.9 (57.0) mm. 

Fig. 12. — Olivaceous cormorant, cuervo marine, Phalacrocorax oUvaceus 


Females (5 specimens), wing 268-295 (276.5), tail 152-185 (161), 
culmen from base 55.2-62.5 (59.4), tarsus 53.2-58.0 (56.1) mm. 

Resident. Abundant in the Gulf of Panama, common along the 
coasts elsewhere, ranging far inland along rivers (even to their head 


waters), and on Gatun and Madden lakes; seen occasionally on the 
lakes near El Volcan at 1280 meters elevation and on the Rio Caldera 
near Boquete at about 1200 meters. Nesting colonies are reported on 
Pacheca and Saboga islands in the Perlas group. 

The number of cormorants present on the Gulf varies considerably 
from season to season, governed apparently by the abundance of the 
schools of fish that form their food. It seems probable that a part 
of the great bands that are seen occasionally may be wanderers from 
other regions in the American tropics. In the early morning of April 
4, 1948, at the mouth of the Rio Chico, below the La Jagua Hunting 
Club, tens of thousands flew in lines and irregular bands over the 
open water of the Gulf. These flocks extended as far as I could 
see through my binoculars, the total number being far beyond that 
of the two breeding colonies recorded in the Perlas Islands. Earlier, 
in February and March 1944, I found flocks of hundreds around 
Isla San Jose and Isla Pedro Gonzalez, which I believed in the main 
to be the resident population. In contrast to these observations, in 
the period from January 16 to 31, 1960, when I was working by 
seagoing launch through the Archipielago de las Perlas fish were 
not plentiful, and I recorded only one flock of a hundred cormorants 
near Isla Contadora, and a few other scattered individuals. Robins 
(Condor, 1958, p. 302) noted only one during a fishing trip in the 
Gulf that extended from July 15 to 26, 1957. 

Though so grotesque in form that some find them repulsive, 
cormorants on closer acquaintance show many interesting habits. The 
great flocks found at times in the Gulf of Panama are attractive for 
their numbers alone, as they fly in long lines, 100 to 150 meters 
above the sea, in search of the schools of small fishes that form their 
food. When these are sighted the birds circle precipitately down to 
the water where they swim and dive amid a swarm of swooping 
frigate birds and laughing gulls, and of plunging pelicans and 
boobies, while mackerel, amber jack, and other great fishes surge and 
swirl beneath through the close-packed masses of small fry. No 
bickering is evident among these active predators, though often I 
have wondered if there were not frequent collisions that might re- 
sult in injury, so apparently heedless of one another are the several 
kinds that join voraciously in the attack. 

At a distance the dark forms of cormorants suggest geese by 
their size and manner of flight. When hunger is satisfied the flocks 
rest on rocks on the headlands or on sandy beaches where they 
stand close together in rows, often in the wash of little waves. As 


Others fly in to join these ranks there is often a chorus of the 
croaking, grunting calls that are the only notes of these birds. 

In addition to these flocks, scattered birds are found everywhere 
along the coasts and inland wherever there is suitable water. While 
these birds may feed alone, usually they gather in little groups to 
rest and to sleep — on the coast on trees or rocks along the shore, 
and inland in dead trees or branches bare of leaves over, or beside, 
the water. As a boat approaches, these resting birds begin to twist 
about, until finally they pitch awkwardly into the air where their 
wings beat heavily to gain momentum for flight, or they plunge 
beneath the water to appear at a safe distance many meters away. 

On the larger rivers as the Tuira and the Chucunaque cormorants 
are found in hundreds, most of them above the limit of tide. Con- 
stantly shifting currents below that point usually keep the streams 
muddy, so that fish if not actually more abundant are more easily 
obtained in the clearer waters above. Practically all these cormorants 
are immature individuals, some in first, and others in second-year 
plumage, to judge from their color. It is my supposition that many 
of the young birds from the nesting colonies in the Gulf move to 
such fresh waters and remain there more or less permanently until 
ready to breed. One indication of this is that on the upper courses 
of uninhabited streams young cormorants are often almost stupidly 
tame, presumably through lack of experience in dangers that would 
be theirs during more extensive journeys. 

On the other hand, it is quite probable that part of the cormorants 
in these same stages of plumage, found in Bocas del Toro, and 
elsewhere in western Panama may be migrants from elsewhere in 
the Tropics. In crossing from Bocas del Toro to Panama in a Cessna 
plane on one occasion I saw one cormorant flying at an elevation of 
350 meters across the extensive area of unbroken forest of this part 
of the Caribbean slope, an indication of wandering that would bring 
these birds into the remote and isolated waters where they are some- 
times found. 

The abundance of this species in Panama attracted the attention 
of early travelers, even of the buccaneers, as they are one of the 
birds described in some detail by Lionel Wafer in his account of 
Darien (Isthm. Amer., 1699, p. 121). 

The nesting season appears to come in April, as W. W. Brown, 
Jr., noted a nest with 6 incubated eggs April 14, 1904, on Isla Saboga 
(Thayer and Bangs, Bull. Mus. Comp. ZooL, vol. 46, 1905, p. 141). 
On April 24, 1949, in early morning as I watched flocks of cormorants 


flying down the Rio Mamoni, near its mouth at Chepo, a bird near 
the center of one flock carried a good-sized twig in its bill, while 
maintaining its proper place in the long line of its companions, 
indication that the nesting season was near. 

According to Bent (U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 121, 1922, pp. 262-263) 
4 or 5 eggs constitute the normal set. These have a ground color of 
bluish white concealed beneath a coating of chalky white. In addi- 
tion usually they are much nest-stained. Measurements range from 
47.5-58x29-37 mm. 

In Venezuela these birds are known as the cotua. 

Family ANHINGIDAE : Snakebirds ; Cuervos de Aguja 

The four species recognized in this family are found throughout 
the warmer areas of the world, mainly on fresh water. All are 
similar in slender form, with long, straight bill (in which the edges 
of the mandibles are finely serrate), narrow head, long, slender 
neck, and narrow body. Some ornithologists have united this family 
with the cormorants, presumably on the basis of general resem- 
blances in color and manner of life, but anatomical studies show 
differences too important to warrant this combination. Among the 
distinctions, the snakebirds have a peculiar stomach in which there 
is a separate small lobe at the upper end for the glands found in 
most other birds in the proventriculus, and a second division at the 
lower end, in which a series of slender, hairlike processes are 
clustered around the narrow opening into the intestine. There is also 
an arrangement in the upperpart of the neck that serves as a trigger 
to control the head as a spear to impale the fish that form the food. 
These are peculiar adjustments not found in cormorants, and with 
other details establish separate family status. It may be noted also 
that in the snakebirds primaries and secondaries are molted simul- 
taneously as they are in ducks, and so for a period the birds are 

ANHINGA ANHINGA LEUCOGASTER (VieiUot): Anhinga; Cuervo de Aguja 

Figure 13 

Plotus leucogaster Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 1, Sept. 1816, 
p. 545. (Florida.) 

Long neck, with slender head and long straight bill mark this 
species, as compared to the cormorant. 

Description. — Length 760 to 900 mm. Very slender in form with 


long, thin neck. Male black, marked prominently on wings and 
back with grayish white. 

Female similar, but with breast, head, and neck, light brown. 

For measurements see below. 

Fig. 13. — Anhinga, cuervo de aguja, Anhinga anhingat leucogaster. 

Resident. Found around larger bodies of fresh water in the low- 
lands, ranging into tidal areas among the mangroves. 

The species is most common around Gatun and Madden Lakes, and 
along the Rio Chagres between these two, and is found in fair num- 
bers on the Tuira and Chucunaque Rivers. I have seen it regularly 


in the Province of Herrera, around the marshes east of Pacora, and 
have one specimen from the lower Rio Jaque, in Darien. The bird 
is fairly common also around Changuinola, in Bocas del Toro. 
Two (now in the British Museum) were collected by Arce years 
ago at Laguna de Castillo in southern Veraguas, which is the most 
western record on the Pacific slope. To date the species has not been 
reported from Chiriqui, Los Santos, or the Comarca de San Bias. 

In ordinary flight the anhinga alternately flaps the wings rapidly 
several times to gain momentum and then spreads them stiffly while 
it sails. It is common to see them soaring, alone or in company of 
other birds, in rising air currents. Their outline against the sky — 
slender head and neck extended, broad wings and tail — suggests that 
of a sailplane. 

It is common also to see them perched on snags or in dead trees 
beside the water, and often when approached instead of flying they 
drop heavily into the water, dive, and disappear. Frequently they 
swim with the body nearly submerged so that only the slender head 
and neck are visible, from which habit they are called snakebirds. 
They fish by diving, during which, unlike most water birds, the 
outer body feathers become completely soaked. The birds then rest 
on an open perch with wings wide spread to allow the plumage to 
dry. On one occasion, on the Rio Escota, near Santa Maria, Herrera, 
I shot two for specimens that fell in the river. While we were 
cutting a long bamboo to retrieve them, both birds became water- 
logged and sank, one of them in deep water where it could not be 

Though the Cuervo de Agvija undoubtedly is resident no nests 
have been reported yet from Panama. Elsewhere usually they 
gather in small colonies though pairs may remain alone. 

Information relative to breeding in the southeastern United States 
from southern Texas to Florida (Bent, U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 121, 
1922, pp. 230-232) describes the nest as an untidy structure sug- 
gestive of that of a heron but more bulky. It is placed rather low in 
bushes or trees, and is built of sticks, usually with a lining of twigs 
bearing green leaves. The 3 to 5 eggs are pale bluish white, with a 
chalky coating that becomes stained brownish or yellowish during 
incubation. They vary in length from 47 to 57.5 mm. and in breadth 
by 33 to 37.5 mm. Anhingas often nest in company with herons and 

The species sometimes is known as cuervo de agua duke to distin- 
guish it from the cormorant. 


Two geographic races of this wide-ranging bird are recognized at 
present. The northern form Anhinga anhinga leucogaster (Vieillot) 
of the southeastern United States, south throughout Central Amer- 
ica, and of Cuba and the Isle of Pines, has the light band at the 
tip of the tail narrow and averages smaller. 

Males (44 specimens), wing 316-347 (330), culmen from base 
74.0-89.9 (81.8) mm. 

Females (28 specimens), wing 314-348 (327), culmen from base 
70.5-85.0 (77.8) mm. 

The typical form Anhinga anhinga anhinga (Linnaeus), found 
in northwestern South America from Colombia to western Ecuador, 
and east of the Andes south to northern Argentina, has the light tail 
tip definitely broader and averages larger. 

Males (14 specimens), wing 325-365 (341), culmen from base 
84.7-98.8 (91.8) mm. 

Females (16 specimens), wing 312-361 (335), culmen from base 
81.7-91.5 (86.3) mm. 

Intergradation between the two begins in Panama where the 
birds are intermediate, but nearer leucogaster, and continues in 
northern Colombia, where they are intermediate also but nearer 

The population from western Mexico south to Guatemala appears 
to average slightly smaller than leucogaster from elsewhere and has 
been named A. a. minima by van Rossem (Ann. Mag. Nat, Hist., 
1939, p. 439) , with type locality Acaponeta, Nayarit. The suggested 
color characters of the proposed form do not hold. The specimens 
seen in the present study from the area concerned have been small, 
but all have been immature birds (including the type) and these 
usually are smaller than adults. The race is one of questionable 

Family FREGATIDAE : Frigatebirds ; Tijeretas de Mar 

The five species of this family are birds of the warmer seas around 
the world. All agree in long, angular wings and deeply forked tail, 
with the differences that separate them specifically found in size, 
in combination with the location, or absence, of white markings. 
One species is common along the coasts of Panama, but another may 
be expected to come casually along the Pacific. 


FREGATA MAGNIFICENS Mathews: Magnificent Frigatebird; Tijereta 

de Mar 

Figure 14 

Fregata minor tnagnificens Mathews, Austr. Av. Rec, vol. 2, no. 6, Dec. 19, 1914, 
p. 120. (Barrington Island, Galapagos Archipelago.) 

Size large ; wings long, angular ; tail long, deeply forked. 

Description. — Length 810 mm. to a meter. Male black, glossed 
above with violet; throat sac large, bright red in breeding season, 
shrunken, dull orange at other times. 

Female, black, with breast and sides white. 

Immature, head and neck white. 

Measurements (from specimens from the Pacific coast of Central 
and South America). — Males (22 specimens), wing 587-648 (622), 
culmen from base 105.6-116.4 (109.0) mm. 

Females (15 specimens), wing 615-695 (648), culmen from base 
115.3-135.8 (122.8) mm. 

Iris brown ; bill dusky neutral gray ; tarsus and toes dull black ; 
throat sac of male bright red in the breeding season when capable of 
inflation, changing to dull orange in the post breeding, contracted 

Resident. Common along the coasts, particularly in the Bay of 
Panama. Often seen soaring far inland; found regularly over the 
Panama Canal and Gatun Lake. 

The known breeding colonies in Panamanian waters are as fol- 
lows : The western one of two small islets immediately north of Isla 
Uva, in the Islas Contreras, which lie to the north of Isla Coiba ; 
Isla Iguana, north of Punta Mala ; Isla Bona ; Farallon del Chiru ; 
Isla Villa ; islets near Isla Taboguilla ; Isla Chame ; Isla Pacheca, 
Isla Saboga, Isla Cangrejo in the Islas Caracoles (to the north of 
Isla del Rey), and Isla Galera, in the Archipielago de las Perlas. 

The frigatebird, with its narrow, angular wings and deeply forked 
tail, is a familiar sight anywhere along the sea, as the birds are 
constantly on the wing, often high in air. Seen regularly over the 
coastal towns and cities, they also swing inland, particularly during 
periods of storm, and so it is not unusual to see one high overhead 
through some forest opening far distant from the sea. They cross 
the isthmus constantly from side to side over the canal. 

Frigatebirds are notorious for robbing their neighbor terns and 
boobies of their fish. The brown booby particularly is unfortunate 
in this, though it often manages to escape. I have seen royal terns 


and laughing gulls also elude a frigate after a long and agile chase. 
On the Rio Chiman a frigatebird swooped down at a cormorant that 
had a fish in its bill, but the latter dived instantly and so saved its 
meal. However, as I have recorded elsewhere, the frigatebirds in 
the Gulf of Panama are more often fishermen in their own right, as 
they swoop regularly over the waves to seize small fishes in their 
bills, and then swing away without alighting. The birds descend 
swiftly from a low elevation in the air, glide forward just above the 

Fig. 14.— Magnificent frigatebird, tijereta de mar, Fregata magnificens, male, 
with inflated throat sac. 

water, then drop the head to snap at fish while the body continues 
its forward glide, seemingly leaving the head and the long neck 
behind until it is brought back with its wriggling prey in the bill at 
the very second when it appears that the bird will be overturned. The 
bill and sometimes the entire head may be immersed, but neither 
wing nor body touches the water. Where schools of small fish surface 
frigatebirds join pelicans and cormorants in voracious attack, re- 
maining always in the air, while their companions plunge and dive 
amid the larger fish that harass the unfortunate schools beneath 
the water. 


In June 1953 scores of frigates, most of them immature, ranged 
over the open water at the head of Montijo Bay. As the tide rose 
the birds followed up the Rio San Pablo for some distance. Twice I 
saw one pick up a sea snake swimming at the surface and carry it, 
as it twisted and coiled, for a short distance with other frigates in 
close pursuit, and then finally let it drop. Frank Violette, of long ex- 
perience in fishing the waters of the Gulf, has told me that when the 
frigatebird sees large billfish — marlin and sailfish — it watches them 
as it turns in small circles high in air. He has located such fish 
frequently by observing this maneuver. 

At the end of February 1957 I estimated that a thousand pairs 
were nesting on Isla Iguana, north of Punta Mala. The birds here 
occupied most of the island except for a small clearing where two 
houses were located. Only the pelicans were able to compete with 
them for nesting sites. Chattering calls came constantly from the 
birds on their nests. Males had the balloonlike, red throat pouches 
inflated, and often flew about with bits of grass dangling from the 

On February 28 I found between 75 and 100 pairs at Isla Villa 
and 30 or so at Farallon del Chiru. 

Hundreds roost on the steep western slopes of Isla Taboga, but 
during my visits at various times from December to March I have 
not noted nests. I believed that the frigatebirds seen around Isla 
Pelado off the mouth of Rio Chiman in February and March 1950 
may have nested there, but of this I was not certain. Formerly they 
were located on the "Fortified Islands" at the Pacific entrance of the 

At Isla Chame near Taboga, on February 15, 1942, Maj. Gen. 
G. Ralph Meyer collected several eggs, ranging from fresh to three- 
fifths incubated. The nests were shallow platforms of twigs 300 to 
400 mm. in diameter, lined scantily with finer materials, placed 3 me- 
ters or so above the ground in the low trees that form groves on the 
steep slopes of the island, often closely grouped with several in one 
tree. On a previous visit on February 23, 1941, he had found that 
several eggs were nearly ready to hatch. On Isla Iguana many of the 
nests were only 1^ meters or so above the ground, and regularly I 
walked underneath those higher while the birds watched me within a 
few meters of my head. 

One egg is laid in each nest, its color chalky white, with a slightly 
roughened shell — sometimes stained with streaks of brown, apparently 
from blood during laying. In shape they vary considerably from 


subelliptical and long oval to long elliptical, in the larger shape some- 
times somewhat expanded on the larger perimeter, A series of 9 from 
Isla Chame and 2 from Isla Iguana vary in length from 63.4 to 74.0 
and in width from 46.0 to 50.0, with the average 70.1 x47.6 mm. 

Back of the sand dunes on the mainland opposite Isla Iguana there 
is a fresh-water pond, Laguna de la Boca, 250 meters long by 30 to 
50 meters wide, and fairly deep. In March 1957, all day long a 
scattered procession of frigatebirds came from the nesting colony on 
the island to drink and bathe in the sweet water. The great birds 
arrived in groups of 4 or 5 to 20, circled the pond, and then came 
down steeply, like airplanes descending to a landing field. Most of 
them banked above the surface of the water to straighten out and then 
as they sailed with set wings dipped the bill, swinging the long neck 
back beneath as they do in seizing a fish. They rose immediately, 
usually throwing the head up to swallow. Regularly 2 or 3 dropped 
lower so that the breast feathers broke the surface. Then, when aloft 
15 or 20 meters or more, they sailed with set wings while they shook 
the body violently and waggled the tail from side to side — an aerial 
bath. In early morning drinking and bathing were confined to adult 
males that came in with the throat sac deflated so that it swung loosely 
from side to side, accompanied by many white-headed immature birds. 
It appeared that the females then may have been on nest duty. The 
young birds appeared to bathe more than the adults and were less 
expert at it, as their breasts often were more deeply submerged. I saw 
one hit so hard that most of its body went into the water, and it 
struggled for 3 or 4 wing strokes before it was able to rise. On an 
earlier occasion on February 20, 1950, I recorded half a dozen drink- 
ing at a pool in the Rio Chiman, about 12 kilometers inland from the 
sea at the mouth of the Rio Curutu. 

The habit of drinking and bathing in fresh water in this species of 
frigatebird has been noted in literature but seems to have attracted 
little attention. Bonhote (Ibis, 1903, p. 312) describes small parties 
that came daily to a fresh-water pond on Little Abaco in the Ba- 
hamas where the birds "splashed into the water like swallows." 
Gififord (Proc. California Acad. Sci,, 1913, p. 100) speaks of their 
visiting the crater lake El Junco at 800 meters elevation on Isla 
San Cristobal (Chatham Island) in the Galapagos, and the same 
habit is mentioned by the Conways (The Enchanted Islands, 1948, 
pp. 164, 165-166) at an upland pond on Isla Santa Maria (or 
Floreana) in the same group. The bird on Guadeloupe Island in 
the West Indies that Noble (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 60, 1916, 


p. 364) described as "over a fresh-water pond and diving at in- 
tervals for fish" without much doubt had come for water. In a 
recent observation at a dam on the Rio Mulege, Baja CaHfornia, 
bathing without drinking in this species is described in some detail 
(Kielhorn, Norris, and Evans, Condor, vol. 65, no. 3, 1963 pp. 

The habit of visiting fresh-water ponds is recorded also for the 
related Pacific frigatebird Fregata minor palmerstani, as Walter 
K. Fisher (Condor, vol. 6, no. 3, 1904, p. 60) observed them 
drinking at a small pond on Laysan Island, in the Hawaiian Bird 

Proposals to recognize three geographic races of this frigatebird 
have been based on supposed differences in size. Under this the 
typical form, alleged to be larger, with longer wing, has been re- 
stricted to the Galapagos Islands. 

The birds of the Cape Verde Islands, ranging to western Africa 
have been named Fregata magnificens lowei by Bannerman, on the 
supposition that this population had a much larger bill ; and the 
frigates nesting in the rest of their extensive range in the Atlantic 
area, including the Caribbean islands, and in the Pacific from Baja 
California to the coast of Ecuador have been separated by Mathews 
as Fregata magnificens rothschildi on the basis of supposed smaller 
size. In an extensive series of measurements that I have assembled 
the suggested differences do not hold, as birds with large and small 
wing and bill sizes are encountered at random through the entire 
geographic range. Measurements of birds from the west coast of 
America are listed above at the beginning of the account of this 
species. Comparable figures for specimens from the Caribbean 
area and the western Atlantic are as follows : Males (32 specimens), 
wing 583-648 (610), culmen from base 106.2-119.3 (111.8) mm. 
Females (15 specimens), wing 610-672 (636), culmen from base 
118.5-132.2 (126.9) mm. Two males from Boa Vista, Cape Verde 
Islands (type locality of lowei) have the culmen 111.0 and 113.9 
mm., and in one female this measurement is 129.0 mm. On this 
basis the species may not be divided with any probability of proper 
allocation of individuals found away from their breeding grounds. 

[Fregata minor ridgwayi Mathews, the great frigatebird, which 
breeds in the Galapagos, and on Isla Cocos, far off the Pacific coast 
of Panama, may reach Panamanian waters, though to date it has 
not been recorded. The adult male of this bird has the back glossy 
oil green, with a dark-brown band on the wing across the wing 


coverts. The female has the throat and foreneck whitish or ashy; 
and in the immature the light-colored head is washed prominently 
with rusty brown. In Fregata magnificens, common in Panama, 
the male has a purplish sheen on the back and has no wing band ; 
the female has the throat and foreneck blackish; and the imma- 
ture has the head plain white. The two species are similar in size.] 


Family ARDEIDAE: Herons; Garzas 

The numerous species of herons, worldwide in distribution, 
agree in long legs and long necks, suitable for their type of life in 
haunts along shores and in shallow waters. They show much di- 
versity in size, from the small least bitterns to the tall great blue 
and cocoi herons, and equally wide variation in color. Most of 
them are able to maintain themselves in settled regions, now that 
their plumage is no longer a commercial item. Only the tiger-bitterns 
disappear as human settlement increases. 


1. Bill longer, 125 mm. or more 2 

Bill shorter, not more than 100 mm 4 

2. Larger birds, a meter or more in length, bill strong (genus Ardea) .... 3 
Medium-sized birds, 750 mm. or less in length, bill very slender, about 150 

mm. long Agami heron, Agamia agami, p. 95 

3. Paler, whiter in general appearance ; tibia white or gray. 

Cocoi heron, Ardea cocoi, p. 82 
Darker, decidedly grayer in general appearance; tibia chestnut or chestnut- 
brown Great blue heron, Ardea herodias, p. 80 

4. Mainly plain white, white tinged with buff, or white variegated with 

gray 5 

Definitely darker in color, uniformly dark slate, or with plumage of varie- 
gated pattern 9 

5. Bill yellow 6 

Bill not yellow 7 

6. Larger, length 850 mm. to a meter ; pure white. 

Common egret, Casmerodiiis albiis egretta, p. 88 

Smaller, length 460 to 560 mm., plain white, or with crown and breast buff 

(in breeding dress) Cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis ibis, p. 93 

7. Crown white, white variegated with gray, or slate gray, without elongfated 

plumes 8 

Crown black, with elongated white plumes. 

Capped heron, Philherodius pileatus, p. 97 

8. Bill and tarsi black, toes yellow ; plumage entirely white. 

Snowy egret, Egretta thtila thula, p. 89 


Bill and tarsi greenish slate ; white, with tips of primaries gray ; or, in some, 
plumage variegated with white and gray. 

Immature little blue heron, Florida caerulea, p. 91 

9. Throat completely feathered 10 

Throat wholly bare, or feathered only in the central line 19 

10. Smaller, wing less than 185 mm 11 

Larger, wing more than 225 mm 13 

11. Coloration in general darker; decidedly larger, wing more than 150 mm. 

(genus Butorides) 12 

Coloration in general paler, more bufify ; decidedly smaller, wing 100 to 
115 mm Least bittern, Ixobrychus exilis, p. 113 

12. Sides of head and neck reddish brown. 

Green heron, Butorides virescens, p. 83 
Sides of head plain gray, or washed with light cinnamon brown. 

Striated heron, Butorides striatus, p. 86 

13. Coloration not predominantly light brown or buflfy brown 14 

Mainly light brown, buflf, and buffy brown. 

American bittern, Botaurus lentiginosus, p. 112 

14. Plumage particolored, with variegated pattern 15 

Plumage dark throughout ; grayish blue, with head and neck washed lightly 

with chestnut Adult little blue heron, Florida caertdea, p. 91 

15. Body form more robust, bill shorter, 75 mm. long or less 16 

Body form very slender, bill longer, 90 mm. or more; breast and abdomen 

white, foreneck slate-gray, or brownish red. 

Tricolored heron, Hydranassa tricolor ruficollis, p. 92 

16. Heavily streaked throughout 17 

Without prominent streaks 18 

17. Darker; bill more robust; under side of wing dark gray, with under wing 

coverts prominently streaked with white. 

Immature yellow-crowned night heron, Nyctanassa violacea, p. 100 
Paler; bill more slender toward tip; under side of wing light gray, with 
spotting on under wing coverts not prominent. 
Immature black-crowned night heron, Nycticorax nycticorax hoactli, p. 99 

18. Sides of head and throat black ; breast gray. 

Adult yellow-crowned night heron, Nyctanassa violacea, p. 100 
Sides of head gray ; throat and breast white. 

Adult black-crowned night heron, Nycticorax nycticorax hoactli, p. 99 

19. A line of feathers down center of throat, with an elongated bare space on 

either side 20 

Throat completely bare. 

Bare-throated tiger-bittern, Heterocnus mexicamis, p. 103 

20. Tarsus longer, 92 to 115 mm.; bill more slender, with culmen nearly straight 

toward tip : Adult, with head and neck cinnamon, banded with black : 
Immature, cinnamon-buff, heavily banded with black; white of abdomen 
of less amount .. Banded tiger-bittern, Tigrisoma lineatum lineatum, p. 106 
Tarsus shorter, 81 to 91 mm. ; bill heavier, with culmen more curved toward 
tip: Adult, with head and neck black, banded narrowly with cinnamon- 
buff : Immature, like Tigrisoma I. lineatum, but more extensively white 
on lower breast and abdomen. 

Salmon's tiger-bittern, Tigrisoma sabnoni, p. 109 


ARDEA HERODIAS Linnaeus: Great Blue Heron; Garzon Cenizo 

The common, widespread species of the two largest of the herons 
found in Panama, marked by gray coloration. 

Description. — A meter to a meter 3 centimeters in length. Adult, 
with throat and crown white, the latter bordered with black, and 
with an elongated crest; neck gray, streaked with black and white; 
gray above ; streaked with black and white below ; feathers of 
tibia rufous brown to light clay color. 

Immature, duller in color, with crown black, without white head 

The garzon ceniso is found in Panama in fair numbers during 
the period of northern winter, and a few are present during the 
rest of the year. While the majority are northern migrants, some 
of the specimens available are separable, on the basis of darker 
dorsal coloration, as another subspecies, which is presumed to be 
resident, though there is no nesting colony known at present. 

Great blue herons are wary birds that keep alert watch and only 
by chance allow close approach. When ponds formed during the 
rains begin to evaporate with the clear weather of the dry season, so 
that small fish are concentrated in shallows, a dozen or more of 
these herons may gather in fairly close proximity, but it is more 
usual to find solitary birds. Many of the migrant individuals that 
come in the period of northern winter appear to wander, while 
others find suitable habitat and remain in the same area for con- 
siderable periods of time. 


Ardea Herodias Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 143. (Northeastern 

Characters. — Lighter gray above. 

Common visitor from the north. Present regularly from Septem- 
ber to April throughout the lowlands around the larger streams and 
other bodies of fresh water, ranging inland in Chiriqui to 1,200 to 
1,500 meters elevation near El Volcan and Boquete; found also 
along beaches and in mangroves in coastal areas, including the larger 
islands : Isla Coiba ; Isla Taboga ; Isla San Jose. 

Measurements (from Oberholser, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., vol. 43, 
1912, p. 535).— Males (10 specimens), wing 441-480 (462.7), tail 
167-187 (176.6), exposed culmen 123-151.5 (139.5), tarsus 167- 
205 (183.6) mm. 

Females (12 specimens), wing 433-471 (451.2), tail 159-184 


(173.7), exposed culmen 127-146 (137), tarsus 157-194 (175.4) mm. 
I collected an adult female at Jaque, Darien, April 8, 1946. There 
are specimens in the Museum of Comparative Zoology taken in 
Bocas del Toro, on the Rio Changuinola, October 30, 1927 ; in San 
Bias at Perme November 15 and 26, and December 9, 1929. (The 
record by Griscom (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 72, 1932, p. 310) 
of one from Obaldia apparently was in error, as there is no entry 
in the museum catalog of a bird from that locality.) Blake (Fiel- 
diana: Zool., vol. 36, 1958, p. 505) reports one from over 1600 
meters, above Boquete, November 19, 1946. Other definite records 
include one banded at Waseca, Minn., May 23, 1925, killed at Gatun, 
C.Z., the following September ; and another, banded at Montgomery, 
Minn., June 5, 1925, taken on Gatun Lake the next September 
(Cooke, Auk, 1946, p. 254). Records during the period of northern 
winter on Isla Coiba, Isla Taboga, and Isla San Jose (in the Pearl 
Islands) probably are of this migrant race, (which may be expected 
on any of the islands of the Archipielago de las Perlas) . 

Ardea Lessonii Wagler, Isis, 1831, col. 531. (Valley of Mexico.) 

Characters. — Darker gray above, similar to A. h. herodias in size. 

Apparently resident, though no breeding records are known ; found 
in small numbers. 

Specimen records are as follows: Male, fully adult, in breeding 
dress. Fort San Lorenzo, Canal Zone, June 21, 1911, and female, 
immature dress, Rio Matisnillo, near Paitilla Point, Panama, Janu- 
ary 20, 1912, E. A. Goldman; female immature, Jaque, Darien, 
March 20, 1946, A. Wetmore; male immature, Laguna de Pita, 
Darien, about August 15, 1893 (Salvador! and Festa, Boll. Mus. 
Anat. Comp. Torino, no. 339, 1899, p. 11). 

With regard to the specimen collected by Festa, preserved in 
the Institute e Museo di Zoologia of the University of Torino, 
Miss Lucia Rossi writes me that the tibia is colored cinnamon- 
brown, indicating that the bird is of the species herodias. In Ardea 
cocoi this area is gray. From the data it is probable that the bird 
is of the present subspecies. 

Other records of interest that may apply to this race are as 
follows: Imhof (MS. notes) recorded one on the Rio Chagres, above 
Gamboa, June 9, and another near Panama Vie jo, June 20, 1942. 
Eisenmann (Wilson Bull. 1951, pp. 182, 183) reported birds regu- 
larly near the City of Panama between June 17 and July 16 from 


1948 to 1950, and recorded others (Smith. Misc. Coll., vol. 117, no. 
5, 1952, p. 11) seen occasionally at Barro Colorado Island, from May 
to August. In 1953 I recorded single birds on the Rio San Pablo, 
below Sona, Veraguas, on June 2 and 11. As an earlier occurrence, 
in Culebra cut, on May 11, 1921, from a ship in transit through the 
Canal I saw an immature bird that seemed to be barely grown. 

Hellmayr and Conover (Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 2, 1948, p. 170) 
outline the belief held by a number of recent authors that there is no 
basis for recognition of a Central American race of this heron, but 
material in the U. S. National Museum, with some specimens seen 
elsewhere, uphold Oberholser (Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., vol. 43, 1912, 
pp. 555-558) in recognition of such a subspecies. This is similar in 
size to .^. h. herodias but is darker above in both adult and immature 
stages, though less sooty than A. h. fannini. Specimens of this type 
are known from southern Mexico through Central America to Darien. 

Oberholser has used Wagler's name lessonii for this bird, restrict- 
ing the type locality to the Valley of Mexico. Hellmayr says that the 
type, in the Munich Museum, is "indistinguishable, in color and size, 
from birds taken in the eastern United States." If further check 
upholds this statement a new name will need to be supplied. 

Little is known at present of the breeding places of most of the 
herons of Panama, though I have been told of heronries in the coastal 
swamps of Panama province and Darien. 

ARDEA COCOI Linnaeus: Cocoi Heron; Garzon Moreno 
Ardea Cocoi Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 237. (Cayenne.) 

Generally similar to the great blue heron, but somewhat smaller 
and decidedly lighter colored. Feathers of tibia gray in adult and im- 

Description. — A meter to a meter 1^ centimeters long. Adult, 
crown and sides of the head black, with a narrow median white crown 
stripe; neck white, with a few streaks of black in front; gray above; 
extensively black below, with white on breast, legs and under tail 

Immature, white below, narrowly streaked with black. 

Measurements. — Males (3 from Darien, Venezuela and Paraguay) 
wing 421-437 (427.3), tail 161-167 (163.6), culmen from base 129.0- 
145.2 (137.9), tarsus 170-210 (192) mm. 

Females (4 from Colombia, Paraguay, and Argentina), wing 437- 
445 (440), tail 161-170 (165.5), culmen from base 128.5-148.7 
(137.5), tarsus 179-192 (184.5) mm. 


Resident. In the lower Rio Tuira drainage in Darien ; casual (two 
sight records) near La Jagua, eastern Panama. 

It is possible that Jewel in his account of the great blue heron in 
Panama (Auk, 1913, p. 424) examined a bird of this species when he 
said "on June 9, 1912, a heron was shot on the Gatun River which is 
clearly another species or at least another form xxx a resident heron 
in Panama xxx slightly smaller without any rufous on the thighs." 
As this bird is not listed in the catalog of the Jewel collection in the 
Academy of Natural Sciences it apparently was not preserved. 

The first definite record for the republic (Wetmore, Auk, 1951, 
p. 525) is of a bird that I saw March 30, 1949, at the Cienaga Santo 
Domingo, in the savannas east of Pacora, Province of Panama. It 
stood a short distance beyond gun range on an open flat, in company 
with a dozen great blue herons, some common egrets, and several 
wood ibises. I watched it for 15 minutes until a distant gunshot 
startled the group into flight. In February and March 1959 and in 
January 1964 I found the Cocoi heron so common on the lower tribu- 
taries of the main Rio Tuira as to indicate a breeding colony some- 
where in the great wooded swamps back of the coast, particularly 
since these birds remained in March after the great blue herons, found 
with them earlier, had gone in northward migration. A few ranged 
back along the Rio Tuira to the Rio Paya, where I secured an adult 
male March 12, 1959. I recorded them also along the Rio Chucunaque 
to the region between the Tuquesa and Ucurganti rivers. 

As another casual record, on March 27, 1960, I found an adult at 
the edge of a small channel below the La Jagua Hunting Club and 
watched it several minutes at a distance of not more than 50 meters. 
Finally it flew and then began to call, a harsh note that resembled that 
of the great blue heron but somewhat higher in tone. 

The male collected on March 12 on the Rio Tuira is small, as indi- 
cated by the following measurements: Wing 424, tail 161, culmen 
from base 129, tarsus 169 mm. 

BUTORIDES VIRESCENS (Linnaeus): Green Heron; Martinete 

A small, dark-colored heron, with the sides of the neck brown. 

Description. — 380 to 560 mm. long. Adult, crown and crest black, 
washed with green ; neck chestnut-brown, white in front ; above dark 
greenish, with narrow white edgings in the wings ; underparts gray. 

Immature, browner, streaked below. 

Green herons as a group are found world-wide in warm temperate 


and tropical areas, including islands in addition to widespread range 
over the continents. 

The many subspecies that are recognized may be segregated in 3 
major assemblages, one for Africa, Asia, Australia, and islands in 
the Indian and Pacific Oceans ; one for North America, Central 
America, and the West Indies; and one for South America. These 
three, obviously closely related, form a superspecies that many tax- 
onomists treat under one specific name, because of the general simi- 
larity found throughout the many forms. 

While their close relationship is obvious, at the same time the popu- 
lations of South America, and of the New World outside that con- 
tinent, have certain characteristics that distinguish them from those 
of the Old World. Clearer imderstanding of them is attained by 
separating them as morphological entities under 2 specific names — 
Butorides virescens and B. striatus — rather than uniting all under 
one specific heading as Butorides striatus. 

The virescens group is characterized by chestnut to bright rufous 
brown of the sides of the head and neck, and general darker color of 
the back, particularly in the adult. Three subspecies in this assem- 
blage are recognized in Panama. 

These small herons are widely distributed wherever there is water, 
from sandy beaches where they take refuge in the bordering thickets 
and mangrove swamps, back along the rivers to the smaller tributaries. 
They watch for food along the water's edge, standing motionless or 
walking slowly and stealthily. Often they remain quiet except for an 
occasional downward jerk of the tail until closely approached, and then 
fly with protesting squawks, the most vociferous of the tropical 
herons. As small boats pass it is usual for them to climb back among 
the low branches of trees overhanging the water until they are se- 
curely hidden. 

Locally they are often called carga manteca; on the Rio Indio they 
were known as coquito. 


Ardea virescens Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 144. (South 

Characters. — Sides of neck dark chestnut-brown; larger; wing, 
males 176-186 mm., females 172-186 mm. (maximum variation). 

Measurements (taken from a small series of migrant birds from 
Mexico and Panama). — Males (5 specimens), wing 176-180 (179.1), 


tail 60.0-667 (62.0), culmen from base 58.2-63.8 (60.9), tarsus 50.5- 
56.0 (53.2) mm. 

Females (5 specimens), wing 177-180 (178.7), tail 60.7-65.1 
(62.8), culmen from base 59.0-63.0 (61.2), tarsus 51.0-53.5 
(52.1) mm. 

Common winter visitor from October to April, both on fresh water 
and along the coasts. 

This race breeds from southern Ontario and southern Quebec, 
south through eastern United States to southern Mexico. Dates of 
occurrence based on specimens range from September 8, 1932, at 
Puerto Obaldia, San Bias to April 9, 1911, near Tabernilla, Canal 
Zone, and May 16, 1927, at Zegla, mouth of Rio Teribe, Bocas del 

Cancronia maculata Boddaert, Tabl. Planch. Enl., 1783, p. 54. (Martinique.) 

Neck chestnut-brown as in B.v. virescens, though sometimes paler ; 
smaller; wing, males 154-172, females 156-170 mm. (maximum). 

Measurements (taken from a small series from Panama, Colombia, 
and Haiti) .—Males (5 specimens), wing 154-172 (165.8), tail 49.8- 
62.5 (57.6), culmen from base 55.5-60.5 (58.2), tarsus 45.4-52.7 
(49.0) mm. 

Females (5 specimens), wing 157-168 (163.4), tail 54.2-60.0 
(56.8), culmen from base 55.5-63.0 (58.8), tarsus 45.0-50.6 (48.3) 

Resident. Common except in the Archipielago de las Perlas ; most 
abundant from the provinces of Panama and Colon westward, but 
ranging east to Darien, in the lower Rio Tuira drainage (Yavisa near 
the mouth of the Rio Chucunaque), and to Perme and Puerto Obal- 
dia, San Bias, near the Colombian boundary. Around the Laguna de 
Chiriqui, Bocas del Toro, a melanistic phase predominates in which 
the birds vary from a deep chocolate-brown, that masks the other 
markings, to normal plumage. This dark phase extends north to 
Puerto Lim6n, Costa Rica, and a few of this style are recorded as 
far east as the eastern part of the Comarca de San Bias. 

These smaller, resident birds seem less noisy on the whole than 
the northern migrants and tend more to skulk and hide rather than 
to fly for any distance. 

On February 25, 1956, I found a nest in the cienaga near the coast 
below Las Lajas, Chiriqui, placed in an open-branched bush at an 
elevation of a meter above the water. The structure, built of twigs, 


was more substantial than usual among herons. The broad depression 
in the center held three eggs with incubation begun. These are pale 
Niagara green, elliptical in form, and measure 37.1x29.0, 37.2x29.3 
and 37.5 X 29.2 mm. 


Butorides virescens margaritophilus Oberholser, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., vol 42, 
Aug. 29, 1912, p. 553. (San Miguel Island = lsla del Rey, Archipielago de 
las Perlas, Panama.) 

Similar in size to maculatus, but with lower breast and abdomen 

Measurements. — Males (3 specimens), wing 161-170 (165.3), tail 
51.8-59.5 (55.4), culmen from base 57.6-61.8 (59.8), tarsus 46.7-48.3 
(47.6) mm. 

Females (3 specimens), wing 162-166 (163.3), tail 57.1-62.7 
(59.0), culmen from base 53.8-58.5 (56.4), tarsus 44.0-47.7 (45.6) 

Resident in the Archipielago de las Perlas : Recorded, from speci- 
mens identified, on Chapera, Rey, and San Jose islands : Nest re- 
ported on Isla del Rey March 5, 1904 (Thayer and Bangs, Bull. Mus. 
Comp. Zool., vol. 46, 1905, p. 142). 

This race, restricted to the Pearl Islands, is found mainly around 
the mangrove swamps, where it may seem fairly common, but ac- 
tually has only a small population because of the limited area of its 

BUTORIDES STRIATUS STRIATUS (Linnaeus): Striated Heron; Chicuaco 
Ardea striata Lirmaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 144. (Surinam.) 
Butorides striatus patens Griscom, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 69, Apr. 1929, 
p. 156. (Near Panama City, Panama.) 

Like the green heron, but sides of head and neck gray or buff. 

Description. — The striatus group of South America that ranges 
into eastern Panama is marked from the more northern virescens of 
the New World by gray on the sides of the head and neck (a color 
difference readily seen in life) and by lighter, more grayish green on 
the back in the adult. In those that have the sides of the neck buff, 
this color is much paler than the brown found in the forms of vires- 
cens. The wing length is similar to that of Butorides virescens mac- 

In the immature birds the sides of the head and neck are grayish 
brown, with a wash of clay color in some individuals. 


Measurements. — Males (20 specimens from Panama), wing 162- 
173 (168), tail 55.0-64.5 (59.0), culmen from base 53.3-66.2 (60.6), 
tarsus 44.0-51.6 (48.4) mm. 

Females (9 specimens from Panama), wing 157-169 (161), tail 
51.8-59.7 (56.4), culmen from base 57.1-62.8 (59.5), tarsus 44.7-50.0 
(47.7) mm. 

Resident. Common throughout Darien, ranging west to the eastern 
side of the Azuero Peninsula, and to western Col6n. One record for 
Puerto Obaldia, San Bias. 

Typical gray-necked adult specimens come from near Yavisa on 
the lower Rio Chucunaque, mouth of the Rio Paya on the middle 
Tuira, and Jaque; also one from Chilar on the Rio Indio, western 
Colon. I have sight records for the Rio Chucunaque, from the mouth 
of the river upstream to the Rio Ucurganti; on the Rio Pequeni 
above Madden Lake ; in the marshes at La Jagua, in eastern Panama 
Province ; and at Juan Mina, Canal Zone, on the Rio Chagres. 

While the only record for the Comarca de San Bias is an imma- 
ture female in the Brandt collection at the University of Cincinnati, 
taken by Wedel at Puerto Obaldia, July 3, 1932, there is no reason to 
suppose that it does not occur in that area regularly, as it is found at 
Acandi, Choco, immediately adjacent on the Colombian side of the 

The many records available for the patens style of coloration in 
which the side of the head and neck are buff, include the following: 
Several from the Province of Herrera on the eastern side of the 
Azuero Peninsula; one from Guanico Arriba in southwestern Los 
Santos; Chilar, western Col6n; Barro Colorado Island, and Juan 
Mina, Canal Zone ; La Jagua Hunting Club near Chico and Charco del 
Toro, eastern Province of Panama ; and Jaque and the Rio Jaque, 

In work on Barro Colorado Island, Van Tyne (Occ. Pap. Mus. 
Zool. Michigan, no. 525, 1950, pp. 5-6) noted that the breeding sea- 
son may be either somewhat irregular or of long duration. A male 
collected on March 7, 1926, had completed the breeding cycle and 
was in postnuptial molt. Another shot April 11, 1927, was breeding, 
and a nest with 2 eggs was found July 28, 1925. On August 1 1 two 
partly grown young were taken from another nest. The nest with 
eggs was located "on an isolated stump off the south shore of the 
island." Other nests on Barro Colorado on March 24 with 3 eggs, 
and April 28, 1935, with 2 eggs, are recorded by Chapman (Life in 


an Air Castle, 1938, p. 226). The eggs in color and size resemble 
those of the resident form of the green heron. 

Griscom believed that the herons of this group that he described as 
patens had the legs more brightly colored than in the other species of 
green heron, but Van Tyne found that this was not true in the 
specimens that he handled. 

Throughout the entire range of Butorides striafus from Colombia 
and Venezuela south to Brazil and Paraguay occasional individuals 
have a brownish wash, varying from a trace of pinkish buff to vina- 
ceous-bufif, over the gray of the head and neck, sometimes also a 
greater amount of cinnamon to clay color streaking on the lower fore- 
neck and upper breast. A similar type of coloration is prevalent on 
Isla Margarita ofif northeastern Venezuela where, as it is coupled 
with average smaller size, it is recognized as a distinct subspecies, 
Butorides striatus robinsoni Richmond. The brownish coloration in 
birds of the striatus group, as noted, is common in Panama, west to 
the eastern side of the Azuero Peninsula on the Pacific slope, and to 
the lower Rio Indio (Chilar) west of the Canal Zone, on the Carib- 
bean side. These birds, separated as Butorides striatus patens by 
Griscom, might be considered a connecting link with the dark, rufes- 
cent, brown-necked virescens group, since they are found with typi- 
cal B.v. maculatus, and equally typical B.s. striatus, if birds exactly 
like them did not appear at random through the entire South Ameri- 
can range of striatus. While there may be occasional mixed mating 
among those herons when they range together, this would not explain 
the occurrence of the patens style of coloration in South America in 
areas where the virescens type does not occur. The supposed race 
patens is regarded therefore as individual variation in typical Bu- 
torides s. striatus. 

CASMERODIUS ALBUS EGRETTA (Gmelin): Common Egret; Garza Blanca 

Ardea Egretta Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 629. (Cayemie.) 

Definitely larger than any of the other herons of white plumage, 
with yellow bill, black legs and feet. 

Description. — Length 800 mm. to a little more than a meter. Adult, 
pure white with long crest and dorsal plumes in nesting season. 

Measurements. — Males (5 adults, from Florida, Colombia and 
Paraguay), wing 372-397 (386), tail 146-154 (148), culmen from 
base 116.5-120.2 (118.2), tarsus 157-175 (166) mm. 

Females (5 adults, from Kentucky, North Carolina, Cuba, Colom- 
bia, and Paraguay) wing 355-365 (360), tail 137-143 (140), culmen 
from base 98.7-109.5 (104.3), tarsus 127-147 (138) mm. 


Resident in part, and in part a winter visitor from the north. Com- 
mon along the coasts, and, in the lowlands, inland along open bodies 
of water ; ranging to the smallest offshore islands. 

There are records of two banded in Mississippi, one taken near 
Sona, and the other near Puerto Aguadulce. 

In the Archipielago de las Perlas these herons are common along 
the shores, where their white plumage stands out in pleasing contrast 
to the dark rocks on which they rest. They make long flights reg- 
ularly over the open sea. Robins (Condor, 1958, p. 302) reported 
one 18 miles south of Taboga, apparently crossing from the Perlas 
group, and Murphy (Vert. SCOPE, 1956, p. 135) records one on 
an evidently longer journey 90 miles south of Punta Mala. 

In Panama, as elsewhere, this egret was more abundant in early 
days, as Rendahl (Ark. Zool., Bd. 12, 1919, p. 6; idem, Bd. 13,1920, 
p. 13) recorded great flocks seen in 1882 by Dr. C. Bovallius near the 
Rio Pacora, on Isla Chepillo, and on Isla Bayoneta. They are still 
common, as flocks of two hundred or more may congregate on open 
lagoons, though it is more usual to see single birds, or two or three 
in company. In wet pasture lands they are seen regularly around 

Though these herons evidently nest in scattered groups along the 
coasts, the only colony of record is one on Isla Changame, off Batele 
Point west of the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal. Here on 
February 15, 1941, Maj. Gen. G. Ralph Meyer found several nests 
located about 2 meters from the ground, in stands of mangroves and 
clumps of cactus. The herons had constructed platforms of weed 
stems 300 to 350 mm. in diameter, loosely placed in the usual style 
of this family of birds, with a slight depression to hold the eggs. 
Incubation had begun in two sets of 3 eggs each. He took another 
set of 2 eggs, with incubation begun, here on February 23, 1941, and 
on February 15, 1942, one set of 2 eggs, and two of 3 each, with incu- 
bation well started. These eggs vary from subelliptical to long ellipti- 
cal in form, and from Court gray to slightly paler in color. The 
range of measurement in 11 eggs (4 sets) collected on Changame is 
as follows: Length 52.4 to 56.8; breadth 37.1 to 40.0; with an 
average of 54.6 X 38.9 mm. 

EGRETTA THULA THULA (Molina): Snowy Egret; Garceta Blanca 
Ardea Thula Molina, Sagg. Stor. Nat. Cliili, 1782, p. 235. (Chile.) 

This species and the little blue heron in white plumage are similar 
in size and general appearance, but may be identified in life by dif- 
ferences listed in color of the bill, tarsi and feet. 


Description. — Length, 510 to 610 mm. ; entire plumage pure white ; 
bill and tarsus black, feet yellow. 

Measurements. — Males (6 adults, from Florida, Panama, Colom- 
bia, Venezuela), wing 247-270 (255), tail 86.3-100.0 (90.8), culmen 
from base 76.6-83.8 (80.2), tarsus 88.5-102.0 (96.5) mm. 

Females (7 from Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, and Pan- 
ama), wing 237-257 (241), tail 81.0-92.9 (86.5), culmen from base 
76.6-81.8 (77.7), tarsus 88.5-101.0 (93.6) mm. 

Resident in part, and in part a winter visitor from the north. Com- 
mon in the lowlands wherever there is water, from the coastal 
beaches and mud flats inland, in open marshy areas, and along the 
larger streams ; casual in the lower levels of the subtropical zone, as 
at the Lagunas de Volcan (elevation 1,280 meters) in western Chi- 
riqui. I found them on Isla Coiba, and Rendahl (Ark. Zool., Bd. 13, 
1920, p. 13) records one taken by Bovallius on Isla Casaya (the only 
record for the Pearl Islands), but they seem less accustomed to 
wander from the mainland than the little blue heron. 

There is record of one banded in Louisiana, and taken subsequently 
near the mouth of the Rio Bayano, and of another marked in 
Mississippi recovered subsequently at La Jagua. 

The snowy egret is less numerous than the little blue heron but is 
found regularly in suitable haunts, often feeding alone, occasionally 
in scattered groups of a dozen. However, in February and March 
1948, in the coastal region of Herrera, the egret was more common 
than the little blue heron. 

Their usual method of feeding is that common to the family of 
standing or walking slowly while watching the water or ground atten- 
tively. I have seen them occasionally feeding in the wash of waves on 
the beaches, and once on the Rio Chagres near Juan Mina, where 
schools of minnows rested at the surface in the warm sun of early 
morning, I saw an egret in flight just above the surface strike re- 
peatedly at the fish. This interesting method appeared successful, as 
I noted that the heron swallowed after some of its strikes. 

In March and April many have the beautiful long plumes on the 
crown, back, and upper breast that mark the breeding plumage. It is 
certain that they nest in the republic, though the only definite record 
at present is a set of 2 eggs collected May 10, 1941, by Maj. Gen. G. 
Ralph Meyer on Isla Changame off the Pacific entrance of the Pan- 
ama Canal. The nest was a shallow platform of twigs placed in a 
low tree. The eggs, slightly elongated elliptical in shape, in color 
paler than pearl gray, measure 38.4x31.5 and 39.2x31,0 mm. Incu- 


bation was far advanced. March 28, 1946, I shot a male at Jaque, 
Darien, in full breeding plumage, and March 6, 1955, I watched 
a pair in mating display at the mouth of the Rio Chico, which would 
indicate nesting in those areas. 

There is no definite indication that migrants of the subspecies 
Egretta t. brewsteri from western United States, reach Panama dur- 
ing the winter season. This differs from the typical form in slightly 
larger size. The specimens I have handled all belong to the typical 

The genus Leucophoyx in which this species has been placed in 
earlier accounts is not now recognized as distinct from Egretta. 

FLORIDA CAERULEA (Linnaeus): Little Blue Heron; Garceta Azul (adults), 
Garceta Blanca (immature birds) 

Ardea caerulea Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 17S8, p. 143. (South 

A heron of medium size ; adult, dark bluish slate ; immature, 
white, sometimes with a mixture of dark gray ; bill and legs greenish, 
which distinguishes them from the snowy egret of similar size. 

Description. — Length 510 to 635 mm. Adult, with a reddish-brown 
wash on head, neck, and upper breast. 

Immature, with concealed gray tips on the ends of the primaries. 

Measurements. — Males (18 from southeastern United States), 
wing 255-268 (261), tail 89.3-99.8 (95.7), culmen from base 71.1- 
82.2 (75.9), tarsus 90.7-102.9 (96.2) mm. 

Females (12 from southeastern United States), wing 242-259 
(250), tail 84.3-95.2 (91.1), culmen from base 65.4-77.2 (72.4, aver- 
age of 11), tarsus 80.0-95.7 (88.1) mm. 

Common in the lowlands ; ranging inland along streams, and, in 
flooded areas, in open country ; at times in dry savannas and pas- 
tures ; wandering regularly to 1 ,400 meters or higher in the sub- 
tropical zone. Recorded on Isla Coiba and throughout the islands in 
the Gulf of Panama. 

This heron is most common through the period of northern winter, 
with abrupt decrease in number in March, so that it is present in 
lesser abundance from April to October. To date there are no nesting 
records, and most of the summer individuals seen are in the white 
immature dress. In fact, birds in this plumage predominate in num- 
ber throughout the year. There are records of 6 banded in Oklahoma, 
Mississippi and Florida, and taken subsequently in Panama, all at 
Pacific localities near Pedregal, Puerto Aguadulce, Panama City, and 


La Jagua. Country people in some sections have a superstition re- 
garding these and some related herons as they say that no one has 
seen their nests. 

While these herons are most abundant on the coastal plain they 
penetrate into the foothills along the larger streams, even where river 
currents are fairly rapid. In the Azuero Peninsula in dry season 
scattered birds range inland along the smallest quebradas, though 
drought may reduce the water to occasional pools along otherwise 
dry creek beds, as here small fish are secured with ease. Groups of 
15 or 20 sometimes spread along sandy beaches to feed on the abun- 
dant mole crabs in the wash of the surf. As each wave recedes the 
herons run or fly following the water, to snatch at the active crusta- 
ceans. When the wash returns the birds come back slowly if the 
water does not touch their bodies, but fly when the waves rise sud- 
denly. In such activities they suggest huge sandpipers. 

It is usual for small groups to gather at night to roost together in 
some isolated clump of mangroves, or on a small tree or snag stand- 
ing in water. Such sleeping places may be occupied regularly, and 
on larger bodies of water flights to them may be noted each evening. 

The trematodes Apharyngostrigea ibis and Lypersomum sinuosum, 
species described originally from the cattle egret Bubulcus ibis ibis, 
are reported by Caballero and Hidalgo (Rev. Soc. Mex. Hist. Nat., 
vol. 16, 1955, pp. 29-34) from the intestine of a little blue heron shot 
at Panama Viejo, February 21, 1954. 

Garza Pechiblanca 

Egretta ruficollis Gosse, Birds Jamaica, 1847, p. 338. (Burnt Savanna River, 

A very slender heron, with the lower breast and abdomen white in 
contrast with darker colors elsewhere. 

Description. — Length 560 to 660 mm., with slender neck and 
body, and long, thin bill. Adult, dark slate gray above and on sides 
of the neck ; lower back and rump white; white below, with foreneck 
and upper breast streaked with chestnut brown and blackish slate. 

Immature, gray on sides of breast and upper surface, with the 
neck, wing coverts, and back reddish brown. 

Measurements — Males (8 from Florida, Cuba, Jamaica and His- 
paniola), wing 248-259 (253), tail 81.8-91.8 (87.0), culmen from 
base 93.8-103.8 (97.5), tarsus 92.0-103.2 (99.2) mm. 

Females (7 from Florida, Cuba and Panama), wing 237-249 (241), 


tail 78.4-82.8 (80.6), culmen from base 87.0-98.4 (93.7), tarsus 
85.5-99.0 (90.8) mm. 

Resident in part, and in part a winter visitor from the north. 
Fairly common in lowland areas, along the lower courses of rivers, 
and in marshes ; seen at the highland lakes near El Volcan, Chiriqui ; 
one specimen in the British Museum (Natural History) taken on Isla 
del Rey June 26, 1924, by naturalists on the St. George Expedition; 
one seen on Isleta Malaga, January 29, 1960. 

There is record of one banded in South Carolina and taken sub- 
sequently on the lower Rio Tuira. 

In the main these slender herons are solitary, feeding somewhat 
apart from other species. They are patient fishermen, that stand 
quietly, or walk stealthily in search of prey, though occasionally I 
have seen one seize a minnow with a quick dart of the long bill, when 
the bird was flying low over shallow water. 

Though no breeding colonies are on record as yet, it appears cer- 
tain that they nest in Panama. Festa collected one on the Rio Sabana, 
Darien, in July 1895. An adult male in full breeding plumage in the 
collection of the Gorgas Memorial Laboratory was taken on the canal 
at Boca del Drago, Bocas del Toro, on June 3, 1962. On December 
17, 1955, at Juan Mina, Canal Zone, I watched an immature bird, 
barely grown, fishing about the dock. This bird was completely fear- 
less as it was often within 10 meters of me, in contrast to the wariness 
of older individuals. It is probable that northern winter migrants come 
to the Caribbean coast, for in 1958 during the first week in February 
there was a sudden decrease in their number around Almirante Bay, 
an indication that part of those observed earlier had begun their return 

BUBULCUS IBIS IBIS (Linnaeus): Cattle Egret; Garcilla Bueyera 
Ardea Ibis Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 144. (Egypt.) 

Smallest of the white herons found in Panama, marked from the 
other small species by the yellow (in breeding season reddish) bill. 

Description. — Length 460 to 560 mm. Plumage white, with buff 
on the crown, more extensive during the breeding season, and found 
then also on the back and the breast. 

Iris yellow ; bill yellow ; legs dull greenish. In nesting season the 
bill becomes reddish at the base, and the tarsi also are dull reddish. 

Measurements of two taken at La Jagua are as follows: Male, 
wing 238, tail 86, culmen from base 60.7, tarsus 79.2 mm. 

Female, wing 227, tail 83, culmen from base 54.7, tarsus 72.6 mm. 


Resident. A recent addition to the avifauna that has increased 
steadily in number since it was first recorded. 

This is a species of the Old World established by unknown means 
in eastern South America (first recorded in Surinam) that has in- 
creased and spread widely in recent years through that continent and 
northward into the eastern United States. It was first reported for 
Panama on August 14, 1954, when Dr. Eugene Eisenmann and Maj. 
Francis Chapelle saw two at the Mindi dairy, between Fort Davis 
and Gatun, Canal Zone. Three were observed by Chapelle near Maria 
Chiquita, Colon, August 21, and others at the Mindi locality in Oc- 
tober, to the number of 14 on October 30 (Eisenmann, Auk, 1955, p. 
426). David Fairchild II wrote me at this same period of one seen 
September 13, 1954, in the eastern suburbs of Panama City. And 
Karl Curtis sent word of a hundred or so on November 14 walking 
among the cattle on the savanna at the La Jagua Hunting Club. A 
local hunter, Baldomiro Moreno, who has worked with me in this 
region for years, from this date in November found them common 
near La Jagua each year through the period of rains, but absent dur- 
ing the dry season. 

On February 22, 1956, I noted 6 of these egrets near Las Lajas in 
eastern Chiriqui among cattle in the shallow water of a flooded cienaga, 
and saw 2 more on February 24. These were too wild to approach. I 
saw one at La Jagua on February 22, 1957, and finally on March 20, 
1958, Baldomiro and I shot two there, the first specimens of record 
for the republic. These were nonbreeding birds taken from two 
flocks of about 25 each that fed among cattle. On March 15, 1958, I 
saw one in a wet meadow near Anton, Code. The following year I 
recorded the cattle egret on January 31 near Juan Mina, C.Z., and 
March 19 at El Salto, on the Rio Chucunaque, above Yavisa, Darien. 
I noted half a dozen on April 1 1 at La Jagua and was told that there 
were then many through the year. In 1960 on March 23 we recorded 
one near San Felix, eastern Chiriqui, and 3 near Puerto Vidal, 
Veraguas. At La Jagua I found about 100 on the marsh on March 
27. Charles O. Handley, Jr., recorded one February 29, near Chan- 
guinola, Bocas del Toro. On January 9, 1961, four rested in a bush 
overhanging the Chagres, near Juan Mina. And on January 21, 1962, 
I saw one with cattle near Guanico Arriba in southern Los Santos. 

These early records are given in detail, because of the interest at- 
tendant on the increase of the species. It is obvious that the cattle 
egret now is spread throughout the lowlands of the entire republic. In 
1964 hundreds ranged with the herds of cattle along the Rio Tuira 


in the lowlands of Darien near La Palma and El Real. In 1965 it was 
present in equal number near El Volcan in western Chiriqui. I have 
identified the head of an immature individual, only recently from the 
nest, collected in October 1961 at Almirante, Bocas del Toro, for Dr. 
Conrad Yunkers of the Middle America Research Unit, An adult 
taken at the same time had the buff of the breeding season on the 
crown. It is probable that this species, in common with its habit else- 
where, will join nesting colonies of other herons. 

These birds often perch on the heads or backs of the cattle among 
which they feed. The yellow bill marks them instantly from the other 
herons of similar size. 

Some ornithologists have placed the cattle egret under the genus 
Ardeola Boie, type Ardea ralloides Scopoli, to which superficially it 
appears similar. It is found however that the dorsal plumes of the 
species ibis in the adult are hairlike and that the immature is plain 
white. In Ardeola the dorsal plumes have barbs extending nearly to 
the tips, and the neck and upper breast in the immature are heavily 
streaked. Differences in the skeleton are of greater importance; e.g., 
the entire leg in Ardeola is much shorter, but the femur and the fibula 
equal those of the longer-legged Bubulcus. The spina externa is very 
much heavier, though the entire sternum is shorter. Though the 
humerus in Ardeola is definitely shorter, the brachialis anticus depres- 
sion is larger, and the crista superior reduced. In the skull the anterior 
part of the palatines is broader. These are part of the differences 
which in sum maintain the two in separate genera. 

AGAMIA AGAMI (Gmelin): Agamf Heron; Garza Pechicastana 
FlGUSE 15 
Ardea Agami Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 629. (Cayenne.) 

In any plumage known by the elongated, narrow bill, 125 to more 
than 160 mm. in length. 

Description. — Length 660 to 760 mm. Adult, dark glossy green 
above; deep chestnut-brown below, including sides of neck; sides of 
head and hindneck black ; lower f oreneck, and pointed nuchal crest, 
light bluish gray. In breeding season the ribbonlike feathers of the 
crest reach a length of 125 mm., and broad ornamental plumes grow 
from the lower back. 

Immature, deep brown above ; blackish on crown and back ; streaked 
buff, white, and black below. 

Iris light reddish brown ; eyelids, and a narrow border around base 
of mandible, yellow ; loral area, and bare space around eye, yellowish 



green ; side of maxilla and mandible, except tip, light blue ; ridge of 
maxilla and tip of mandible black ; crus, tarsus, and toes yellow ; claws 

Measurements. — Males (8 specimens), wing 255-272 (265.5), tail 
92.5-102.5 (97.4), culmen from base 146.2-163 (153.2), tarsus 94.4- 
110.8 (105.9) mm. 

Females (7 specimens), wing 249-262 (256.7), tail 85.8-98.2 
(91.7), culmen from base 125.5-146.8 (136.8), tarsus 83.0-103.0 
(93.6) mm. 

Fig. 15. — Agami heron, garza pechicastana, Agamia agami. 

Resident. Rare, in heavy forest in the Tropical Zone. Records are 
as follows: Veraguas, taken by Enrique Arce (Sharpe, Cat. Birds 
Brit. Mus., vol. 26, 1898, p. 136). Bocas del Toro: Adult, in Gorgas 
Memorial Laboratory collection, taken on Channel 2, Boca del Drago, 
June 3, 1962. Canal Zone : Estero west of Salud Point, Barro Colo- 
rado Island, seen by Skutch, May 10, 1935 ; Chiva Chiva, specimen, 
June 13, 1955 ; Juan Mina, specimens, January 12, 1949, January 12, 
1953. Province of Panama: Rio La Jagua, specimen, February 9, 
1951 ; upper Rio Pacora, at 100 meters elevation on the west base of 
Cerro A^ul, specimen, March 28, 1911 ; Chiman, sight record, March 


6, 1927 (L. Griscom) ; Quebrada Cauchero at 150 meters elevation 
on Cerro Chucanti, March 8, 1950 sight record. Darien: Mouth of 
Rio Sambii, sight record, February 24, 1927, (L. Griscom) ; mouth 
of Rio Paya, on the Rio Tuira, February 10, 1959, and mouth of Rio 
Tuquesa, on the Rio Chucunaque, March 24, 1954, sight records; 
Rio Jaque, at the mouth of Rio Imamado, April 16, 1947, specimen; 
Isla del Rey, Archipielago de las Perlas, May 8, 1900, specimen 
(Bangs, Auk, 1901, p. 25). 

The bird from Cerro Azul, an immature taken by Goldman, was 
shot at the edge of a stream. The river at that point flowed with 
considerable fall over a rocky bed through heavy forest where the 
trees overhung the water. On the Rio Jaque in 1947, rains had 
formed a narrow, shallow pool in heavy forest along the base of a 
hill opposite our camp. As I came to this in early morning a dark 
bird moved on a log resting in the water, and then flew up into the 
branches. When it flew again I fired, and it fell to the ground amid 
a cloud of leaves cut by the shot. Its dark colors blended so perfectly 
with the somber shadows in which I had found it that it seemed 
truly a bird of the forest, one of the most beautiful and unusual of 
its family that I have seen. In subsequent encounters I found the 
haunts just described typical of those sought by this interesting spe- 
cies, a solitary bird whose habits are little known. 

Michener (Condor, 1964, p. 77) recorded a colony of a dozen nests 
in a swamp near Minatitlan, southern Veracruz "built of twigs about 
4 to 6 feet above the water level, with water 3 to 4 feet deep." He 
mentions fresh eggs but gives no further description. An in the 
Museum of Comparative Zoology from the T. M, Brewer collection, 
labeled "Amazon 1849 Edwards," subelliptical in form, is very pale 
dull glaucous-blue. It measures 55.8 X 39.5 mm., the length being sub- 
ject possibly to a minor correction of a fraction of a millimeter as the 
specimen was end-blown. Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 2, 1960, p. 
92) does not mention color but gives measurements of two eggs as 
follows: 48.6x34.1, and 52x38 mm. 

PILHERODIUS PILEATUS (Boddaert): Capped Heron; Garza Real 

Ardea pileata Boddaert, Table Planch. Enlum., 1783, p. 54. (Cayenne.) 

White, with a distinct black crown. 

Description. — Length 510 to 590 mm. ; adult, white, with back and 
wings light gray ; crown black, except the forehead, which is white ; 
4 or 5 slender white nuchal plumes that when fully grown are 200 to 


230 mm. long. In breeding season the breast, hindneck, and under 
surface of the wings are Hght cream-buff. 

Immature, paler gray above, so that the bird appears white above 
and below ; nuchal plumes shorter. 

Iris yellow ; bare space around eye and lores light blue ; bill bluish 
neutral gray, somewhat darker at base, and yellowish white at tip; 
tarsi and toes bluish neutral gray ; claws darker. 

Measurements. — Males (6 from Panama and northern Colombia), 
wing 267-280 (271), tail 96.0-103.5 (99.1), culmen from base 75.8- 
81.7 (79.7), tarsus 92.6-98.7 (96.0) mm. 

Females (5 from Panama and northern Colombia), wing 263-274 
(269), tail 95.5-101.4 (98.5), culmen from base 76.0-93.0 (82.1), 
tarsus 92.1-94.8 (93.5) mm. 

Resident. Rare ; now found mainly in Darien. 

Lawrence (Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. New York, 1861, p. 301) received 
one from McLeannan that is listed as taken on the Atlantic slope of 
the Canal Zone. Collectors for the Malaria Control Service secured 
an adult female in the Tocumen swamps, east of Panama City, on 
October 6, 1953 ; and there is a male in the Havemeyer Collection, 
in the Peabody Museum at Yale, taken at San Antonio, on the lower 
Rio Bayano, February 23, 1927. Other records are from Darien, 
mainly on the Rio Chucunaque, except for one bird collected April 6, 
1922, on the Rio Jesus, a tributary of the Sambii (Bangs and Barbour, 
Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 65, 1922, p. 193). The anthropologist 
J. L. Baer secured 3 near the mouth of the Rio Tuquesa, on the Rio 
Chucunaque, March 4 and 5, 1924. In this same region I saw several 
between March 21 and April 1, 1959, and secured 2 specimens on 
March 22. One early morning as I moved rapidly on the river in a 
motor-powered piragua one scrambled up the steep river bank and 
disappeared in the brush. A few days later I saw one feeding at a 
heavily shaded forest pool, where it posed with outstretched neck, a 
strikingly beautiful bird. 

Two immature individuals were brought to me, caught alive by 
country men, who described them as tame and unafraid. In these the 
tarsi were not quite fully formed, and the primaries were still in 
growth, so that it is interesting to note that they have the color pattern 
of adults, including slender nuchal plumes, these being 90 mm. long in 
one and 115 mm. in the other. The back and wings are paler gray, 
and the forepart of the body is plain white, without the buff found in 
breeding adults. 

Schomburgk (Fauna Flora Brit. Guiana, 1848, p. 754) says that the 


nest is built in low trees, and that the bird lays two eggs, but gives 
no other details. 

While this species appears related to the black-crowned night 
herons, which it resembles in the form of the nuchal plumes, it differs 
definitely in lack of a well defined immature plumage. 

NYCTICORAX NYCTICORAX HOACTLI (Gmelin): Black-crowned Night 
Heron; Zorro de Agua 

Ardca Hoacfli Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 630. (Valley of Mexico.) 

Adult, crown and back greenish black, white below. Bill more 
slender than in the yellow-crowned night heron. 

Description. — Length 560 to 660 mm. Adult, back and crown 
glossy greenish black, except forehead and line above eye which are 
white ; wings and tail gray ; neck pale gray ; below white ; two slender, 
white nuchal plumes, that reach a length of more than 200 mm, in 
breeding season. 

Immature, above grayish brown, streaked heavily with white ; be- 
low white, streaked heavily with grayish brown, except on the throat 
and abdomen. Second-year birds are plain gray above, unstreaked. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from United States, Panama, Colombia, 
and Venezuela), wing 290-307 (298), tail 110.0-117.6 (114.3), 
culmen from base 70.8-74.3 (72.5), tarsus 71.8-86.5 (78.9) mm. 

Females (5 from United States and Colombia), wing 290-298 
(293), tail 108.2-114.5 (110.9), culmen from base 70.3-74.6 (73.7), 
tarsus 74.8-84.8 (81.7) mm. 

Resident, and in part a winter visitor from the north. Fairly com- 
mon in the coastal lowlands. 

This night heron was found by Maj. Gen. G. Ralph Meyer on 
Farallon Rock, off Isla Taboguilla, where there were large young on 
April 9, 1944 ; and on Isla Changame March 16, 1941. I recorded it in 
the Perlas group on Isla San Jose, February 21, 1944, and at Isleta 
Malaga, January 29, 1960. About 30 were seen in the low brush on 
the summit of Isla Villa, off the coast of Los Santos, February 28, 
1957. One in the British Museum was taken on Isla Taboga on Sep- 
tember 24, 1924. 

There is record of one banded in Michigan, June 26, 1941, that was 
shot near Rio Hato in June 1949. 

These herons in the main are nocturnal and during the day remain 
in dense tree tops in wooded swamps, tall mangroves, or along the 
lower courses of rivers, and so it is only casually that one is seen as 
it takes flight heavily when alarmed by human intrusion. From sun- 


set to dark they range out to feed, and I have often recorded them 
by their harsh calls as, hidden by the darkened sky, they flew past my 
camp. The note is an explosive quok, heronlike in sound, but suffi- 
ciently different from others of the family to identify the species. 

It is probable that the colony on Isla Villa v^^as on its nesting 
ground. I believed also that those seen in March 1957, in company 
v\^ith boat-billed herons, on the lower Rio Caldera, back of Punta Mala 
were nesting, and there must be colonies in the swamps at La Jagua 
from the numbers that are found there. Nests seen on San Jose Rock, 
off Naos Island, March 21, 1915, attributed questionably to this spe- 
cies (Hallinan, 1924, p. 308) from the locality more probably were 
those of the yellow-crowned night heron. The eggs are similar to 
those of that species. In Darien this species has the same name as 
the yellowcrown, hurafia, because of its secretive habits. Near Pacora 
they were called chala, of uncertain meaning but possibly derived 
from the greenish-black back, in form like a dark-colored chal, or 
kerchief, often worn by women across the shoulders. 

NYCTANASSA VIOLACEA (Linnaeus): Yellow-crowned Night Heron; 


Crown and a streak under eye white, with rest of side of head and 
throat black ; gray underneath in adult ; bill strong and heavy. 

Description. — Length 510 to 610 mm. Adult, gray, heavily streaked 
with black above, and indistinctly with whitish on abdomen ; side of 
head and throat black; crown, including the 100 to 150 mm. long 
nuchal plumes, and streak on the side of head, white. 

Immature, brownish gray above and on neck ; spotted with buffy 
white on back and wings ; heavily streaked with buffy white on neck ; 
whiter below, heavily streaked with brownish gray, including the 
throat and abdomen. 

The adult has long dorsal plumes extending beyond the tail that 
are lacking in the black-crowned night heron. There are differences 
in the skeleton that serve to maintain the two in separate genera. 

The httrana is found mainly in swampy woodlands in the lowlands, 
including the taller stands of mangroves, on both sides of the isthmus, 
and in addition is spread widely through the islands in the Gulf of 
Panama. It also reaches Isla Coiba. While the yellowcrown ranges 
along the larger streams, the majority do not go inland much beyond 
the head of tidewater, since this is the usual limit of the wet forest 
that is their haunt. Within these areas they are fairly common, though 
it is impracticable to judge their number accurately because of dififi- 


culty in penetrating their swampy haunts. While they feed at night, 
they are less nocturnal than the black-crowned night heron as it is 
common to see them during morning and evening on the seashore, 
both on rocky headlands, and on mudflats and beaches made bare by 
ebbing tide. They also are more prone to rest in open trees. 

The voice, usually heard as birds pass after dark, is similar to that 
of the other species but higher in pitch. 

Six subspecies are recognized currently in the extensive range of 
the species from northwestern Mexico and southeastern United States 
south through Central America and the West Indies to northern and 
eastern South America. Three of these have been recorded from 
Panama, one of them as a migrant wanderer. A second enters the 
upper Tuira valley from Colombia, and the third is resident along 
the coasts of the republic. 


Ardea violacea Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 143. (South Carolina.) 

Characters. — Paler gray than N. v. coliginis, with more slender bill ; 
depth at nostril 19.0 to 21.9 mm. 

Measurements. — Males (30 specimens), wing 281-300 (294), tail 
102.0-118.7 (109.2), culmen from base 64.5-75.6 (70.9), depth of 
bill at nostril 19.0-21.9 (20.8), tarsus 93.6-106.2 (99.4) mm. 

Females (22 specimens), wing 271-305 (290), tail 101.1-115.4 
(107.8), culmen from base 64.2-75.3 (69.9), depth of bill at nostril 
19.4-21.9 (20.8), tarsus 90.5-105.8 (97.1) mm. 

Migrant. Found during the period of northern winter: Specimens 
seen from Bocas del Toro (Bocas del Toro, Nov. 6, 1927; Changui- 
nola, Jan. 21, 1929; Almirante, Feb. 6, 1958; Garay Creek, Almirante 
Bay, Dec. 19, 1926) ; Herrera (Paris, Mar. 4, 1948) ; San Bias 
(Perme, Oct. 21 and Dec. 6, 1929) ; and Isla Cebaco. 

This form appears to be fairly common as a migrant on the Carib- 
bean coast of Bocas del Toro, In a preliminary review of the races of 
this species (Smithsonian Misc. Coll., vol. 106, no. 1, 1946, p. 17) I 
identified the bird from Garay Creek as Nyctanassa v. bancrofti, a 
race widely distributed through the West Indies, On subsequent ex- 
amination the specimen proved to be typical violacea. There is no 
record of bancrofti from Panama. 


Nyctanassa violacea caliginis Wetmore, Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, vol. 59, 
Mar. 11, 1946, p. 49. (Isla San Jose, Archipielago de las Perlas, Panama.) 


Characters. — Dark gray, with thick, heavy bill. 

Measurements. — Males (12 specimens), wing 282-299 (290.1); 
tail 101.7-116.9 (108.7), culmen from base 67.6-81.3 (73.8), tarsus 
87.7-101.3 (92.1), depth of bill at nostril 22.2-25.1 (23.4) mm. 

Females (2 specimens), wing 288-291 (289.5), tail 101.1-109.0 
(105.0), culmen from base 73.7-74.7 (74.2), tarsus 96.5-97.4 (97.0), 
depth of bill at nostril 22.2-23.5 (22.9) mm. 

Resident. From Isla Coiba and southern Veraguas eastward along 
the Pacific coast (continuing southward along the Pacific littoral of 
Colombia and Ecuador) ; and on the Caribbean side from Bocas del 
Toro to the Comarca de San Bias. 

Specimens are recorded on the Pacific side from Isla Coiba ; Para- 
cote, Veraguas ; Isla Taboga ; Isla San Jose, Isla Morena, Isla del 
Rey, and Isla Saboga in the Archipielago de las Perlas ; Fort Kobbe, 
Rio Farfan, and Balboa, Canal Zone; and on the Caribbean coast 
from Almirante, Bocas del Toro; and Puerto Obaldia, San Bias. 

Gen. G. Ralph Meyer found a colony on Isla Changame near the 
Pacific entrance of the Canal, where their nests of sticks were placed 
on the ground, or less than a meter above it in low growths of cactus. 
In three sets of 3 eggs each, taken February 23 and March 29, 1941, 
in which incubation had started, the color varies from pale glaucous- 
green to pale Niagara green, and the shape from elliptical to^long 
elliptical. Measurements of these 9 eggs are as follows : Length 48.0 
to 51.5 ; breadth 33.7 to 37.9; with an average of 49.9 by 36.0 mm. 


Ardca cayennensis Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 626. (Cayenne.) 

Characters. — Closely similar to Nyctanassa v. violacea from south- 
eastern United States in slender bill, but averaging darker in color, 
with the dark streaks on the dorsal feathers narrower. 

Measurements. — Males (6 specimens), wing 271-292 (284), tail 
101.5-114.8 (109.7), culmen from base 68.4-73.8 (70.2), depth of 
bill at nostril 19.9-22.0 (21.0), tarsus 97.8-103.0 (99.8) mm. 

Females (5 specimens), wing 263-288 (279), tail 97.4-107.8 
(101.7), culmen 61.8-71.7 (67.2), depth of bill at nostril 20.3-21.0 
(20.5), tarsus 92.7-99.2 (96.6) mm. 

Found in eastern Darien, in the Rio Tuira Valley ; and in eastern 
San Bias, near the Colombian boundary. 

This race is resident in northern South America from northwestern 
Colombia and Trinidad south to Surinam and northern and eastern 
Brazil. An adult male from Yavisa, Darien, on the lower Chucunaque 


is typical of this subspecies. Two adult birds and one in its second 
year, from the mouth of the Rio Pay a on the upper middle Tuira, 
appear somewhat intermediate toward caliginis, for although the bill 
at the nostril is slender it is somewhat more swollen toward the tip. 
They are, however, to be placed with the South American form. The 
three birds from the Paya were collected by the staff of the Gorgas 
Memorial Laboratory on April 11 and 15, 1959, a month after I had 
left the area. As I did not record the species here during February 
and March it is possible that they had come into the region from 
elsewhere subsequent to my departure. 

A female collected by Wedel at Perme, May 31, 1929, a bird in a 
plumage that lacks perhaps a year of being fully adult, agrees with 
the Paya specimens in slender bill and dark coloration. Another, an 
adult male, from Puerto Obaldia secured by the same collector Dec. 
8, 1931, also is similar. 

HETEROCNUS MEXICAKUS (Swainson): Bare-throated Tiger-Bittern; 


Figure 16 

Tigrisoma mexicamis Swainson, in Murray, Encyclopedia of Geography, July 
1834, p. 1383. (Mexico.) 

Throat and upper foreneck bare of feathers, a character, found 
even in the young when first hatched, that distinguishes this species 
in any plumage from the banded tiger-bittern. 

Description. — Length 710 to 810 mm. Adult, crown and nuchal 
crest black; under surface dull cinnamon brown, with the foreneck 
streaked broadly with black and white ; sides of neck and upper sur- 
face finely barred with blackish and buffy white, with shaft streaks of 
dull black on back and wings. 

Immature, boldly barred throughout with dull cinnamon-buff and 
black; sides and under surface of wings white, barred with black. 

In an incubating bird at a nest with 3 eggs northwest of Puerto 
Madero, Chiapas, Walter Dawn (Auk, 1964, p. 231) records colors 
as follows : Iris deep yellow ; bare loral stripe greenish yellow ; bare 
skin of throat bright yellow ; tarsus greenish slate. 

Measurements. — Males (12 specimens, Mexico to Panama), wing 
330-372 (344), tail 126-142 (136), culmen 100.0-118.0 (111.4), 
tarsus 104.6-115.0 (111.6) mm. 

Females (15 specimens, Mexico to Panama), wing 316-365 (338), 
tail 112-153 (131.0), culmen 96.4-112.0 (104.6), tarsus 96.8-114.0 
(108.4) mm. 



Resident along the Pacific coast from Puerto Armuelles eastward, 
ranging to Isla Coiba, Isla Canal de Afuera, Isla Cebaco, and the 
Archipielago de las Perlas (recorded from Contadora, Chapera, Ma- 

FiG. 16. — Head of bare-throated tiger-bittern, jorralico, Heterocnus mexicanus, 
with throat bare from the bill to the upper foreneck. 

laga, Bayoneta, and San Jose). Reported once on the Caribbean coast 
at Perme, San Bias (specimen, July 25, 1929, in Museum of Com- 
parative Zoology). Found locally in uninhabited areas; rare, or ab- 
sent, in settled regions. 

This interesting heron, long of neck, short of leg, and with bare 


throat, is now rare in most parts of mainland Panama; it remains 
only in sections too remote to be open to casual hunting. In the La 
Jagua area it is still fairly common as a dozen or more may range in 
scattered company over marshlands, where tall grass, bushes, and low 
trees stand in shallow water, or on the open shores adjacent where the 
birds may walk about. They shelter in swampy woodlands, along the 
lower courses of the rivers, especially in the taller growths of man- 
groves. In such localities I have often walked underneath or around 
them, within 12 or 15 meters, though in the open they are somewhat 
more wary. It is possible in any event to approach them without much 
precaution, as the birds are far from shy. This leads to their destruc- 
tion near regions that become settled as they are easy marks, even 
for well-aimed sticks and stones. 

They move quietly, frequently standing motionless, waiting for the 
crabs or fish that are their principal sources of sustenance. When 
flushed they rise with a croaking harsh note, ivok zvok wok, and in late 
afternoon, or at night, they utter a strange, barking, froglike call. This 
may be varied to a curious snoring sound, repeated constantly, and at 
times becoming louder and louder until it is almost a bellow, all notes 
that carry far in still air. 

Nests that I have seen were flattened platforms of sticks, larger 
than in most herons, placed in trees, as low as 4 meters from the 
ground. In the Pearl Islands several were located on tree limbs pro- 
jecting over low cliffs, above water at high tide. 

In the latter part of January on Isla Coiba I noted two pairs on a 
little beach engaged in a display in which they alternately swelled the 
breast and neck and pointed the bill upward with neck fully extended, 
in bittern style. In this attitude, because of their short legs, they pre- 
sented a strange, almost grotesque, appearance. On Isla San Jose on 
February 9, 1944, I shot a female about to lay and saw a nest with 
small young on February 22. A young bird in down was collected here 
on March 24. Near Chico, Panama, a nest contained well grown 
young on March 18, 1949. 

The young bird mentioned, taken from the nest, has light grayish 
white down, except that the longer filaments on the crown are pure 
white. The brown pinfeathers of the juvenal dress have barely begun 
growth on the upper surface. 

Van Rossem described an ^gg seen in a nest near San Sebastian, El 
Salvador as "Dull white, with a greenish tinge, of a rough grain" 
(Dickey and van Rossem, Birds El Salvador, 1938, p. 83). Dawn 
(cit. supra, fig. 1) who, in July 1962 photographed one nest and de- 
scribed another, each with 3 eggs, found on the coast of Chiapas, states 


that the "unspotted eggs . . . confirm van Rossem's description." These 
accounts need to be checked with further observations as eggs of this 
species in the U.S. National Museum are Hghtly spotted. The mark- 
ings are faint and are seen only on close scrutiny. 

The set of 2 eggs in question w^as collected April 20, 1903, near 
Papayo, Guerrero, by E. W. Nelson and E. A. Goldman. Both are 
very light pale glaucous-green, marked sparingly and indistinctly with 
scattered, irregular dots of pinkish buff. They are subelliptical in 
shape, and measure 56.6x43.5 and 58.1x45.3 mm. Nelson's field 
notes state that the nest of sticks, slight in structure so that light 
showed through it from below, was placed about 7 meters from the 
ground on a fork of a nearly horizontal branch in a mangrove that 
stood in the open at the shore of a lagoon. 

There is a skin in the British Museum from Laguna Castillo, south- 
ern Veraguas, taken by Arce in 1869, and W. W. Brown, Jr. for- 
warded one from the same province secured on the "Sona River" (the 
Rio San Pablo, near Sona) July 21, 1901 (Bangs, Proc. New England 
Zool. Club, vol. 3, 1902, p. 19). I have recorded them on the lower 
Rio Santa Maria below Paris, Herrera, February 24, 1948, at Punta 
Mala, March 27, 1948, along the Rio Caldera at the southern end of 
the Azuero Peninsula, March 11 and 20, 1957, and have found them 
regularly in the marshes adjacent to the La Jagua Hunting Club. I 
took one on April 17, 1949, near the mouth of the Rio Bayano, below 
Chepo, and Griscom reported one seen on March 7, 1927, at Chiman, 
where I heard them calling at night on several occasions in February 
1950. This is the most eastern locality at which they have been re- 
corded on the Pacific side. The report by Chapman (Life in an Air 
Castle, 1938, p. 226), for Barro Colorado Island, "observed rarely. 
No specimens" must refer to Tigrisoma I. lineatum as Heterocnus 
mexicanus has not been found that far inland. 

In connection with the single record for Perme, San Bias, it is of 
interest to note another in the Chicago Natural History Museum, orig- 
inally in the collection of C. B. Cory taken March 22, 1881, that is 
labeled "Mouth of Rio Atrato, Antioquia, Colombia." 

TIGRISOMA LINEATUM LINEATUM (Boddaert): Banded Tiger-Bittern; 
Garza Tigre Rayada 

Figure 17 

Ardea lineata Boddaert, Table Planch. Enlum., 1783, p. 52. (Cayenne.) 

Known from the bare-throated tiger-bittern in any plumage by the 
broad band of feathers down the center of the throat, with a bare 
space at either side. 



Description. — Length 610 to 760 mm. Adult, head, neck, and up- 
per breast chestnut brown, narrowly banded with black, except on 
the crown ; f oreneck and breast streaked with white ; lower breast and 
abdomen dull cinnamon ; back and wings greenish black, barred and 
dotted finely with cinnamon. 

Immature, bright cinnamon-buff, white on the abdomen and under 
tail coverts, barred heavily with black; tail black, barred narrowly 
with white. 

Fig. 17. — Head of banded tiger-bittern, garza tigre rayada, Tigrisoma lincatiim 
lineatum, with a line of feathers down the throat, which is bare at the sides. 

Measurements. — Males (12 specimens, from Panama and Colom- 
bia), wing 276-315 (294.4), tail 101-118 (110.5), culmen from base 
93.3-103.7 (98.9), tarsus 93.0-105.5 (99.4) mm. 

Females (9 specimens, from Panama, Colombia and Venezuela), 
wing 270-305 (291.3), tail 99.5-115.7 (111.0), culmen from base 88.0- 
98.3 (92.3), tarsus 92.1-106.5 (96.7) mm. 

Resident. Found in small numbers in forested areas, on the Carib- 
bean slope from Bocas del Toro to San Bias ; and on the Pacific side 
in Darien in the Tuira-Chucunaque Valley (Laguna de Pita; above 
Yavisa; El Real) where it ranges upward on the slopes of Cerro 
Pirri to 550 meters (Cana) . 


In Bocas del Tore specimens are recorded from Changuinola, Almi- 
rante, and Cricamola (Peters, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 71, 1931, 
p. 307). C. O. Handley, Jr., collected an adult on Cayo Agua, Febru- 
ary 14, 1963, From near the line of the Panama Railroad, McLeannan 
forwarded specimens a hundred years ago, and W. W. Brown, Jr. 
secured one at Lion Hill in March 1900 (Bangs, Proc. New England 
Zool. Club, vol. 2, 1900, p. 15). Goldman collected one on February 
23, 1911, on the Rio Indio, near Gatun, Canal Zone, and I have one 
taken January 14, 1955, at Juan Mina. I saw several near Mandinga 
along the San Bias coast in January and February 1957 and col- 
lected one January 28. It is probable that it ranges locally eastward 
along this coast as we have specimens taken in Colombia in the 
Atrato area. In Darien, Festa secured two immature birds at 
the Laguna de Pita in August 1895. There is one in the American 
Museum of Natural History from near Yavisa, and I shot one at 
the mouth of the Rio Tuquesa on the Chucunaque on March 27, 
1959, and one near El Real February 16, 1964. Goldman secured 
one at 550 meters elevation near Cana March 14, 1912, this being 
the highest point at which the bird is recorded. (The locality "To- 
coume" or Tocumen on a specimen collected by E. Andre in the 
American Museum of Natural History in which the original label 
is missing is believed to be in error as the bird is not known in 
the savanna area.) 

This tiger-bittern is found along the forested banks of the larger 
streams and in swampy forests and mangroves, usually alone except 
in the nesting season, or when recently grown young still remain 
with the parents. They live more in forests than the jorrdlico, and 
in contrast to that species seem always to seek shade. They are found 
along the banks of streams, sometimes those of small size. Oc- 
casionally they range along small, dry quebradas in regions of low 

As the birds rise when alarmed they call, qiiok qiiok quok, like 
the bare-throated species, a sound that also resembles the note of 
a night heron but is louder and deeper in tone. I have heard birds 
that were not frightened give another note, harsh and long drawn 
out, quoh - h - h - h, quoh - h - h - h. They also have a strange 
groaning call, harsh in tone, a sound that carries far, particularly 
since it is heard mainly during the quiet air of night. 

The stomach of the bird shot on the Tuquesa contained a partly 
armored fish of good size. 

There is little known of their breeding. A nest of the closely 
allied race T. I. marmoratum is described as a crude platform, rather 


small compared to the size of the bird, with 2 eggs grayish blue 
in color, dotted and blotched lightly with dull red. These measured 
48x65 mm. (Guimaraes Sobrinho, Rev, Mus. Paulista, vol. 17, 
1932, p. 918). 

Rossi (Univ. Buenos Aires Fac. Cienc. Ex. Nat., Contr. Cient. 
Ser. Zool., vol. 1, no. 2, 1958, pp. 38-41) in a study of the breeding 
of this race in the zoological gardens in Buenos Aires, records 14 
nestings each with 3 eggs. 

He describes the ground color as "celeste claro" (clear sky blue), 
marked with dots and small blotches of brown and violet. Measure- 
ments in 12 eggs were 58.3-61.2x44.1-45.8 mm. 

The species sometimes is called garza vaca or pdjaro vaca (or in 
Venezuela vaco), through a fancied resemblance of its calls to the 
lowing of cattle. 

TIGRISOMA SALMONI Sclater and Salvin: Salmon's Tiger-Bittern; 
Garza Tigre Oscura 

Figure 18 

Tigrisoma salmoni P. L. Sclater and Osbert Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 
June 1875, p. 38, fig. 2. (Medellin, Antioquia, G>Iombia.) 

A tiger-bittern with bill shorter and heavier at the point than that of 
T. I. lineatum; adult blacker. 

Description. — Length 560 to 660 mm. Adult, similar to Tigrisoma 
I. lineatum, but head and neck black, banded narrowly with cinna- 

Immature, also like T. I. lineatum, but more extensively white on 
the lower surface, including the under wing coverts. 

An adult female taken on February 28, 1964, on the north fork of 
the Rio Pucro, Darien, had the iris yellow ; loral area black, except 
for the upper margin and the area immediately in front of the eye, 
which are bright yellow ; rest of bare area above and behind eye 
green, including the posterior margin of the eyelids; central section 
of the edge of the upper eyelid black ; tip of bill horn color ; rest 
of maxilla black, except for the cutting edge from below the nostril 
to the gape, which is yellowish green, and a narrow margin on the 
nasal operculum which is dull green ; line of the gonys and lower 
edge of the side of the mandibular rami yellowish green, brighter 
toward gape; rest of side of mandible black; bare skin at base of 
mandible and on sides of throat bright yellow ; crus, posterior face 
of tarsus, and lower part of sides of toes dull green ; front of tarsus 
and top of toes dull fuscous brown ; claws greenish neutral gray, be- 
coming yellowish at tips. 



Fig. 18. — Salmon's tiger-bittern, garza tigre oscura, Tigrisoma salmoni. 


Another female, not quite in full adult plumage, taken February 
23, had all the bare skin on the side of the head yellow except for a 
narrow line of fuscous across the loral area, another on the edge 
of the upper eyelid, and a line of bluish green above the eye. The 
side of the mandible also was more extensively yellow along the lower 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Panama and Choco, Colombia), 
wing 274-292 (285.6), tail 106.0-117.6 (109.7), culmen from base 
86.4-91.4 (88.9), tarsus 81.2-93.8 (90.0) mm. 

Females (6 from Panama and Choco, Colombia), wing 265-288 
(279), tail 106.0-114.0 (108.4), culmen from cere 74.7-83.0 (78.7), 
tarsus 79.0-88.0 (84.8) mm. 

Resident. Locally fairly common, in the humid tropical lowlands, 
ranging to the subtropical zone in Darien ; recorded from Bocas del 
Toro (Rio Changena, 750 meters elevation) ; the Caribbean slope 
of Code (El Uracillo) ; Colon, in the upper Chagres Valley (Sala- 
manca and Peluca hydrographic stations) ; Darien (Tacarcuna 
village and head of Rio Pucro on Cerro Tacarcuna) ; and San Bias 
(Ranchon, Puerto Obaldia). 

The species was first recognized from Panama from an adult male 
that I collected February 29, 1952, on the Rio Uracillo, above the 
town of that name in the foothills of the Caribbean slope of Code. 
On February 21, 1961, I secured another, an immature bird, on the 
Rio Boqueron a short distance below the Peluca hydrographic station. 
Collectors for the Gorgas Memorial Laboratory shot an immature 
female at 750 meters elevation on the Rio Changena, Bocas del Toro, 
on September 9, 1961. 

My first bird rose from the open bank of a small quebrada and 
flew into the forest beyond, where its dark coloration concealed 
it so perfectly that I looked for several minutes in the dim light before 
I saw it again, though it stood on an open limb. The area was one 
where fog lay long in early morning, and the low vegetation was 
seldom dry. I saw others here on February 24 and March 4, and 
on the latter date approached another adult closely as it crouched 
on a branch, motionless except for an occasional flick of the tail. 
In handling the male I found a pair of long, continuous powder-down 
tracts on the side of the breast, the extent being impressive as there was 
no division in the entire length. A smaller pair lay on either side 
of the flanks. 

The immature bird taken on the Boqueron ranged along the gravel 
bars in the river, and sheltered in the trees above when alarmed. 


In February 1964 two were collected among several seen along 
the head of the Rio Pucro at about 1,300 meters elevation on the 
slopes of Cerro Tacarcuna. One of these had the stomach filled with 
the small armored catfish (family Loricariidae), abundant in these 
streams, of the kind called wakupu by the Cuna Indians, who prize 
them as food. The other had eaten a large aquatic waterbug. I saw 
an immature individual at about 600 meters elevation on the Rio 
Tacarcuna on March 14. 

I have found no account of the nest and eggs of this species. 

Identification of the first two specimens mentioned led to critical 
examination of the tiger-bitterns in the American Museum of Nat- 
tural History and the Museum of Comparative Zoology, with dis- 
covery of other skins that had been identified as T. I. lineatum, 
including one from Tacarcuna, Darien, taken March 28, 1915, in 
the collection first named. Of the others, in Cambridge, one taken 
March 11, 1936, comes from the old Salamanca hydrographic station, 
now abandoned, near the upper end of Madden Lake. Those taken 
by Wedel at Puerto Obaldia and Ranchon, San Bias, had been re- 
corded erroneously by Griscom (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 72, 
1932, p. 311) as T. lineatum. It is evident that T. salmoni ranges 
locally through the more humid forest areas of the republic. 

Birds of this species from southeastern Peru and western Bolivia 
have been separated by Sztolcman as the race hrevirostre on the 
basis of shorter bill. This, however, needs further consideration 
since bill measurements in those I have examined, including several 
others from Colombia and Venezuela in addition to those cited 
above, cover the sizes alleged to mark the race that it is proposed to 

BOTAURUS LENTIGINOSUS (Rackett): American Bittern; Avetoro Pasajero 

Ardea lentiginosa Rackett, in Pulteney, Cat. Birds, Shells, and Plants Dorset- 
shire, ed. 2, May 1813, p. 14. (Parish of Piddletown, Dorsetshire, England.) 

A heron of medium size, mainly buffy brown, with a prominent 
black stripe on the side of the upper neck at the base of the head. 

Description. — Length 560 to 660 mm. Mixed buff and brown above, 
with back and wings finely spotted and lined with blackish; throat 
white, with a black patch on either side at the base of the neck; 
below buff streaked with yellowish brown. 

Accidental, as a migrant from the north. One record for the 
Canal Zone. 

The only report of this North American species is that of a bird 
that McLeannan secured when he was stationed at Lion Hill (Law- 


rence, 1862, p. 478). The specimen, in the American Museum of 
Natural History, is marked 1862, with indication that it was re- 
ceived from McLeannan, but no further data. 

The bittern has been found several times in Costa Rica, but that 
apparently is its usual southern limit during its migrations. Normally 
it frequents open, grassy, fresh — or brackish — water marshes. 

[The pinnated bittern, Botaurus pimtatus, somewhat blacker above 
than the American bittern, with the neck barred heavily with slaty 
black, is recorded from Costa Rica and Colombia. It is possible that 
it may be found in grassy marshes along the Caribbean Coast of 

IXOBRYCHUS EXILIS (Gmelin): Least Bittern; Garza Enana 

Smallest of the herons, easily recognized by its size — less than 
half that of the little green heron, or martinete — and by its buffy color. 

Description. — Length 250 to 330 mm. Male, with back and crown 
black; sides of head, neck and wings chestnut; greater wing coverts 
buff ; underparts buffy white. 

Female, brown, with the under surface streaked with buff. 

The least bittern frequents fresh-water marshes where it remains 
hidden in tall grass and rushes, though toward evening it may appear 
in the open to fly across channels to some feeding place. At other 
times they flush rarely, even when closely approached. The few 
records come from around Barro Colorado Island and from the 
Chagres marshes near Juan Mina. Two races are found, one a winter 
migrant from the north, the other, of South American affinity, a 


Ardea exilis Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 645. (Jamaica.) 

Characters. — Side of head buff. 

Winter visitor from the north. 

The only certain records are of two females, one that I took in 
the marshes opposite the dock at Juan Mina on January 31, 1959, and 
another, now in the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 
collected on September 13, 1913, at Mount Hope, Canal Zone, by 
L. L. Jewel. 


Ardea crythromelas (sic) Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 14, 
Sept. 1817, p. 422. (Rio Paraguay.) 

Characters, — Differs from typical exilis in having the side of the 


head rufous-brown, like the stripe over the eye and along the side 
of the crown. 

Measurements. — Males (2 from Panama), wing 106.5, 109.0, 
tail 39.6, 41.9, culmen from base 43.2, 42.9, tarsus 39.0, 41.8 mm. 

Females (2 from Panama), wing 109.8, 114.4, tail 36.4, 42.9, 
culmen from base 42.8, 44.8, tarsus 41.5, 44.7 mm. 

These figures indicate that the size agrees with that of the typical 
race /. e. exilis. 

A male taken on January 13, 1961, had the following colors : Inner 
edge of iris bright yellow, outer ring reddish orange ; base of culmen 
wood brown, changing at level of nostrils to dusky neutral gray; 
cutting edges of maxilla and mandible honey yellow ; loral area 
honey yellow, with a line of buffy yellow above and below; space 
around eye honey yellow ; crus, tarsus and toes honey yellow, tinged 
with neutral gray on the front of the tibio-tarsal joint and of the 
tarsus ; claws wood brown tipped with dark neutral gray. 

Resident. Recorded only in fresh-water marshes, along the lower 

The few records are as follows : A female in the Salvin-Godman 
collection in the British Museum, sent by McLeannan from Lion 
Hill, Canal Zone; another, a male, in the American Museum of 
Natural History, marked 1863, from the same source, but without 
more detailed data, a bird in first fall plumage, with the back feathers 
margined lightly with rufous. In addition to these I have collected 
two in the marshes bordering the Rio Chagres near Juan Mina, a 
female on January 10, and a male on January 13, both in 1961. 

Least bitterns are fairly common between Gamboa and Juan Mina 
but remain closely under cover and so are seldom seen. In January 
as the breeding season approaches they begin to call, a low, drawling 
kwuh-h-h-h, repeated at brief intervals, given while the birds remain 
concealed in the marsh growth. In early morning, and more regu- 
larly in late afternoon, they move about to feed, and then may fly 
a few meters low down in the open, but immediately drop into cover. 
I have had one call at dusk within 10 meters and still not be able 
to see it. One that I shot had a small fish in the stomach, and this 
appears to be their principal food. 

Family COCHLEARIIDAE : Boat-billed Heron; Garzota Cuchara 

The single species of this family ranges in the Tropical Zone low- 
lands from northern Mexico (Sinaloa on the west, Tamaulipas on the 
east) south through Central America to northern Argentina. Two 


of the three races recognized are covered in the present report, a 
very pale one of South America that ranges from southwestern 
Darien southward, and a very dark one, found in southwestern Costa 
Rica and most of Panama, that enters Colombia on the northwestern 
shores of the Gulf of Uraba. The third, Cochlearius cochlearius 
zeledoni (Ridgway), of Mexico and most of Central America, is 
paler gray above than C. c. panamensis of Panama, but otherwise 
is similar. These birds suggest night herons in general appearance 
but are marked at once by the broad bill — less than twice as long 
as it is wide — from which the family takes its name. In the adult a 
crest of broad, loose feathers extends a third of the way down the 
neck and the dorsal feathers are elongated to the level of the 

The characters that set these birds off as a distinct family com- 
pared to the true herons (Ardeidae) are found in the enlarged bill, 
which is a scoop instead of a spear, and in the considerable struc- 
tural changes in the mouth and skull that accompany this. There 
are four pairs of powder-down patches instead of the three of true 
herons. The bill at hatching is short, triangular, broad at the base, 
and tapers rapidly to a blunt point, an appearance quite different 
from that of true herons of the same age. A downy specimen of 
this age of the race Cochlearius cochlearius zeledoni from southern 
Veracruz, with an tgg tooth present on both maxilla and mandible 
is dull white below, pale gray above, and brownish black on the 

COCHLEARIUS COCHLEARIUS (Linnaeus): Boat-biUed Heron; 
Garzota Cuchara 

Figure 19 

A heronlike bird of medium size, with a heavy bill in which the 
breadth is more than half the length. 

Description. — Length 480 to 510 mm. Adult, forehead and fore- 
crown white; rest of crown, broad, elongated nuchal plumes, and 
a patch on upper back, blackish slate; rest of upper surface, in- 
cluding sides of neck, gray ; breast, abdomen, and under tail coverts, 
cinnamon-brown ; sides and flanks slaty black. 

As stated under the family heading, this species suggests the night 
herons in general, though distinct from them in many ways. During 
the day boatbills remain in roosts in mangrove swamps, or in inland 
localities, in trees over small streams or ponds. They fly readily when 
approached, but usually merely to heavier cover nearby. Though 



they may rest in the sun in early morning, they are nocturnal in 
general, as they are active and feed mainly at night. I have found 
them often while night-hunting, usually as they stand or viralk in 
shallow ripples in the rivers, where they scoop at aquatic animals 
rather than spear at them in heron style. Usually they are so wary 
that they take flight with protesting squawks as soon as the beam of 
the lamp touches them, unless the light is a very weak one. Once, 
on the Rio Maje, I came on one that was so intent on its fishing 
that I was able to watch it close at hand for several minutes, but 
when I turned on a flashlight for a better view it flew instantly with 
protesting calls. The eye shine is faint, and is orange in color. 
They often scold loudly at night, the usual call resembling that of the 
night herons but in higher tone. 

Fig. 19. — Head of boat-billed heron, garzota cuchara, Cochlearins cochlearius. 

They nest in small colonies. The nest is described as a loosely 
made structure of sticks, placed in a tree, often over water. The 
eggs, 2 to 4 in a set, short to long subelliptical in form, are pale 
bluish white, spotted lightly with pale brown, mainly at the larger 
end. The colors fade somewhat with age in museum collections 
so that they may appear whiter, with some of the spotting so in- 
distinct as to be seen only on close examination. 

Cancroma Cochlearia Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 233. (Cayenne.) 

Characters. — Adult, pale gray above and on the sides of the neck ; 
upper breast and all of f oreneck pure white. 

Immature, back and wing coverts cinnamon-buff ; underparts white 
washed with buff on lower f oreneck and sides. 


Measurements. — Males (3 from northern Colombia), wing 272- 
281 (276), tail 108.6-115.1 (111.1), culmen from base 79.0-86.9 
(82.9, average of 2), tarsus 78.0-84.2 (81.5) mm. 

Females (5 from Darien and northern Colombia), wing 259-266 
(263), tail 102.5-107.6 (105.7), culmen from base 67.0-75.4 (70.4), 
tarsus 75.0-82.7 (78.7) mm. 

Resident on the Rio Jaque, in southeastern Darien. 

This form of South America is so markedly different from the 
race of the rest of Panama in its much lighter color — light gray 
on the back, and pure white on the foreneck and side of the head, 
in the adult — as almost to suggest a separate species. 

On the Rio Jaque, in April 1947, the boatbills were fairly com- 
mon near our camp located at the mouth of the Rio Imamado. They 
were nocturnal, coming out at dusk to walk in the shallows over 
gravel bars along the Imamad6, and the Rio Chicao, or flying down 
to the broader waters of the main river. One evening I sat in the 
end of our large piragua that rested half in the water, to write the 
day's notes, while a pleasant breeze kept mosquitoes away. The 
river was in flood from a heavy rain that had come in late afternoon, 
and when it became too dark to write I sat quietly, watching the water 
and the forest border beyond. At full dark I had an indistinct view 
of a large bird that approached with fluttering, wavering flight, in 
search of a suitable spot to alight, appearing white, like an immature 
little blue heron, or an egret. It stopped 10 meters away on a gravel 
bar and stood quietly, until we turned a flashlight on it, when the 
light revealed a boatbill watching the water intently. The bird took 
flight almost instantly when the light beam touched it. A few nights 
later I waited here for a possible shot until it had become so dark that 
I was about to leave. Suddenly I had an indefinite view of a broad- 
winged bird passing with steadily beating wings that I thought must 
be an owl. A hasty shot at the almost invisible target, a splash as it 
dropped in the river, and a moment later the boatbill was in my hand. 

We sometimes saw as many as half a dozen while night-hunting 
but always found them so wild that they flew immediately when they 
saw our light, even at a considerable distance. Often I heard them 
calling in a low tone, qua qua qua, as they flew away. In skinning 
the one taken I was impressed by the considerable development of 
the muscles of the sides of the head and in the palatal area. 

Interestingly enough, the bird here proved to be the South Ameri- 
can form that has not been reported previously in Central America. 
The indication is that C. c. cochlearius ranges along the Pacific coast 
only to the Rio Jaque, since C. c. panamensis is found in the Tuira 
drainage a short distance to the north. 


Two sets of 3 eggs each of C. c. cochlearius in the U. S. National 
Museum, collected by G. D. Smooker, on July 14 and August 5, 1935, 
on the Caroni River, Trinidad, are almost white, tinged weakly with 
pale glaucous blue, with a few very faint spots and irregular markings 
of cinnamon. They vary from subelliptical to long subelliptical in 
shape and show the following measurements: 49.9x35.5, 50.0x35.3, 
and 52.5x35.7; 46.9x36.4, 50.5x37.4, and 53.5x36.6 mm. 

The species is one that soon disappears as the countryside is de- 
veloped for increasing human occupancy. 


Cochlearius seledoni panamensis Griscom, Amer. Mus. Nov. no. 235, Nov. 18, 
1926, p. 11, (Corozal, Canal Zone, Panama.) 

Characters. — Adult, darker throughout than C. c. cochlearius, with 
the side of the head and neck and the back and wings dark gray; 
lower f oreneck and breast light grayish brown. 

Immature, much darker above and below than the same stage in 
typical cochlearius. 

Measurements. — Males (4 from Panama), wing 266-282 (275), 
tail 95.7-107.8 (102.1), culmen from base 75.5-81.6 (78.9), tarsus 
77.0-81.5 (78.5) mm. 

Females (4 from Panama and Choco, Colombia), wing 260-269 
(265), tail 94.4-104.2 (97.6), culmen from base 72.5-81.0 (75.9), 
tarsus 65.0-76.8 (72.9) mm. 

Resident. Found in the tropical lowlands throughout the Repub- 
lic, except on the Rio Jaque, southwestern Darien. 

These birds must occur along the lower river courses in Chiriqui 
and the Pacific side of Veraguas, as they range into southwestern 
Costa Rica, but the only definite report of them in that area to date 
is the ancient record of one taken by Arce at Mina de Chorcha, east 
of David, Chiriqui (Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1870, p. 218). 
In the Azuero Peninsula I found them along the Rio Escota near 
Santa Maria, and picked up a weather worn skull at Alvina, in 
Herrera. Farther south, near tidewater on the Rio Caldera back of 
Punta Mala, in March 1957, I located a colony of 20 to 30, that had 
young fully grown but not long out of the nest. Some of the 
country people here, who called these birds hocacho, had a supersti- 
tion that they were evil because of their ugly appearance due to the 
broad bill. In Bocas del Toro they are recorded from Changuinola 
and Almirante (Peters, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 71, 1931, p. 
305), and in the swamps at Boca del Drago. Farther east I found 
one at Chilar, western Colon, March 11, 1952, and there are records 


for both slopes in the Canal Zone, from Corozal, Balboa, Pedro 
Miguel Locks, Juan Mina, Lion Hill, Gatun, and Colon. Goldman 
secured one at Portobelo June 1, 1911. Wedel collected one at Perme, 
and C. O. Handley, Jr. secured one female on the Quebrada Venado, 
back of Armila, San Bias. These are representative of this race 
which extends beyond to Acandi, across the boundary in Colombia. 
Griscom (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 1932, p. 311) was in error when 
he said that the subspecies panamensis "is devoid of the slightest 
rusty tinge" above, since a wash of dark reddish brown is of common 
occurrence in birds through Panama. 

On the Pacific side, Karl Curtis informed me that a colony nests 
in the rainy season in the swamps near the La Jagua Hunting Club. 
In 1949 I secured two from the Rio Mamoni, a short distance above 
Chepo, and in February and March 1950, I noted several on the 
lower Rio Chiman and at Charco del Toro on the Rio Maje. In 1959 
I saw them on the lower Rio Tuira, between Pinogana and El Real, 
and found others on the Rio Chucunaque near the mouth of the Rio 
Tuquesa, This is the most inland point at which they have been 
reported. One collected by Goldman near Gatun had the stomach 
filled with shrimps. 

An adult female, shot on March 9, 1957, on the Rio Caldera, below 
Pedasi, Los Santos, had the following colors of the soft parts: Iris 
wood brown ; maxilla black, except the area of the nostrils (below 
the operculum) which is dull yellow; cutting edge and upper side 
of mandible dark neutral gray, lower margin and gonys dull yellow ; 
lower eyelid, except as noted, and lores neutral gray ; spot on 
anterior lower fid (adjacent to lores), and a line beside the feathering 
above the eye greenish yellow ; gular sac back to base of rami dull 
yellow, with a few spots of neutral gray; posterior fourth of gular 
sac dull brownish gray; tarsus, crus, and toes greenish yellow. An 
immature male, taken at the same time, had the iris duller brown, 
no dark spots on the gular pouch, the front of the tarsus dull grayish 
brown, and the posterior face, the crus, and the underside of the 
toes light yellowish green. 

Other adults that I have examined as museum specimens have the 
whole bill and the gular pouch back to the gape black, which appears 
to be the color of the mating season. 

Family CICONIIDAE: Storks; Cigiiefias 

The family is worldwide in its distribution. The two species re- 
corded in Panama, like herons, range in marshes and around lagoons. 
Only the wood ibis is found regularly in the Republic. 



Smaller, wing less than 500 mm. long; bill decurved toward end, with the tip 
rounded Wood ibis, Mycteria americana, p. 120 

Larger, wing more than 600 mm. long ; bill straight to slightly recurved toward 
end, with the tip pointed Jabiru, Jabiru mycteria, p. 120 

JABIRU MYCTERIA (Lichtenstein) : Jabiru; Garzon Soldado 

Ciconia mycteria Lichtenstein, Abh. K. Akad. Wiss. Berlin, Phys. KI., 1816-1817 
(1819), p. 163. (Northeastern Brazil.) 

Of very large size, with heavy, recurved bill ; head and neck bare, 
except for a tuft of downy feathers on the nape. 

Description. — A meter 200 mm. to a meter and a half tall ; wing 
630-650, bill 305-335 mm. Adult, head and neck bare of feathers; 
upper part of neck black, lower third orange red ; plumage white. 

Immature, dark gray, or brownish ; in older stage with underparts, 
tail, upper tail coverts, and rump, white. 

Casual straggler. 

The only published record is that of a male shot by Hasso von 
Wedel at Cricamola, Bocas del Toro, August 11, 1927 (Peters, Bull. 
Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 71, 1931, p. 304). 

Baldomiro Moreno, a local hunter, has described one to me that 
he saw on the La Jagua marshes, his only view of this bird. The 
species is found widely from southern Mexico to northern Argentina. 

MYCTERIA AMERICANA Linnaeus: Wood Ibis; Gaban 

Mycteria americana Linnaeus, Syst, Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 150. (North- 
eastern Brazil.) 

Large size, coupled with bare head and upper neck, and decurved 
bill, distinguish this from other wading birds found in Panama. 

Description. — Length 860 mm. to nearly a meter. Adult, white; 
flight feathers and tail black, with a sheen of dark green (seen with 
the bird in hand) ; head and neck without feathers. 

Immature, head and neck scantily feathered, grayish brown; rest 
of plumage like adult but duller in color. 

Measurements. — Males (6 from Florida, Mexico, and Panama), 
wing 453-492 (476), tail 155-166 (158), culmen from base 215-235 
(227), tarsus 194-213 (203) mm. 

Females (6 from Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and 
Colombia), wing 435-455 (446), tail 143-150 (148), culmen from base 
190-205 (196), tarsus 175-192 (183) mm. 

Resident. Seen regularly in extensive marsh areas in the lowlands ; 


wanders during the dry season, attracted to any aquatic haunt avail- 
able when pools and channels begin to dry. 

These great birds are found regularly about cienagas and the 
channels of extensive marshes, sometimes alone, sometimes in flocks. 
The most western record on the Pacific coast is that of two that I saw 
near Remedios, Chiriqui, January 30, 1955. Aldrich (Scient. Publ. 
Cleveland Mus. Nat. Hist., vol. 7, 1937, p. 36) found them in 
February 1932 around a drying lagoon near the head of Monti jo 
Bay. And in Herrera in February and March 1948 I noted occasional 
birds along the middle and lower courses of small streams, or on the 
partly dry lagoons of the coastal plain. On March 10 we found a 
flock of 75 at Cienaga de Buho and admired their flight as they 
moved to perch in distant trees along the Rio Escota. A female shot 
from a large tree standing in dry scrub back of the open playa at 
Alvina, near the mouth of the Rio Santa Maria, had the ovaries so 
far developed that it appeared that the laying season was near. On 
January 17 and 20, 1963, I recorded a number on the salinas below 
Aguadulce, Code. 

The wood ibis comes at intervals around Changuinola and Al- 
mirante. It is seen occasionally along the Chagres (Fort San Lorenzo, 
January 1, 1955) and around Gatun Lake, as one was taken in this 
area by McLeannan (Lawrence, Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. New York, 
vol. 7, 1861, p. 334). And one is recorded along the coast of San 
Bias at Obaldia (Griscom, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 72, 1932, p. 
311). In the lowland marshes between the Pacora and Bayano Rivers, 
on the Pacific side, I have found them regularly. In seasons like 
that of 1958, when the channels through the marsh remained full of 
water, several hundred were present, and in other years I have found 
dozens gathered on the drying cienagas. I have record of them also 
at Chiman, on the Rio Chucunaque at the mouth of the Tuquesa, and 
in the Tuira Valley near El Real and at the mouth of Rio Paya. 

While no colonies are on record, the wood ibis undoubtedly nests in 
wooded swamps near the Chico and Bayano Rivers and also in the 
great swamps on the northern shores of Golfo de San Miguel and 
the lower Tuira. 

They appear ungainly when perched in trees because of the bare 
head and neck, more attractive as they move or stand about channels 
or pools, and magnificent when flocks pass on the wing, especially 
when they circle in ascending air thermals. On occasion I have seen 
them soaring with groups of hawks and vultures. 

The species is known commonly to the countryman in Panama as 
the grulla, or crane. 


Family THRESKIORNITHIDAE : Ibises, Spoonbills ; Cocos y 
Garzas Paletas 

This group of long-legged wading birds lives in the same haunts 
as the herons and in general shares their habit of life. Ibises are 
marked by their long curved beaks, the spoonbill by its broad bill, 
much widened at the tip. The family as a whole is one of numerous 
species throughout the temperate and tropical world. The white ibis 
and spoonbill range widely in Panama ; the Cayenne ibis is local. The 
other species listed come as stragglers. 


1. Bill slender, decurved ; not enlarged at tip 2 

Bill flat, straight, much widened at tip. .Roseate spoonbill, Ajaia ajaja, p. 127 

2. Wholly black with a sheen of green, or brownish black 3 

White, or parti-colored 4 

3. Middle toe Vv^ith claw, equal to the tarsus or longer; a pronounced nuchal 

crest Cayenne ibis, Mesembrinibis cayennensis, p. 124 

Middle toe with claw decidedly less than tarsus ; no pronounced nuchal 
crest Glossy ibis, Plegadis f. jalcinelliis, p. 124 

4. Throat wholly bare White ibis, Eudocimus albiis, p. 125 

Throat feathered in center, bare at sides. 

White-throated ibis, Theristicus c. caiidatus, p. 126 

MESEMBRINIBIS CAYENNENSIS (Gmelin): Cayenne Ibis; Corocoro 
Tantalus cayennensis Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 652. (Cayenne.) 

A short-legged, dark-colored ibis, with a bushy crest. 

Description. — Length 480 to 530 mm. Upper surface black, with 
a sheen of bronze green; a greenish black, bushy crest on the back 
of the head ; below dull black. 

An adult male, taken at Mandinga, had the soft parts colored as 
follows : Iris light brown ; bare frontal area, and most of the bill, 
dull greenish gray ; tip of bill light fuscous ; bare skin around eye, 
lores, extreme base of mandible, and bare throat, deep neutral gray; 
crus light brownish white; tibio-tarsal and tarso-phalangeal joints 
bluish neutral gray ; rest of tarsus and toes dull vetiver green. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Panama, Colombia, and Brazil), 
wing 263-300 (280), tail 127-155 (138), culmen from base 104.5- 
118.5 (112.6), tarsus 61.8-63.5 (62.4) mm. 

Females (4 from Panama, Colombia, and Brazil), wing 280-289 
(283), tail 131-148 (142), culmen from base 103.0-113.0 (108.5), 
tarsus 56.8-62.2 (59.5) mm. 

Resident. Tolerably common around Almirante Bay, Bocas del 
Toro, and on the Rio Chucunaque, Darien ; casual elsewhere. 


The Cayenne ibis is a heavy-bodied bird, found in the depths of 
wooded swamps, that comes out along shaded channels to walk along 
the shores or rest in the trees above. Formerly it ranged on the 
Atlantic slope of the Canal Zone, where McLeannan secured speci- 
mens along the line of the railroad, but it has not been recorded there 
since that time. One of these old skins in the British Museum is 
labeled "Lion Hill." In Bocas del Toro this ibis is found in fair 
numbers in the wet forests back of Boca del Drago, where it is seen 
especially along the old canals. Handley in 1962 and 1963 found it 
common in the swamps of Isla Bastimentos. A few range in the 
mangrove swamps of Quebrada Nigua and Rio Occidente, but here 
they remain inside. And so their presence is known mainly from their 
mellow, rolling calls, heard at sunrise and dusk. Wedel shot one at 
Chiriquicito on April 18, 1928 (Peters, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 
71, 1931, p. 304). 

On February 15, 1957, I found one in the wet forest bordering the 
lower Rio Mandinga in the Comarca de San Bias. With advance of 
the dry season the swamp was drying, leaving small pools with many 
fishes, where the bird had been feeding, as indicated by its muddy 
bill. There is one in the Chicago Natural History Museum from 
Obaldia in the extreme eastern San Bias. Collectors for the Gorgas 
Memorial Laboratory secured one on September 15, 1958, in the 
San Antonio Swamp, east of Pacora, the only record for this area. 

On the Rio Chucunaque in March 1959 these ibises were fairly 
common from the mouth of the Rio Canglon to the Ucurganti and I 
collected one for a specimen. I saw them regularly around pools in 
the quebradas, or in swampy woods where they walked about rather 
quickly with nodding head, probing in soft mud, often clear to their 
eyes. So long as I remained quiet they had little fear, as one fed 
within 15 meters of me. At such times a casual ray of the sun at 
the proper angle displayed the glossy green of back and crest at- 
tractively. I heard one calling briefly near Pinogana but saw none 
above that point on the Rio Tuira. They are known locally in 
Darien as Coco Roto, and around Almirante as Coco Quam. 

Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 2, 1960, pp. 104, 107), describes 
the eggs as deep olive-green. Most are without markings, but some 
have fine brown or blackish spots or irregular lines on the larger 
end. The average size is 62.5 X 42.6 mm. Nehrkorn (Kat. Eiersamml., 
1899, p. 229) gives the measurements of 2 spotted eggs collected by 
Hauxwell in Peru as 52-53x37-38.5 mm. I have seen no description 
of the nest. 



Tantalus Falcinellus Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 241. (Lake 
Neusiedl, Austria.) 

An ibis with smoothly feathered head, that is dark in color through- 

Description. — Length 460 to 560 mm. Adult, in the hand, above 
shining bronzy green, with purplish reflections ; lower parts chestnut. 
At any distance, in life, they appear black. 

Immature, upper surface duller, lower surface dark grayish brown ; 
head and neck streaked with white. 

Iris brown ; bare lores purplish black ; bill fuscous brown ; tarsus 
and toes greenish-brown. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from southeastern United States and 
Hispaniola) wing 275-286 (279.6), tail 97.9-104.0 (101.0), culmen 
from base 127.5-136.6 (131.3), tarsus 99.2-112.0 (103.1) mm. 

Females (5 from southeastern United States and Hispaniola) wing 
252-260 (257.4), tail 90.3-94.5 (92.5), culmen from base 100.4-108.1 
(102.7), tarsus 78.0-88.0 (81.8) mm. 

Casual wanderer. One record, March 18, 1949, a specimen taken 
near the La Jagua Hunting Club east of Pacora. 

On March 18, 1949, three fed together over the drying muddy bed 
of Cienaga Campana. After watching them for a few minutes I 
flushed them in order to drop one at long range. Presumably this 
small flock may have been migrant from one of the known breeding 
colonies in the Greater Antilles, though one may speculate on the 
possibility of nesting groups elsewhere. 

I was told that dark-colored ibises (called coco negro) are found 
at times in this region, but it seems probable that these were the 
Cayenne ibis. It seems probable also that the white-faced glossy ibis, 
Plegadis chihi ( Vieillot) , may occur here. 

While there has been much uncertainty relative to identification of 
immature specimens of the two species of glossy ibises I have found 
them to be readily separable. In P. f. falcinellus back, wings, and 
tail are deep oil green, and the entire dorsal surface appears darker 
and blacker. In P. chihi back, wings, and tail are lighter green with 
a distinct brassy sheen, and the dorsal surface is lighter, more dark 
brownish gray. 

The type locality listed above has been designated by Hellmayr and 
Conover (Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 2, 1948, p. 265). 



EUDOCIMUS ALBUS (Linnaeus): White Ibis; Coco Blanco 

FlGUHE 20 
Scolopax alba Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 145. (South Carolina.) 

Differs from other ibises found in Panama by white undersurface 
of the body. 

Description. — Length 560 to 610 mm. Adult, white; tips of outer- 
most primaries black, with a sheen of steely blue. 

Immature, upper surface, head, neck, and upper breast streaked 
with grayish brown. 

Fig. 20. — Head of white ibis, coco bianco, Eudocimus albus. 

Iris bluish white ; bare skin of head orange-red ; bill orange-red with 
terminal third olive ; tarsus and toes rosy flesh-color ; claws black 
(Dickey and van Rossem, Birds El Salvador, 1938, p. 89). 

Measurements. — Males (5 from southeastern United States) wing 
279-285 (282.6), tail 107.1-119.8 (112.1), culmen from base 145.4- 
163.0 (155.1), tarsus 90.3-102.5 (95.9) mm. 

Females (5 from Florida) wing 260-268 (265), tail 93.3-104.8 
(98.6), culmen from base 118.5-130.0 (125.6), tarsus 83.8-88.0 
(85.5) mm. 

Resident. Tolerably common locally in the coastal swamps on the 
Pacific side: Found on Isla Coiba; and in the Archipielago de las 
Perlas (islas San Jose, Pedro Gonzalez, Rey, Viveros, Pacheca). 


The most western record on the mainland is for the head of 
Montijo Bay where Aldrich (Scient. Publ. Cleveland Mus. Nat. Hist., 
vol. 7, 1937, pp. 36-37) found them common in 1932. There is a 
specimen from Isla Coiba in the British Museum collected on the St. 
George Expedition in 1924 ; and I recorded them there in fair num- 
ber in 1956. There were numbers near the coast in the Province of 
Herrera in 1948, and several on the mudflats at Puerto Salado, below 
Aguadulce, Code, Jan. 25, 1963. Other recent records are from 
Farfan Beach, Canal Zone (specimen September 28, 1953), and of 
one seen near Panama City (J. M. Abbott, March 7, 1942). Hallinan 
(Auk, 1924, p. 307) shot one on Isla Taboguilla December 5, 1915. I 
have seen them regularly in the marshes near the La Jagua Hunting 
Club, and in 1950 found them common near Chiman, where they 
ranged inland on the Rio Chiman to the Rio Curutu. Several were 
seen at Maje, Panama in 1950, and others near El Real, Darien in 
1964. The first formal record for Panama is that of 3 on the Rio 
Sabana, Darien, reported by Salvadori and Festa (Boll. Mus. Zool. 
Anat. Comp. Univ. Torino, vol. 14, no. 339, 1899, pp. 2, 12) . 

White ibises are found in tidal ponds in mangroves, and also 
around cienagas and shallow waters on the flats, but do not go far 
inland. They sleep in the coastal swamps, and may be seen in small 
flocks flying to and from such roosts in morning and evening. The 
immature birds sometimes allow close approach, but adults are more 

On June 7, 1941, Maj. Gen. G. Ralph Meyer found a colony on 
Isla Changame at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal and took 
6 sets of 2 eggs each, which are now in the National Museum. The 
nests were shallow platforms, 175 to 200 mm. in diameter, made 
of twigs and weed stems, with some leaves in the lining, placed on 
the tops of cactus and stunted trees. The eggs are subelliptical, dull 
white to huffy white, marked with chocolate to cinnamon-brown, 
changing to lilac where the pigment is overlaid by a deposit of shell. 
Some are heavily blotched, mainly around the larger end, others are 
spotted finely throughout. These 12 eggs range in length from 52.1 
to 61.0 mm., and in width from 35.5 to 38,8 mm., with the average 
56.7x37.3 mm. 

THERISTICUS CAUDATUS CAUDATUS (Boddaert): White-throated Ibis; 

Bandurria Comtln 

Scolopax caudatus Boddaert, Tabl. PI. Enl., 1783, p. 57. (Cayenne.) 

An ibis with heavy body and short legs ; a prominent white patch 
in the wing, that otherwise is dark in color. 


Description. — Length 710-760 mm. Head and neck white, with 
crown and lower f oreneck brownish buff ; back dark gray ; wings 
black with a large white patch across the center ; coverts light gray ; 
below, including underside of wings and tail, black. 

In specimens of the closely similar subspecies Theristictts c. 
hyperorius Todd that I collected in Paraguay I recorded the colors 
of the soft parts as follows: Iris light red; bill and bare skin on 
head dull black, except for lower eyelid which was pale purplish blue ; 
tarsus dull red, somewhat paler on toes ; claws dull black. 

Measurements. — Males (4 from Colombia), wing 385-394 (391), 
tail 193-203 (198.7), culmen from base 131-149 (143.5), tarsus 
80.0-83.3 (81.5) mm. 

Females (2 from Colombia), wing 383, 387, tail 190, 197, culmen 
from base 130.6-141.0, tarsus 77.1, 78.6 mm. 

Casual wanderer from South America : One record, near Pacora, 

The species ranges from Colombia and Venezuela to northern 

Through Karl Curtis the U. S. National Museum has received one 
of these birds killed by Baldomiro Moreno, September 18, 1950, from 
a flock of four on the savannas near San Jose, beyond Pacora. The 
specimen was roughly skinned by Baldomiro, and was prepared for 
me by Ratibor Hartmann, of the Gorgas Memorial Laboratory. The 
record is the first for Central America. Another was reported to me 
by Baldomiro as seen on the same savanna in November, 1958. 

AJAIA AJAJA (Linnaeus) : Roseate Spoonbill; Garza Paleta 

Figure 21 

Platalea Ajaja Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 17S8, p. 140. (Rio Sao 
Francisco, eastern Brazil) 

An ibislike species, with flattened bill, broadly expanded at the tip. 

Description. — Length 710 to 810 mm. Bill broad, flat, expanded 
at the tip. Adult, pink, with lesser wing coverts and tail coverts Hght 
red ; crown bare. 

Immature, whiter ; crown feathered, except on the forehead. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia, 
and Argentina), wing 347-365 (353.4), tail 93.0-101.5 (95.1), culmen 
from base 156-173 (167.4), tarsus 106.6-111.6 (108.7) mm. 

Females (4 from Florida, Louisiana, Colombia and Argentina), 
wing 332-357, tail 86.8-97.6 (93.4), culmen from base 150-177 
(158.7), tarsus 96.5-116.6 (103.8) mm. 


Resident. Found along the Pacific coast ; now uncommon. 

The spoonbill still remains in remote areas of extensive swamps, 
though in reduced numbers. It is reported from near Puerto 
Armuelles, where it was recorded in November 1929 (McClellan, 
Proc. California Acad. Sci., vol. 23, 1938, p. 256), across to Darien, 
where I saw one near the mouth of the Rio Tuquesa, March 27, 1959. 
I have seen it also near the mouth of the Rio Vidal in western 
Veraguas (June 8, 1953, March 25, 1965) and at the Cienaga de 
Buho, near Santa Maria, Herrera (March 10, 1948). It is found 
regularly in the swamps around the lower Rio Chico and the Rio La 
Jagua, though it is necessary to go far across from the La Jagua 
Hunting Club to see it. Here I collected two on March 21, 1958. 
There is said to have been a small colony of them until about 1930 in 

Fig. 21. — Head of roseate spoonbill, garza paleta, Ajaja ajaia, with throat pouch 


mangroves at the mouths of small streams in the Cocoli area in the 
Canal Zone. 

The birds seem to be restricted to the Pacific slope, as the only 
record for the Caribbean side is of one at Gatun, Canal Zone, in 
November, 1911 (Jewel, Auk, 1913, p. 424). 

Spoonbills feed around ponds where they walk through the shal- 
lows, swinging the bill from side to side to cut the mud and water, 
and so to sift out moUusks and other food. 

They are known to many of the country hunters as the pato cuchara. 


Family ANATIDAE : Ducks ; Patos 

This family, of world-wide distribution and many kinds, has 14 
species in Panama, of which 5 are resident and 7 come as migrants 
during the period of northern winter. There are 2 others that appear 
to be of accidental occurrence through stray individuals. Habitat 
for these birds is somewhat restricted since the species concerned 
frequent broad reaches of fresh or brackish waters. They have been 
best known on the Pacific slope, though now numbers of the 
migrants come to the artificial ponds made in recent years in the 
extensive cleared areas between the Changuinola and Sixaola rivers 
on the Caribbean side. 

The isthmus, particularly along the Pacific is a regular flyway for 
those that pass to South America in their migrations. Duck hunting 
is a favored sport and numbers are killed each year. 


1. Hind toe without a lobe 2 

Hind toe with a lobe 14 

2. Lower end of tarsus with reticulate scales 3 

Lower end of tarsus with transverse scales 5 

3. Neck black ; forepart of head white ; sides heavily barred. 

White-faced tree duck, Dendrocygna viduata, p. 130 

Neck not black; no white on head; sides plain or longitudinally 

streaked 4 

4. No white in wing ; mainly cinnamon brown, with elongated feathers on sides 

and flanks Fulvous tree duck, Dendrocygna b. bicolor, p. 131 

A prominent white patch in wing ; breast gray ; abdomen black. 

Black-bellied tree duck, Dendrocygna a. anttimnalis, p. 132 

5. Space around eye partly bare, usually with colored caruncles. 

Muscovy duck, Cairina moschata, p. 134 
Space in front of eye feathered 6 

6. A ridge or flat-sided tubercle on upper surface of bill near base. 

American comb duck, Sarkidiornis sylvicola, p. 137 
Bill without a ridge or projecting tubercle on upper surface 7 

7. Bill greatly broadened at tip Shoveler, Spatula clypeata, p. 145 

Bill not broadened at tip 8 

8. Larger, 460 mm. or more long; bend of wing without a prominent blue 

patch 9 

Smaller, not more than 380 mm. long; bend of wing with a prominent blue 
patch 11 

9. Bill smaller, not more than 38 mm. long ; a prominent white patch on wing. 

American widgeon, Mareca americana, p. 146 
Bill larger, 50 mm. or more long ; no white patch in wing 10 


10. Tail elongated, with the feathers sharply pointed; wing speculum green in 

male ; gray in female Pintail, Anas acuta, p. 140 

Tail rounded ; wing speculum deep, shining blue in both sexes. 

Mallard, Anas p. platyrhynchos, p. 139 

11. A prominent white crescent on forepart of head in front of eye. 

Blue-winged teal, Anas discors, male, p. 141 
No white mark on forepart of head 12 

12. Plumage cinnamon or chestnut brown, above and below. 

Cinnamon teal. Anas cyanoptera septentrionalium, adult male, p. 144 

Blackish above edged with buffy white, lighter below, mottled in appearance 

throughout 13 

13. Bill slightly smaller, 37-41 mm. long. 

Blue-winged teal. Anas discors, female, p. 141 
Bill slightly heavier, 41-44 mm. long. 

Cinnamon teal. Anas cyanoptera septentrionalium, female, p. 144 

14. Smaller, wing less than 150 mm. ; tail longer, with narrowed feathers, the 

extended feet not reaching to its end. 

Masked duck, Oxyura dominica, p. 150 

Larger, wing more than 175 mm.; tail shorter, with broader feathers, the 

extended feet reaching to its end 15 

15. Wing speculum white Lesser scaup duck, Aythya affinis, p. 148 

Wing speculum gray Ring-necked duck, Aythya collaris, p. 150 

DENDROCYGNA VIDUATA (Linnaeus): White-faced Tree Duck; Jacamillo 

Anas viduata Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 205. (Cartagena, 

Forepart of head white ; sides black barred with white. 

Description. — Length 380 to 430 mm. Head white to behind level 
of eyes; posterior area of head, sides of neck, center of breast, 
abdomen, lower back, wings, and tail black ; f oreneck white in some, 
or black with a spot of white in the center in others ; a brown band 
around lower neck, upper breast, and upper back ; sides buffy white 
barred with black ; upper back fuscous lined with buff. 

Iris brown ; bill black ; tarsus bluish gray ; toes darker ; claws black. 

Measurements. — Males (4 from Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay, and 
Argentina), wing 206-229 (218), tail 56.5-63.4 (60.7), culmen from 
base 47.0-49.0 (48.0), tarsus 49.5-56.7 (54.3) mm. 

Females (4 from Panama, Venezuela, and Argentina), wing 207- 
228 (215), tail 60.5-64.4 (62.2), culmen from base 43.8-49.3 (46.6), 
tarsus 49.8-53.7 (51.7) mm. 

Resident. Formerly fairly common, now rare; recorded from the 
Canal Zone, and from the marshes near the Rio Pacora and the Rio 
La Jagua. 

Little is known regarding this species in Panama. Griscom (Bull. 
Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 78, 1935, p. 296) records it with the statement 
"Canal Zone (1 shot)," without further detail. There are two sped- 


mens in the U. S. National Museum from the marshes near Pacora, 
Panama, one taken on July 30, 1928, by J. A. Weber, and one 
collected July 20, 1931, by Rex Benson. 

The species seems always to have been local in occurrence, since 
it was not reported by early naturalists and collectors except as noted. 
Karl Curtis informs me that in the early 1930's there was an in- 
vasion of hundreds of these ducks in the La Jagua area and that they 
nested there in cover of tall grass in the pastures, in company with 
the black-bellied tree duck. Elsewhere they are reported as nesting in 
hollow trees. The 8 to 12 eggs are described as yellowish or ivory 
white, with a size range from 42 to 51 mm. long by 34 to 41 mm. 
broad. In the records of the La Jagua Hunting Club, Herbert Clark 
recorded 40 shot in 1940, 9 in 1941, 4 in 1942, and one in 1943, 
an account that indicates their steady decline in number. None have 
been seen in recent years. 

The species is known locally as the jacamillo, from the form of 
the head markings that suggest a bridle. It has been recorded else- 
where in Central America only in Guanacaste, Costa Rica (at 

Yaguaso Colorado 

Anas bicolor Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 5, Dec. 1816, p. 136. 

Under surface plain cinnamon-brown; with prominent stripes of 
buff and black on the elongated flank feathers. 

Description. — Length 460 to 480 mm. Head, upper neck, and 
under surface cinnamon-brown, deeper in color on crown and sides ; 
a black streak down hind neck, and a band of dull white, lined finely 
with black, on the middle of foreneck; back, wings, and tail black, 
the back barred broadly with cinnamon brown; lesser wing coverts 
rufous brown ; upper tail coverts buff ; sides and flanks with promi- 
nent, elongated feathers, each with a broad central stripe of buff, 
bordered narrowly with black. 

Measurements. — Males (4 from Colombia and Argentina), wing 
215-219(217), tail 49.0-58.0 (53.7), culmen from base 44.9-50.0 
(47.6), tarsus 52.2-57.5 (55.3) mm. 

Females (3 from Argentina), wing 203-218 (208), tail 49.0-58.2 
(52.4), culmen from base 45.5-48.0 (47.0), tarsus 51.5-56.5 (54.2) 

Accidental visitor. The only record is of one shot by Karl Curtis in 


the La Jagua marshes, in eastern Panama province on June 14, 1936 
(Griswold, Auk, 1936, p. 457). 

The specimen, in the collections of the Museum of Comparative 
Zoology, is an adult bird in slightly worn plumage. The species is 
found in northwestern Colombia and may be expected to wander 
casually into Darien. 


Tree Duck: Giiichlchi 

Figure 22 

Anas autuntnalis Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 127. (West Indies.) 

A prominent white patch in the wing ; sides and abdomen black. 

Description. — Length 430 to 460 mm. Crown, lower neck, upper 
breast, and back rufescent brown; sides of head, and upper neck 
light gray ; throat white ; lower back, abdomen, flight feathers, and tail 
black; a band of brownish gray across breast; lesser wing coverts 
brownish buflf; middle coverts gray; greater coverts, and bases of 
central primaries prominently white ; under tail coverts streaked with 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Panama and northern Colombia), 
wing 217-235 (227), tail 60.4-76.0 (67.1), culmen from base 47.5- 
57.5 (50.7), tarsus 55.1-57.2 (56.2) mm. 

Females (5 from Panama and northern Colombia), wing 222-237 
(226), tail 59.0-70.5 (64.0), culmen from base 46.6-50.0 (48.5), 
tarsus 52.0-56.0 (54.9) mm. 

Resident. Tolerably common ; recorded on the Pacific slope from 
western Chiriqui (Divala), Veraguas (Sona), Herrera (lower Rio 
Santa Maria, Cienaga Macana), eastern Panama (Tocumen, Pacora, 
Rio La Jagua) ; Darien (specimen in U. S. National Museum with- 
out definite locality) ; and, on the Caribbean side, in the eastern San 
Bias (Perme, Obaldia). 

Lawrence (Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist., vol. 8, 1863, p. 13) recorded 
one received from McLeannan; Salvin had a specimen from the 
same source (Salvador!, Cat. Birds Brit. Mus., vol. 27, 1895, p. 161) 
and saw two tame birds kept by McLeannan at Lion Hill (Sclater 
and Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1876, p. 374). Festa, also, ob- 
tained a pair alive in Panama City (Salvadori and Festa, Boll. Mus. 
Zool. Anat. Comp. Univ. Torino, vol. 14, no. 339, 1899, p. 13). 

These attractive ducks are found along the lower courses of the 
larger rivers, in the brackish waters back of the mangrove swamps, 
and about fresh-water lagoons. 



In the early morning of March 4, 1948, on the Rio Santa Maria, 
above the mouth, I saw about 20 resting on an open sandbar exposed 
by low tide, some asleep and some preening. From a distance they 
resembled small geese. Later, as the water level rose with the incom- 
ing tide, the flock took flight toward distant mangrove swamps. One 

Fig. 22. — Black-bellied tree duck, guichichi, Dendrocygna autumnalis mitumnalis. 

taken a few days later, an immature bird, came flying slowly past me 
at the Cienaga Macana, as I stood in water to my waist, and alighted 
on a growth of water hyacinth. I waded slowly toward it through 
the sticky mud, expecting each moment that it would fly, but it stood 
watching with head erect, flicking its wings alternately until I was 
close enough for a shot. In June 1953 I noted these ducks regularly 
in pairs on the Rio San Pablo, below Sona, Veraguas ; a female taken 
on June 2 was about to lay. Here they rested on sandbanks and also 
perched in trees. 


From 1936 to 1942 records of the La Jagua Hunting Club show 
this species as one of importance as game until at the very end of 
the period it showed great decrease in number. A few still remain, as 
I saw several here at the end of June 1953. They are subject to little 
hunting pressure now during May and June, as that period marks 
the usual end of the shooting season. 

Little is known of their nesting in Panama except that the eggs are 
reported from hollows in trees. Karl Curtis was told of one nest 
with 25 in a hollow stub at the Cienaga Macana. In color the eggs 
are ivory white. Measurements given by Schonwetter (Handb. Ool. 
pt. 2, 1960, p. 124) for the species as a whole (without regard to 
geographic races) are as follows : 44-58 X 29-42 mm. 

These ducks are popular as captives and, kept usually in pairs, live 
well in a domesticated state. Young birds may be tethered by a cord 
tied about the neck or to one leg, but they soon become tame so 
that they are allowed to range in freedom among the usual domestic 
fowl. In view of the regular commerce that existed with the Spanish 
mainland in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries it is quite 
probable that captive ducks of this species recorded in Jamaica by 
Gosse in 1847, and by March in 1866, may have come in part from 

A northern race, Dendrocygna a. fulgens Friedmann, with the 
breast, foreneck, and back deeper reddish brown, that ranges from 
Costa Rica north to southern Texas, may come to extreme western 
Panama, but to date it has not been recorded. 

CAIRINA MOSCHATA (Linnaeus): Muscovy Duck; Pato Real 
Figure 23 
Anas moschata Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 124, (Brazil.) 

Largest of the ducks found in Panama; brownish black, with a 
greenish sheen. 

Description. — Length, male, 760 to 840 mm., female 580 to 610 
mm. Male, with a prominent crest, and fleshy reddish caruncles over 
the eye and at the base of the bill ; grayish black underneath ; blacker 
above with a sheen of green, particularly on the wings, changing to 
violet on the upper back ; under side of wing and wing coverts white, 
the latter forming a prominent patch. 

Female, similar but duller, with caruncles on head reduced or 

Immature, duller in color, with white in wing reduced to a few 
feathers in the greater coverts. 



An adult male that I shot in Paraguay had the soft parts colored 
as follows : iris cream-buff ; nail on mandible and maxilla dark neutral 
gray ; remainder of tip of bill dark drab gray, washed on the margin 
with brown; spots behind nostrils, line of culmen, and central part 
of mandibular rami, pale drab gray; band around bill in front of 
nostrils, base of bill, and bare skin on side of head, black; caruncles 
black at base, purplish vinaceous at tip ; tarsus and toes black. 

Fig. 23. — Muscovy duck, pato real, Cairina moschata. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, 
Paraguay, and northern Argentina), wing 363-404 (385), tail 182- 
198 (191), culmen, from frontal feathering, ^.6-76.6 (69.9), tarsus 
63.2-70.0 (66.3) mm. 

Females (5 from Mexico and Colombia), wing 293-326 (308), tail 
142-167 (153), culmen, from frontal feathering, 52.0-59.5 (54.8), 
tarsus 45.9-55.0 (51.2) mm. 

Resident. Fairly common locally on the Pacific slope in eastern 
Panama (Rio La Jagua, Rio Chico, Rio Chiman, Rio Maje), and 
Darien (Laguna de Pita, Rio Tuira, Rio Jaque) ; Isla Coiba. 


The only published record that refers to the Canal Zone is that of 
Osbert Salvin in 1863, who said of it (Sclater and Salvin, Proc. Zool. 
Soc. London, 1864, p. Z7Z), following his brief visit at Lion Hill, 
"Common in the swamps of the low forests." Karl Curtis has in- 
formed me that he found these ducks common on the lower Chagres 
and along its tributary the Rio Indio below Gatiin in early days on 
the Isthmus, but through hunting, and as the formation of Gatun 
Lake flooded out their haunts, they have become rare. 

The pato real in Panama is the duck most prized by hunters and the 
one that is universally known. It is curious, therefore, that the 
definite information available on its distribution, as outlined above, 
covers a somewhat limited area. It is probable that it ranges also along 
the Caribbean coast. 

These ducks frequent small channels or swampy places in wooded 
areas, where they range singly or in small groups. I have seen them 
flying morning and evening, sometimes high in air, but more often 
low, above water. On Isla Coiba at sunrise one morning half a dozen 
passed along the shore of Bahia Damas, the only time that I have seen 
them over salt water. At the La Jagua Hunting Club they are found 
in fair abundance. From 1936 to 1943 the number shot annually 
ranged from 13 (in 1936) to 79 (in 1939). One evening here, as I 
was writing notes by lamp light, one, apparently confused by the 
light, flew against the side of the house. 

Males often are nearly double the size of females and are decidedly 
heavier. The late Dr. Herbert Clark weighed 65 shot at La Jagua 
and recorded the heaviest as 7\ pounds (3| kilos). Phillips (Nat. 
Hist. Ducks, vol. 1, 1922, p. 57) reports males with a maximum 
weight of 4 to 5 kilos, and females of 2^ kilos. 

The nesting season appears to be in June, as on June 28, 1953, at 
La Jagua I was told of a female seen with 11 newly hatched young. 
The eggs are laid in hollows in trees, rarely amid rushes, on a scanty 
amount of down from the parent bird. The setting is usually 8 or 9, 
occasionally more, perhaps when 2 females join. The eggs are glossy 
white with a bufly tinge, oval in form. Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., 
pt. 2, 1960, p. 125) gives the range of measurement as 56.5-67.5 X 
42.7-48.0 mm. 

In two stomachs of males taken in the Canal Zone March 14, 1920, 
one held many remains of a thick-shelled seed that was not identified. 
The other was filled with fragments of seeds of some species of 
pickerelweed (Pontederiaceae) and a few of a sedge (Fimbristylis) . 


I have recorded a wing bone of this species from deposits of Late 
Pleistocene age at El Hatillo, west of Pese, Herrera, where it was 
found by C. Lewis Gazin, during excavations in the fossil beds of 
this area ( Wetmore, Wilson Bull., vol. 68, 1956, p. 327) . 

SARKIDIORNIS SYLVICOLA Ihering and Ihering: American Comb Duck; 

Pato Crestudo 

Figure 24 

Sarkidiornis sylvicola Ihering and Ihering, Cat. Fauna Brazileira, vol. 1, Aves 
Brazil, 1907, p. 72. (Northeastern Brazil.) 

A very large duck with a rounded comb on the base of the bill 
in the male ; back, sides, and spots on head and neck, black ; elsewhere 

Description. — ^Length, male 610 mm., female 500 to 540 mm. Male, 
with a fleshy comb on the bill, 35 by 50 mm. in the adult, smaller in 
the immature ; feathers on back of head and upper hindneck curled, 
forming a slight crest; center of crown, hindneck, and scattered 
spots over sides of head and upper neck, black with a violet sheen ; 
sides, back, wings, and tail black, with a sheen varying from blue 
and violet to green and bronzy green ; rest of plumage white. 

Female, without the comb or crest ; sides grayish brown ; more 
heavily spotted on head, and barred on back and sides of lower 

The species may be confused by hunters with the pato real, as the 
two are about the same size. Males of the comb ducks are easily told 
by the rounded, compressed ridge rising from the base of the bill 
over the nostrils, this being very large in adults, and of fair size in 
immature individuals. The females lack the comb but may be 
recognized by the white underparts and the blackish spotting on 
the white of the neck and sides of the head. 

"Bill dull lead color ; iris black or very dark brown ; legs and feet 
dirty yellowish green." (Phillips, Nat. Hist. Ducks, vol. 1, 1922, 
p. 77.) 

Measurements. — Males (4 from Panama, Venezuela, and Para- 
guay), wing 327-365 (348), tail 129-135 (131), culmen from base 
56.3-69.9 (63.3), tarsus 69.3-76.1 (73.5) mm. 

Female (1 from Paraguay), wing 301, tail 116, culmen from base 
46.3, tarsus 52.8 mm. 

Resident. Tolerably common on the Rio Chucunaque in Darien ; 
casual on the Rio La Jagua, eastern Panama. 


The first record of this species for the isthmus was an immature 
male taken March 30, 1949 (Wetmore, Auk, 1951, p. 526; the date 
given as "May 29" in the original reference is in error). A band of 5 
comb ducks, according to native hunters, had appeared on the 
marshes on the Rio La Jagua, at the end of March 1949, and a few 
days later on March 30 Baldomiro Moreno, our helper, shot one 
near the La Jagua Hunting Club while night-hunting for pato real. 
This was an immature male, with the comb small, very fat, and the 
testes in resting stage. Later, on May 20 and 21, Karl Curtis saw 
three comb ducks together and one flying alone. 

In Darien, on March 27, 1959, on the Rio Chucunaque, near the 
mouth of the Rio Tuquesa, one that proved to be an adult male flew 

Fig. 24. — Head of American comb duck, pato crestudo, Sarkidiornis sylvicola, 
male, to show the knob on the bill. 

overhead and presently returned to perch on an open branch in the 
top of a tall guarumo. In silhouette and in manner of flight the 
bird was so like the muscovy duck that I did not recognize it until it 
alighted, when I could see the large comb on the bill and the white 
underparts. In the tree the bird jerked and craned the extended neck 
as the male Muscovy does when nervous or excited. I was told that 
they were regular in occurrence here, but few seemed to distinguish 
them from the ordinary pato real. Little is known of their habits 
anywhere within their extensive range in South America. 

It is probable that the species will be found from time to time in 
marshy areas adjacent to the lower Rio Bayano and the Rio Chico, 


particularly in dry seasons when scarcity of water may make it 
necessary for them to wander from their usual haunts. 

Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 2, 1960, pp. 113, 114) remarks that 
eggs of the genus are cream-colored and smooth. He gives the 
dimensions of 2 eggs of 6'. sylvicola (p. 125) as 58.4-60.6x43.2-43.6 


Anade Real 

Anas platyrhynchos Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 125. (Sweden.) 

A large duck ; male head green, and a white collar around neck ; 
female mottled brown, with blue wing speculum, bordered on both 
sides by a line of white. 

Description. — Length 560 to 660 mm. Male, head and neck bright 
green, with a narrow collar of white ; back brownish ; rump, and 
upper and lower tail coverts, black, the middle upper coverts curled 
upward at the end ; wing speculum bright blue, bordered with white 
on either side; breast chestnut brown; rest of under surface gray. 

Female, mottled dusky and brown, with the wing speculum like 
that of the male. 

Measurements (from Delacour, Waterfowl World, vol. 2, 1956, p. 
42).— Males, wing 260-270, tail 82-95, culmen 50-56, tarsus 40-44 mm. 

Females, wing 240-270, tail 80-90, culmen 43-52, tarsus 38-42 mm. 

An accidental visitor. Migrant from the north. 

The only report of this species that is at all definite is of "one 
seen" by Jewel (Auk, 1913, p. 424) on one of the lakes near 
Miraflores, Canal Zone, on Nov. 26, 1911. Other notices in literature 
refer to Lawrence (Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. New York, 1863, p. 13) 
in an account of birds collected by McLeannan, where the mallard is 
included with the statement that this species was one of "a few 
satisfactorily determined from a list furnished by him, without 
specimens — such for instance as the King Vulture, Musk Duck, 
Mallard, Brown Pelican, etc. I omit many others named in the list, 
as they require to be more positively identified." 

Karl Curtis informs me that in over 40 years of hunting he has 
never seen a mallard, though from time to time female pintails have 
been brought to him on the supposition that they were the species 
under discussion. North of Panama, the mallard comes regularly to 
southern Mexico and is reported casually to Nicaragua and Costa 


ANAS ACUTA Linnaeus: Pintail; Pato Rabudo 
Anas acuta Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 126, (Sweden.) 

Of medium size, with long, slender neck, and pointed tail; wing 
speculum bronze green or grayish brown with a bronze sheen. 

Description. — Length 580 to 710 mm. Male, head and hindneck 
grayish brown; back gray, finely lined with black; long scapulars 
and tertials black, bordered with gray; wing coverts brownish gray; 
long, pointed middle tail feathers black; foreneck and under parts 
white; sides barred finely with black; under tail coverts black, 
speculum bronze green. 

Female, blackish brown, spotted and streaked with buff; below 
dull white mottled with brown ; speculum grayish brown with a sheen 
of bronze green ; tail pointed, but shorter than in the male. 

Measurements (from Delacour, Waterfowl World, vol. 2, 1956, p. 
131).— Males, wing 254-287, tail 172-209, culmen 48-59, tarsus 39-44 

Females, wing 242-266, tail 114-127, culmen 45-50, tarsus 38-42 

An irregular winter migrant. At times abundant. 

Published reports of this duck are based mainly on its inclusion by 
Lawrence (Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist, New York, 1863, p. 13) in a list of 
birds sent to him without supporting specimens by James McLeannan. 
The records of the La Jagua Hunting Club segregated ducks killed by 
species beginning in 1936. The pintail appears first in 1938 when 45 
were shot, and figures annually to the end of the record in 1943, 
when 47 were taken. There seem to have been few present in 1941 
when only 3 were shot, and in 1942 when 6 were killed. In 1949 
at La Jagua I saw one killed by Baldomiro Moreno on March 12, 
when the flight was nearly at end. Earlier they had been common. 
Moreno caught one alive while night hunting on March 29, probably 
a cripple. One banded by Ian Cowan at Murphy Lake, 150-mile 
House, Kamloops District, British Columbia, August 1, 1954, was 
reported by Karl Curtis as killed at the La Jagua Hunting Club on 
December 15 in the same year. There are 5 additional returns of 
banded birds from La Jagua and of 9 others from Bocas del Toro, 
Los Santos, and Code. On January 2, 1955 I saw one at a pozo 
above La Jagua, and learned that several thousand had been present 
through December. On January 8 I was told that thousands of ducks, 
including many pintails, rested on bars at the mouth of the Rio Chico. 
The birds continued to be abundant through January, and Karl Curtis 
told me that 10 were shot February 2. Pintails have been reported 
there in greater or lesser number annually since that time. 


They come also to fresh-water impoundments near Changuinola, 
but I have no detail as to their abundance in this area. 

ANAS DISCORS Linnaeus: Blue- winged Teal; Cerceta Ala-azul 

Figure 25 

Small size and grayish-blue patch on the shoulder distinguish this 
teal from other ducks found in Panama. 

Description. — Length 340 to 380 mm. Male, head and neck dark 
gray, blacker on crown, with a broad white patch on the side of the 
forepart of the head; upper surface blackish, with edgings of buff 

Fig. 25. — Foot of blue-winged teal, cerceta ala-azul, Anas discors, without a 

lobe on the hindtoe. 

and dull gray; lesser and middle wing coverts and a line on the 
tertials grayish blue, forming a prominent patch; primary coverts 
broadly white at ends, black at base; speculum deep green; under 
tail coverts black, with a white patch on flanks ; rest of lower surface 
dull rusty brown, barred and spotted with black, the feathers white 

Female, duller, marked by grayish-blue shoulder patch; no white 
on head or flank; under surface mottled with dull white, dull buff, 
and dull black ; exposed culmen 37-41.5 mm. 


Common winter visitor; most abundant of all ducks; found 
wherever there are fresh-water ponds, and along the larger rivers, 
from sea level to lakes and pools in mountain areas. 

Two geographic races are represented among those that come to 

Records of the 121 banded blue-winged teal that have been reported 
from Panama all came from the interior range of the typical sub- 
species and cover the suitable lowland areas in the Republic, but more 
especially such well-known shooting localities as the mouth of the 
Rio Tuira in Darien, the La Jagua marshes in eastern Province of 
Panama, the marshes near Rio Hato and Aguadulce, Code, the area 
from Paris, Herrera to Las Tablas, Los Santos, and the vicinity of 
Pedregal in western Chiriqui. The returns indicate a considerable 
flight from the north during October, with a few earlier as shown by 
dates of birds killed in Chiriqui, September 12, and in Code, Septem- 
ber 19. Seven of the reports are of birds shot more than 2 years 
after having been banded, one having lived for 4 and another for 5 


Attas discors Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 205. (South Carolina.) 

Characters. — The typical subspecies is somewhat lighter in color 
than Anas d. orphna. 

Measurements (from Stewart and Aldrich, Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash- 
ington, 1956, pp. 31-32).— Males (25 specimens), wing 173-193 
(181.9), tail 59.5-71.5 (64.6), culmen 37.5-42.0 (39.9), tarsus 30-35 
(32.2) mm. 

Females (15 specimens), wing 167-183 (174.5), tail 59.5-70.0 (64), 
culmen 37-40 (38.9), tarsus 30-33 (31.4) mm. 

Migrant from the north. The abundant form in Panama. 

Records of actual occurrence, assumed to be the typical race, are 
as follows : 

Chiriqui: Lakes at 1,280 meters, near EI Volcan; Las Lajas (one Feb. 15, 

Bocas del Toro: Changuinola, abundant; Almirante (specimen, Oct. 27, 1960). 
Veraguas: Laguna del Castillo (Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1870, 

p. 219). 
Herrera : Cienaga Macana, Cienaga de Buho. 
Los Santos : Punta Mala. 
Code : Puerto Aguadulce. 
Col6n (western) : Rio Indio. 
Canal Zone : Mindi, Gatun Lake, Gamboa, Juan Mina, Chiva Chiva Lakes. 


Panama (eastern) : Pacora, Rio La Jagua, Chico, El Llano, Chiman, Rio 

Curutii, Charcodel Tore on Rio Maje. 
Darien : Pinogana, Boca de Cupe. 
San Bias : Mandinga, Puerto Obaldia. 
Isla Coiba: Several seen in January 1956; reported to be regular in 


I have male and female specimens taken on the Rio La Jagua near 
Chico, March 15, 1949. An albino was killed here by Gil Hulcher 
on April 17, 1949. One banded at Lanz Lake, Rock County, Ne- 
braska, on July 30, 1955, was killed at the head of tidewater on the 
Rio Tonosi, below Tonosi, Los Santos, on February 22, 1958. 

The main flight from the north arrives in the latter half of October, 
and the birds remain in numbers until the latter part of April. Early 
records of fall arrival are as follows: September 18, 1945 (specimen 
in Museo Nacional, from Puerto La Chorrera) ; September 22, 1931 
(Puerto Obaldia, San Bias, specimen in Carnegie Museum) ; Septem- 
ber 23, 1928 (Changuinola, specimen, Peters, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 
vol. 71, 1931, p. 307) ; October 14, 1911 (Canal Zone, Jewel, Auk, 
1913, p. 424) ; October 15, 1915 (Gamboa, Hallinan, Auk. 1924, p. 

At the La Jagua Club I have noted regular evening flights from the 
latter part of March into April and have observed these also in the 
last week of March near the head of tidewater on the Rio Maje. 
I believe that these were birds passing northward from wintering 
grounds in South America. Karl Curtis recorded 3 of these teal 
flying at La Jagua on May 20 and 21, 1949, an unusually late date. 
The occasional bird found there through the period of northern 
summer is undoubtedly a cripple from the winter shooting. The 
flight in 1959, 1960 and 1961 was reported to be unusually small, 
undoubtedly a reflection of the reduced numbers found these years in 
the north. 

About ponds and lakes blue-winged teal range in small bands that 
feed by dabbling in the shallows, and then rest and preen on some 
secluded shore. Where not disturbed they become very tame, and 
in travel on the rivers I have had flocks fly ahead of my piragua 
repeatedly, often for considerable distances. Hundreds have been 
reported on occasion from the seashore near the mouth of the Rio 
Pacora. The largest concentrations that I have recorded personally 
have been on the impounded waters of flooded fields near 

On two occasions I have seen these teal alight on the open sea, 
once off Punta Mala, where a bird rose to fly through a host of 
circling terns, and once at high tide off Panama Viejo. 


Much of the hunting of all kinds in Panama to date has been 
through jack-lighting at night, which, so far as ducks are concerned, 
requires more skill than may be supposed. Men wait in complete 
dark at pools favored by ducks, with head lamp and gun in readiness. 
When the birds arrive they alight with an audible spatter and dis- 
turbance in the water. As the headlight is flashed the gun must fire 
instantly, since the birds rise in the second that the light appears and 
are gone. Some become expert at this, but others never learn the 
proper coordination. The annual kill at the La Jagua Hunting Club 
has ranged from 85 in 1938 to 257 in 1942 and 173 in 1943. 

ANAS DISCORS ORPHNA Stewart and Aldrich 

Anas discors orphna Stewart and Aldrich, Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, vol. 69, 
May 21, 1956, p. 31. (Elliott, Dorchester County, Maryland.) 

Characters. — The dark markings blacker; head and neck darker 
gray ; averaging darker throughout. 

Measurements (from Stewart and Aldrich, cit. supra). — Males (8 
specimens), wing 180-193 (186.1), tail 61.0-69.5 (66.4), culmen 35.0- 
43.5 (41.0), tarsus 30.5-34.5 (32.0) mm. 

Females (3 specimens), wing 168.5-180.0 (173.2), tail 59.5-65.5 
(63.3), culmen 39.0-41.5 (40.0) , tarsus 30.5-33.0 (31.5) mm. 

Winter visitor from the north. Rare. 

The only record for Panama is a male shot by Rudolf o Hinds near 
Almirante, Bocas del Toro, March 25, 1960. 

This subspecies, marked by darker colors, nests in brackish waters 
along the Atlantic seaboard from Nova Scotia south to northeastern 
North Carolina. In migration it has been reported in Cuba and in 

Cinnamon Teal; Cerceta Colorado 

Anas cyanoptera septentrionalium Snyder and Lumsden, Occ. Pap. Royal 
Ontario Mus. Zool., no. 10, Aug. 10, 1951, p. 16. (2 miles south of Jensen, 

Similar in form and color of shoulder to the blue-winged teal ; male 
reddish brown, without white mark in front of eye ; female differs 
from blue-wing only in faintly longer bill. 

Description. — Length 340 to 380 mm. Male, in size and form like 
the blue-winged teal but reddish brown, with blackish rump and tail, 
and markings of black on the back ; wing coverts grayish blue. 

Female, so like the female blue-winged teal that it may be identified 
with difficulty ; bill usually averaging longer, 40.8 to 44.1 mm. 


Measurements (from Snyder and Lumsden, cit. supra, p. 12). — 
Males (41 specimens), wing 176-194 (184.9), tail 64-77 (71.2), cul- 
men 39-47 (43.9), tarsus 30-34 (32.2) mm. 

Females (personal records, 12 specimens), wing 172-181 (176.1), 
tail 59.0-69.8 (64.5), culmen 40.8-44.1 (42.1), tarsus 31.0-32.1 (31.7) 

Winter visitor. Abundance not known. 

Griscom (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 78, 1935, p. 296) reported 
it as "Canal Zone (1 shot)" without giving details as to the source 
for his statement. The only definite occurrences are of 3 banded 
birds, 2 from California and Utah killed at the Rio La Jagua January 
20, 1955, and January 7, 1956, and one from Idaho, taken near 
Chame November 8, 1957. Karl Curtis informs me that he shot one 
at La Jagua in the month of June, which may have been a bird that 
did not move northward in spring with the other ducks, but also 
raises the interesting possibility that it may have been a wanderer 
from one of the populations of this species found in South America. 

SPATULA CLYPEATA (Linnaeus): Shoveler; Pato Cuchara 

FiGtniE 26 

Atuis clypeata Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 124. (Southern 

Differs from all other ducks found in Panama in the form of the 
bill, which is narrow at the base and much widened toward the tip. 

Description. — Length 460 to 510 mm. Male, head, neck, and back 
black, the head with a sheen of green ; lateral tail feathers white, cen- 
tral ones black; wing coverts light blue; speculum green, bordered 
with white anteriorly; upper breast white; lower breast, sides, and 
abdomen chestnut brown, with white on the flanks. 

Female, brown, mottled with buff; blue wing patch and broad bill 
tip as in the male. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from eastern United States), wing 232- 
239 (237), tail 76.0-85.4 (80.5), culmen 60.5-71.0 (66.9), tarsus 35.8- 
40.7 (38.2) mm. 

Females (5 from eastern United States), wing 221-226 (223.2), 
tail 74.6-88.7 (79.8), culmen 59.5-61.8 (60.5), tarsus 34.7-37.7 (36.1) 

Winter visitor. Tolerably common at times, but irregular in ap- 

W. W. Brown, Jr., obtained a female at David, Chiriqui, October 
16, 1900 (Bangs, Auk, 1901, p. 358 ; reported as from "Divala" by 
Griscom, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 78, 1935, p. 297, through a 


slip of the pen). I was told that shovelers were shot occasionally 
near Changuinola, Bocas del Toro. The records of the La Jagua 
Hunting Club list 2 killed in 1940 and 9 in 1943. At times they have 
been fairly common there. In recent years, Karl Curtis shot a male 
there in January 1953 and another (sex not stated) on February 3, 
1955 ; and I secured a female there on January 14, 1962. 

Fig. 26. — Head of shoveler, pato cuchara, Spatula clypeata, male, to show form 

of bill. 

MARECA AMERICANA (Gmelin): American Widgeon; Pato Calvo 

Figure 27 
Anas ameruana Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 526. (New York.) 

A medium-sized duck with small bill; male with white crown. 

Description. — ^Length 460 to 540 mm. Male, crown white ; a green 
stripe behind eye; rest of head light buff, sprinkled with small dots 
of black; upper surface light brown with fine lines of black; a 
prominent white patch on the wing; speculum green, bordered by 
black ; rump, undertail coverts, and tail black ; breast and sides pinkish 
brown ; a prominent patch on either side of the flanks ; under wing 
coverts white. Bill short and small. 

Female, head dull white, finely spotted with blackish brown ; black- 
ish brown above, lined with dull brown ; speculum black ; a white or 
grayish patch on the wing; upper breast and sides brown; lower 
breast and abdomen white ; bill like that of male. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from southeastern United States), wing 
253-260 (255.4), tail 98.2-126.5 (110.1), culmen 35.0-37.6 (35.9), 
tarsus 36.9-38.8 (37.9) mm. 

Females (5 from Alaska to California and Maryland), wing 233- 
245 (240.6), tail 85.6-96.0 (90.3), culmen 32.7-36.7 (34.1), tarsus 
35.3-37.2 (36.4) mm. 



Irregular winter visitor. Fairly common some years on the Pacific 
side in the Canal Zone and eastern Panama province ; more common 
near Changuinola, Bocas del Toro. 

In 1958, near Changuinola, I recorded 15 to 20 scattered over a 
broad lagoon on January 17, and a hundred or more in the same water 
on January 30. I was told that many were shot here each year. 
Charles O. Handley, Jr., recorded one on the Rio Changuinola at 
the mouth of the Rio Teribe on March 7, 1960. Griscom (Bull. Mus. 
Comp. Zool., vol, 78, 1935, p. 297) reported "Canal Zone (once)," a 
record based probably on the head of a female in the Lawrence 
collection, collected by McLeannan in 1863. December 10, 1955, I 

Fig. 27. — Head of American widgeon, pato calvo, Mareca americana, male. 

saw an adult male near Juan Mina, Canal Zone, resting in a little 
bay at one side of the main stream of the Rio Chagres, and on 
January 1, 1956, I noted 3 at the Miraflores lakes beyond Fort 
Clayton. In 1957 the birds were more common, as I saw a number at 
the lakes last mentioned on January 13 and 21 and February 24. On 
January 10, 1961, I shot a male on the Chagres at Juan Mina, which 
appears to be the second complete specimen record for the isthmus. 

At the Rio La Jagua Karl Curtis shot one during a hunt in 1935, 
and another January 15, 1938 (Bond and de Schauense, Acad. Nat. 
Sci. Philadelphia, Mon. 6, 1944, p. 27). According to Mr. Curtis two 
were killed there in 1954. There is record of one banded as a duckling 
in Saskatchewan July 27, 1956, that was taken in southern Los 
Santos, in December, 1957. 

In summary, it appears that these ducks come in fair numbers 
from time to time but may not be present each year. 


AYTHYA AFFINIS (Eyton): Lesser Scaup; Pato Pechiblanco 

FiGUKE 28 

Ftiligula affinis Eyton, Mon. Anatidae or duck tribe, June, 1838, p. 157. (North 

Of medium size, with white wing speculum ; young males, and fe- 
males with white in front of eye. 

Description. — Length 380 to 410 mm. Adult male, head and neck 
black, with faint purplish sheen; upper back, breast, rump, wings, 
upper and under tail coverts, and tail black, often with a brownish 
wash; center of back and scapulars lined narrowly with black and 
white ; wing speculum white, bordered with black. 

Female and immature male, forepart of head, breast, and abdomen 
white; rest of plumage brownish black, except for the white wing 
speculum, like that of the male. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from southeastern United States), wing 
193-200 (197), tail 51.8-54.5 (52.6), culmen 39.6-42.9 (41.1), tarsus 
33.9-36.0 (35.0) mm. 

Females (5 from the United States), wing 185-191 (187.4), tail 
48.0-51.0 (49.6), culmen 36.6-40.0 (38.2), tarsus 33.0-34.8 (33.6) 

Regular winter visitor. Tolerably common on larger bodies of 
fresh water, seen occasionally on salt water; arrives from the north 
about the middle of November, and remains through March. Re- 
corded as follows : 

Chiriqui : Lakes near El Volcan. 

Bocas del Toro : Changuinola, Almirante. 

Verag^as: Laguna del Castillo (Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1870, 

p. 219). 
Canal Zone : Gatun Lake, Gamboa, Juan Mina, Chiva Chiva Lakes. 
Panama (eastern) : Panama Viejo; Rio La Jagua. 
Isla Coiba (lagoon at Catival). 

Three records of banded birds include one each from Almirante 
Bay, Rio Hato, and La Jagua. 

Lesser scaups are diving ducks that frequent ponds and lakes of 
quiet water and are seldom seen where tidal and other currents are 
changeable and rapid. They have the sociable habits common to most 
species of their family, and so it is usual to see them in small flocks. 
Single individuals may become separated during feeding periods, 
when the birds dive constantly, but later, when all are at rest, they 
group again, on open water, or, if in some place where they are not 
disturbed, at the water's edge. I have found them regularly on the 



lakes at 1280 meters elevation near El Volcan, Chiriqui, and I shot a 
female here on February 15, 1960. They come regularly also to the 
artificial lakes in the banana farms near Changuinola, where I re- 
corded them in January 1958. 

The main body of these ducks in Panama winters on Gatun and 
Madden Lakes and on the broad stretches of water on the Rio 

Fig. 28. — Foot of lesser scaup, pato pechiblanco, Aythya affinis, with a distinct 

lobe on the hindtoe. 

Chagres above Gamboa. Here they are hunted regularly and become 
quite wild. There are usually a few on the small lakes in the Pedro 
Miguel, Chiva Chiva area, and a few come with other ducks in the 
marshes along the Rio La Jagua, where from one to a dozen may be 
shot annually, though the water areas here in the main are too shallow 
to attract ducks that feed by diving. I recorded five on a small lagoon 
at Catival on Isla Coiba, January 14, 1956. Once, on December 31, 
1955, I saw five on the salt water of the bay offshore from Panama 
Viejo, but this is unusual. 


AYTHYA COLLARIS (Donovan): Ring-necked Duck; Pato de Collar 

Anas collaris Donovan, Brit Birds, vol. 6, 1809, pi. 147, and text. (Lincolnshire?, 
England. Found in Leadenhall Market, London.) 

Size of lesser scaup duck but with gray wing speculum; a light 
colored ring around bill back of tip ; male with dark back. 

Description. — Length 410 to 460 mm, Male, head and neck black 
with a sheen of purple ; an indistinct chestnut collar on neck ; back 
and upper breast black; lower breast and abdomen white; wing 
speculum gray ; bill bluish gray, with two white rings and a black tip. 

Female, head, neck, and upper parts dull brown ; lower breast and 
abdomen white ; speculum and light-ringed bill as in the male. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from southeastern United States), wing 
185-199 (191.4), tail 54.8-57.0 (54.8) culmen 43.7-46.4 (45.0), tarsus 
34.3-35.9 (34.9) mm. 

Females (5 from southeastern United States), wing 173-183 
(178.8), tail 50.8-57.3 (54.0), culmen 42.2-46.7 (44.2), tarsus 32.1- 
35.4 (33.6) mm. 

Winter visitor from the north. Not common. 

This is a migrant from North America, that was first formally 
recorded for Panama from a male seen on a lake at the Rio Caimito 
near Red Tank in the Canal Zone on February 25, 1951, by Dr. and 
Mrs. Robert Scholes (Condor, 1954, p. 166), I saw several on the 
Rio Chagres near Juan Mina in January and again in December 1955, 
and noted one near Pedro Miguel on January 7, 1960. Karl Curtis 
informs me that they have been shot from time to time along the 
Rio La Jagua. 

The species, here near the southern limit of its winter migration, 
is little known in Panama because of its general similarity to the 
Lesser Scaup Duck. 

OXYURA DOMINICA (Linnaeus): IVIasked Duck; Pato Tigre 
Figure 29 

A^uis dominica Linnaeus, Syst. Nat, ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 201. (Hispaniola.) 

A small, mottled-brown duck, with heavy neck, and tail usually 
elevated when on the water; a prominent white patch in the wing. 

Description. — Length 320 to 360 mm. Male, head and throat black ; 
neck, upper surface, and sides chestnut-brown, the two last men- 
tioned streaked with black; wings and tail black, with a large white 
patch on the wing coverts ; tmder surface dull brownish buff. 

Female, dull black above, spotted and barred irregularly with 
brownish buff; sides of head and under surface buffy brown, with a 



black line through the eye, and another on the side of the head from 
the gape back over the ear coverts ; breast and sides mottled with 
black ; a prominent white wing patch. 

Immature male resembles the female but is more extensively black 
on the crown. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Panama), wing 136.2-138.0 
(137.2), tail 75.2-79.0 (77.1), culmen from base 31.1-33.9 (32.0), 
tarsus 26.1-27.6 (27.0) mm. 

Fig. 29. — Masked duck, pato tigre, Oxyura dominica, male. 

Females (5 from Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela), wing 132.0- 
139.0 (136.4), tail 74.0-79.2 (76.5, average of 4), tarsus 25.7-27.9 
(26.9) mm. 

An adult male, taken December 12, 1955, had the iris reddish 
brown ; base of the maxilla light blue, shading to light greenish blue 
toward the tip; nail, space immediately behind, and culmen, to and 
including the nostrils, and a few irregular, scattered spots over the 
rest of the bill, black ; tip of mandible flesh color ; mandibular rami 
pale grayish blue, with a line on either side of the tip, spots toward 
the base, and the bare skin between, black; tarsi and toes, including 
the nails, greenish olive-brown. 

Resident. In the tropical zone in suitable fresh waters ; locally 
fairly common. 


Recorded as follows : 

Veraguas: Pacific slope (specimen in British Museum collected by Arce). 

Herrera : Cienaga Macana. 

Canal Zone: Rio Chagres between Gamboa, Juan Mina, and Santa Rosa; 

Miraflores lakes. 
Panama (eastern) : Rio La Jagua. 
Darien: Laguna de Pita (Salvadori and Festa, Boll. Mus. Zool. Anat. Comp. 

Univ. Torino, vol. 14, no. 339, 1899, p. 13). 

The masked duck is an inhabitant of fresh-water ponds and the 
quiet waters of the larger streams, where there are extensive growths 
of aquatic plants that make suitable shelter. Usually two to a dozen 
or more are found together in small pools or in open stands of floating 
vegetation where they remain quiet or seek cover. If they have not 
been disturbed by shooting often they are tame and allow fairly close 
approach. At such times they remain quiet, with neck drawn in, 
even when boats pass close at hand, as they are camouflaged against 
their background, if indeed they are not actually hidden. Their flight 
is swift and strong, with the white patch in the wing showing 
prominently. As they rise from open water they may splatter along 
for 4 or 5 meters to gain momentum, but they also go straight up 
as readily as teal. In alighting they come in a few feet above the 
surface, bank, back stroke into the wind, and then drop with a 
plump into the water, where they bob up and down for a few sec- 
onds, often without moving forward appreciably. Both methods — 
that of arising and that of alighting — ^are practical adaptations to a 
water surface covered with floating or submerged vegetation. On 
the wing masked ducks suggest their relative, the ruddy duck 
{Oxyura jamaicensis) , as they have the same bulky head, thickened 
neck, and short, rounded form. Flight in the two is equally strong, 
but masked ducks rise more easily from the surface of the water. 
While they are active on the wing they hide regularly among standing 
water plants. Sometimes when approached they submerge quietly, 
and then usually disappear completely, even where the plant cover 
appears too sparse to give them protection. 

Little is known as yet concerning their nesting. The egg in the 
Barnes collection described by Bent (U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 130, 1925, 
p. 162) may be of doubtful identity since, with a measurement of 
63.0 by 45.8 mm., it appears to be too large. Schonwetter (Handb. 
Ool., pt. 2, 1960, p. 116) describes the eggs as cream-colored, with a 
roughened shell, and (pt. 3, 1961, p. 133) gives the measurements of 
9 specimens as 59-63 X 44-47.4 mm. which also seems over large. 
Bond (Checkl. Birds West Indies, Third Suppl., 1958, p. 3, fig. 1) 


lists 5 eggs from Cuba as decidedly smaller and smoother shelled 
than those of the Ruddy Duck, in color pale buff to buffy white, 
SHbelliptical in form, with measurements 53.7-55.6x40-41.6 mm. Per- 
sons living near the haunts of the pato tigre in Panama say that it 
makes a nest among rushes and that it lays 4 to 6 eggs. At Juan 
Mina Enrique van Horn told me that he had seen a parent with 5 
young about the first of December 1955. On December 12 I shot 
a male in breeding condition that had the intromittent organ much 
enlarged, with blackish, spiny papillae around the base. 

The skin over the neck and upper breast in these birds is loose, 
thickened with fatty tissue, and full as it is in the ruddy duck, and like 
that species the syrinx in the male is simple without the enlarged 
bulb found in males of most ducks. The esophagus, when inflated 
with air, has an elongated sac near the center that is 25 mm. in 
diameter. The trachea is enlarged at the upper end, and there is a 
small elliptical aperture here on the ventral surface that opens into 
a rounded, thin-walled sac, about 10 mm. in diameter when inflated. 
There is also a somewhat larger extension that opens from another 
aperture on the dorsal surface of the trachea. Evidently these have 
some relation to a similar larger sac found in the male ruddy duck 
(Wetmore, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., vol. 52, 1917, pp. 479-482). These 
openings in the trachea of the masked duck were described many 
years ago by von Pelzeln (Orn. Brasiliens, 1870, p. 321) who, how- 
ever, seems not to have detected the air-sacs into which they led. 

Call notes have been described for the masked duck, but in my 
experience with these birds they have been silent. They are hunted 
to some extent, but they do not fly as much as the true game species. 
Shooting, however, has reduced their numbers. 

At present the masked duck is recorded from the Caribbean drain- 
age only on the Rio Chagres. It is probable, however, that it is found 
near Changuinola, in Bocas del Toro, as these birds are known to 
wander extensively. 


Family CATHARTIDAE : American Vultures ; Buitres Americanos 

The birds of this family, of large size, known everywhere as 
carrion-eaters, have the head and neck bare, or with only a scanty 
growth of short down or hairlike feathers. The seven living species are 
found only in the Americas, where they range from temperate 
regions in the far north and far south, and the higher mountains, 
throughout the warmer central areas, with their greatest abundance 


in the vast extent of the Tropics. Four of the seven kinds are known 
from Panama, where they are seen so constantly that often they 
attract little attention. Three, the Gallinazo, the Noneca, and the 
Cacicon are readily recognized, while the fourth, the Guala is usually 
confused with the Noneca because of general similarity in form in 
these two species. 


1. Larger ; head relatively short and heavy ; commissure shorter, with the 

posterior angle of mouth located below, or very slightly behind, the nostril ; 
bill shorter, not more than two-thirds the length of the head; eye light 
colored, yellowish white in adult, grayish white in immature. 

King vulture, Sarcoramphus papa, p. 154 

Smaller; head relatively longer and more slender; commissure much longer 

in relation to the rest of the head, with the posterior angle of the mouth 

located farther back, almost beneath the eye; bill longer than the head; 

eye dark, reddish brown, or brown 2 

2. Tail square ended ; legs longer, feet extending beyond end of tail when bird is 

flying ; head completely black in life. 

Black vulture, Coragyps atratus, p. 157 

Tail rounded ; legs shorter, feet not reaching end of tail during flight ; head 

red or orange in life 3 

3. With small but prominent wartlike processes on sides of neck; head mainly 

orange, yellow and blue in life. 

Yellow-headed vulture, Cathartes burrovianus, p. 168 
Sides of neck smooth, head mainly red in life. 

Turkey vulture, Cathartes aura, p. 161 

SARCORAMPHUS PAPA (Linnaeus): King Vulture; Rey Gallinazo 

Figure 30 
VulturPapa Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 86. (Surinam.) 

Largest of the vultures found in Panama; adult, white with black 
wings ; immature at a distance appears wholly black. 

Description. — Length 710 to 810 mm. Adult, head and neck bare, 
except for a pattern of black hairlike feathers on head ; a conspicuous, 
irregularly lobed caruncle on cere ; bare skin of head, upper neck, and 
crop, variegated with yellow, orange, and black ; a dark gray ruff 
around lower neck; flight feathers, rump, and tail black; elsewhere 
white with a buffy tinge on back and shoulders. 

Immature, caruncle on bill small, often not developed ; plumage 
throughout blackish brown, with increasing age gradually becoming 
white on breast and abdomen. 

Aldrich (Scient. Publ. Cleveland Mus. Nat. Hist., vol. 7, 1937, p. 
2)7) gives the following description of the soft parts in an adult: 
"Nape (greatly thickened and wrinkled skin) yellow ; posterior auric- 
ular region flesh color washed with purplish red; sides of throat 



.eddish orange; middle of tt'-^/^/rnlng"^ a^'r^e 'rt 

FIG. 30.-King vulture, rey gallinazo, Sarcoramphus papa. 

.ourth. biuish gra, on adjoining ^^^ ^^rZ^^:^^ 
and gray on remammg (central) halt cro ^^^ 

— leTra^ :=-»-- "^^^^^^ 
black ; iris white." 


A female living in the New York Zoological Park weighed 3 kilo- 
grams (Conway, Auk, 1962, p. 275). 

Measurements. — Males (10 from Mexico, Costa Rica, and Colom- 
bia), wing 490-525 (503), tail 207-227 (215), culmen from cere 
32.1-38.8 (35.2), tarsus 93-103 (98.6) mm. 

Females (2 from Mexico), wing 490-497 (493), tail 213-217 (215), 
culmen from cere 33.5-34.0 (33.7), tarsus 100-106 (103) mm. 

Resident. Found in small number throughout the Isthmus, from 
coastal areas to 1200 to 1500 meters elevation in the mountains; 
recorded from all of the provinces and territories, and on Isla Coiba. 
The total population is not large. 

The usual sight of this species is of one soaring high above the 
earth, when its greater size and, if it is an adult, the conspicuous black 
and white pattern separate it instantly from other vultures that may 
be in the air. Rarely two appear in the same area of sky, and on a 
few occasions I have seen as many as four. 

The rey gallinazo comes to carrion with the other vultures, when 
its larger size dominates the scene, so that the smaller species usually 
wait in the background until the king vulture leaves. It is this circum- 
stance that has given the species its local names in Panama of cacique 
and cacicon. Once, however, at Ana Luz, below Chepo, I saw one 
feeding at a carcass amid an avid swarm of black vultures. 

When attracted by a prospect of food king vultures sometimes 
descend from high in air with great rapidity, and a roaring of wings 
that may be startling, particularly in heavy forest where the view 
of the sky is cut off by the high tree crown. At our camp at 
Quebrada Cauchero, on the base of Cerro Chucanti, one made such 
a descent when it spotted our trays of specimens spread out to dry 
on a pole rack in our tiny clearing. Occasionally I have come across 
one perched at rest in forest, when the bird peered down through 
light-colored eyes, with head depressed to the level of the shoulders 
or below. On Isla Coiba they were especially tame as they were not 
disturbed, so that I approached one within 12 meters without alarm- 
ing it, but this is unusual. 

In spite of the wide range of this species, from central Mexico 
through Central America and South America to northern Argentina, 
little is known of its nesting. An egg in the collections of the U. S. 
National Museum, laid by a bird in captivity in the National Zoological 
Park on April 7, 1920, is unusual, for though elliptical in its central 
outline it is definitely bluntly pointed at both ends. It is dull white, 
unmarked, and has a slightly roughened, granular shell. It measures 


91.4x60.8 mm. This is similar to the dimensions of 92x60 mm. 
given by Swann for one from "South America" (locality not listed) 
in the British Museum. 

The Penards (Vog. Guyana, vol. 1, 1908, p. 357) state that the nest 
is in a hollow tree or rock fissure, and that one egg is laid. This they 
describe as oval, white or dirty white, with somewhat shining, 
roughened shell, in size 92x63 mm. Col. L. R. Wolfe has a single 
egg in his collection, collected many years ago in northeastern Peru, 
and formerly in the collection of J. Parker Norris, Jr. This is 
rounded oval, dull white in color, with a very finely pitted shell, 
and measures 89.4 by 64.2 mm (Ool. Rec, 1951, p. 18). Norris (Ool. 
Rec, 1926, p. 25) lists another from nothern Bolivia taken in 
October 1874, with a dimension of 92.5 X 65.0 mm. 

On February 19, 1954, on Barro Colorado Island I saw a young 
bird, only a week or two on the wing, perched in a large tree near 
the laboratory building. It must have been reared near at hand. In 
January 1957 Carl Koford found a young bird in down, with wings 
nearly developed but the tail still rudimentary, living on the forest 
floor, also on Barro Colorado. This bird was kept under observation 
until it was able to fly. 

Heck (Zool. Gart., vol. 27, pt. 6, 1963, p. 296) in a report of a 
breeding pair in captivity at the Catskill Game Farm gives the incu- 
bation period to hatching for single eggs as 56 and 58 days. 



Figure 31 

Catliartes brasiliensis Bonaparte, Consp. Gen. Avium, vol. 1, pt. 1, 1850, p. 9. 
(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.) 

Tail square-ended and short, so that in flight, when the legs are 
extended back, the toes project beyond the end. 

Description. — Length 560 to 660 mm. Adult, black throughout, 
except on the under side of the central webs of the outer primaries, 
which are white, and form a prominent light patch on either wing 
when the bird is in the air; head and neck without feathers, black, 
the skin much wrinkled. 

Juvenile, when hatched, with down pale cinnamon-buflf over the 
body, changing to olive-brown on the nape and the back of the neck, 
and dark neutral gray from the center of the crown forward. 

Measurements. — Males (17 from Mexico, Panama, Colombia, 
Venezuela, British Guiana, and Surinam), wing 386-410 (401), tail 


Fig. 31. — Black vulture, gallinazo, Coragyps atratus brasiliensis. 

160-195 (174), culmen from cere 21.8-23.7 (22.8), tarsus 69.5-82.0 
(77.9) mm. 

Females (23 from Mexico, El Salvador, Panama, Colombia, 
Trinidad, British Guiana, Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia), wing 388-413 
(400), tail 160-181 (170), culmen from cere 21.0-24.6 (23.0), tarsus 
71.8-82.0 (77.1) mm. 


Resident throughout the isthmus, except in the very high moun- 
tains, found mainly in settled areas ; absent or rare in regions of un- 
broken forest. Isla Coiba; islas Pacheca, Saboga, Bayoneta, Sefiora, 
Pedro Gonzalez, and San Jose, in the Archipielago de las Perlas ; 
Isla Taboga ; Isla Gobernadora. 

The black vulture, recognized throughout tropical and subtropical 
America as an efficient scavenger, is one of the prominent species in 
settled areas, found singly or a few together around country houses 
or congregated in dozens about abattoirs or refuse dumps near 
villages. They enjoy protection in general through recognition of their 
efficient services in disposal of offal, though in recent years there has 
been consideration of the possibility that they may be carriers of 
some animal diseases as they move from carcasses of dead animals to 
rest near living ones in corrals and farmyards. These are matters 
that are under special study. 

Where black vultures become unusually tame they often enter 
familiarly in patios, or come near buildings, where care must be used 
to prevent their thievery of meats or other human food. And it is 
necessary always, where they have become more or less domestic, for 
the naturalist to guard his specimens. In some village areas, where 
there is dependence on rain water caught by drain spouts from build- 
ings, these vultures are distinctly troublesome when abundant, as 
their droppings may pollute the metal roofs, and so wash into the 

In flight these birds flap the wings rapidly several times, spread 
them stiffly to glide, then flap again, a method of alternately different 
movements that serves to identify them at any distance from the 
steadily soaring turkey vultures. However, black vultures also are 
adept at soaring in rising air currents without change to flapping 
wings. In such a manner they often continue for long periods, 
sometimes rising until they may be barely seen against the sky. 

Keen vision is proverbial among vultures as they detect sources of 
food at distances that seem almost incredible. In work on the San 
Bias coast at Mandinga, in 1957 I saw none of this species until one 
morning I spread bodies of small birds that I had skinned for speci- 
mens on the old abandoned air strip in order to secure a check on 
the forms of turkey vultures present. At noon I saw first one black 
vulture and then another in descent at a sharp angle from high in 
air, and walked out to find that 9 had arrived, and that all of the 
meat had been eaten. During the month that I lived there I saw only 
one other bird of this species. 

Near the coast black vultures watch the beaches for dead fish 
cast up by the waves. If tide is rising so that the waves wash over 


their feet they may seize small bits of such refuse and pull it back 
away from the water. About large carcasses dozens congregate with 
much scrambling, jostling, and fighting, in which the black vultures by 
force of number often crowd out the turkey vultures. Only when 
the king vulture, the cacicon, arrives do they fall back. The rapidity 
with which a band of black vultures will strip a dead horse or cow 
to bare bones and shreds of hide is remarkable. Often when a feeding 
group is disturbed one or two scramble out of the body cavity where 
they have been concealed amid the ribs. 

At abattoirs groups of black vultures gather as animals are killed. 
On such occasions they run and hop about in much excitement while 
forced to wait, often holding the tail partly erect over the back, an 
odd attitude that gives them the appearance in outline of huge rails. 
It is then that the hissing sigh that is their usual note is most often 
heard. Though ordinarily aggressive when a number are together I 
have seen a laughing gull refuse to give way to a single vulture that 
attempted to seize a bit of fish on which the gull was feeding. 

Animal carrion is the main sustenance of the black vulture, but on 
occasion it takes vegetable food. At Almirante they fed on ripe 
avocados in trees growing beside the houses, and when the fruits 
tumbled to the ground descended to finish them there. I have seen 
them eating scraps of the soft meat of coconuts (pipas) that had 
been drained of fluid and cast aside. And they also eat the oily pulp 
covering the seeds of some of the palms. 

In the Canal Zone dozens gather in evening to roost in the trees on 
the slopes of Ancon Hill, and many soar for hours here in the strong 
air currents, particularly during the dry season. Elsewhere I have 
observed scattered individuals or small groups coming to roost in 
coconut and other tall palms. At La Jagua one season two slept on a 
dead stub, where they were exposed to the strong sweep of the wind. 
At Panama Vie jo in evening many come out from the city to roost in 
palms and other trees. 

While silent in the main, I have heard them utter a low, guttural 
note, croo-00-00 croo croo, varied to a husky aspiration, hwuh-h-h, 
repeated several times. 

The eggs, normally 2 in number, are laid in a hollow log, a hole 
in a tree base, under matted vegetation in low rastrojo, or, in hill coun- 
try, in cavities among rocks. There is no nest lining. On Isla Coiba 
in 1956 convicts working in the fields reported that the vultures had 
begun to nest the middle of January. On March 20, 1961, at La 
Jagua I found two half -grown young in a dense stand of spiny pita 
at the border of forest beside the marsh. They ran out when poked 


with a stick, but immediately scuttled back under the cover of their 
spiny shelter. At Sona, Veraguas, I saw young recently on the wing 
at the beginning of Jime. 

The eggs are fairly smooth, white with a very faint bluish or 
greenish tinge, ordinarily spotted rather heavily with chestnut brown. 
Three sets of 2 each in the U. S. National Museum, collected on the 
island of Trinidad, of the same tropical race of black vulture that is 
found in Panama, vary from subelliptical to long elliptical in form, 
and from 70.9x48.1 mm. to 74.0x51.2 mm. in size. A single egg 
from La Jagua, Panama, taken on January 13, 1962, laid on the 
ground in a huge cavity in the base of a large tree, measures 69.9 X 
51.0 mm. 

The typical subspecies of black vulture, Coragyps atratus atratus 
(Bechstein) differs from the tropical race in larger size, with a wing 
measurement in both sexes ranging from 414 to 445 (average 426) 
mm. The tropical subspecies, which is the one of Panama, found 
from southern Mexico to southern Brazil, has the wing 386 to 413 
(401) mm. The two are alike in general form, and in color, except 
that in the tropical race the light area on the under wing is somewhat 
more extensive, and is whiter, so that it appears slightly more promi- 
nent . (For further discussion, see Wetmore, Smithsonian Misc. Coll., 
vol. 145, no. 1, 1962, pp. 1-4.) While it has been suggested that the 
Black Vulture may be migratory (Eisenmann, Wilson Bull., 1963, pp. 
244-249) through Panama, my personal observations do not verify 
this supposition. 

In northern South America this species is called samuro. 

CATHARTES AURA Linnaeus: Turkey Vulture; Noneca 
Figures 32, 33 

Tail long so that in flight the feet do not project beyond end; 
wings longer, more pointed. 

Description. — Length 635 to 760 mm. Adult, dull black in general, 
with more or less of a bluish gloss above; the wing coverts edged 
with dark brown ; under surface of wings grayish white, beyond the 
black under wing coverts; bare head and upper neck of adult red, 
marked with transverse yellow lines in the resident race ruficollis, 
entirely red in the two forms that come to Panama as migrants from 
the north. 

Immature birds have the neck, and to less degree the head, covered 
with short, grayish black down, except for an irregular mark of dull 
white on either side of the back of the head. Juvenile : Nestlings when 
hatched are covered with soft white down. 

1 62 


Soaring turkey vultures, a constant feature of open skies through- 
out tropical America, are more in evidence in open country but are 
seen regularly also where forest cover remains. On the wing their 
graceful evolutions, performed with a minimum of obvious effort, 
constantly please the eye, but birds at rest, in hunched position with 
featherless heads protruding, are completely without esthetic attrac- 
tion. Their food is carrion, like that of their companion species, and 






Fig. 32. — Turkey vulture, noneca, Cathartes aura. 

they are found regularly at large carcasses, usually a bit apart from 
the jostling confusion of any mob of black vultures. The turkey 
vulture takes fresher flesh when available and swings and circles for 
hours, now high, now low, in its search for recently dead bodies of 
animals of any kind, large or small. Sea beaches at changing tides 
are examined, and in recent years their highway patrol gives them 
constant small supplies of food in the bodies of animals killed by 



Three geographic races of this species found on the isthmus are 
described in detail beyond, one of them resident and the other two 
present as visitors. The two visitors, which are migrants from the 
north, have the bare skin of the head completely red in life. In the 
resident form there are several lines of yellow across the nape, and 
usually an irregular ivory-yellow spot in the center of the crown. 

Fig. 33. — Head of turkey vulture, noneca, Cathartes aura, with wrinkled skin 
without papillae on the neck. 

The migrants arrive from the north during October and continue 
to pass during November, often in tremendous flocks (see Loftin, 
Caribbean Journ. Sci., vol. 3, 1963, pp. 63-64). While many remain 
on the isthmus, thousands pass farther south into northwestern South 
America. The return flight north begins in February, and continues 
through March and early April, forming a notable addition to the 
great migratory flight of the Swainson's and broad-winged hawks. 
At Chiman on March 1, 1950, I estimated that about 15,000 passed 
in the hour before sunset, an indication of the vast numbers con- 
cerned. In these travels the turkey vulture moves mainly as a sail 
plane, soaring by means of supporting air currents, with a minimum 
of the greater muscular effort required by flapping flight. In this the 
trade winds that blow steadily from the northeast through the dry 
season are the main means of assistance, aided by the rising thermals 


generated by the heat of the sun. These migrant movements in 
Panama were reported first by Frank M. Chapman (My Tropical Air 
Castle, 1929, pp. 147-148 ; Auk, 1933, pp. 30-34) in his observations 
at Barro Colorado Island. In the course of my studies I have found 
that the main lines of flight are not isthmus-wide at random but follow 
a definite pattern. Most of the birds that come from South America 
cross from the lower Atrato basin in Colombia to the Pacific side 
of Panama in eastern Darien. Then they travel northwest, between 
the sea and the inland mountains, quartering against the steady north- 
east trade winds, a course that they follow until they reach the central, 
low depression crossed from sea to sea by the Canal Zone. Here the 
vultures move across Gatun Lake, and then swing over the Caribbean 
slope, turning gradually northwestward again, to continue over Bocas 
del Toro, and on to Costa Rica. They travel sometimes in small, 
separated bands of 25 to 400 or more individuals, but during the 
period of greatest movement join in continuous lines in which thou- 
sands pass during the course of an hour. The flights vary from 150 
to 500 meters or more above the earth, with the birds moving steadily 
forward, supported by slightly bowed, stiffly held wings that carry 
them steadily without flapping. Occasionally they encounter rising 
thermals in which they may circle, sometimes to gain altitude, but 
ordinarily they pass quickly and silently across the sky. 

So far as I have observed, the movement is entirely by day, and at 
dusk the vultures come down to sleep in open trees, where they re- 
main in companies. Periods of rain, when the wind drops or changes 
direction, may leave them stranded. This happens particularly in the 
heavier rainfall found along the north coast. At Almirante in early 
morning I have seen several hundred perched near together in dead 
trees during rains that held the birds motionless for hours. Not until 
past noon did the heat of the sun build up the necessary rising air 
currents to enable them to move. There is no pause for feeding in 
these migrations, but regularly some of the birds drop down to open 
stretches along the rivers to drink. 

In addition to the main line of flight that I have described in 
detail I have seen small groups moving north near Jaque on the 
coast of Darien. Small flights in the Tonosi valley near the southern 
end of the Azuero Peninsula may be indication that turkey vultures, 
like numerous small birds, may cross the open Gulf of Panama from 
the Choco or adjacent Darien. Small groups pass north through 

At present data on movement during the southward flight that be- 
gins in October are not available in detail. 


While this species is usually known as noneca in Panama, it is 
called also uura, aura tinosa, and by some catana. 

Vultur Aura Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 86. (Veracruz, Mexico.) 

Characters. — Under surface brownish black; wing coverts edged 
with brown; definitely less dark throughout than C. a. ruficollis; 
head in life entirely red. 

Measurements. — Males (21 specimens), wing 462-495 (478), tail 
226-249 (238), culmen from cere 22.8-25.1 (22.6), tarsus 58.8-64.5 
(62.4) mm. 

Females (12 specimens), wing 471-495 (482), tail 231-251 (241), 
culmen from cere 22.7-25.9 (24.1), tarsus 58.6-66.5 (62.5) mm. 

Migrant. Common, October to April, through the isthmus. 

Birds with the wholly red heads that mark this race and the next, 
C. a. meridionalis, are recorded in my notes throughout the republic. 
Museum specimens of the subspecies aura have been examined from 
Empire and Barro Colorado Island, Canal Zone; Alhajuela, Panama; 
Jaque, Darien ; and Isla San Jose, Pearl Islands. 


Cathartes aura meridionalis Swann, Syn. Accipitres, pt. 1, Sept. 28, 1921, p. 3. 

(Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia.) 
Cathartes aura teter Friedmann, Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, vol. 46, Oct. 26, 

1933, p. 188. (Riverside, California.) 

Characters. — Similar in color of plumage and of bare head to C. a. 
aura, but larger, as indicated by longer wing. 

Measurements. — Males (25 specimens), wing 487-528 (509), tail 
237-268 (253), culmen from cere 22.2-26.6 (24.5), tarsus 60.6-65.1 
(63.7) mm. 

Females (16 specimens), wing 495-526 (511), tail 245-272 (259), 
culmen from cere 24.0-26.3 (25.2), tarsus 62.5-67.6 (64.9) mm. 

Migrant. Common, October to April, throughout the republic. 

As stated above, birds with wholly red heads are recorded in my 
notes from all of the political divisions. Museum specimens of the 
race C. a. meridionalis have been examined from Paracote, at the head 
of Montijo Bay, Veraguas; Empire and Barro Colorado Island, 
Canal Zone; Puerto Obaldia, San Bias; and Isla San Jose in the 
Pearl Islands. 

The type of Swann's race meridionalis from Colombia named in 
1921 is a migrant bird from western North America (see Wetmore, 
Smithsonian Misc. Coll., vol. 146, no. 6, Aug. 14, 1964, p. 4.) 



Cathartes ruficollis Spix, Avium Spec. Nov. Brasiliam, vol. 1, 1824, p. 2. (In- 
terior of Baia and Piaui, Brazil.) 

Characters. — Borders of wing coverts very dark brown ; under sur- 
face of body decidedly black; in life, head and neck dull red with 
several transverse lines of greenish white or dull yellow on back of 
head; adult usually with an irregular area of yellowish white in 
center of crown. 

Adults shot in the latter part of March had the general color of 
cere, head and upper part of the neck dull red ; 8 narrow, raised ridges 
across the back of the head and upper hindneck pale bluish to pale 
greenish white ; an irregular area in center of crown dull ivory white, 
that in one bird measured 16 mm. wide ; tarsus dull grayish white, dull 
red on front when first killed, but fading immediately until only a 
faint reddish tinge remained ; toes dull brownish white ; claws black. 

Measurements. — Males (18 specimens), wing 476-508 (490), tail 
235-265 (254), culmen from cere 21.9-24.3 (23.2), tarsus 60.0-64.9 
(62.4) mm. 

Females (21 specimens), wing 475-509 (491), tail 235-264 (247), 
culmen from cere 22.3-26.6 (23.7), tarsus 60.4-68.0 (63.8) mm. 

Resident throughout the republic from the Costa Rican border east- 
ward to Colombia, 

Definite records of birds with the typical head marking are as fol- 

Chiriqui: Alanje, Boquete, San Felix, Remedios, Guabala. 

Veraguas : Puerto Vidal, Sona, lower course of Rio San Pablo. 

Code: El Valle. 

Canal Zone : Gamboa, Juan Mina. 

Panama : Rio La Jagua, Chepo, Chiman. 

Darien : mouth of Rio Tuquesa on the Rio Chucunaque, Boca de Paya, Jaque, 

Rio Jaque. 
San Bias : Mandinga. 
Isla Parida ; Isla Coiba ; Isla Taboga ; Isla San Jose. 

Turkey vultures (of any of the races) are not common in the 
Archipielago de las Perlas. Murphy (Auk, 1945, p. 116) has reported 
them at Isla Pacheca, and in addition to the record listed for Isla 
San Jose I have seen them (without knowledge of the subspecies) on 
Saboga, Chapera, Canas, Rey, Bayoneta, and Pedro Gonzalez. 

The identification of a turkey vulture collected May 12, 1944, on 
Isla San Jose in the Pearl Islands as this subspecies (Wetmore, 


Smithsonian Misc. Coll., vol. 106, no. 1, Aug. 5, 1946, pp. 24-25) was 
interpreted then as a record of a wanderer from some nearby South 
American area, since that was the known range of this race at the 
time. Others of this subspecies were found in Darien two years later, 
and in subsequent seasons the race ruficollis, little by little, was traced 
westward across the isthmus. As I have found it within 30 kilometers 
of the Costa Rican border, below Alanje in western Chiriqui, it seems 
probable that it may range farther north in Central America. The 
records listed are of birds collected, and of others observed close at 
hand so that the head marking was seen clearly. It remains to deter- 
mine the identity of the resident subspecies of the Caribbean coast in 
western Colon and Bocas del Toro. 

While these birds have the usual habit of the species of feeding on 
carrion, I was interested to find the crop of one killed at La Jagua 
late in March filled with bright yellowish-orange pulp from the large 
fruits of the spiny-trunked corozo palm. I was told that this was 
a common source of food for vultures. The bird that I examined 
personally was of the resident race ruficollis. It is not certain that 
migrant aura from the north shares this habit. 

Though there is no detailed information regarding the breeding of 
this race in Panama, other than that I was told that they used hollows 
in tree trunks on, or very near, the ground, it is assumed that nesting 
here is like that elsewhere in the range of the race. In general, two 
eggs are laid on whatever natural accumulation of decayed wood, 
humus, or earth there is in the hollow selected as a nest shelter. Oc- 
casionally one egg or three may be encountered. In color the eggs 
are dull white to creamy white, marked more or less heavily with spots 
and blotches of light to very dark brown. 

The young of ruficollis, when fully grown and able to fly, have 
head and bill dull black, the former covered with short, blackish 
down, except for the spot of dull white on either side of the nape. 
When nestling turkey vultures are approached they often assume a 
grotesque attitude, with arched neck, head bent down so that the 
bill touches the breast, and partly feathered wings spread, while they 
utter a peculiar cat-like hiss. At intervals the tip of one wing is 
struck sharply against the ground, and the note changes to a rough 
growl, the sound and the note coming abruptly in startling fashion. 
The vocal efforts of adult birds are limited to low, barely audible 
hissing sounds. 


Vulture; Guala 

Figure 34 

Cathartes Burrovianus Cassin, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, vol. 2, no. 8, 
1845, p. 212. (Near Veracruz Llave, Veracruz, Mexico.) 

In flight generally similar to the other turkey vulture, but near at 
hand seen to have the bare skin of the side of the head bright orange, 
becoming somewhat duller on neck ; crown bluish gray. 

Description. — Length 530 to 590 mm. General appearance like that 
of the red-headed turkey vulture, but more brownish black on lower 
surface; definitely smaller, and of lesser bulk; neck with numerous 
small but prominent papillae, easily seen in fresh specimens, and 
readily evident on close examination in dried skins. In life the ruff 
on the neck comes higher on the back of the neck than in the red- 
headed species, a distinction between the two that often is lost when 
the birds are prepared as museum specimens, as the position of the 
ruff may be shifted by stretching or contraction. 

In two young recently from the nest (collected near Sona) I found 
that a few papillae had begun development. Now that these two have 
been preserved as museum specimens the caruncles are seen best 
under a lens. 

The following color notes were made from an adult female taken 
at the Cienaga Macana, Herrera, March 17, 1948: Iris red; cere, 
forepart of crown to center of eyes, nape, back of head, and throat, 
dull orange-red; center of crown dull bluish gray; sides of head, 
from posterior loral space back through the space around the eye 
and the ear, including the area to below the gape, bright orange; 
lores greenish yellow ; spot in front of eye and slightly above it dull 
bluish gray; sides and front of neck, including the area covered by 
papillae dull orange-red. Another taken at the same time had the 
colors somewhat duller. An adult female, near breeding, shot March 
24, 1961, at La Jagua, was more brilliantly colored, as indicated by 
the following : Iris orange red ; center of crown indigo, in an irregular 
triangle with the apex forward, bordered narrowly on either side by 
pale greenish blue ; side of head down over the mandibular rami, and 
including the loral area, bright orange; bare foreneck, including the 
prominent caruncles, dull orange ; back of head dull blue, crossed by 3 
irregular rows of caruncles which are dull orange; bill dull ivory 
white; crus dull yellowish white; front of tarsus dull greenish gray; 
rest dull white ; toes fuscous black ; claws fuscous. 

Measurements. — Males (6 from Panama, Colombia and north- 



western Venezuela), wing 432-454 (445), tail 195-218 (204), culmen 
from cere 19.6-23.3 (21.5), tarsus 52.4-59.1 (56.9) mm. 

Females (7 from Panama, Colombia, and northwestern Venezuela), 
wing 444-459 (449), tail 193-214 (199), culmen from cere 21.1-24.0 
(22.5, average of 6) , tarsus 56.0-60.0 (57.9) mm. 

Resident. Locally common, on the Pacific slope, from Chiriqui 
through Veraguas and Code to the eastern section of the Province 
of Panama, including the eastern side of the Azuero Peninsula in 
Herrera and Los Santos. 

Fig. 34. — Head of yellow-headed vulture, guala, Cathartes hurrovianns burro- 
vianus, with wartlike papillae on the neck. 

This species is found in more open areas near the largest streams, 
and near marshes, particularly during the dry season. In the period 
of rains it spreads with the greater extent of the open swampy areas 
that form its haunts. 

When seen near at hand it may be known by the extensive yellow 
on the sides of the head and neck, while in the hand the prominent 
papillae on the neck, in addition to the head colors mentioned, identify 
it readily. In flight at any distance, when the colors are not visible, 
it may not be distinguished from the other species. For a time I 
thought that these birds were lighter colored on the underside of the 
wing, but this has proved to be a variable matter in both species. 


The first report of the yellow-headed vulture as a bird of Panama 
came in the dry season of 1948 when Watson M. Perrygo and I were 
in the field on the eastern side of the Azuero Peninsula. On March 
17, during routine collecting, we shot 3 turkey vultures at the Cienaga 
Macana, near the small settlement of El Rincon, not far from the 
lower course of the Rio Santa Maria. In life they had seemed some- 
what small, and in the hand the peculiar head markings brought to 
mind at once the yellow-headed vultures that I had known in the 
distant Chaco of northern Argentina and western Paraguay. The 
head colors were recorded on Kodachrome film within an hour 
through the assistance of Richard Stewart of the National Geographic 
Society. Subsequent studies of vultures in museum collections led 
to their identification in the Academy of Natural Sciences of Phila- 
delphia with Cassin's ancient type specimen of Cathartes burrovianus. 
Since this recognition of its presence the bird has been found regu- 
larly on the Pacific slope of Panama. Thus far it has been seen in 
the savannas and the sections adjacent to them, east to the region near 
the Rio La Jagua. It is possible that it may occur also in Darien in 
the extensive swamps adjacent to the lower Rio Sabana and the Rio 

In the open marshes toward the Rio Chico, below the La Jagua 
Hunting Club in dry season I have recorded them constantly, some- 
times to the number of 20 to 30 in a day. As they are never disturbed 
here they are not wild. Often I have walked very near them as they 
rested quietly in low, leafless trees. These lower areas around lagoons 
containing water are their regular haunt, and their occurrence on 
the higher savannas comes mainly during the period of rains. 

They have the same graceful flight as the red-headed species, but on 
the whole seem more sedentary and less given to soaring at great 
altitudes. Fish seem to be a regular food, sought in drying pools, 
and they seem to come to mammal carcasses infrequently. One that I 
shot at La Jagua had fragments of fish in the crop, so fresh that they 
had evidently been taken alive. Once, near David, I saw one flying 
with a large dead lizard in its bill to prevent being robbed of its meal 
by black vultures, one of the few occasions on which I have seen a 
vulture of this genus carrying anything. 

Little is known of their nesting in the Republic. Near the Rio San 
Pablo a short distance below Sona on May 14, 1953, I found a pair 
with two young, only recently able to fly, that rested in an open- 
branched tree. Early the following morning the young were not seen 
on my arrival, but at my first shot at another bird both came flying to 


the same tree. Evidently the nesting place was somewhere near. In 
the hand, I found that both had the neck and back of the head covered 
with down as usual in this genus. A white band crossed the back of 
the head, the down above and below this being dull, dark brown. This 
mark is lost soon, since in older birds, that are obviously immature, as 
indicated by the soft feathering that remains on the head and neck, the 
back of the head is uniform in color. 

No records of the eggs of this northern race of the species have 
come to my attention. 

In Panama it is only an occasional hunter, like Baldomiro Moreno, 
who recognizes these birds as different, and these few merely know 
them as another kind of noneca, the name for the red-headed species. 
In Colombia they are called guala. The typical form is recorded in 
the lowlands from eastern Mexico, to Honduras and Panama, and 
across northern Colombia to northwestern Venezuela. Cathartes h. 
uruhitinga, found from the llanos of eastern Colombia and the lower 
Orinoco valley in Venezuela south to the southern Chaco in Argentina 
is larger, with the wing in adult males from 454-493 (474.5), and in 
adult females 461-501 (484) mm. 

Family ACCIPITRIDAE: Hawks, Eagles, and Allies; Gavilanes, 
Aguilas, y Especies Afines 

The members of this family, worldwide except in Antarctica in 
their distribution, are numerous in tropical America, where many live 
in heavy forests. These species range through the high tree crown, 
or the intermediate branches below, and seldom descend lower. Other 
kinds that inhabit more open lands usually secure their food on or 
near the ground. 

The reputation of the family as predators on domestic fowls comes 
from those that are hunters of birds and small mammals and that on 
occasion come to capture chickens. The majority of the hawks found 
in Panama, however, are harmless, as their food is large insects, crabs, 
frogs, lizards, snakes, and the mice and rats that abound about culti- 
vated fields. It is unfortunate that few persons distinguish these from 
the predatory kinds, so that all are regarded with disfavor and are 
killed at every opportunity. For this reason, and also through the 
extensive clearing of forests, most of the family now are rare. Only 
a few of the forest inhabitants have been able to adapt their lives to 
the scattered tracts of second growth that now furnish the main 
forest cover over extensive areas. 

It should be noted that many of the species resident in the Tropics 
are far more sedentary than their relatives of the temperate zones. 


They are active when feeding, particularly when caring for young, 
but at other times may remain quietly on some perch for long pe- 
riods and so escape attention. Only part of the tropical species appear 
to soar with any regularity in the open air above the forest. 

In addition to the resident kinds a few others come during the 
northern winter. Among these the migrant flocks that pass over the 
isthmus twice each year, en route to and from winter homes in 
South America, form one of the spectacular sights of the bird world. 


1. Tail long and deeply forked. .Swallow-tailed kite, Elanoides forficaius, p. 175 
Tail not deeply forked 2 

2. Side of maxilla with two deep notches on margin separating two distinct 

toothlike projections. 

Double-toothed kite, Harpagiis bidentafus jasciatus, p. 184 
Side of maxilla not double-toothed on margin 3 

3. Tarsus short and heavy ; length less, or only slightly more, than middle toe 

with claw 4 

Tarsus proportionately longer; length decidedly more than middle toe with 
claw 8 

4. Maxilla narrow, in proportion to its width at base, the tip produced in a 

slender, elongated hook 5 

Maxilla not excessively slender or elongated in proportion to its width at 
base 6 

5. Tail long, more than 150 mm. ; wing more pointed, distance between tips of 

longest primaries and longest secondaries more than 80 mm. 

Everglade kite, Rostrhamus sociabilis sociabilis, p. 180 
Tail short, less than 140 mm. ; wing rounded, distance between tip of longest 
primaries and longest secondaries 50 mm. or less. 

Slender-billed kite, Helicolestes tiamatus, p. 182 

6. Inner webs of outer primaries chestnut. 

Plumbeous kite, Ictinia plumbea, p. 177 
Inner webs of outer primaries without chestnut 7 

7. Tarsus less than 40 mm. ; bill strongly compressed, with narrow, elongated 

tip Hook-billed kite, Chondrohierax uncinatus uncinatus, p. 188 

Tarsus 42 to 51 mm.; maxilla swollen laterally, with tip broader and less 
elongated Cayenne kite, Leptodon cayanensis cayanensis, p. 186 

8. Head conspicuously crested 9 

Head not conspicuously crested 13 

9. Size very large, wing more than 500 mm.; feet unusually strong and 

powerful Harpy eagle, Harpia harpy ja, p. 249 

Size smaller, feet normal in size 10 

10. Tarsus feathered to the toes 11 

Tarsus bare except at upper end. 

Crested eagle, Morphnus guianensis, p. 246 

11. Under surface white, without dark markings. 

Black-and-white hawk-eagle, Spisastur melanoleucus, p. 244 
Under surface mainly black, or white barred with black 12 


12. Under surface of body black, or blackish slate. 

Black hawk-eagle, Spizaetus tyrannus serus, p. 240 

Under surface white, barred more or less with black ; head and neck marked 

with chestnut Barred hawk-eagle, Spizaetus ornatus vicarius, p. 241 

13. Size large and robust, wing 490 mm. or more. 

Solitary eagle, Urubitornis solitaria solitaria, p. 238 
Size smaller, wing under 450 mm 14 

14. Feathers from auricular region around forepart of head elongated to form a 

distinct facial rufif Marsh hawk, Circus cyaneus hudsonius, p. 251 

Without a facial ruff; feathers of side and forepart of head not distinctly 
elongated IS 

15. Outer toe conspicuously shorter than inner toe; tibiotarsal joint capable of 

forward and backward flexure. 

Crane hawk, Ischnosceles caerulescens, p. 253 

Outer toe as long as, or longer, than inner toe; tibiotarsal joint capable only 

of forward flexure 16 

16. Under side of toes finely and sharply spiculate. 

Black-collared hawk, Busarellus nigricollis nigricoUis, p. 227 
Underside of toes normal, sometimes roughened, but never sharply spicu- 
late 17 

17. Lesser and middle wing coverts chestnut-brown 18 

l-esser and middle wing coverts not prominently chestnut-brown 20 

18. Size small, wing less than 150 mm. 

Tiny hawk, Accipiter superciliosus fontanier, immature, brown phase, p. 192 
Size large, wing more than 300 mm 19 

19. Wings cinnamon-rufous tipped with black. 

Savanna hawk, Heterospisias meridionalis meridionalis, p. 223 
Wings fuscous, more or less buffy white or white on inner webs. 

Harris's hawk, Parabuteo unicinctus harrisi, p. 226 

20. Breast, abdomen, and tibia white, finely and evenly barred with black. 

Barred hawk, Leucopteniis princeps, p. 222 
Posterior under surface not as in 20 21 

21. Under surface plain dark gray, with the tibia barred with white. 

Plumbeous hawk, Leucopternis plumhea, p. 221 
Under surface not plain gray ; tibia not barred 22 

22. Upper surface mainly pure white except for black-tipped wings and tail. 

White hawk, Leucopternis alhicollis costaricensis, p. 217 
Upper surface with little, if any, white 23 

23. Entire under surface pure white. 

Semiplumbeous hawk, Leucopternis semiplumhea, p. 220 
Lower surface not plain white 24 

24. Tarsus decidedly longer, more than 115 mm., so that the outstretched feet 

reach nearly to end of the tail. 

Greater black hawk, Buteogallus urubitinga, p. 229 
Tarsus shorter, less than 100 mm 25 

25. Smaller, wing less than 350 mm 26 

Larger, wing more than 360 mm 35 

26. Very small, wing less than 150 mm. 

Tiny hawk, Accipiter superciliosus jontainier, 

adult and immature, light phase, p. 192 
Larger, wing more than 160 mm 27 


2]. Tibia russet to cinnamon, without bars; under surface without bars or 

streaks, buffy white to cinnamon-buff (immatures), or dark gray (adults). 

Bicolored hawk, Accipiter bicolor bicolor, p. 190 

Tibia not plain russet or chestnut without bars, under surface streaked or 

barred, or if plain, black to slate-black 28 

28. Loral area heavily feathered 29 

Loral area bare except for scattered bristles 31 

29. Smaller, wing 160 to 210 mm.; form slender, head small; tarsus and toes 

long and slender Sharp-shinned hawk, Accipiter striatus velox, p. 194 

Larger, wing more than 240 mm. ; form robust, head large ; tarsus and toes 
larger, heavier 30 

30. Upper surface black, or brownish black, without definite streaks on the 

crown; under surface black, or white, usually plain, but in some with a 
few narrow dusky streaks on the sides. 

Short-tailed hawk, Buteo hrachyurus, p. 202 
Brownish gray, or grayish brown above, more or less mottled with cinna- 
mon and white, especially on the crown ; below barred with white and dull 
brown, or white more or less streaked with dusky. 

Broad-winged hawk, Buteo platyptertis platypterus, p. 204 

31. Much larger, wing more than 325 mm., tarsus more than 80 mm. 

Lesser black hawk, Buteogallus anthracinus, p. 232 
Decidedly smaller, wing less than 260 mm. ; tarsus less than 75 mm 32 

32. Ground color clear gray, barred with white on lower surface, and mottled 

and barred above with dusky gray. 

Gray hawk, Buteo nitidus blakei, adult, p. 199 
Ground color not clear gray 33 

33. Back and wings sooty black, with crown buffy white streaked narrowly with 

black; tibia plain buff. .Gray hawk, Buteo nitidus blakei, immature, p. 199 
Back and wings not sooty black, tibia not plain buff 34 

34. Head, back, and wings grayish brown, lined and mottled with white and 

buff ; lower surface white, streaked with sooty brown ; tibia barred nar- 
rowly with dusky. 

Gray hawk, Buteo nitidus blakei, immature, second stage, p. 199 
Head, back, and wings plain grayish brown; breast, abdomen, and tibia 
cinnamon, barred with white ; foreneck and upper breast dark gray. 

Large-billed hawk, Buteo magnirostris, p. 211 

35. Tail not more than half as long as wing. 

White-tailed hawk, Buteo albicaudatus hypospodius, p. 195 
Tail more than half as long as wing 36 

36. Three outer primaries distinctly emarginate, or notched, on inner web. 

Swainson's hawk, Buteo szvainsoni, p. 208 
Four outer primaries distinctly emarginate or notched on inner web. ... 37 

37. Black above and below, including under wing coverts; the under surface in 

immature birds lightly spotted with white. 

Zone-tailed hawk, Buteo albonotatiis, p. 197 

Upper surface of tail cinnamon-brown, with a black subterminal band 

(adult) ; or grayish, or blackish-brown, barred narrowly with dusky 

black (immature) Red-tailed hawk, Buteo jamaicensis, p. 206 


ELANOIDES FORFICATUS YETAPA (Vieillot): Swallow-tailed Kite; 
Gavilan Tijereta 

Figure 35 

Milvus yetapa Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 20, May 30, 1818, 
p. 564. (Paraguay.) 

The long, deeply forked tail identifies this species at a glance from 
any other hawk. 

Description. — Length 500 to 630 mm. Adult, wing coverts and 
back very dark green; outer scapulars, wings, and tail dark gray, 
the longer feathers with a greenish sheen ; inner scapulars, head, 
neck, and whole of under surface, including the under wing coverts, 
pure white. 

Immature, head and upper breast streaked narrowly with blackish 

Measurements (From Friedmann, U.S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 11, 
1950, p. 90).— Males, wing 405-447 (418), tail 298-330 (318), culmen 
from cere 19-20 ( 19.6) , tarsus 31.5-33.0 (32.4) mm. 

Females, wing 390-427 (411), tail 275-326 (304), culmen from 
cere 19.5-21.0 (20.2), tarsus 32.0-33.5 (32.3) mm. 

Found throughout the Republic in the tropical and lower subtropical 
zones, where it nests ; fairly common. Possibly migrant in part after 
breeding, but from present information this is not certain. 

These are birds of graceful, soaring flight that remain for long 
periods on the wing. Though they eat lizards, and are reported to 
take birds, nestlings, and eggs, they also feed extensively on insects 
of a considerable variety of kinds. Skutch (Condor, 1965, p. 236) 
saw them eating small insects which they captured in their feet while 
on the wing. As the kite continued to circle it lowered the head and 
brought the foot forward to place the small morsel of food in its 

The eggs of the swallow-tailed kite, with smooth shell, are white to 
creamy white, marked with dark brown or chestnut in an irregular 
pattern that varies from fine spots to heavy blotches. Two eggs consti- 
tute the usual set, though 4 have been recorded. Schonwetter (Handb. 
Ool., pt. 3, 1961, p. 154) records the measurements of 4 of this race 
as 45.1-47.4x35.0-37.1 mm. One in the U. S. National Museum 
received from Col. L. R, Wolfe, collected in Sucre, Venezuela, April 
24, 1935, is elliptical in form, and in color faintly creamy white, heav- 
ily marked with brown. It measures 47.9 X 39.5 mm. 


A female that I collected at the lakes near El Volcan March 6, 1954, 
was about to lay. 

Though all of the specimens taken in Panama that I have examined 
are of the race yetapa, it is probable that birds of the typical sub- 

FiG. 35. — Swallow-tailed kite, gavilan tijereta, Elanoides forficatus yetapa. 

species Elanoides forficatus forficatus, marked by dark blue instead 
of dark green upper back and scapulars, may form part of those 
that are recorded over the isthmus. This race, which nests in south- 
eastern United States, moves southward in winter as far as Ecuador, 
but little is known of its winter range. 


ICTINIA PLUMBEA (Gmelin): Plumbeous Kite; Gavilan Plomizo 
Figure 36 
Falco plumbeus Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 1, 1788, p. 283. (Cayenne.) 

Long wings, notched tail, and plain gray color mark this species, 
usually seen soaring at the edge of forest. 

Description. — Length 290 to 350 mm. Adult, head, neck, upper 
back, and under surface, including under surface of wings, gray; 
lower back, wings, and tail black, with a slight sheen of gray; dis- 
tal half of inner webs of primaries cinnamon-brown ; tail with two 
broken bands of white. 

Immature, upper surface dull black; head and neck with feathers 
edged narrowly with white; back and wings with feathers tipped 
lightly with buff, or buffy white; primaries tipped more widely with 
white; tail with three prominent white bands; under surface white, 
streaked heavily with dusky neutral gray; under wing coverts dark 
neutral gray, edged and tipped with white and buffy white. 

Iris deep red ; bill black ; cere dusky neutral gray ; tarsus and toes 
orange-yellow ; claws black. 

Measurements (from Friedmann, U.S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 
11, 1950, p. 126).— Males, wing 270-313 (298), tail 123-167 (148), 
culmen from cere 15.5-18.0 (16.6), tarsus 37.0-42.4 (38.5) mm. 

Females, wing 274-320 (307), tail 139-161 (145), culmen from 
cere 16.0-19.5 (17.1), tarsus 34-42 (37.7) mm. 

Migratory, fairly common. Breeds in areas of open forest through- 
out the lowlands. Arrives from early February to the beginning of 
March, and remains through September, occasionally into October. 
Found on San Jose, Trapiche, Pedro Gonzalez, and Rey Islands in 
the Perlas group. 

Early arrival dates : Cerro Pirre, February 7, 1961 ; San Felix, 
February 21, 1956; Chiman, February 26, 1950; Armila, San Bias, 
February 27, 1963; El Uracillo, February 28, 1952; Boca de Paya, 
March 2, 1959. Late dates of occurrence : Cocoli, Canal Zone, August 
1, 1955 (specimen in U.S. National Museum) ; Barro Colorado 
Island, Canal Zone, August 17, 1927, (Van Tyne, in Eisenmann, 
Smithsonian Misc. Coll., vol. 117, 1952, p. 14) ; Isla San Jose, latter 
part of September (Morrison, in Wetmore, Smithsonian Misc. Coll., 
106, no. 1, 1946, p. 26) ; Almirante, Bocas del Toro, October 10, 
1960, male collected by R. Hinds. 

While not abundant this kite is widely distributed and so is seen 
with fair regularity. It is found about groves and open stands of 



trees, so that cultivated areas where there is older rastrojo are favor- 
able to it. In sections of dense forest it may be encountered along 
the borders but it does not appear to penetrate into the interior 
though it may sweep high overhead in its soaring evolutions. Open 

Fig, 36.— Plumbeous kite, gavilan plomizo, Ictinia plumbea. 

pastures with scattered trees are favored localities, and it is in such 
areas that I have found them on the eastern side of the Azuero Pen- 
insula, as far down as the Rio Caldera, back of Punta Mala. I have 
seen them at 900 meters elevation above El Valle, and Griscom re- 
cords a breeding bird from Cana (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. vol. 69, 


1929, p. 158), which appears to be near the upper limits of the range. 

These kites, Hke the related Mississippi kite of the north, feed 
mainly on insects. Orthoptera are favored items; beetles and occa- 
sionally dragonflies are taken. In the latter part of the dry season 
when cicadas are abundant they are picked off expertly while the 
bird is on the wing, and often eaten while the hawk continues its 
flight. They are said to eat lizards, but this I have not observed. 
Small birds show no fear of these kites. 

Plumbeous kites are ready to nest when they arrive on their breeding 
grounds and mate immediately. Those taken at this time have the 
body encased in fat, this being true particularly of the females. They 
spend much time on the wing, soaring gracefully, and at rest select 
exposed perches, the open branches of the guarnmo (Cecropia) 
being especially favored. In the air the long, pointed wings suggest 
those of a falcon. They present a dark silhouette until the sun strikes 
them at the proper angle, when the light-colored head sometimes ap- 
pears almost white. The distinct notch in the tip of the tail may be 
seen as they turn. 

The nest is a fair-sized structure of sticks deeply cupped, located 
rather high in trees. Seven sets of one egg each of this species, pre- 
sented to the U.S. National Museum by Col. L. R. Wolfe, collected 
at Guanoco, Sucre, Venezuela, are dull white, with a very finely 
granulated shell, without markings. They are broad oval to nearly 
elliptical in form and measure as follows: 42.6-45.0x34.0-37.9 mm. 
Eggs of these birds become much soiled as incubation proceeds which 
may account for reports of those with distinct markings. 

The young at hatching are covered with white down. 

The closely allied Mississippi kite, Ictinia misisippiensis (Wilson), 
which nests now from northeastern Kansas, Tennessee, and South 
Carolina south to northern Texas, Louisiana, and northern Florida, 
also is migrant but with a winter range as yet not clearly known. 
It is recorded through eastern and southern Mexico and once in 
eastern Guatemala. Aside from this, 3 specimens are reported 
taken far to the south, December 14, 1944, and February 26, 1942, at 
Colonia Nueva Italia, Villeta, southern Paraguay (Blake, Auk, 1949, 
p. 82) and Mocovi, Chaco, northern Argentina, Jan. 6, 1904 (Eisen- 
mann, Auk, 1963, p. 74). I have felt certain that some of the migrant 
flocks I have seen on the Pacific side of Panama were the Mississippi 
kite, but have not been able to substantiate this belief with specimens. 
On April 14, 1949, while I was walking over an open savanna on the 
western end of Cerro Carbunco, northwest of Chepo, a flock of 25 
circled in ascending spirals barely beyond gun range. They rose 


rapidly and finally whirled to disappear over the crest of the ridge. 
Watson Perrygo and I, both of us familiar with the two species 
concerned, watched them closely and were satisfied that they were 
the Mississippi kite. On March 20, 1950, at Charco del Toro on the 
Rio Maje, between 300 and 400 kites that I believed to be the north- 
ern bird rushed past, swerving about with roaring wings, ahead of 
a heavy rain. And on April 7, 1959, at Las Cumbres, outside of Pan- 
ama City, I watched a flock of 75 shifting in formation as they beat 
against the strong tradewind, that also seemed to be this species. 

Fully adult birds of the Mississippi kite are similar to the other 
species in size, and in general gray and black color but lack the 
broken white bar in the tail. The bright brown of the inner webs 
of the primaries, prominent on all of these feathers in the plumbeous 
kite, is restricted to a few small, hidden spots on a few of the inner- 
most feathers. The toes are dusky instead of yellow like the tarsus. 

Gavildn Caracolero 


Herpetotheres sociabilis Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat, nouv. ed., vol. 18, Dec. 
1817, p. 318. (Corrientes and Rio de la Plata.) 

Of medium size, black, with or without buflf streaks on lower 
surface; rump and base of tail white; bill very slender, much curved. 

Description. — Length 390 to 430 mm. Adult male, black to black- 
ish slate; feathers of forehead, throat, and lower eyelid white basally; 
tail coverts, both above and below, white; tail with concealed base 
white, bordered distally by an indistinct band of mouse brown, and 
with end brown tipped with dull white; under surface of primaries 
and secondaries, with indefinite bars of grayish white. 

Adult female, somewhat browner black ; throat and breast streaked 
lightly with buflf; elsewhere with feathers in part edged lightly with 
dull cinnamon. 

Immature, fuscous above, with indistinct edgings of cinnamon- 
buff ; crown with indistinct streaks of dull cinnamon ; forehead and 
superciliary bufify white, streaked with fuscous, the superciliary 
much broader above ear region ; crown and nape feathers white bas- 
ally ; under surface bufify white, with shaft lines fuscous on throat 
and foreneck; lower breast and sides heavily streaked with fus- 
cous ; a band of nearly solid fuscous across upper breast ; under wing 
coverts tipped broadly with rufous. 



The very slender, much hooked bill, and equally slender daws, 
coupled with the white rump and base of tail, are diagnostic. The 
outermost primary is definitely notched, the next 4 sinuate in decreas- 
ing amount. 

Fig. "hi. — Everglade kite, gavilan caracolero, Rostrhamtis sociabilis sociabilis. 

Measurements.— Males, wing 325-341 (332.5), tail 164-182 
(172.1), culmen from cere 24.5-26.5 (25.2), tarsus 49-54 (51.5) mm. 

Females, wing 338-350 (342) ; tail 167.5-188 (175) ; culmen from 
cere 24-25 (24.6), tarsus 47-51 (49) mm. 

Rare. The only record is that of a female, in full immature dress, 
taken by Wedel on March 22, 1929, at Perme, San Bias. 

This kite frequents fresh-water marshes where it feeds on the 
large apple snails (Pomacea). It is rare in southern Central Amer- 


HELICOLESTES HAMATUS (Temminck): Slender-billed Kite; 
Gavilan Piquidelgado 

Figure 38 

Falco hatnatus Temminck, Nouv. Rec. Planch. Col., livr. 11, June 1821, pi. 61. 
(Para, Brazil.) 

Generally similar to the Everglade kite, but wings less pointed; 
tail short and without white ; bill and claws slender, much curved. 

Description. — Length 380 to 410 mm. Adult, dark gray throughout, 
becoming blackish on head and neck. 

Immature, somewhat paler gray, with wing coverts, secondaries, 
and upper tail coverts tipped narrowly with brown, buff or white ; 
webs of remiges barred narrowly on the lower surface with white and 
light gray ; under tail coverts tipped and barred with white or buffy 
white ; tail sooty black, tipped and barred with white. 

The female listed beyond, collected February 24, 1959, had the eye 
bright golden-yellow ; base of mandible, gape, cere, and bare skin in 
front of eye, reddish orange; margin of eyelid dusky neutral gray, 
bordered, adjacent to the feathering, by a narrow line of reddish 
orange; base of gonys dull yellowish buff; rest of bill black; tarsus 
and toes reddish orange ; claws black. 

Measurements. — Male (1 from Darien), wing 265, tail 113.0, cul- 
men from cere 25.5, tarsus 50.8 mm. 

Females (5 from Darien, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Brazil), wing 
272-285 (279), tail 120,4-132,4 (129,2), culmen from cere 26,7- 
27.7 (27,3), tarsus 46,0-51,0 (48,8) mm. 

Resident, Rare; recorded only in the Tuira Valley, Darien, near 
the mouth of the Rio Paya, 

This is a little known species of tropical South America, known 
in Panama only from the Paya region of Darien, On February 24, 
1959, I found one, a female perched over a shaded pool in a forest 
quebrada, near the point where the small stream came down a bed 
broken by rock exposures into the Rio Tuira. The bird flew a short 
distance to another perch, where it continued to give a low mewing 
call of a single note. It ranged at intermediate levels, well below the 
heavy tree crown of the high forest. There were numerous shells of 
the apple snail {Pomacea zeteki Morrison) scattered about along the 
sandy shore of the quebrada, which I assumed the kite had shared 
with the limpkins that ranged in the same area. Later I received 
another of these kites that had been taken in 1958 in this same sec- 
tion by collectors for the Gorgas Memorial Laboratory. These are 
the first reports of the species outside South America (see Wetmore, 
Smithsonian Misc, Coll,, vol. 145, no, 1, 1962, p. 11). 



Haverschmidt (Auk, 1959, p. 35), in Surinam, found a nest placed 
on a strong branch of a huge cotton-tree growing in a coffee plan- 
tation. The nest, rather small, was made of sticks, in the form usual 
among tree-nesting hawks. The single nestling was "mouse brown, 
with a dirty white stripe over the back : its head was dirty white with 
a mouse brown triangle on top. Soft parts were as follows : iris 
black; bill glossy black, with the white egg tooth still on the upper 

Fig. 38. — Slender-billed kite, gavilan piquidelgado, Helicolestes hamatus. 

mandible ; cere and sides of bill orange yellow ; inside of mouth red- 
dish pink ; feet orange yellow with claws glossy black." Eggs of 
this interesting species are not yet known. 

The slender-billed kite in general form and food habits is a forest- 
inhabiting counterpart of the Everglade kite of open marshlands. 
The forest bird differs in heavier form, and in relatively shorter and 
more rounded wings, in which the primaries project less beyond the 
secondaries. The tail also relatively is shorter. A more interesting 
distinction is found in the immature plumage, which resembles the 


plain color of the adult rather closely, while the Everglade kite at 
this age differs decidedly in heavily streaked pattern. Amadon (Amer. 
Mus. Nov. no. 2166, 1964, pp. 3-4) after discussion of these matters, 
in view of the general resemblance, suggests union of the two under 
the older genus name Rostrhamus since they have no other close 
relatives. It appears plausible to believe that the two have related 
ancestry. But it would appear that hamatus is the more conservative, 
perhaps more like the ancestral stock, from its smaller population. 
Pending information on its internal anatomy, particularly the skele- 
ton, I prefer here to emphasize the differences by listing the two in 
separate genera. 

HARPAGUS BIDENTATUS FASCIATUS Lawrence: Double-toothed Kite; 

Gavilan Bidente 

FiGtmE 39 

Harpagus jasciatus Lawrence, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, vol. 20, 1868 
(April-May, 1869), p. 429. (Guatemala.) 

The irregular, double-toothed margins toward the tip of the maxilla 
and mandible serve to identify this species in any plumage from other 
hawks found in Panama. 

Description. — Length 290 to 330 mm. Male, above, including side 
of head, dull gray ; wings and tail blackish, the latter with whitish tip, 
and 3 broken cross bars, the uppermost concealed by the tail coverts ; 
throat and upper f oreneck white, streaked with dull gray and grayish 
black ; upper breast chestnut brown at sides, gray, barred indistinctly 
with chestnut brown, in center; lower breast and abdomen barred 
narrowly with white, and more broadly with gray bordered narrowly 
with chestnut; under tail coverts and under wing coverts white; 
under surface of wing barred broadly with white. 

Female, somewhat browner gray above; upper breast chestnut- 
brown, with scant indication of bars ; lower surface elsewhere barred 
broadly with chestnut brown, with gray edging reduced, and white 
bars prominent. 

Immature, grayish above, with the concealed feather bases white 
on head, back, and coverts ; below white, streaked broadly on breast, 
and barred irregularly on sides and abdomen, with fuscous. 

I recorded the colors of the soft parts in a female of the typical 
H. b. bidentatus, taken in Venezuela, as follows: Iris orange-red; 
maxilla black, except for a dull gray area extending across the 
posterior tooth and the base of the tomium behind; mandible dull 
gray ; cere dull greenish ; tarsus and toes bright yellow ; claws black. 


Measurements. — Males (5 from Panama), wing 200-204 (201.8), 
tail 132.8-140.0 (137.4), culmen from cere 15.1-17.3 (16.1), tarsus 
41.5-44.3 (42.8) mm. 

Females (4 from Panama), wing 207-216 (211.7), tail 139.1-149.7 
(144.7), culmen from cere 15.4-16.4 (16.0), tarsus 40.5-43.8 (42.6) 

Resident. Tolerably common in forested areas throughout the main- 
land ; Isla Coiba. (There are no definite records for the provinces of 
Code or Los Santos, but I feel quite certain that the bird is found 

Primarily this is a bird of forested areas, where it is encountered 
not only in heavy stands but also where the tree growth is fairly open. 

Fig. 39.— Head of double-toothed kite, gavilan bidente, Harpagus hidentatus 


It is thus able to find suitable cover in second growth and comes also 
into groves and lines of trees that border fields, pastures, and streams 
in savanna country. Because of its small size it is little molested, and 
so usually it is not especially wary. Often I have seen them close 
at hand, perched low down in leafy branches. They also come to low 
perches in the open in cultivated fields. They feed mainly on lizards 
and large insects that they capture in the trees, when necessary climb- 
ing, walking, or hopping actively along sloping branches in pursuit. 
While these kites are attracted occasionally by squeaking, the small 
forest birds show no fear at their presence, though they may scold or 
dart at them. I have never seen them attack a bird. 

On March 26 and 27, 1955, at the base of Cerro Chame I found a 
pair at the foundation of a nest of small sticks placed in a crotch 12 
meters from the ground in open forest. The location, within 15 
meters of a trail, was open without any screen of leaves or branches 
for concealment. Laughlin (Condor, 1952, pp. 137-139) described a 


completed nest found on Barro Colorado Island on June 29, 1951, as 
made of twigs, shallow, and placed over 20 meters from the ground, 
in a crotch in a tall cedro espinoso {Bomhacopsis fendleri), where it 
was concealed from above but not from the side. The female began 
incubation on July 3. The male drove at a large woodpecker, at white- 
faced monkeys, and Araqari toucans, and chased them away, but a 
Swainson's toucan was seen to intimidate the female and take one 
&gg. A few days later the nest was found deserted. The egg, seized 
by the toucan "appeared whitish speckled with brown," which agrees 
with published descriptions of the eggs of the related Harpagus 
diodon of South America, 

The double-toothed kite is silent in the main except when nesting, 
when they utter high-pitched calls, in shrill intonation like those of 
other small hawks. 

While these kites are found most often in the tropical zone, they 
range in Chiriqui to 1,300 meters in the forested valleys. I was in- 
terested to collect one in heavy forest on Isla Coiba. 

The typical form, Harpagus bidentatus bidentatus (Latham), which 
ranges from eastern Colombia, east of the Andes, Venezuela, and 
Trinidad to eastern Bolivia and south central Brazil, is less heavily 
barred on the lower surface. 



Falco cayanensis Latham, Index Orn., vol. 1, 1790, p. 28. (Cayenne, French 

In the hand these hawks differ from any others found in Panama 
by the short, heavy tarsus, which is 42 to 50 mm. long, feathered for 
nearly half its length. In life the gray head, dark back, banded tail 
and light-colored undersurface are diagnostic. 

Description. — Length 450 to 525 mm. Adult, head gray, paler on 
the foreneck and throat; rest of upper surface dark gray with a 
bluish cast ; primaries and secondaries with very faintly indicated 
lighter gray bands ; tail blackish, tipped narrowly with grayish white, 
with 2 narrow bands of light gray, and a third broken one of variable 
extent, more or less concealed by the upper tail coverts ; under surface 
white, with a tinge of gray; flanks and tibia spotted and streaked 
with dark gray; under wing coverts grayish black; undersurface 
of wing blackish banded with grayish white. 

Immature in light phase, crown and upper surface brownish black ; 
tail with two bands of brownish gray, and a broad tip of light brown ; 


forehead, sides of head, ring around hind neck, and under surface, 
including under wing coverts, white. The head is entirely white in 
some, except for a small area in the center of the crown. 

Immature in dark phase, the upper surface, head, throat, and 
upper breast black ; rest of the lower surface white, heavily streaked 
with black. In some the white streaking extends also over the fore- 
neck and upper breast. 

An adult female taken near Mandinga, Comarca de San Bias, on 
February 8, 1957, had the iris hazel brown ; cere and extreme base of 
maxilla neutral gray; rest of maxilla, and sides of mandible for distal 
half, including the tip, dark neutral gray ; bare space on side of head, 
including eyelids, space above eye, lores, gape, base of mandible, distal 
half of gonys, side of maxilla below nostril, and inside of the nares, 
including the outer edge of the operculum, light bluish gray; tarsus 
pale neutral gray; scutes of toes light neutral gray; under side of 
toes brownish white ; claws black. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Panama and northern Colombia), 
wing 292-302 (297), tail 199-215 (206), culmen from cere 23.6-25.0 
(24.3), tarsus 43.0-49.6 (45.9) mm. 

Females (5 from Panama and northern Colombia), wing 307-326 
(314), tail 218-242 (228), culmen from cere 24.5-26.6 (25.4), tarsus 
42.0-44.0 (42.9) mm. 

Resident. Fairly common in forested areas in the tropical and sub- 
tropical zones. Records to date do not include Col6n, or Code, where 
the species should be found, nor is it reported from the eastern side 
of the Azuero Peninsula, or from any of the larger islands. 

While a species that is widely spread through the isthmus, it is 
comparatively little known, since it ranges in the high tree crown of 
the forests where it is concealed in the leafy canopy. Although most 
frequent in unbroken forest, in the savanna country on the Pacific 
slope it comes in lesser number into the lines of trees along the banks 
of streams and marshes, as around La Jagua. 

Cayenne kites soar regularly and are observed sometimes in early 
morning on tall dead stubs, but on the whole they are seen mainly 
by chance through some small opening in the high leafy cover. To- 
ward the end of the dry season they begin to call, a loud kek kek kek 
kek, repeated at short intervals, a sound that carries far. At such 
times they rest on high dead branches that look out over the forest. 
Others widely separated, to the number of two or three, may answer. 
Though one that I followed and shot proved to be a female, it is my 
assumption that the call is given by both sexes. I have heard the 


note from near sea level on the San Bias coast to 2,000 meters 
elevation above Cerro Punta. The immature bird in dark phase — 
black above and white heavily streaked with black below — is especially 
striking in appearance, since it is so different from the adult in light 

The stomach of one taken at Cana was filled with 55 pupae and 
38 adults of a wasp (Odynerus pachyodynerus) with a few bits of an 
ant {Asteca. sp.). Haverschmidt (Condor, 1962, p. 154) in Surinam 
reports them as eating a variety of insects. In one he found a frog and 
in another the shell of a small bird's e^gg. 

Schon wetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 3, 1961, p. 155, pi. 6, fig. 7) gives 
the measurements of 3 eggs from Trinidad as 53.4-54.3x42.2- 
45.0 mm. His plate illustrates an egg that is elliptical in form, and 
plain white in color. Haverschmidt (Journ. f. Orn., 1964, p. 66) 
considers the identification doubtful as the measurements appear 
small for a bird of this size. 

Specimens from southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia to northern 
Argentina are larger (wing in a male from the Paraguayan Chaco 
355, tail 250 mm.), as indicated by Hellmayr and Conover (Cat. 
Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 4, 1949, p. 25), and are to be recognized, ac- 
cording to Hellmayr, as Leptodon c. monachus Vieillot, described as 
Sparvius monachus Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 10, 
June, 1817,p.341. ("Bresil") 

Kite ; Gavilan Piquiganchudo 

Figure 40 

Falco uncinatus Temminck, Nouv. Rec. Planch. Col., livr. 18, Jan., 1822, pis. 103, 
104. (Baia, Brazil.) 

The large, somewhat compressed, strongly hooked bill is the im- 
portant character on which to recognize this species ; in its dark and 
light color phases it varies greatly in color. 

Description. — Length 380 to 420 mm. Adults, dark phase, from 
dark gray to fuscous-black, with a broad white band across the center 
of the tail, which has a gray end, bordered narrowly at the tip with 
white ; concealed bases of the feathers back of the center of crown and 
of the nape white. Adults, light phase, fuscous-black above, grayish 
on the sides of the head and wing, and barred broadly below with 
buffy white and bright brown (the latter color bordered with dark 
gray below) ; imder side of wings barred with white; the tail band 


Immature in dark phase, two bands across the tail, and the tip 
buflfy white; narrow tips of cinnamon above and below, and the 
bases of the feathers of the under surface prominently white. Im- 
mature, light phase, white to buffy white below, with a light band 
across the hind neck, more or less barred with fuscous below ; 3 tail 
bands of brownish gray. 

An immature bird in dark phase, taken at Juan Mina on January 
14, 1955, had the iris dull Marguerite yellow; maxilla and anterior 
half of cutting edge of mandible dusky neutral gray ; rest of mandible, 
anterior one- fourth of loral space, and cere, dull yellowish green ; 
remainder of loral space, and bare eye ring, light vetiver green ; gape, 

Fig. 40. — Head of hook-billed kite, gavilan piquiganchudo, Chondrohierax unci" 

naius uncinatus. 

and a bare spot above lores, orange; tarsus and toes yellow; claws 
black. An adult in complete dark phase taken at 200 meters eleva- 
tion in the Cerro Azul along the upper Rio Pacora differed in having 
the iris bluish gray. 

Measurements. — Males (6 from Panama and Colombia), wing 272- 
290 (281), tail 177-195 (185), culmen from cere 26.7-31.5 (29.7), 
tarsus 34.6-39.9 (37.1) mm. 

Females (5 from Panama and Colombia), wing 272-285 (280), 
tail 179-193 (186), culmen from cere 30.0-30.9 (30.3), tarsus 33.5- 
39.5 (36.5) mm. 

Resident. In forested areas in the tropical and lower subtropical 
zones. Recorded to date from Chiriqui (Boquete, El Volcan) ; 
Veraguas (Arce specimen without locality) ; eastern Panama (lower 
slopes of the Cerro Azul) ; Isla Saboga, and Isia Pedro Gonzalez, 


Archipielago de las Perlas. Known from the Caribbean slope only in 
the lower Chagres Valley, where it has been taken at Madden Dam, 
Juan Mina, Gamboa, Barro Colorado Island, and near Lion Hill. 

This is a forest species, found ordinarily on wooded slopes above 
streams, often in hill country. It is a sedentary bird that perches 
in the middle branches, or in the tree crown, though it comes lower at 
times, even to the ground, when it is in search of the large land snails 
that are a major source of its food. The hooked bill tip often is 
worn, apparently from extracting these animals from the shell. Once 

1 had one clamber along a branch and then fly a few feet toward me, 
attracted by the squeaking sounds that I was using to decoy other 
birds. In the hand this kite seems slight in body, with feet especially 
weak for a hawk, particularly when these are contrasted with the 
heavy bill. Birds in dark phase may be confused with the crab hawk, 
until it is noted that the tail is longer, the body form more slender, 
and the legs and feet shorter and weaker. 

The type locality has been designated as Baia by Hellmayr and 
Conover (Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 4, 1949, p. 27). 

Haverschmidt (Journ. f. Orn., 1964, pp. 64-66) describes a nest 
in Surinam found in mid- April that was placed about 10 meters from 
the ground in a shade tree over coffee. The shallow structure built 
of dry twigs held two young covered with white down with a slight 
reddish wash on the head, back, and wings. 

Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 3, 1961, p. 155, pi. 6, fig. 8) records 

2 eggs of this bird from Trinidad with measurements of 53,5-53.7 X 
40.4-40.6 mm. The specimen figured (in color) is white (apparently 
with a light tinge of buff) spotted and blotched rather lightly with 
brown. In form it is slightly pointed oval. 

ACCIPITER BICOLOR BICOLOR (Vieillot): Bicolored Hawk; Gavilan 


Sparvius hicolor Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 10, June 21, 
1817, p. 325. (Cayenne.) 

A long-tailed, slender-bodied bird-hunter, gray in the adult, white 
or buff underneath in the immature ; end of tail rounded. 

Description. — Length 350 to 420 mm. Adult, crown and upper 
hindneck sooty black; wings and tail fuscous-black, the latter with 

3 brownish crossbars ; rest of upper surface slate-gray ; sides of head 
slate; below pale neutral gray, becoming lighter on lower abdomen, 
and white on lower tail coverts ; tibia chestnut ; under wing coverts 
mixed white and chestnut ; under wing surface dull neutral gray to 
dull black, barred heavily with white ; tail bars white on under side. 


Immature, head black, becoming brownish on cheeks ; above fus- 
cous ; under surface from nearly white in some individuals to 
ochraceous in others, the paler ones with an indistinct whitish or 
buffy ring on hindneck. 

An adult female, taken on Isla Coiba, had the following colors : 
Iris orange ; base of maxilla below nostril, and base of mandible, 
neutral gray; rest of bill black; cere dusky neutral gray; edge of 
eyelids honey yellow; rest of the bare skin about the eye, and on 
the loral area, dull yellowish green ; tarsus and toes yellow ; claws 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Panama and northern Colombia), 
wing 202-211 (207), tail 166-173 (170), culmen from cere 14.6-15.5 
(14.9), tarsus 59.9-64.1 (61.7) mm. 

Females (5 from Panama and northern Colombia), wing 234-240 
(237), tail 177-189 (184), culmen from cere 16.7-19.5 (18.1), tarsus 
67.3-69.3 (68.4) mm. 

Resident. Rare; widely distributed, but not recorded from Los 
Santos and Herrera on the eastern side of the Azuero Peninsula, 
Code, or San Bias. Found on Isla Coiba. 

This is another forest species, a hunter of small birds, that may be 
more common than appears from the few seen, since a fair number 
have been collected over a period of one hundred years. 

In Chiriqui it has been taken from Boquete across the southern 
slopes of the volcano to Bugaba, near the Costa Rican boundary, as 
well as near San Felix in the eastern part of the province. Salvin 
(Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1870, p. 215) received skins from Arce 
shot at Chitra and Calovevora in Veraguas. These are records that 
may not be duplicated as most of the lowland forest cover in these 
provinces now is gone. At Paracote, Aldrich (Scient. Publ. Cleve- 
land Mus. Nat. Hist., vol. 7, 1937, p. 42) shot an immature male as 
it crossed an open field with direct flight, alternately beating the wings 
and gliding. Lawrence received one from McLeannan, taken some- 
where along the Panama Railroad, and there is one in the National 
Museum from the same source marked Frijoles. Imhof (manuscript 
notes) recorded one in the Madden Forest Reserve May 31, 1942. In 
Bocas del Toro, von Wedel collected one (Peters, Bull. Mus. Comp. 
Zool., vol. 71, 1931, p. 311) near Almirante, and Monniche one at 
Cedral near 1,500 meters elevation on the Holcomb Trail. Loye Miller 
secured one near Cricamola on August 31, 1936 (specimen at the 
University of California in Los Angeles). 

The only records for the eastern area are of a male taken at San 
Antonio on the lower Rio Bayano east of Chepo (Havemeyer collec- 


tion in the Peabody Museum at Yale), and specimens from 600 
meters elevation near Cana, Darien. The species has been reported 
most often in the western part of the republic. 

On Isla Coiba on January 17, 1956, a female, attracted by the calls 
of a wounded thrush, came dashing in through low branches to a 
perch a few feet from me. This bird had the double ovary, usual in 
the genus Accipiter, with indication in the left lobe that the bird had 
laid rather recently. The right ovary was about one-third the size 
of the other. A few days later, on January 23 a prisoner brought me 
an immature male that had begun the molt to adult dress on back, 
tertials and tail. 

Capt. Vivian Hewitt (Ool. Rec, 1937, pp. 13-14) reports an egg 
collected in the "Rio Orinoco District" in Venezuela, as white with 
slight rust-colored streaks. It measured 38.0x32.7 mm. The nest, 
on which the bird was seen, was small and cup-shaped, built of 
sticks and lined with a few leaves, placed near the end of a branch 
about 15 meters from the ground. Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 3, 
1961, pp. 143, 160) records a single tgg from western Ecuador as 
pale bluish gray, sparingly spotted with dark brown. The measure- 
ment is given as 46.5x35.2 mm. (As this tgg, in the Passler collec- 
tion, is so different from the one reported by Hewitt it is possible that 
it is wrongly identified.) 

Gavilancito Enano 

Accipiter Fontainier Bonaparte, Compt. Rend. Acad. Sci. Paris, vol. 27, 1853 
(not earlier than Nov. 28), p. 810. (Santa Cruz, Sierra Nevada de Santa 
Marta, Colombia.) 

Smallest of the hawks found in Panama. 

Description. — Length 200 to 250 mm. Adult, crown and hindneck 
dull black; upper back dark neutral gray; rest of upper surface 
fuscous; tail with 4 dull black bars, the interspaces fuscous-brown, 
a concealed spot of white at base; side of head gray, streaked in- 
distinctly with dull white ; under surface white, barred narrowly with 
fuscous, except the throat and foreneck, which vary in marking from 
a few narrow shaft streaks to plain white ; under wing coverts white, 
lightly barred with dark neutral gray ; under surface of primaries and 
secondaries white basally, dull light gray distally, heavily barred with 

Immature (dark phase), above fuscous-black; tail with 5 dark bars, 
tipped narrowly with black; under parts buff, barred with buffy 


Immature (rufous phase), crown fuscous; rest of upper surface 
hazel brown, with concealed areas of dull brown and white bases ; 
tail hazel barred with black; below white, barred with light brown, 
and washed with bright hazel on under side of wing, sides, center of 
breast, and outer side of tibia. 

An adult male, taken on the Rio Tuira, had the iris bright orange- 
red; rim of eyelids, bare skin around eyes, lores, cere, gape, and 
mandibular rami, bright yellow; maxilla (except base), and extreme 
tip of mandible, dusky neutral gray; base of maxilla below nostril, 
and rest of mandible dull buffy white; tarsus and toes yellow, the 
toes slightly brighter ; claws black. 

Measurements. — Males (3 from Panama and northwestern Colom- 
bia), wing 130.3-132.5 (131.5), tail 86.7-92.9 (89.9), culmen from 
cere 10.8-11.5 (11.1), tarsus 40.8-42.2 (41.3) mm. 

Female (1 from Panama), wing 149.7, tail 105.7, culmen from cere 
12.7, tarsus 45.0 mm. 

Resident. Rare ; found in forested areas in the tropical zone. 

This is a little-known species, small in size, that has been recorded 
seldom. McLeannan collected one early in his work, that is presumed 
to have come from near Lion Hill (Lawrence, Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. 
New York, vol. 7, 1862, p. 462). Arce secured one a few years later 
near Santiago, Veraguas (Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1867, p. 
158). Hasso von Wedel shot a male at Obaldia, San Bias (Griscom, 
Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 72, 1932, p. 313). There is an immature 
bird (a female from its size), not previously reported, in the Na- 
tional Museum, collected on February 10, 1889, by H. T. Heyde in 
forest on the Atlantic slope in the Cascajal area of northern Code. 

I have found the species twice, first on February 22, 1959, in heavy 
forest at Boca de Paya, on the Rio Tuira, Darien. I was watching 
small birds moving among leaves a few feet over my head, when one 
of these little hawks swooped in, seized one of them and then flew 
to a perch 50 meters distant, holding its prey in its feet. I shot the 
hawk immediately, and as it fell the little bird flew away, apparently 

On March 9, 1961, on the Rio Pequeni above the Candelaria Sta- 
tion, I had a similar experience when one of these small hawks seized 
an arrocero immediately in front of me and alighted with it on a 
branch. My companion, who was ahead, shot, and again the little 
bird, its prey, flew away unharmed. The hawk was another male, 
somewhat younger, as there were still two chestnut feathers with 
dusky bars in the scapulars of one side. The colors of the side of 
the head and of the tarsus also were slightly duller than in the adult. 


Nothing is known of the nesting of this subspecies. Eggs of the 
closely allied typical form Accipiter s. superciliosus (Linnaeus) 
from Minas Geraes, Brazil, are described by L. R. Wolfe (Ool, Rec, 
1936, p. 84) as pale bluish white, with a greenish tinge when viewed 
against a strong light. One tgg has a wash of light brown over the 
large end, and scattered streaks and spots of this color elsewhere. The 
other two in the set appear unmarked until viewed against the light 
as mentioned, when small specks of reddish scattered through the 
shell may be seen. They measure 36.1 x29.0, 36.6x29.1, and 39.0 X 
29.0 mm. Capt. Vivian Hewitt (Ool. Rec, 1937, p. 13), in Venezuela, 
flushed one of these hawks from a hole in a tree while climbing to a 
nest of a Busarellus. Both nests were empty but two weeks later he 
found that the small accipiters had abandoned the hole, and had 
taken over the nest of the larger hawk. The single &gg that both 
parents guarded was plain white without markings, and measured 
35.0x27.5 mm. 

The typical race superciliosus, found from eastern Colombia, east 
of the Andes, and Venezuela, south through eastern Brazil to Mis- 
iones in northeastern Argentina, differs only in slightly less heavy bar- 
ring on the undersurface, with the dark bars grayer, less black. Size is 
the same in both races. The subspecies found in Panama ranges 
from Nicaragua south through Central America and Colombia west 
of the eastern Andes to western Ecuador. 

ACCIPITER STRIATUS VELOX (Wilson): Sharp-shinned Hawk; 
Gavilancito de Paso 

Falco velox Wilson, Amer. Orn., vol. 5, 1812, p. 116, pi. 45, fig. 1. (Philadelphia, 
Pennsylvania. ) 

Similar in form to the bicolored hawk, but smaller, darker and 
with a definite pattern of streaks or bars on the lower surface ; end 
of tail square. 

Description. — Length 250 to 350 mm. Adult, above slate gray, 
darker on the crown ; feathers of nape with concealed white bases ; 
underparts cinnamon-brown, spotted and barred with white ; tail 
tipped with white, with 4 blackish bands; under tail coverts white; 
under wing coverts white, spotted and barred with fuscous ; under 
wing broadly barred with blackish. 

Immature, above fuscous, darker on the head, narrowly edged with 
tawny ; scapulars and tertials with concealed white spots ; lower sur- 
face white or pale buff streaked and spotted with fuscous and dull 


Measurements.— Males, wing 162-178 (171), tail 134-152 (140.8). 
culmen from cere 9.5-1 1 ( 10.3) , tarsus 46-54 (49.9) mm. 

Females, wing 195-210 (200), tail 150-179 (165.6), culmen from 
cere 10.5-14 (12.7), tarsus 45-58.5 (54.9) mm. 

Migrant from the north to western Panama ; rare. 

Arce secured one on the Volcan de Chiriqui (Salvin, Proc. Zool. 
Soc. London, 1870, p. 216) ; Mrs. Davidson collected a male February 
15, 1934, at 650 meters on Horqueta, above Boquete (Davidson, Proc. 
California Acad. Sci., vol. 23, 1938, p. 256), preserved in the Cali- 
fornia Academy of Sciences. There is one in the Monniche collection 
in the Chicago Natural History Museum taken at about the same 
elevation at Quiel, above Boquete, October 24, 1937 (Blake, Fieldiana: 
Zool., vol. 36, 1958, p. 505). A specimen in the British Museum, 
"obtained through Boucard from Panama" (Salvin and Godman, 
Biol. Centr-Amer., vol. 3, 1897, p. 50) probably was collected by Arce. 
Stone (Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, 1918, p. 249) was in error 
in listing this species from the Canal Zone. 

The sharp-shinned hawk undoubtedly is more regular in occurrence 
than the few records indicate. While I have not taken specimens, I 
saw this species near Cerro Punta, Chiriqui on March 7, 1955, when 
one circled a hundred meters in the air at sunrise near our house, and 
again the following day when I recorded one flying at the edge of 
the forest above the village. Near Monagrillo, Herrera, on February 
25, 1948, I saw one close at hand in thick brush, and on March 15, 
1957, near Pedasi, Los Santos, one circled over the pastures near the 
Rio Pedasi for several minutes. 

The sharpshin ranges in brushy areas, or in forest, often in under- 
growth. In hunting the small birds that form its food it may dash 
across the borders of fields or pastures. 


Gavilan Tej6 

Biiteo hypospodius Gurney, Ibis, ser. 3, vol. 6, no. 1, Jan. 1876, p. 73, pi. 3. 
(Medellin, Antioquia, Colombia.) 

Adult in light phase, white underneath, with dark head, dark wing 
tips, and a dark band at the end of the tail. 

Description. — Length 500 to 610 mm. Adult, above mainly slate 
gray, including the sides of the head, the feathers of upper back 
with concealed white bases ; lesser wing coverts cinnamon, with 
scapulars tinged with the same ; outer webs of primaries and tips 
black; lower back, rump, and upper tail coverts white, barred with 


dark gray, tail coverts in some plain white ; rectrices white, becoming 
gray on the outer webs of the outer feathers, with black subterminal 
band, and a white tip; sides of throat and breast gray ; rest of under 
surface white, barred more or less on sides with gray to brownish 
gray; under wing coverts white, barred narrowly with gray to 
brownish gray. 

There is also a dark phase in which the under parts are gray to 
slate color, edged with white. 

Immature, above black to fuscous-black; hindneck with concealed 
white and buffy edgings on back ; below streaked more or less with 
buffy white; upper tail coverts buffy white, barred irregularly with 
cinnamon brown; under wing coverts barred with black and buffy 
white ; tail light gray, edged with dull black, and with many narrow 
bars of fuscous. 

Measurements (from Friedmann, U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 10, 
1950, p. 234).— Males, wing 404-430 (416.4), tail 194-207 (200.6), 
culmen from cere 23.5-27.5 (25.0), tarsus 92.0-95.0 (93.7) mm. 

Females, wing 423-450 (438.8), tail 198.5-211 (201.4), culmen 
from cere 25.5-28.5 (27.5), tarsus 84.5-93.0 (87.1) mm. 

Resident. Rare; recorded from Calovevora and Chitra, Veraguas 
(Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1870, p. 215) ; Cricamola, 
Bocas del Toro (female in University of Cincinnati Museum, taken 
by von Wedel October 15, 1936). There are sight records from the 
western Province of Panama; at El Espino (near the boundary of 
Code) and Cerro Campana; also at Paris, Herrera; and on Isla 

On March 4, 1948, I recorded one soaring near the Rio Santa 
Maria, northeast of Paris, Herrera. In March 1951 I saw a pair on 
several occasions soaring in strong wind across the southern slopes of 
Cerro Campana. They often hung poised for several minutes over 
one spot, usually with partly closed wings. Once as one remained 
in that fashion I could see a small bird held in one foot. Occasionally 
one of these birds came down to perch on a rock at the crest of a 
ridge, but they were wary and never allowed close approach. On 
March 24, 1951, I recorded a pair that flew up from perches on rocks 
on a high ridge above the Rio Calabozo at El Espino. 

On Christmas day, 1955, on Isla Taboga a great ascending thermal 
that formed over the hill slopes early in the forenoon drew scores of 
brown pelicans, frigatebirds and vultures that came from afar to 
soar over the island. Among them I saw a white-tailed hawk that 
presently drifted away toward Cerro Cabra on the opposite mainland. 


It was my impression that the bird had come over from that area 
for a time attracted by the soaring flock. 

In the air the adults appear white underneath, with dark head 
sharply outlined from the lower foreneck, dark wing tips, and a dark 
band at the end of the tail. It would be difficult if not impossible to 
distinguish those in dark stage of plumage from other species of 
black colored hawks. 

The Spanish name, gavildn teje, is given in imitation of the high- 
pitched double-noted, accented call, uttered often as the bird circles 
high in air. 

While there is no description of the breeding of this hawk in 
Panama, elsewhere in the range of this race, which extends from 
southern Texas through Mexico and Central America to northern 
Colombia and Venezuela, the nest is a structure of sticks placed in 
low trees in open country. Bent (U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 167, 1937, 
p. 218) says that the set includes 1 to 3 eggs, in color dull white to 
pale bluish white, some spotted with dull brown, clay color, or buff 
and some plain, without markings. Measurements vary from 52.7- 
65x42.2-50 mm., with the average 58.9x46.5 mm. The downy 
young, with the body dull buffy brown, whiter underneath, becoming 
dull sepia on the head with a dull black mark through the eye, are 
quite different in appearance from those of other species of the larger 

BtTTEO ALBONOTATUS Kaup: Zone-tailed Hawk; Gavilan Negro 

[Buteo] albonotatus Kaup, Isis von Oken, 1847, Heft 5 (May), col. 329. 

Black, with under surface of wing banded with white. 

Description. — ^Length 450 to 550 mm. Adult, black, with many of 
the feathers white, or partly white, basally; some individuals with 
a wash of slate color on back and breast ; lores and forehead white, 
with blackish shaft streaks ; tail, above tipped narrowly with white, 
and banded with 5 or more indistinct gray bands ; below, grayish to 
white, banded narrowly with neutral gray ; under surface of primaries 
and secondaries neutral gray, barred with white ; under wing coverts 

Immature, sooty brown to black, spotted irregularly with white 
on lower surface ; tail with numerous bands. 

In the hand it may be noted that four outer primaries are distinctly 
notched at the tip. The other species of the genus Buteo found in 
Panama that are black or dark-colored below have only 3 of the 
outer primaries cut on the inner margin. 


Iris dark brown ; eyelids and bare space above dull gray ; bill dull 
neutral gray at base, shading to dusky neutral gray, or dull black, 
toward tip ; cere and gape yellow ; tarsus and toes yellow ; claws 

Measurements. — Males (4 from Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia 
and Venezuela), wing 365-394 (378.7), tail 190-205 (199), culmen 
from cere 20.6-21.5 (21.0), tarsus 66.0-69.0 (68.1) mm. 

Females (6 from Panama, Colombia and Venezuela), wing 385- 
421 (404.3), tail 197-219 (208.5), culmen from cere 23.4-24.5 (23.8), 
tarsus 70.6-80.5 (74.8) mm. 

Status not certain. Rare ; 6 specimens known from Panama. 

W. W. Brown, Jr. collected male and female on Isla del Rey 
on March 6 and 11, 1904 (which are in the Museum of Compara- 
tive Zoology). A female in the U. S. National Museum was shot on 
November 9, 1953, on the K-6 Road, near Cerro Galera, Canal 
Zone. Hasso von Wedel secured a female at Perme, San Bias, August 
27, 1929 (specimen in the Museum of Comparative Zoology) and 
two others at Puerto Obaldia, August 14, 1931, and January 13, 
1932 (now in the Brandt collection at the University of Cincinnati). 

Material that I have seen does not justify separation of the two 
races that have been recognized in most reports that include this bird. 
The slaty wash supposed to mark a northern subspecies, in the series 
seen has been confined to fully adult individuals, as shown by the 
few broad light tail bands. The blacker individuals throughout the 
range mainly are those with the narrow, multiple tail bands of the 
immature. Wing measurements indicate a possible separation, in 
which there is a larger population in North and Central America, 
and a slightly smaller one in northern South America. The material 
seen, however, does not demonstrate this clearly. It is possible that 
the mixing of larger and smaller individuals found in tropical 
America is due to an invasion of northern migrants, and that the 
same mixing in the north may be due to faulty sex determination. 

If two forms are recognized, five of the specimens recorded from 
Panama, viz., the male (wing 375 mm.) and the female (wing 403) 
from Isla del Rey, the female (wing 415) from Perme, and the 
two from Obaldia (wing 394 and 402) appear to come within the 
smaller, southern group under the name Buteo albonotatus ab- 
breviatus Cabanis. These might be residents. The fourth, the female 
from the Canal Zone (wing 421 mm.), which is decidedly larger, 
then would be regarded as a migrant of typical Buteo albonotatus 
albonotatus from the north. 


BUTEO NITIDUS BLAKEI Hellmayr and Conover: Gray Hawk; 
Gavilan Oris 

Figure 41 

Buteo nitidtts blakei Hellmayr and Conover, Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 4, Aug. 
1949, p. 160. ("Pozo del Rio Grande" = El Pozo de Terraba, 150 meters 
elevation, Costa Rica.) 

Distinguished in the adult by dark bands on the light gray back, 
and the gray-banded under surface. 

Description. — Length 370 to 420 mm. Adult, upper surface light 
gray, paler on crown and hindneck, marked abundantly with rather 
narrow bands of darker gray, and with shaft lines of black; tips of 
primaries black, and of secondaries white ; upper tail coverts and 
lower rump feathers black, tipped with white ; tail black, with a broad 
subterminal band and narrow tip white, in some individuals with 
another band of white above the center ; throat white ; side of head 
grayish white, marked obscurely with pale gray ; lower surface of 
body, including the sides and axillars, white, barred heavily with 
neutral gray; under tail coverts white; under surface of wing white, 
changing through grayish white to dark neutral gray on tips of pri- 
maries, with widely separated, narrow bars of neutral gray on the 
under wing coverts, as well as on the flight feathers. 

Immature, crown and sides of head cream-buff to cinnamon-buff, 
more or less streaked with fuscous ; above fuscous with the feathers 
edged with russet, more heavily on the wing coverts, which are 
blotched basally with white and rufous brown ; primaries black at tips, 
pale rufous barred with black and with blackish brown shafts else- 
where ; secondaries tipped with cinnamon ; upper tail coverts light 
buff; tail black tipped with white, barred with 3 paler bands of 
brownish gray ; below cinnamon-buff, streaked and spotted broadly 
with brownish black ; tibia and under wing coverts cinnamon-buff ; 
under surface of primaries and secondaries pale pinkish buff, barred 
narrowly with dull black. 

The pattern of the immature in life suggests that of the immature 
broad- winged hawk, but the markings on the lower surface are much 
heavier, and the upper surface is decidedly black. Usually the crown 
is much paler, though in some it is heavily streaked. 

A male in immature dress taken near Armila, San Bias, March 1, 
1963, had the colors of the soft parts, as follows: Iris light brown; 
cere and gape light honey yellow; side of maxilla at gape, lower half 
of mandibular rami, and extreme base of gonys light green ; rest of 
maxilla and tip of mandible black ; middle of mandible dull neutral 
gray ; tarsus and toes bright yellow ; claws black. 


Measurements. — Males (4 specimens), wing 234-240 (237), tail 
147-150 (148) ; culmen from cere 20.0-22.0 (20.9), tarsus 66.2-70.0 
(68.8) mm. 

Females (5 specimens), wing 244-255 (249), tail 149-160 (164), 
culmen from cere 20.8-23.3 (22.1), tarsus 67.5-73.0 (70.5) mm. 

Fig. 41. — Gray hawk, gavilan gris, Buteo nitidiis blakei. 

Resident. Found locally in forested areas through the tropical zone, 
to 1,200 meters in Chiriqui (Barriles) ; apparently most common on 
the Pacific slope. 

The species has not been recorded to date from Bocas del Toro nor 
from Darien, though it should be found. A specimen taken by Mrs. 
Davidson Terry at Barriles is the only record for Chiriqui. They are 
fairly common in northern Herrera, and range to the southern end 
of the Azuero Peninsula, below Pedasi. 


This handsome hawk spends much of its time in the higher levels 
of forest trees, where usually it flies from behind cover, and so it 
is not easily seen. Its apparent greater abundance on the Pacific 
slope may be due to the more open cover in that area which permits 
clearer view. The species is less common than the large-billed hawk 
and also is much more retiring. The larger feet with longer claws, 
as well as the heavier body indicate also that it is a more active 
predator. Mice, rats, lizards, and frogs are recorded as its food. 
It also preys on small birds to some extent. Sometimes these hawks 
have decoyed to the distress calls that I use in hunting. 

Near Mandinga, San Bias, at the end of January a pair were 
building a nest in the upper branches of a dark-leafed tree a hundred 
meters from our house, and were active in this until our departure 
on February 15. The usual call was a loud kree-ee-ah, with addi- 
tional whistled notes, in general like those of the crab-hawk, but 
definitely higher in tone. Sometimes when I approached quietly one 
of the birds that I believed to be the male would alight on an open 
limb in a gray-barked jobo tree, which his color matched perfectly. 
Here he rested with body inclined forward, and vibrated the tail 
steadily from side to side, a movement that emphasized the black-and- 
white markings of the tip. The nest, which we were unable to reach 
because of the size of the tree, appeared to resemble that of other 
tree-building hawks, in that it was constructed of small sticks. On 
February 7 I saw one of the birds fly to it bearing a freshly broken, 
leafy branch. 

Wolfe (Ool. Rec, 1938, p. 50) describes a set of 2 collected by 
Austin Paul Smith, May 2, 1923 in the Province of Guanacaste, Costa 
Rica as lightly marked with light brown. They measure 42.5 X 36.3, 
and 43.6x37.2 mm. The ground color in eggs of this species varies 
from dull white to bluish white, usually plain, rarely spotted with 

This subspecies was first described by Harry Kirke Swann in 1922 
as Asturina nitida costaricensis. With its transfer to the genus Buteo 
this name is preoccupied by Buteo jamaicensis costaricensis Ridgway, 
dated 1874. It was renamed blakei, therefore, by Hellmayr and 
Conover, as indicated in the heading above. The type locality cited 
by Swann as "Pozo del Rio Grande, Bornea" ( = Boruca) has been 
followed by other authors but needs correction. The type specimen, 
a male in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, was collected in 
1906 by C. F. Underwood at Pozo del Rio Grande,a point at about 
150 meters elevation, according to Bangs (Auk, 1907, pp. 287, 290). 


It now is known as El Pozo de Terraba, according to information 
received from Dr. Paul Slud. Bonica is a hill town at about 450 
meters, located some distance farther inland. Bangs in his list of 
types (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 70, 1930, p. 189) merely quoted 
what Swann had written, but with correction of the spelling of 
Boruca, as he cites the locality as "Boruca, Pozo del Rio Grande," 
without realizing that the two geographic terms represented two 
distinct places. 

BUTEO BRACHYURUS Vieillot: Short-tailed Hawk; Gavilan Cola Corta 

Buteo brachyurus Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 4, Dec, 1816, 
p. 477. (Cayenne.) 

A small hawk. In black phase, black with short, white-banded tail. 
In light phase, white below, with a wash of cinnamon on sides of 

Description. — Length 370-460 mm. Adult, dark phase, black to 
brownish black throughout, with a slight indication of grayish wash 
on the upper back ; forehead and anterior part of lores narrowly 
white, with the feather shafts black; back part of crown and upper 
hindneck with concealed white bases ; upper tail coverts with hidden 
bars of white ; longer outermost under wing coverts dark neutral 
gray, the rest and the axillars black; central area of flight feathers 
marbled with white and pale gray ; tips of primaries dull gray ; tips 
of secondaries dull mouse gray ; shafts of flight feathers black above 
white underneath, except for the tips which are dark brown ; upper 
surface of tail with 5 or 6 dull brownish gray bands ; tail with a 
narrow, indistinct terminal band of mouse brown, tipped faintly with 
grayish white. 

Adult, light phase, above dark grayish brown ; white on forehead 
and anterior lores more extensive than in dark phase; primaries and 
secondaries dull black; tail with 6 somewhat irregular black bands 
across the gray-brown feathers, which are tipped with brownish 
black, and margined lightly with white to grayish white ; sides of 
head and neck brownish black, changing to dull cinnamon on sides 
of upper breast ; under surface elsewhere pure white ; under wing 
white, except for neutral gray spots on the ends of the longest 
outermost under coverts, and the tips of the primaries which are 
blackish brown ; inner primaries and secondaries white to light gray 
banded with light neutral gray to mouse brown. 

Iris brown ; bill black, becoming slate gray at base of mandible ; 
cere yellow ; tarsus and toes yellow ; claws black. 


Measurements. — Males (5 from Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela), 
wing 269-299 (281.6), tail 137-148 (144.8), culmen from cere 16.8- 
19.6 (18.1), tarsus 54.4-61.0 (57.9) mm. 

Females (5 from Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama), 
wing 299-313 (307.6), tail 151-171 (158.2), culmen from cere 19.0- 
21.0 (20.2), tarsus 57.0-62.7 (59.2) mm. 

Resident, Rare, in the more open lands. 

Little is known of this species in Panama, where the few records 
for it over a period of nearly one hundred years are widely scattered. 
In Veraguas, Enrique Arce secured two at Calovevora and another 
at Calobre (Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1870, p. 215 ; Salvin and 
Godman, Biol. Centr.-Amer., vol. 3, 1900, p. 72). W. W. Brown, Jr., 
en route to Chiriqui, shot one at Sona, July 25, 1901 (Bangs, Proc. 
New England Zool. Club, vol. 3, 1902, p. 20). In Bocas del Toro, 
Hasso von Wedel collected a female at Changuinola, November 5, 
1928 (Peters, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 71, 1931, p. 311). In the 
Canal Zone, Hallinan secured one at Gatun, February 11, 1909. 
Brown shot a male near Panama City, May 4, 1904 (Thayer and 
Bangs, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool, vol. 46, 1906, p. 214), Wedel one 
at Perm.e, San Bias (Griscom, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 72, 1932, 
p. 314), and another, a female in light phase, at Puerto Obaldia, San 
Bias, June 16, 1933 (in the museum of the University of Cincinnati). 

I have found this species only in northern Herrera, where Perrygo 
and I collected one on February 26 near Portobellilo, and another 
March 8, near Santa Maria, both in 1948. The first was flying along 
a line of trees bordering a lane in open country. The second was 
among large trees in gallery forest. In general appearance on the 
wing these birds were similar to other small hawks of the same genus. 
They seem however, to be more aggressive, as one taken was killed 
as it stooped swiftly at a brown robin that had come to feed on berries. 
Hallinan records that the one he collected had killed two lizards, and 
that it had fragments of a small bird in its stomach. 

While the range of this species includes the vast area of tropical 
America from Mexico through Central America and South America 
to northeastern Argentina, its nesting is known principally from the 
population isolated in Florida. Here the birds build open nests in 
trees often high above the ground. Bent (U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 
167, 1937, pp. 256-257) says that the usual set is of two eggs, with 
a range in number from one to three. These are plain pale bluish 
white in some, or dull white, spotted or blotched in varying degree 
with brown. Measurements vary from 48.6-57.5 X 40.3-45.5 mm. 


BUTEO PLATYPTERUS PLATYPTERUS (Vieillot): Broad- winged Hawk; 

Gavilan de Paso 

Sparvius platypterus Vieillot, Table Encycl. Meth., Orn., vol. 3, 1823, p. 1273. 
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.) 

A medium-sized, heavy-bodied hawk; adult with side of head, 
f oreneck and upper breast cinnamon-brown ; immature white under- 
neath streaked with grayish brown. 

Description. — Length 340 to 410 mm. Adult, above grayish brown 
to dull black, the feathers edged lightly with grayish white to 
cinnamon-buff ; forehead and lores white ; crown feathers edged 
lightly with dull white ; nape with concealed feather base white ; pri- 
maries and secondaries tipped lightly with dull white; upper tail 
coverts and lateral rump feathers tipped and barred broadly with 
white; tail blackish brown to black, with two broad bars of grayish 
white, a grayish brown band near the end and white tip; side of 
head below eye blackish, edged with light gray, becoming browner 
over the ear region, and continuing thus down the side of the neck ; 
throat white to huffy white streaked with dull black ; under tail coverts 
white to buff, immaculate or lightly marked with light brown; rest of 
lower surface, including the feathered part of legs, banded 
irregularly with broad marks of wood brown, edged somewhat with 
dull gray and white ; under wing coverts buffy white, marked lightly 
with light brown, with the longer, outermost feathers tipped and 
barred lightly with grayish and brownish black ; under wing feathers 
white, becoming gray and finally black at tips of primaries; under 
surface of secondaries barred with dark gray and wood brown. 
Some individuals are whiter below and blacker above, and some 
browner above and below, with others in intermediate stage between 
these two styles. 

Immature, blackish brown above, with the partly concealed feather 
bases white so that this lighter color appears abundantly in spots and 
streaks ; below white to buffy white, streaked lightly to heavily with 
brownish black ; under wing surface whiter than in the adult. 

Rarely an individual shows a dark phase that is almost black, so 
that it resembles the short-tailed hawk, but may be told by the smaller 
feet, with the middle toe without the claw shorter than the bare 
portion of the tarsus in front. 

Measurements (from Friedmann, U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 10, 
1950, p. 309).— Males, wing 244-277 (262.8), tail 148.0-173.5 (159), 
culmen from cere 17-20 (18.2), tarsus 57.5-65.5 (62.3) mm. 

Females, wing 265-296 (282.8), tail 155-185 (171), culmen from 
cere 17.1-20.5 (19.3), tarsus, 59-66.4 (62.8) mm. 


Winter visitor from the north and passage migrant. Common; 
found throughout the mainland ; recorded on Isla Coiba, and on islas 
Taboga, Taboguilla, Urava, Gobemadora and Cebaco. 

The broad-wing apparently is averse to long flights over water, 
as though it passes regularly in migration into South America as far 
as northern and eastern Venezuela, to reach these regions it moves 
over land through Central America and Colombia. It has not been 
recorded to date for the Archipielago de las Perlas, though it crosses 
islands immediately adjacent to the mainland. In 5 weeks in the 
field on Isla Coiba I recorded only half a dozen. 

These hawks appear from the north in October and remain until 
April. Early dates of arrival are October 7, 1953, near Pacora (speci- 
men in U. S. National Museum), October 12 to 14, 1942, flights over 
Chorrera (T. A. Imhof, notes), October 19, 1929, Perme, San Bias 
(Griscom, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 72, 1932, p. 313). The main 
flight northward from wintering grounds in South America passes 
through the isthmus during the month of March. On March 31, 
1950, I observed hundreds near Chimin, and on April 1, 1955, I 
recorded numbers mingled with a great flight of Swainson's hawks 
over Pedro Miguel. The major migration ends abruptly. A few late 
records for single birds during April are as follows : April 4, 1946, at 
Jaque, Darien ; April 6, 1950, Barro Colorado Island ; April 19, 1901, 
near Boquete, Chiriqui (Bangs, Proc. New England Zool. Club, vol. 
3, 1902, p. 20). 

One banded in Maine July 5, 1938, was taken the following De- 
cember near Los Santos. 

Though groups of broad-wings often move alone, the major flights 
usually are in company with Swainson's hawks and follow the pattern 
described for that bird. The total number, however, is less than that 
of the larger species, and on the whole the broad-wing movement 
is less spectacular. Those that remain on the isthmus during the 
northern winter are spread singly through forested areas, including 
lines of trees through cultivated lands, and older stands of second 
growth. Sometimes they may come out briefly to soar in the com- 
pany of native hawks, but usually they are seen perched among open 
branches, in or below the tree crown. In the mountains in the cool 
air of early morning often they are seen resting in the sun in dead 
trees standing in the pastures. Birds taken in March for specimens 
may be heavy with fat. 

In Panama these hawks feed extensively on large Orthoptera and 
to some degree on lizards. They appear regularly on freshly burned 
lands, and then become so much blackened that they may be difficult 


to recognize. Chapman (Life in an Air Castle, 1938, p. 126) saw 
one capture an immature ani, but this must be unusual, as I have 
never seen one show any interest in the abundant small birds when 
these chance to appear near, and conversely the forest birds ordinarily 
pay little or no attention to the hawks. The exceptions usually are 
tropical kingbirds and Myiozetetes similis that pursue large birds of 
any kind, even to turkey vultures that pass too near. 

BUTEO JAMAICENSIS (Gmelin): Red-tailed Hawk; Guaraguao 

Falco jamaicensis Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 1, 1788, p. 266. (Jamaica.) 

This is a species found throughout North America, from near the 
limit of tree growth in the far north south to Panama and the 
Greater Antilles. In this extensive range 8 subspecies have been 
recognized of which two are known from the Republic, one as a 
resident in the mountains of Chiriqui and Veraguas and another as 
a casual migrant. Details regarding these are covered under the two 
headings that follow. 


Buteo borealis var. costaricensis Ridgway, in Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway, Hist. 
N. Amer. Birds, Land Birds, vol. 3, 1874, pp. 258 (in key), 285. (Costa Rica.) 

A large, broad-winged hawk with rufous brown tail in the adult. 
The inner webs of the four outermost primaries are incised toward 
the tip. 

Description. — Length 470 to 570 mm. Adult, crown and hindneck 
hair brown to black, with the concealed feather bases white ; rest of 
upper surface blackish brown ; tail russet to cinnamon-brown, with a 
narrow black subterminal band; upper tail coverts cinnamon, barred 
irregularly with dusky, and tipped with white; sides of head, neck, 
and upper breast hair brown, edged or washed with dull cinnamon ; 
f oreneck and breast white, streaked lightly with hair brown ; abdo- 
men, sides, flanks, and tibia cinnamon-brown; under tail coverts 
cinnamon-buff ; tibia sometimes lightly barred with dull black ; under 
wing coverts cinnamon-brown, becoming white on outer edge, with 
the longest outermost coverts dusky neutral gray, forming a large, 
prominent spot; under side of flight feathers dull white, freckled 
with pale gray, tipped with dusky neutral gray, and with 2 or more 
bars of the same color. There are two color phases, one that is 
almost entirely white below, with a few cinnamon buff bars on the 
tibia, and one that is more rufescent on the under surface than the 
detailed description above. 


Immature, like the adult, but with crown indistinctly lined with 
white ; tail grayish cinnamon-buff, with many narrow hair brown 
crossbars ; tibia whitish, barred with reddish brown ; under wing 
coverts mainly white. 

The bright brown color of the upper surface of the tail in the adult 
fades decidedly before the feathers are molted, as the birds perch and 
soar much at hours when they receive the full force of the tropical 

Measurements (from Friedmann, U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 10, 
1950, p. 266).— Males, wing 368-377 (372.2), tail 207.0-216.5 
(213.6), culmen from cere 25.0-26.7 (25.4), tarsus 87.0-90.5 (88.6) 

Females, wing 397-410 (402.2), tail 222-239 (229.2), culmen from 
cere 26.0-28.0 (26.8), tarsus 85.0-95.3 (87.1) mm. 

Resident. Tolerably common in the subtropical and temperate zones 
in the higher mountains of Chiriqui and Veraguas ; found casually 
east to the Canal Zone. 

There is indication that formerly, when lowland forests in Veraguas 
were extensive, these hawks came down the mountain slopes into the 
tropical zone, as there is a specimen in the British Museum collected 
by Arce marked Castillo. Arce secured specimens also in the moun- 
tains of Veraguas near Chitra and Calobre. Red-tailed hawks that 
are supposed to be this race are seen casually east as far as the low- 
lands of the Canal Zone. The only specimen presumed to come from 
this area is one in the British Museum, sent to Salvin by McLeannan 
when he was stationed at Lion Hill (Sclater and Salvin, Proc. Zool. 
Soc. London, 1864, p. 369). J. M. Abbott informs me that he saw a 
red-tailed hawk at Fort Clayton, February 1, and another near Pedro 
Miguel on March 3, 1942. Dr. and Mrs. Scholes recorded one along 
the Chiva Chiva trail back of Fort Clayton on December 23, 1951 
(Condor, 1954, p. 166). It is my supposition that these were probably 
wanderers of the subspecies found in the western mountains. 

Most of the specimen and other records refer to the mountains of 
Chiriqui, which is the main area of present day occurrence. Here 
the birds may be noted over the higher slopes of the volcano, and also 
on the mountains that adjoin the main Volcan Baru. One was taken 
at Boquete by W. W. Brown, Jr., and a series by Monniche at 
Chiquero, Horqueta, and Lerida, in that same area. A skin in the 
California Academy of Sciences was taken by Mrs. Davidson on 
December 24, 1929, at Barriles across the Rio Chiriqui Viejo from 
Cerro Pando. I have recorded them from time to time over Pando, 
near Santa Clara (Chiriqui), near Sereno on the Costa Rican bound- 


ary, and at 2,100 meters elevation above Cerro Punta. Wedel shot 
one near Changuinola, Bocas del Toro, December 9, 1928 (Peters, 
Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 71, 1931, p. 310). 

Usually they are seen soaring high in air, turning in circles, and 
occasionally uttering a shrill, screaming call. As they tilt a bit in the 
air currents a view of the bright brown color of the tail makes their 
identification certain. 

The nesting of this subspecies has not been recorded. 


Buteo calurus Cassin, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, vol. 7, no. 7, Jan.-Feb. 
(May 22), 1855, p. 281. (Fort Webster, Rio Mimbres, New Mexico.) 

Adult, in normal phase, like B. j. co stark ensis, but blacker above ; 
below washed with pale buflf to pale cinnamon ; tibia barred definitely 
with bright brown. In melanistic phase, the bird is blackish brown 
above and below, with the under tail coverts marked with cinnamon ; 
wings white to gray underneath. Some in the dark phase have the 
head, hindneck, and upper back edged with cinnamon. 

On the whole they are like the resident subspecies, but in nor- 
mal dress are darker, and much darker in the black phase. 

Casual wanderer from farther north. One record, a bird in the 
British Museum, shot by E. Arce in 1870 on the southern slopes 
of Volcan de Chiriqui. 

This darker race of the species nests from Alaska and northern 
Canada south through the western United States to Baja California 
and New Mexico. In winter some wander south to Guatemala, cas- 
ually as far as Nicaragua. 

BUTEO SWAINSONI Bonaparte: Swainson's Hawk; Irol 

Buteo Swainsoni Bonaparte, Geogr. and Comp. List, 1838, p. 3. (Fort Vancouver, 

A large hawk, variable in color, similar in form to the red-tail, but 
with three outer primaries incised at the tip. 

Description. — Length 450 to 550 mm. Adult, pale phase, upper 
surface dark grayish brown to fuscous, the feathers with narrow 
edgings of grayish white to cinnamon ; forehead and lores white, the 
former streaked with grayish brown ; feathers of nape with concealed 
white bases; lateral upper tail coverts white to tawny, barred with 
grayish brown ; secondaries fuscous, tipped lightly with white to 
cinnamon; primaries dull black, with outer webs toward tips more 
or less grayish; rectrices brov\Tiish mouse gray, tipped with grayish 


or buffy white, with 9 or 10 bars of dull black ; throat white, streaked 
with grayish brown to dull black ; sides of the head dull black ; upper 
breast grayish brown to light russet, with narrow black shaft lines ; 
rest of under surface buffy white, varying from nearly immaculate, 
to spotted and barred irregularly with grayish brown to tawny ; tibia 
barred with cinnamon ; under wing coverts white to buffy white with 
the longer outer ones dark gray to dull black, forming a distinct spot ; 
elsewhere spotted lightly with grayish brown to cinnamon. 

Rufous phase, entire under surface washed with light brown, 
barred narrowly with russet ; concealed nape patch buffy. 

Black phase, body throughout dull black to brownish black; 
under tail coverts buffy, barred with fuscous. 

Immature, blackish above, with forehead extensively white ; crown 
and hindneck broadly streaked with white, and rest of upper surface 
heavily and irregularly spotted with white; below buffy white, with 
a fuscous area on breast. Birds in the first year vary from this to 
individuals with under surface fuscous-black spotted with tawny. 

As the description indicates there is much variation in color. In 
life the lighter individuals are marked by the dark breast. The 
blacker ones suggest the zone-tailed hawk, but usually they will 
be seen in migrant flocks with their lighter colored companions, while 
the other species is found alone or in pairs, and is very rare. In the 
hand it will be seen that 3 outer primaries are notched near the tip, 
in which Swainson's hawk resembles the white-tailed hawk. From 
that species Swainson's hawk differs in having the tarsus definitely 
less than 80 mm. long, while in the other this measures 85 to 95 mm. 

Measurements (from Friedmann, U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 10, 
1950, pp. 297-298).— Males, wing 362-406(383.6), tail 185-214 
(204.6), culmen from cere 20.5-24.9 (22.1), tarsus 63.1-72.6 (68.2) 

Females, wing 375-427 (404.6), tail 193.6-234.0 (214.6), culmen 
from cere 20.5-25.7 (23.7), tarsus 61.5-76.4 (70.6) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Seen usually in flocks, en route to or 
from a winter range in South America. 

The southward flight begins in the latter part of September (Sept. 
28, 1940) and continues through October (Oct. 22, 1911). The north- 
ward movement starts in early February (Feb. 3, 1952), with the 
main migration in March and the beginning of April (large flocks 
Apr. 2, 1950). A few continue to pass through early April. Some 
remain on the isthmus during the northern winter, as indicated by 
2 skins in the U. S. National Museum, one taken near Gatun, Canal 


Zone, December 18, 1910, and another obtained near Pacora Novem- 
ber 28, 1958. The main flight seems to pass along the Pacific slope 
and the central mountains from Darien to Chiriqui. In 1952 I saw 
a flock at El Uracillo, Code, on the upper Rio Indio, but did not note 
them at the mouth of the river on the Caribbean coast. There is no 
present record for Bocas del Toro, nor for Herrera or Los Santos, 
I have seen them on Taboga and Taboguilla, but not in the Pearl 

The great flocks of these migrant hawks constitute one of the 
notable sights for the ornithologist in this part of the world. While 
other species, principally the broad-winged hawk and turkey vulture, 
with scattered ospreys, marsh hawks and peregrine falcons may 
join, half at least of these migrants are the present species. At times 
they are seen in an endless line that moves high across the sky, until 
one tires of watching. Or the birds may pass rapidly in groups of a 
hundred to several thousand, that pause to circle in some rising air 
thermal, and then move swiftly until they disappear. In full migra- 
tion across the open savanna several such flocks may appear in view 
simultaneously. On other days single birds and small groups pass 
more leisurely at intervals. On various occasions when examining 
some high-flying bird with binoculars I have seen large flocks of hawks 
passing so high above the earth that they were not visible to the 
unaided eye. 

The bands pause at night to sleep on some forested hill slope or 
other spot where they will not be disturbed. While I have noted their 
roosts in Panama only in trees, in Costa Rica and in El Salvador flocks 
are recorded also as spending the night on the ground on open ridges 
in the hills. They do not appear to stop for food, at least in the 
isthmian part of their journey. Occasionally one or two alight on 
the ground in the savannas, or on a rock on an open hillside, and some- 
times small flocks may pass low overhead, but ordinarily they move far 
beyond gunshot above the earth. For this reason few persons recog- 
nize that they are hawks, and those who see them ordinarily call them 
iroles or pdjaros del norte. The Cuna Indians call the moon that 
approximates our month of September kigini or hawk, because of 
the regularity with which these annual flights appear. The local name 
irol applies to this species in the main, though the great mixed flocks 
of Swainson's hawk and broadwings usually are called iroles with- 
out understanding that two kinds are concerned. 

Like the turkey vultures these hawk flights move mainly by sailing 
with set wings, propelled by favoring air currents, I recall one es- 
pecially interesting flight seen in the latter part of March over the 


forest at Charco del Toro on the Rio Maje. In early morning 
scattered Swainson's hawks that appeared to have slept nearby came 
over the trees in steadily increasing number, until two groups each 
of a thousand or more were wheeling in circles 500 meters apart. 
Suddenly the two bands joined immediately overhead, giving me an 
extraordinary view. As I looked up through the rapidly moving 
segments of their spirals the air seemed completely crowded with the 
rapidly turning birds. This continued for 15 minutes until the entire 
flock moved rapidly to a higher elevation in a favorable air current 
with which they disappeared. Such flights are the more impressive 
as there is no sound of calling from any of the birds. 

BUTEO MAGNIROSTRIS (Gmelin): Large-billed Hawk; Cuiscuf 
Figure 42 
Falco magntrostris Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 1, 1788, p. 282. (Cayenne.) 

A small hawk with the wing feathers partly rufous, and the fore- 
neck and upper breast gray. 

Description. — Length 330 to 370 mm. Adult, above brownish gray, 
darker and grayer on the crown and sides of the head ; upper breast 
and foreneck gray; throat feathers bordered with white or buffy 
white to produce streaks ; upper tail coverts buffy white, barred 
broadly with black ; tail with 4 heavy black bars, the uppermost con- 
cealed by the upper tail coverts, the light bars rufous, or light gray, 
according to the race; lower surface white to buffy white, barred 
heavily with cinnamon brown to buffy brown, the bars edged more 
or less prominently with gray; under wing coverts white to warm 
buff, spotted irregularly with cinnamon; primaries and secondaries 
cinnamon buff to rufous, barred heavily with black, with the tips 
black ; lower surface of these feathers lighter in color. 

Immature, like adult, but with more or less brown as a wash or 
streaks in the gray of the upper breast. 

The iris in adult birds is yellow; bare skin above eye and across 
loral area greenish yellow; bare edge of eyelid honey yellow; cere, 
gape, and base of mandibular rami dull orange ; a small area on side 
of maxilla (behind the "tooth," and below the level of the nostril) 
and central area of mandibular rami dull neutral gray ; rest of bill 
black ; tarsus and toes light orange yellow ; claws black. (Colors taken 
from specimens of the race B. m. petulans.) 

This is the most commonly seen hawk of the tropical zone, found 
mainly in open country, and noted frequently in rows of trees along 
fences in pastures and cultivated lands and also in more open stands 



of second growth. In forested areas it avoids the deep shade of the 
lower levels but ranges across the high forest crown, where the un- 
dulating upper surface of the leafy canopy affords an open hunting 
ground suited to the life of a bird that elsewhere inhabits open fields 
and savannas. 


Fig. 42. — Large-billed hawk, cuiscui, Buteo magnirostris. 

The customary perch when at rest is shaded above but open at the 
sides, so that the bird has clear view of its surroundings. The species 
ranges mainly in lowland areas, from the landward side of the man- 
grove swamps inland through the more open slopes of the hill country. 
As clearing for farms has progressed it has become more common 
at higher elevations, and now is seen regularly in the lower sub- 
tropical zone in Chiriqui up to elevations of over 1,200 meters. 


Usually these hawks show little fear, in many places being almost 
foolishly tame, so that they are easy to approach, and they come 
regularly to the squeaking sounds that the hunter makes to attract 
small birds. Often they betray their presence by high-pitched, 
querulous calls, repeated slowly, in imitation of which they are called 

Following periods of rain, they sometimes rest in early morning 
with partly spread wings and tail to enjoy the agreeable warmth of 
the sun. In general they are of sluggish habit spending much time 
at rest, making short flights only when disturbed. Though they may 
soar in small circles, they do not rise high, and usually only con- 
tinue for brief periods. 

Their principal food is composed of lizards, large Orthoptera, and 
other insects, but may include an occasional small bird, usually a 
young one, or a mouse. People living in the country complain that 
individuals that range near houses capture small chicks, the only 
damage that may be ascribed to them, as otherwise they appear harm- 

The species is one of those found throughout much of the tropical 
area of the Americas from Mexico to northern Argentina. There is 
considerable variation in color in different sections, so that different 
authorities have recognized between 15 and 20 races in the entire 
range. Four of these subspecies are found in the Republic of 

The species magnirostris uniformly has the webs of the primaries 
and secondaries rufous, and so is readily known. It has been placed 
by some authorities in a distinct genus Rupornis, which however 
appears to have no trenchant characters when the many species of the 
broad Buteo group are considered. 

Double ovaries are common in these birds, and undoubtedly have 
led to the marking of some females in museum collections as males 
by preparators not familiar with this condition. One female that I 
took near Alanje, Chiriqui, March 3, 1960, had the right ovary 
dormant, though of fair size, and ova in process of development in 
the one on the left side. 


Rupornis magnirostris arguta Peters and Griscom, Proc. New England Zool. 
Club, vol. 11, Aug. 30, 1929, p. 46. (Almirante, Bocas del Toro, Panama.) 

Characters. — Distinctly brownish gray above and on foreneck and 
upper breast; pale tail bands gray, or with slight rufous edging on 
either side, adjacent to the black bands; light bars on lower surface 
deeper buff. 


The measurements are similar to those of the next race, B. in. 

Resident. Fairly common in Bocas del Toro, from the Costa Rican 
border through Changuinola and Almirante to Cricamola; Isla 
Colon, Isla Cristobal, Isla Pastores. 

This is a form of southern Central America from eastern Honduras 
south to Costa Rica, that reaches its most southerly point in the low- 
lands around the Laguna de Chiriqui. 

A female taken along the Changuinola Canal on February 20, 1958, 
was nearly ready to lay. 

Kennard and Peters (Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., vol. 38, 1928, 
p. 449) record the eye in the adult as varying from barium yellow 
to cinnamon buff and pinard yellow ; and in the immature as russet. 


Buteo magnirostris petulans van Rossem, Condor, vol. Z7, no. 4, July 15, 1935, 
p. 215. (Lion Hill, Canal Zone, Panama.) 

Characters. — Differs from B. m. argutus in grayer coloration : less 
brownish on upper surface, foreneck, and upper breast; light tail 
bands entirely or mainly rufous ; light interspaces on lower surface 
white to very pale buff. 

Measurements. — Males (8 specimens), wing 205-215 (209), tail 
132-151 (144), culmen from cere 16.5-17.5 (17.1, average of 6), 
tarsus 55.0-64.5 (60.5) mm. 

Females (16 specimens), wing 215-227 (221), tail 141-163 (153), 
culmen from cere 17.8-20.2 (19.2, average of 15), tarsus 60.0-66.5 
(63.5) mm. 

Resident. Pacific slope, from Chiriqui, where it ranges to 1,200 
meters in the mountains, eastward to the southern shores of Golfo 
de San Miguel (Garachine) in the lowlands of Darien ; on the 
Caribbean side from northern Code (El Uracillo) east through the 
Province of Colon and the Canal Zone ; Isla Parida ; Isla Coiba ; Isla 
Taboguilla ; Isla Iguana, off the coast of Los Santos. Intergrades with 
the race insidiatrix on the lower Rio Tuira. Birds from the lowlands 
below Pacora and Chepo have the light tail bands grayer, less rufous, 
and thus tend toward insidiatrix, but otherwise agree with petulans, 
and are placed with that race. 

As I have seen no specimens from eastern Bocas del Toro, or from 
the Caribbean slope of Veraguas, this area is omitted in the range 
given above. On the Pacific side this race extends throughout the 
Azuero Peninsula, where I have specimens from the southern end 
at Tonosi and Pedasi. Six skins from Isla Coiba agree with the series 


from the mainland. Hawks of this species seen on Isla Taboguilla 
are assigned here on basis of probability. I have not recorded it on 
Isla Taboga, where it is probable that it has been killed off through 
the long period of extensive settlement on this island. 

An occupied nest seen on January 21, 1956, on Isla Coiba was 
placed about 12 meters from the ground in a tree of moderate size 
that stood in a second-growth thicket. A hawk was noted carrying 
nesting material on March 8, 1948, near Santa Maria, Herrera, and 
in the month of April I have seen them regularly in pairs in the 
Pacora-Chepo area. 

While the usual name for these hawks throughout the republic is 
cuiscui in imitation of the call, near Sona they were called guifio. 

This subspecies was known long under the name riificauda, from 
Asturiim ruficatida Sclater and Salvin (Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 
1869, p. 133). With the location of this form in the genus Buteo 
this is preoccupied by Accipiter ruficaudus Vieillot, 1807, which is a 
synonym of Buteo jainatcensis borealis (Gmelin). Accordingly the 
race under discussion was named petulans by van Rossem as in- 
dicated in the citation in the heading. 


Rupornis magnirostris insidiatrix Bangs and Penard, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 
vol. 62, April, 1918, p. 36. (Bonda, Magdalena, Colombia.) 

Characters. — Differs from B. m. petulans in lighter gray of dorsal 
surface, with the light-colored tail bands dark gray, in some with a 
faint tinge of cinnamon-buff; whiter below on the light interspaces, 
with the dark bands grayer, less rufescent, varying from huffy brown 
to warm brown, occasionally brighter sayal brown centrally. 

Measurements. (The series measured is mainly from northern 
Colombia).— Males (19 specimens), 207-219 (213.3), tail 135-157 
(147.5), culmen from cere 16.4-19.9 (17.6), tarsus 60.0-65.0 (62.8) 

Females (14 specimens), wing 217-234 (222.0), tail 138-164 
(147.1), culmen from cere 17.3-19.8 (18.6), tarsus 57.8-67.8 (63.6) 

Resident. Caribbean slope throughout the Comarca de San Bias 
(Mandinga; Perme; Armila; Obaldia) ; on the Pacific side on the 
Rio Chucunaque (mouth of Rio Tuquesa), and the middle Rio Tuira 
and its tributaries (Pucro, Boca de Paya). Birds from the lower 
Chucunaque (Yaviza), and the lower Tuira (Marraganti; El Real) 
are intermediate toward petulans. 


I did not find these birds at Jaque, Darien, in 1946 and 1947, and 
there are no present records for the species on the Pacific coast south 
of Garachine. To the south and east this race ranges across northern 
Colombia and northern Venezuela. It is fairly common along the 
Chucunaque and the Tuira, less so in the western area of the San 
Bias coast. When perched near at hand it is possible to note the 
gray bands on the tail, which are a field mark to distinguish this race 
from petulans of farther west, in which these marks are rufous. 

Todd and Carriker (Ann. Carnegie Mus., vol. 14, 1922, p. 155) 
describe two eggs of this race, collected at Bonda, Magdalena, Colom- 
bia, by H. H. Smith, April 13 and 18, 1898, as "dull grayish white, 
specked and blotched with pale chocolate, sparsely over the small end, 
more thickly about the middle, while the large end in one is palely 
washed and mottled with chocolate over the greater part of the 
surface; in the other, the large end is more heavily washed with a 
much darker shade of chocolate and heavily streaked with lines of 
dark umber. They measure 42.5x35 and 42x34, the eggs being 

J. Parker Norris, Jr. (Ool. Rec, vol. 6, 1926, p. 36), had one egg 
of this subspecies, taken from a nest about 10 meters from the 
ground in an upright crotch in tree in "semi-savanna country" near 
La Tigrera above Santa Marta, Colombia. The tgg, described as 
"brownish-white marked with an indistinct cap of pinkish brown at 
the large end," measured 45.5 by 36.3 mm. 

Sets that I have seen of other subspecies from Tamaulipas, Mexico 
(5. m. griseocauda) , and from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil {B. m. 
magniplumis) , were of two eggs each. 

The type locality in the original description was given as "Santa 
Marta Mountains." The race was described from a female taken by 
W. W. Brown, Jr., in the Museum of Comparative Zoology labeled, 
"Colombia (Santa Martha) Mts. January 16, '98." From what is 
known regarding the itinerary of the collector, on the date in question 
he was located at Bonda, a village a few miles east of Santa Marta. 


Rupornis magnirostris alia Peters and Griscom, Proc. New England Zool. Club, 
vol. 11, Aug. 30, 1929, p. 48. (San Miguel, Isia del Rey, Archipielago de las 
Perlas, Panama) 

Characters. — Similar to B. m. petulans but averaging slightly 
larger; foreneck and breast slightly darker gray; white edgings on 
throat feathers reduced, with little or no mixture of buff; dark bars 


on lower surface averaging broader and darker brown; light bars 
whiter ; light tail bands grayer, less rufous. 

Measurements. — Males (7 specimens), wing 210-222 (215), tail 
142-161 (150), culmen from cere 18.2-20.3 (19.0, average of 6), 
tarsus 62.1-67.2 (64.1) mm. 

Females (2 specimens), wing 226-234 (230), tail 156-160 (158), 
culmen from cere 19.5-19.8 (19.6), tarsus 66.0-69.1 (67.5) mm. 

Resident. Found in the Archipielago de las Perlas, where it is 
recorded from Isla del Rey, Isla Caiias, Isla San Jose, and Isla Pedro 

The birds were fairly common on Isla San Jose in 1944, but on 
visits to the other islands on which they are reported I have found 
them in smaller numbers. Like the races of the mainland, they range 
around clearings in inhabited areas, and where forests persist rest in 
the better-lighted upper branches in the tallest trees. 

At times I saw yellow-green vireos scolding them. As I have not 
observed this regularly elsewhere, it is an indication that this race 
may be more predatory on the nests of neighbor birds than seems to 
be the case on the mainland, where the lizards and large insects that 
are its usual food are more abundant. 

B. m. alius, in larger size and grayer tail bands, shows approach to 
the subspecies insidiatrix of the northern coast of Colombia. 


Gavilan Blanco 
Figure 43 

Leucopternis ghieshrcghti costaricensis W. L. Sclater, Bull. Brit. Orn. Club, vol. 
39, April 9, 1919, p. 16. ("Carillo" = Carrillo, Costa Rica.) 

Of medium size ; white, with black-tipped wings, and black-banded 

Description. — Length 470 to 510 mm. Adult, pure white, with 
primaries and secondaries black, the latter tipped broadly with white ; 
a broad black subterminal bar on the tail ; some black mottling or 
streaking on the wing coverts and tertials ; under surface of wing 
mainly white, with ends of flight feathers black, barred above the 
tips with light gray. 

Immature, with narrow shaft lines of black on the crown and more 
black in the wings. 

In two adult males I recorded the following colors : Iris brown ; 
bare skin around eye greenish slate ; tip of bill dark neutral gray to 
black ; base clear light gray ; cere greenish gray ; tarsus and toes dull 
light yellow, with the scutes on the inner side of the front of the 
tarsus tinged centrally with pale neutral gray ; claws black. 



Measurements. — Males (11 specimens from Honduras, Costa 
Rica, and Panama), wing 336-358 (346), tail 209-226 (215), culmen 
from cere 25.1-29.0 (26.6), tarsus 82.0-93.3 (85.8) mm. 

Females (3 specimens from Panama), wing 350-377 (367), tail 
215-231 (221), culmen from cere 27.5-28.9 (28.1), tarsus 83.8-87.5 
(85.4) mm. 

Resident. Fairly common in forested areas in the tropical zone of 
both slopes; less often in the lower subtropical zone; to 1,250 meters 

Fig. 43. — White hawk, gavilan bianco, Leucopternis alhicollis costaricensis. 

elevation in Chiriqui (Bajo Mono, near Boquete), Veraguas (Cordil- 
lera de Tole), on the high divide at 900 meters at Cavulla, on the 
base of Cerro Viejo, head of Rio Mariato, western slope of the 
Azuero Peninsula, and Code (above El Valle) ; Isla Cebaco. 

This beautiful bird, one of the most attractive of its family, when 
observed resting on some dead stub in early morning sun appears 
pure white, and it is only on close scrutiny, or as it flies, that the 
black pattern of wings and tail is seen. In the forest, which is its 
normal haunt, ordinarily it rests below the high tree crown, where 
its colors in the play of light and shadow as seen from below are far 
from conspicuous. And often the birds stand on huge, sloping limbs 
that are covered with epiphytes, completely hidden from underneath. 


In such wild, unsettled areas as the forests adjacent to the Rio 
Chucunaque these hawks show Httle fear, and on several occasions I 
have had them fly down to perch near at hand in order to watch me 
with evident curiosity, often with a low mewing call, kee-ee wee. 
This note is heard also when they rise to soar above the trees, when 
against the sky their white plumage often appears gray. 

Foremost in my recollections of the species is of an early morning 
flight by helicopter across the lower slopes of Cerro Pirre, back of El 
Real, in Darien, when in a quarter hour I covmted 20 of these beauti- 
ful birds, singly or in pairs soaring over the forest far below us — 
moving silhouettes of white, dark wing tips on either side, against 
the deep green of the unbroken forest underneath. 

Their food is taken from such small mammals as mice, rats, and 
small opossums, and from lizards, snakes, frogs, and large Orthop- 
tera. Small birds do not seem troubled by their presence, and I have 
never seen the hawk pay much attention to them. Van Tyne (Occ. 
Pap. Mus. Zool. Michigan, no. 525, 1950, p. 6) records the basiliscus 
lizard as regular prey. 

Chapman (Trop. Air Castle, 1929, pp. 60-61), on March 9, 1929, 
found a nest on Barro Colorado Island placed in the top of a tall 
tree. One of the pair rested beside it with a leafy green twig in its 
bill. A female shot by E. A. Goldman near Gatun on February 3, 
191 1, was nearly ready to lay. 

The preference of this species is for forested areas in rolling hill 
country, and it originally appears to have been distributed throughout 
the republic, except in the extensive savannas of the central and 
western areas of the Pacific slope. I have not found it in the open 
scrubs of the lowlands on the eastern side of the Azuero Peninsula, 
or in the swampy woodlands near the coast. As land has been cleared 
for cultivation these birds have disappeared. 

The body plumage is long and heavy, and there is much under 
down, so that these birds appear much larger in body than is actually 
the case. This may be a protective device since, though tropical tem- 
peratures may not register low in terms of degrees on a thermometer, 
when the air is humid it often becomes chill. As the animals that 
form the food of the gavildn bianco usually are large enough so that 
one constitutes a meal, or as smaller prey is so common that it is 
easy to capture several, the hawk after eating may remain inactive 
for considerable periods, and so need this insulation. The plumage 
is so dense, in fact, that it serves almost like a protective armor that 
guards the body against injury by the pellets in a shot gun charge 
when the birds are at any distance. 


LEUCOPTERNIS SEMIPLUMBEA Lawrence: Semiplumbeous Hawk; 
Gavilan Cenizo 

Leticoptemis semiplumbeus Lawrence, Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. New York, vol. 7, 
Jan. 1861, p. 288. (Along the Panama Railroad, Caribbean slope, Canal Zone, 

A small gray species, with black, white-banded tail, and white 
lower surface ; bill and feet orange. 

Description. — Length 310 to 350 mm. Adult, upper tail coverts 
and tail black, latter with a white subterminal band ; in some specimens 
a second more or less complete white band below the upper tail 
coverts ; rest of upper surface dark gray, usually darker on the head, 
with indistinct shaft lines of black ; below white, including the under 
wing coverts; a few narrow shaft lines of grayish black on throat 
and foreneck; tips of primaries and secondaries on under surface 
light gray, barred and tipped with blackish gray; rest of under wing 

Juvenile, breast and sides of throat with narrow dark gray shaft 

A male taken near Chimin on February 23, 1950, had the iris bright 
yellow; cere, side of premaxilla, gape, and base of mandible to 
symphysis deep orange; sides of maxilla at base and mandible in 
front of symphysis for one-third its length dull honey yellow ; rest 
of bill dark neutral gray; tarsus deep orange; claws dark neutral 
gray. Another male shot at Boca de Paya, Darien, on March 8, 
1959, was similar in bill, eye, and tarsus, and in addition I noted 
that the edge of the eyelids, lores, and the bare skin above the eye 
were orange-yellow and that the skin beneath the feathers on the 
underside of the wing (including the patagium), foreneck, abdomen, 
and knee was dull yellow. 

There is a prominent powder down patch across the thigh. 

Measurements (from Friedmann, U, S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 10, 
1950, p. 384).— Males (7 specimens), wing 165-184 (179), tail 127- 
137 (132.4), culmen from cere 18-20 (19.2), tarsus 55-64 (60.1) mm. 

Females (14 specimens), wing 183-202 (195.2), tail 126-148 
(135.7), culmen from cere 18-21 (20), tarsus 57-66 (61.6) mm. 

Resident. Local in forested areas in the tropical zone; recorded 
on the Pacific slope from Veraguas eastward through Darien, and on 
the Caribbean side from Bocas del Toro east through the Comarca 
de San Bias (Perme, Armila, Puerto Obaldia), including the Chagres 
Valley (Quebrada Peluca on the Rio Boqueron). 

There are no reports from the Azuero Peninsula, and the only 
one from \'eraguas is of a specimen without locality collected by Arce 


(Salvin and Godman, Biol. Centr.-Amer,, vol. 3, 1900, p. 84). I saw 
two soaring over a forested ridge on the approach to El Valle, Code 
on June 22, 1953. On the Pacific side of the isthmus the bird is found 
mainly in Darien but is nowhere common. It is dependent on forest 
cover and so disappears when the land is cleared. 

These small hawks have little fear, and most of those I have seen 
have been attracted when I was calling smaller birds. Then they 
sometimes utter a low, mewing call. Occasionally I have observed 
one resting in the morning sun along a Darien river as I passed in a 
piragua, when their clear white-and-dark-gray plumage, with orange 
feet and base of bill, made a beautiful contrast with the green of 
the leafy background. On the Rio Jaque one flew past carrying a 
small jungle rat that slipped from its feet and dropped as the bird 
perched. At the mouth of the Quebrada Peluca on the Boqueron 
one scrambled actively along the stream bank in pursuit of small 
frogs. Near Armila, San Bias, one was caught in a mist net set in 
heavy forest. 

Nothing is known of the nesting habits. 

LEUCOPTERNIS PLUMBEA Salvin: Plumbeous Hawk; Gavilan Azul 

Leiuopternis plumbea Salvin, Ibis, ser. 3, vol. 2, pt. 3, July 1872, p. 240, pi. 8. 

Medium size ; gray, with black wings and tail. 

Description. — Length 350 to 370 mm. Wings and tail black, the 
latter with a subterminal white band and a faintly paler tip; else- 
where gray, paler below with faintly indicated black shaft lines; 
tibia and lower abdomen barred with white; concealed white and 
white freckling on sides, upper abdomen, and lower breast ; under sur- 
face of wing white, with tips of primaries dull black, barred on 
the outer half with white to grayish white. 

Measurements. — Males (6 from Panama), wing 219-232 (225), 
tail 131.3-150.0 (139.5), culmen from cere 20.2-22.1 (21.4), tarsus 
68.1-72.9 (70.8) mm. 

Females (3 from Panama and Colombia), wing 233-245 (237.8), 
tail 139-157 (136.9), culmen from cere 21.0-22.5 (21.5), tarsus 66-74 
(69.8) mm. 

Resident. Rare ; in forested areas in the tropical zone. 

I have found the following records from Panama. One marked 
Panama without locality and one labeled Veraguas (taken by Arce) 
in the British Museum ; one from Nata, Cocle, in the U. S. National 
Museum, collected on the Rio Chico by Heyde and Lux, January 7, 
1889 ; and two from Perme, San Bias, in the Museum of Comparative 


Zoolog)', obtained by Hasso von Wedel, In the Brandt Collection at 
the University of Cincinnati there are 5 males taken by Wedcl at 
Puerto Obaldia, San Bias, in 1931 and 1933. In addition to these, 
near Armila, San Bias, on March 4, 1963, one of C. O. Handley's 
assistants brought me an adult male shot in heavy forest. This bird 
had the iris brownish orange; cere and base of bill below the level 
of the nostril, the gape, and the mandibular rami orange ; a small area 
on the base of the maxilla, in front of the orange, and the base of 
the gonys neutral gray; anterior part of bill black; tarsus and toes 
orange yellow ; claws black. 

Apparently this species ranges in forest in a manner similar to 
that of the more common Leiicopternis semiplumhea. It is probable 
that through clearing of its normal cover it is no longer found in 
the western part of the Republic. 

LEUCOPTERNIS PRINCEPS Sclater: Barred Hawk; Gavilan Rayado 

Leiicopternis princcps P. L. Sclater, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, Oct. 1<S65, p. 429, 

pi. 24. (Tucurriqui, Costa Rica.) 
Leucoptemis prince ps simmeri Friedmann, Auk, vol. 52, Jan. 8, 1935, p. 30. (San 

Jose de Sumaco, northeastern Ecuador.) 

Black above and on foreneck; closely barred black and white on 
rest of lower surface. 

Description. — Length 550 to 590 mm. Adult, upper breast, throat, 
head, and entire upper surface black, with a faint bloom of gray 
through narrow edgings of this color at the ends of many feathers ; 
plumage with a concealed base of white, particularly on crown and 
hindneck ; band across tail, and hidden bars on inner secondaries, 
white; lower surface, (except upper breast), including edge of wing, 
under wing coverts, and under tail coverts, white, barred narrowly 
with numerous bands of black ; under surface of wings gray, marbled 
with white, barred distally and tipped with dark neutral gray. 

Immature, like the adult but with wing coverts narrowly tipped 
with white. 

Kennard made the following record of the soft parts from a male 
taken on the Boquete Trail, March 12, 1926: "Bill chrome yellow 
and tea green; iris dark chocolate; tarsus chrome yellow" (Kennard 
and Peters, Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., 1928, p. 449). 

Measurements. — Males (3 from Costa Rica and Panama), wing 
347-360 (354.3), tail 185-220 (199.7), culmen from cere 28.7-30.8 
(29.5), tarsus 80.5-98.3 (91.2) mm. 

Females (5 from Costa Rica and Panama), wing 352-381 (368), 
tail 191-218 (201.8), culmen from cere 29.2-33.3 (31.4), tarsus 95.0- 
96.5 (95.5) mm. 


Resident. Rare ; found in heavy forest in the Subtropical Zone ; re- 
corded in western Chiriqui from Quiel, above Boquete, at 1,500 meters 
elevation on the slopes of the volcano, and also near Boquete; in 
Bocas del Toro, on the Rio Changena at 750 meters, and on the 
Boquete Trail at 950 meters; in Los Santos, on Cerro Hoya at 1,200 
meters; and in Darien, on Cerro Pirre, at 1,500 meters on the head 
of Rio Limon. 

These are the only certain reports. The record in literature for a 
specimen in the American Museum of Natural History, obtained from 
J. H. Batty, marked "Isla Cebaco," an island of low elevation ofif 
the mouth of Montijo Bay on the coast of southern Veraguas, is 
certainly erroneous, like many others in collections that Batty sent 
to Rothschild. The species is known only from the subtropical zone, 
and the specimen probably came from near Boquete. 

Nothing is known to me of the nesting of this handsome species 
or of its habits beyond the fact that it is a forest inhabitant. The 
species ranges in mountain areas from Costa Rica through Panama 
and western Colombia to Ecuador. 

Herbert Friedmann (Auk, 1935, p. 30), with limited material, 
found that 4 seen from Ecuador appeared smaller than 6 others from 
Costa Rica and Panama and separated the southern group on this 
basis under the name Leucopternis princeps zhnmeri. Additional 
material that I have seen from Panama does not support the size 
difference described, as the bird appears variable in dimensions 
throughout the range. 

Savanna Hawk ; Gavilan Acanelado 

Falco meridionalis Latham, Index Orn., vol. 1, 1790, p. 3. (Cayenne.) 

Description. — Length 460 to 500 mm. A savanna species of reddish 
brown plumage, with black tail banded with white. Adult, crown 
rufous-brown, with shaft lines of black edged with gray ; sides of 
head brownish gray, with shaft lines of neutral gray bordered nar- 
rowly with buff ; hind neck cinnamon, barred narrowly with dark 
neutral gray, becoming brownish gray on upper back, edged with 
cinnamon bordered with dark neutral gray, and finally on rest of 
back brownish gray, edged irregularly with cinnamon to bufif; wing 
coverts rufous-brown, the middle and greater series dark gray 
basally; primaries and secondaries rufous-brown tipped with black, 
changing to brownish gray on inner secondaries, barred more or less 
on inner webs with black; upper tail coverts variegated black and 
cinnamon-brown, tipped with white ; tail black, with tip and a broad 


central bar white; under surface cinnamon-brown to cinnamon-buff, 
with foreneck lined indistinctly with shaft streaks of neutral gray ; the 
rest, including sides and axillars, barred narrowly with black; tibia 
and under tail coverts rufous-brown, the latter tipped with buff; 
under surface of wing cinnamon, barred irregularly with black ; under 
wing coverts cinnamon, tipped with buffy white along the edge of 
the wing. 

Immature, "birds during their first season are very dark brown, 
almost black, save for more or less white on the under surface and 
some rufous in the primaries and greater coverts. During the second 
year the amount of rufous in the wings is increased and invades more 
or less of the underwing surface as well as the lesser wing coverts. 
In the third year the under parts and head become rufous, barred 
below, save on the throat, with blackish, but the back remains fuscous 
brown. In fully adult plumage, apparently in the fourth year, the 
upper back assumes an ashy shade" (Wetmore, U. S. Nat. Mus. 
Bull. 133, 1926, p. 114). 

Measurements. — Males (10 specimens), wing 375-396 (388.8), 
tail 176-200 (188.1), culmen from cere 23.0-24.5 (23.7), tarsus 98.7- 
112.4 (106.7) mm. 

Females (5 specimens), wing 375-403 (388.6), tail 170-193 
(180.2), culmen from cere 23.0-25.8 (24.6), tarsus 97.0-105.0 
(102.3) mm. 

Resident. Fairly common on the tropical savannas of the Pacific 
slope from Veraguas (Sona) through Code to near the lower 
Bayano (below Chepo) in the eastern section of the Province of 
Panama. Casual in western Chiriqui (Dolega, sight record), Bocas 
del Toro (Changuinola, sight record, Eisenmann, Condor 1957, p. 
250) and Comarca de San Bias (Perme, Griscom, Bull. Mus. Comp. 
Zool., vol. 72, 1932, p. 313). 

This is a hawk of open lands, restricted, however, to the lowlands, 
as there are no reports for it on the elevated open grass slopes of 
the mountains. It is especially common on the savannas east of 
Pacora, where it ranges to the last of the prairies at Ana Luz, near 
the Rio Bayano below Chepo. On the eastern side of the Azuero 
Peninsula I have noted it in the region between Parita, Paris, and 
Santa Maria, in the Province of Herrera. And on March 27, 1948, 
near Punta Mala, in southern Los Santos, I found feathers of one 
that had been killed recently. Occasionally one is seen on Albrook 
Field and Howard Field in the Canal Zone. 

In early morning I have observed these hawks walking about on 
the ground, standing very tall on their long legs and moving easily 


and gracefully. The top of the head at such times often appears 
almost white in the rays of the rising sun. This is one of the hawks 
(known collectively to the countryman as bebe humo) that follows 
grass fires to feed on large insects and lizards flushed, killed, or 
injured by the flames. These, with rats and mice, seem to constitute 
the principal items of food. Birds, except for an occasional aggres- 
sive kingbird or fork-tailed fly-catcher, pay little attention to them, 
and so it would appear that they are not active in molesting them. 

The Penards (Vog. Guyana, vol. 1, 1908, p. 391) describe the nest 
in Surinam as made of sticks and twigs, placed in trees at eleva- 
tions ranging from high to low. The one or two eggs in a set are 
described as white with a few reddish-brown spots and blotches. An 
egg that I saw in the possession of Dr. Carlos Lehmann, collected at 
Maicao, in the Guajira Peninsula of Colombia, April 15, 1941, before 
it was blown was light blue, with a few small scattered spots of light 
cinnamon. Schonwetter (Handb. Ool, pt. 3, 1961, p. 163) gives 
variation in the measurements of 15 eggs as 55.5-64.0x46.0-48.2 mm. 

As a species this bird ranges in open country from western 
Panama, Colombia, and Venezuela south to Argentina. No differ- 
ences in color are evident when specimens of similar age are com- 
pared, but in the far south, in northern Argentina, the birds are 
appreciably larger. There has been some uncertainty regarding this 
since an occasional specimen of large size has been taken in the more 
northern parts of South America, but these I believe are winter 
migrants from the southern limits of the range, as they stand out 
in size among those that appear to be resident. As an example of this, 
10 specimens from northern Colombia from Bolivar, Magdalena, 
and the Guajira have wing measurements of 379 to 403 mm. One 
that I shot at Maicao in the Guajira on April 14, 1941, in the same 
area in which I secured two of the smaller birds, has the primaries 
worn at the tip but still measures 418 mm. The date represents the 
nonbreeding period in the far south, and I regard this bird as a 
migrant of the following form. 

The southern race, Heterospizias meridionalis rufulus (Vieillot), 
with wing 418 to 452 mm., on the basis of present data is the breeding 
race from southern Paraguay and Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, to the 
provinces of Cordoba and Santa Fe, Argentina. In the northern 
subspecies, Heterospizias m. meridionalis, which ranges from Panama 
south to Bolivia, northern Paraguay, and southern Brazil (north of 
the southeastern state of Rio Grande do Sul) the wing measurement 
ranges from 379 to 412 mm. Intergradation comes apparently in 
northwestern Argentina, from Tucuman northward, and in central 


Paraguay. Kirke Swann recognized the two forms and in 1921 
named the southern one australis, a name, however, that is antedated 
by rufulus Vieillot of 1816. 

Plotnick (Hornero, 1956, pp. 136-139), in a study of the osteology, 
has established that Heterospisius is a genus of the subfamily 
Buteoninae and not of the Accipitrinae, where it has been placed by 
Peters and others. This I find fully verified on examination of 
skeleton material available. 

Gavilan Andapi6 

Buteo Harrisi Audubon, Birds Amer. (folio), vol. 4, 1837, pi. 392. (Between 
Bayou Sara and Natchez, Mississippi.) 

A black hawk with white rump and tail tip that differs from others 
with this color pattern in the rufous markings on the back and 

Characters. — Length 480 to 560 mm. Adult, above fuscous-black ; 
forehead and superciliary streaked with white ; nape feathers white 
basally; wings dull black, with outer webs of primaries and ends of 
secondaries edged with grayish white ; lesser and middle wing coverts 
rufous; greater coverts, back, and rump feathers edged or tipped 
with rufous ; tail black, with base, including upper tail coverts and 
tip, white; below dull black; feathers of throat and sides of head 
edged with white to produce streaks ; legs and flanks rufous, mottled 
indistinctly with white ; under tail coverts buffy white ; under wing 
coverts cinnamon, mottled with white, more heavily toward outer 
edge of wing; a prominent patch of white near center of underside 
of primaries, extending to their bases, with indistinct light barring 
toward tips. 

Immature, fuscous above, with indistinct barring, edging, and 
streaking of cinnamon-buff, especially on wings; lesser and middle 
coverts rufous more or less variegated with black; superciliary 
cinnamon-buff; throat white, lined with fuscous; undersurface white 
to cinnamon-buff, streaked and spotted heavily with dull black ; legs 
and flanks buffy white, barred narrowly with dull rufous ; under sur- 
face of tail grayish white, barred narrowly with blackish brown ; 
rump, upper tail coverts, and upper surface of tail as in adult, but 
with a narrow margin of cinnamon-buff above the white tail tip. 

Measurements (from Friedmann, U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 
10, 1950, p. 371).— Males, wing 318-331 (323) ; tail 215-262 (234), 
culmen from cere 24-28 (26.3), tarsus 84-90 (86.2) mm. 


Females, wing 325-370 (358.4), tail 213-243 (232.5), culmen from 
cere 25-29 (26.7) , tarsus 80-92 (87) mm. 

Rare ; status not certain. 

The little that is known of this interesting species, which is found 
elsewhere from southern Texas south through Mexico and Central 
America to Colombia and western Ecuador, is embodied in 3 brief 
records. Arce collected one in Veraguas (Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. 
London, 1867, p. 158), that was recorded as from Santa Fe. From the 
habit of the species elsewhere it is probable that it was taken in the 
open country below, toward San Francisco. Bovallius secured a male 
near Pacora on March 4, 1882 (Rendahl, Ark. Zool., Bd. 12, 1919, 
p. 9). Hasso von Wedel collected a female near Almirante, Bocas 
del Toro, November 24, 1927 (Peters, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 
71, 1931, p. 310). It seems probable that the species in Panama is a 
wanderer from elsewhere in its extensive range. 

In northeastern Columbia I have found these handsome birds in 
open country where the savanna lands were interspersed with 
scattered brush and low trees. The call is a harsh scream suggestive of 
that of the red-tailed hawk. 

HAWK; Gavilan de Cienaga 

Falco nigricollis Latham, Index Orn., vol. 1, 1790, p. 35. (Cayenne.) 

Adult, at rest marked by black breast band against the brown body 
and white throat ; in flight the blackish wings show in contrast with 
the brown body, and the breast band is prominent. 

Description. — Length 480 to 510 mm. Adult, head, including 
throat and sides, white, with the crown washed with buff to cinna- 
mon-buff, and blackish shaft streaks ; a black half-collar across lower 
foreneck ; body, above and below, russet to chestnut-brown, with 
heavy shaft-lines of black on back, upper and under wing coverts, 
and tertials ; wings black, with faint cinnamon tips on secondaries ; 
tail black, barred basally with rufous, and tipped with cinnamon-buff ; 
a light spot that varies from white to cinnamon-buff at base of outer- 
most primaries on under side. 

Immature, paler, more buffy on under surface, with indistinct 
black shaft lines, and faint russet bars on the paler tibia ; upper tail co- 
verts and secondaries dull russet, barred with black. 

Iris reddish brown; gape, including margins of both maxilla and 
mandible, the bare bases of the mandibular rami, and the base of 
the gonys, neutral gray ; bill and cere dull black ; tarsus and toes drab 
to flesh color, with a tint of gray ; claws black. 


Measurements (from Friedniann, U.S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 10, 
1950, p. 412).— Males (8 specimens), wing 358-383 (378.1), tail 
157-182 (171.9), culmen from cere 26-30 (27.9), tarsus 72-84 (80.1) 

Females (7 specimens), wing 380-405 (392.3), tail 175-183 
(180.4), culmen from cere 28-30.5 (29.3), tarsus 78-89 (85.3) mm. 

Resident. Local, in small numbers, in the tropical lowlands on the 
Pacific slope, from Veraguas to Darien, including northern Herrera. 
The only record for the Caribbean side is of a male taken at Lion Hill, 
Canal Zone, by W. W. Brown, Jr., in March, 1900 (Bangs, Proc. 
New England Zool. Club, vol. 2, 1900, p. 15). 

This handsome bird is found around lowland marshes, in small 
openings in swampy woodlands, and along the larger rivers. Though 
it ranges widely from southern Mexico through Central America to 
eastern Bolivia and Brazil, there have been only a few records of it in 
Panama. Salvin received one from Arce, taken in Veraguas, without 
definite locality (Salvin and Godman, Biol. Centr.-Amer., vol. 3, 1900, 
p. 86) . On March 10, 1948, 1 saw one at the Cienaga de Buho beyond 
Santa Maria, Herrera, where the bird rested in the sun on an open 
stub standing at the border of the marsh. On April 1, 1949, we shot 
a male at the nearly dry Cienaga Campana east of Pacora and saw 
another in this same area on April 4. The only locality at which I 
have seen them in any number is along the Rio La Jagua. 

In Darien, Festa collected one at Laguna de Pita in August 1895 
(Salvadori and Festa, Boll. Mus. Zool. Anat. Comp. Torino, vol. 
14, 1899, p. 10). The National Museum has a female taken by J. L. 
Baer on the Rio Chucunaque near Yavisa on March 20, 1924. Far- 
ther up this same river I saw one on March 27, 1959, near the mouth 
of the Rio Tuquesa. The bird rested in an open tree over a pool in 
swampy woodland. 

The tarsus in this species is rather short, while the toes are excep- 
tionally long, with long, strongly curved, sharp-pointed claws. The 
pads on the underside of the toes are armed with conical, sharply 
pointed papillae, and the tip of the maxilla is long, strongly curved, 
and sharply pointed. The main food appears to be fish, so that it is 
intriguing to find that in the strong, curved claws and spiculate toe 
pads this hawk is the counterpart of the fish-feeding osprey, though 
the hindtoe does not have the peculiar development found in that 
species. In other characters than those mentioned the bird is similar 
to related species of its subfamily, the Buteoninae. The plumage, 
especially, is like that of other hawks, with none of the waterproof 


qualities found in the osprey, as in its fishing it becomes water soaked 
on the legs, and at times on the body. 

The Penards (Vog. Guyana, vol. 1, 1908, pp. 401-402) state that 
in Surinam this species breeds principally during the season of heavy 
rains. The nest, of small sticks, may be located in high trees, though 
near the coast it may be placed at lower elevations in mangroves. The 
nest may be used for several years, when it may become very large 
as the pair add more material to it annually. The eggs, one, seldom 
two, in shape are bluntly oval or rounded. The ground color varies 
from dull whitish or yellowish to a bluish or greenish tint, with spots 
and blotches of cinnamon, reddish brown, and lilac-gray, the pattern 
varying from almost plain to heavily marked. The average size is 59 
by 45 mm. Kreuger (Ool. Rec, 1963, p. 6) gives a similar descrip- 
tion of a set of two taken on the Demerara River, British Guiana, 
April 2, 1927. These measured 58.2 x 45.2 and 56.2 x 45.2 mm. 

BUTEOGALLUS URUBITINGA (Gmelin): Greater Black Hawk; Cocolino 

Like the lesser black hawk in color, but base of bill and cere gray ; 
larger ; legs longer. 

Description. — Length 510 to 590 mm. Adult, dull black throughout, 
with a faint slaty cast, and indistinct dark-gray markings in the form 
of shaft lines in crown, edgings on back, and broken bars on pri- 
maries and secondaries ; feathers of nape white basally ; tibia and 
edge of wing barred narrowly and irregularly with white ; underside 
of wing dull black, except for faintly indicated gray bars. 

Immature, brownish black above and on sides of head, with crown 
and hindneck streaked and edged with cinnamon-buff, this color form- 
ing an indistinct superciliary streak; back, wing coverts, and sec- 
ondaries edged indistinctly with cinnamon; upper tail coverts buff; 
tail brownish black, barred, narrowly and irregularly, and mottled, 
with brownish gray to white, changing to cinnamon-buff on inner 
webs; below cinnamon, whiter on the throat, streaked and spotted 
with dull black ; tibia white, barred irregularly with black, underwing 
buff to cinnamon-buff, spotted on the under coverts, and tipped on 
the axillars, with dull black; primaries and secondaries tipped with 
brownish black, and barred narrowly and irregularly with the same 

In what appears to be a second-year plumage, the buff is paler, 
often white, and the black markings on the undersurface are much 
more extensive; above mainly dull black, except for white to buffy 
white streaks on the head; tail tipped broadly with black, barred 
narrowly, and mottled, with the same color. 


I have recorded the soft parts in the race asarae of Paraguay and 
northern Argentina, as foUow^s (Wetmore, U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 133, 
1926, p. 110) : Iris dark brown ; bill black, except for the base of the 
mandible, and the space htlovf the nostril on the maxilla, vi^hich are 
light gray ; cere and gape chamois ; tarsus and toes dull yellovi^ ; claws 
black. The head and foot colors are definitely duller than in 
Buteogallus anthracinus. 

Two subspecies, similar in size but differing in color pattern in the 
tail, are found in Panama. 

Plumages of this species and those of Buteogallus anthracinus are 
so similar, in both adult and immature, that close attention to detail 
is required to separate them. This is true particularly in their 
identification in life. With adult birds of the present species close at 
hand, the white barring on the tibia may be visible, and in any stage 
the longer legs may be noted, as well as the blacker bill, and more 
slaty color of the side of the head. These colors, however, are less 
strongly marked in immature individuals. 

The two black hawks under discussion differ in certain structural 
details which have led to allocation of the larger one in a separate 
genus, Hypomorphnus of Cabanis. Amadon (Auk, 1949, p. 54) 
questioned the validity of this separation, and in a later paper 
(Amadon and Eckelberry, 1955, p. 68) he gave some further discus- 
sion in which he listed both species under the genus Buteogallus. 
The structural differences between the two may be summarized as 
follows : 

Greater Black Hawk: Tarsus longer, more than 110 mm.; 
space between the broad, undivided plates at the front of the lower 
end, and those on the base of the middle toe, longer, measuring 20 
mm. or more; the intermediate scutes graduated progressively from 
larger to those much smaller ; loral area, the anterior region of the 
forehead adjacent to the cere, and the chin more heavily feathered ; 
wing more rounded, the primaries less than 20 mm. longer than sec- 

Lesser Black Hawk : Tarsus shorter, less than 100 mm. ; space 
between the broad, undivided plates at the front of the lower end 
and those on the base of the middle toe shorter, measuring 12 mm. or 
less; the intermediate scutes larger, with the transition from larger 
to smaller abrupt, without gradual change in size ; loral area, anterior 
region of the forehead, and chin scantily feathered; wing more 
pointed; primaries from 40 to 70 mm. longer than the secondaries. 

Buteogallus aequmoctialis of eastern South America, type species 
of the genus Buteogallus, agrees with the lesser black hawk in the 


form of the scutes on the lower end of the tarsus and in length of 
wing tip, but the loral area is more nearly bare, as it has only a line 
of hairlike filaments at the anterior margin. Buteogallus gundlachii 
of Cuba, however, bridges the gap between the two groups as in its 
tarsal characters the distal space at the lower end in front breaks up 
into a series of small scutes, more extensive in length than in 
anthracimis, but less than in uriibitinga. In addition, B. gundlachii 
has a longer wing tip like anthracinus, and agrees in heavier feather- 
ing of the anterior part of the head with urubitinga. From this sum- 
mary it is evident that separation of the four species in two genera 
is not warranted. 


Urubitinga ridgwayi Gurney, List Diurnal Birds Prey, 1884, pp. 77, 148. (Guate- 
mala, Chiapas, and Sinaloa = Coban, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, designated by 
Hellmayr and Conover, Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 4, 1949, p. 181.) 

Characters. — Tail in adult white, with a broad black terminal band, 
and a second narrower one of the same color above the center. 

Measurements. — Males (9 from Panama), wing 363-377 (369), 
tail 221-250 (231.8), culmen from cere 29.0-32.6 (30.6, average of 
8), tarsus 114.8-125.0 (121.3) mm. 

Females (5 from Panama), wing 360-391(371), tail 227-245 (234), 
culmen from cere 32.0-34.0 (32.9), tarsus 114.7-120.0 (117.1). 

Resident. Tolerably common in the tropical zone, rarer in the 
lower subtropical zone in western Chiriqui. On the Caribbean coast 
from the Costa Rican boundary to Bahia Caledonia. San Bias ; on 
the Pacific side from western Chiriqui to Darien (specimens seen from 
the mouth of the Rio Canglon on the Chucunaque, and Boca de 
Paya on the Tuira). 

These are woodland birds of the more open areas, and in heavy 
forest they are found mainly near the larger streams. Adults usually 
range in pairs, which rise to soar in the manner common to many 
of their family. At such times they often appear completely black 
against the sky, their rounded wings and broad tails giving them a 
square-cut outline. Immature individuals, in streaked dress, usually 
are found alone. 

Frogs form a principal source of food, and the birds in search 
of them rest regularly on low perches, or on the ground, near small 
pools and along stream banks, often in open pastures and fields. 
Lizards also, particularly the basilisk, are eaten. 

Nests that I have seen have been located in large forest trees from 
12 to 20 meters from the ground, where they were inaccessible. They 


were built of sticks, placed in a crotch, sometimes amid large limbs 
where only the rim was visible from below. Nests containing young 
were noted at the Cienaga Macana, near Paris, Herrera, March 17, 

1948, and near the Rio Pacora, above Pacora, Panama, April 21, 

1949. No description of the egg of this form is known to me. 

The screaming call, something like that of the red-tailed hawk, but 
clearer, less harsh, and therefore more pleasing in its usual utterance, 
has four notes, of which the first two are given quickly, and the last 
two in slower, drawn out syllables. In imitation, the bird has the 
country name of cocoUno. 

The race ridgwayi ranges north through Central America to north- 
ern Mexico. 


Falco Urubitinga Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 1, 1788, p. 265. (Pernambuco, 
fide Pinto, Cat. Aves Brasil, pt. 1, 1938, p. 76.) 

Characters. — Tail in adult white, with a single broad subterminal 
black bar. Size as in 5. u, ridgwayi. 

Resident at the eastern end of the Comarca de San Bias (recorded 
from specimens taken at Perme and Puerto Obaldia by Hasso von 

This is the form of extensive range in South America that enters 
the Republic from Colombia along the northeastern coast. 

Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 3, 1961, p. 145) states that the 
eggs in general are Hke those of species of the genus Buteo, with 
some plain in color and others marked sparingly to heavily with 
reddish brown, varied to lilac. Measurements are 57.4-61.2x47.0- 
49.4 mm. 

BUTEOGALLUS ANTHRACINUS (Deppe): Lesser Black Hawk; 
Gavilan Cangrejero 

Slaty black, with base of bill and loral area orange yellow. 

Description. — Length 430 to 510 mm. Adult, black, with more or 
less of a slaty wash; upper tail coverts tipped with white; tail banded 
rather broadly across center and tipped with white ; feathers of crown 
white at base ; upper back and hindneck white mixed with buff at 
base in varying amount, in some absent; under wing with bases of 
primaries mottled with white. 

Immature, fuscous ; cheeks, and indefinite streaks on head, hind- 


neck, and upper back, white, often mixed with cinnamon-buff ; inner- 
most primaries and secondaries more or less cinnamon on inner webs, 
barred with black; tail barred, narrowly and irregularly, and tipped 
with white; throat white, with shaft lines of fuscous; under tail 
coverts and tibia white barred with fuscous; breast and abdomen 
white, blotched heavily with fuscous ; under wing buffy white, barred 
irregularly with fuscous except for the dark tips of the primaries. 
The amount of the light markings underneath varies, some having 
the fuscous color restricted to heavy streaks, others appearing quite 
black. Many show a rufescent phase in which the light markings are 
cinnamon instead of white or buffy white. 

As stated in the account of the greater black hawk, care is necessary 
to separate that species and the present one unless the birds are seen 
clearly. The lesser black hawk has the cere, base of the bill, and 
the loral area distinctly orange-yellow, which is a definite field mark. 
Though less in evidence in birds in immature dress this area still 
appears more yellowish in good light. The fully adult bird lacks the 
white barring on the feathered part of the leg of the larger species. 
This barring however is present in the immature. 

In Panama the lesser black hawk in the main is a bird of the 
coastal areas, found especially in mangroves, and in the swampy 
woodlands adjacent to the poorly drained lands inland that are af- 
fected by tide waters. On the larger rivers they range farther into 
the interior but here live along the streams. It is the most common 
hawk in these areas. Crabs form a principal source of their food, 
and their presence seems to govern the range of the cangrejero. 

The call is a series of whistled notes, high in pitch, heard es- 
pecially when nesting, quite different from the voice of the urubitinga 
group. In feeding usually they perch low down where they have clear 
view of the ground on which crabs may be expected. And at times I 
have seen them on open sand or mud bars along the rivers. One in 
such a situation suddenly ran to a nearby log and seized a crab 
lurking beneath it. This agile habit is customary with them. Often I 
have found the feet of those taken for specimens coated with sand 
or mud. 

They soar regularly and in the air present an outline of rounded 
wings and rather short tail. In early morning with the sun low in 
the sky the yellow cere may be seen if the birds are not too high 
in the air. When the pale immature bird joins the adults as they 
circle the contrasts in color and pattern are interesting. The young 


bird at such times shows two rounded light patches at the center of 
each of the wings. 

The main nesting season appears to begin in February and seems 
to be in full course in March, as adult birds then were found in pairs. 
I saw them carrying sticks for building and have noted nests under 
construction in the edge of mangrove swamps, usually at an eleva- 
tion of about 12 meters, but I was not successful in obtaining eggs. 
Paired birds are especially noisy at this time, and so their high- 
pitched calls — repetitions of single notes — are heard regularly, a 
pleasing sound during long afternoons in camp when I was occupied 
with notes and specimens. 

Usually they were tame, since, as stated above, they have few 
human intruders in their swampy haunts. On occasion in a cayuco 
I have passed within 10 meters of birds that were watching for food, 
without disturbing them. They spend much time on low perches and 
often have not been at all alarmed when I stopped nearby for a few 
minutes to share their cool shade. At low tide they come out to rest 
on rocks or open beaches and mud flats. Immature birds frequently 
were curious, particularly when I was calling to attract small birds. 
While the principal food as noted is crabs, I have had some complaint 
from persons living at the borders of swamps that these hawks 
sometimes took small chicks. Mangrove warblers and other swamp 
inhabiting species, however, were not at all nervous when these hawks 
were nearby, indicating that they are not regularly predatory on small 

Individual variation in depth of color and in extent and kind of 
lighter markings is so great that there has been uncertainty as to the 
population groups that may be recognized. From examination of over 
200 specimens I find only two that appear valid, aside from the bird 
of the island of Cuba which it appears appropriate to treat as a 
separate species, ButeogaUus gundlachii. 

The nominate race, B. a. anthracinus, marked by larger size, ranges 
from southern Arizona, southern New Mexico, and southern Texas 
south through tropical Mexico (except the coast of Chiapas) and 
Central America to Panama (except for the lowlands along the 
Pacific coast) , and across northern Colombia and northern Venezuela 
to northwestern British Guiana, including also the islands of St. 
Vincent and Trinidad. A decidedly smaller form B. a. hang si, is 
found along the Pacific in the mangrove swamps and adjacent low- 
lands from northwestern Peru to Chiapas. Both races occur in 
Panama. Measurements that serve to separate them are given in the 
accounts of the subspecies that follow. 



Falco anthraciniis W. Deppe, Preis — Verz. Saugeth. Vog. Amphibien, Fische u. 

Krebse, Deppe u. Schiede Mexico gesammelt., 1830, p. 3. (Veracruz.) 
Urubitinga anthracina cancrivora A. H. Clark, Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, 

vol. 18, Feb. 21, 1905, p. 63. (Barrouallie, St. Vincent.) 

Characters. — Larger, shown mainly in length of wing. 

Measurements (from the entire geographic range). — Males (33 
specimens) wing 354-378 {Z6Z), tail 173-216 (200), culmen from 
cere 23.5-28.8 (26.2, average of 32), tarsus 84.0-93.8 (88.4) mm. 

Females (36 specimens), wing 365-398 (377), tail 190-226 (208), 
culmen from cere 25.2-30.5 (27.7), tarsus 83.5-94.0 (89.3) mm. 

An adult male from Mandinga, taken on January 29, 1957, had 
the iris wood brown ; cere orange ; base of mandible and bare area 
below nostril to gape light orange; rest of bill neutral gray; loral 
area, and bare skin above eye, chrome yellow ; lower eyelid dull 
whitish ; tarsi and toes chrome yellow ; claws black. 

Resident. Fairly common in the tropical lowlands, mainly near the 
coast, from Bocas del Toro to eastern San Bias ; in Darien along the 
Chucunaque and Tuira Rivers, above the influence of tide, and in 
hill country near the coast ; Isla Coiba. 

Three females from Isla Coiba, with the wing 364, 369, and 370 
mm. respectively, belong evidently with this form, an isolated colony 
on this large, remote island. 

Birds from the Caribbean slope from western Colon to western 
San Bias are somewhat smaller but come within the lower limit of 
size given above. Birds in immature plumage throughout the range 
often are smaller than adults, a fact that should be kept in mind in 
identification, as some may approach or equal the size found in adults 
of the smaller race. At Jaque, in eastern Darien, the race hangsi, in 
typical small form is common in the mangrove swamps at the mouth 
of the Rio Jaque, but an adult female that I shot on a high roclcy 
headland above a sand beach along the coast toward Colombia is 
certainly the larger race. 

The eggs are described by Bent (U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 167, 1937, 
p. 26) as dull white, spotted sparingly with various shades of brown, 
with the shell finely granulated. Some have the markings much 
reduced so that they appear almost plain white. The range of measure- 
ments is 50-66.5x42.3-48.3 mm. In the northern limit of the range, 
from southern Arizona to southern Texas, the birds may have from 
one to three eggs in the nest, but in tropical areas a single tgg is usual, 
increased rarely to two. 



Urubitinga anthracina bangsi Swann, Syn. Accipitres, pt. 2, Jan. 3, 1922, p. 98. 
(San Miguel = Isla del Rey, Archipielago de las Perlas, Panama.) 

Characters. — Similar in color to B. a. anthracinus but definitely 

Measurements. — Males (17 specimens), wing 325-348 {'i2>7), tail 
176-213 (189), culmen from cere 23.6-28.8 (26.2), tarsus 80.0-90.0 
(86.6) mm. 

Females (9 specimens), wing 337-363 (348), tail 186-212 (197), 
culmen from cere 25.6-29.1 (27.2), tarsus 85.7-92.4 (88.1) mm. 

An adult female taken at Chiman on February 16, 1950, had the 
iris hazel ; cere orange ; base of mandible, loral area, and eyelids orange 
yellow ; base of maxilla, and center of mandible, duller yellow ; rest 
of bill neutral gray ; tarsus and toes orange yellow ; claws black. 

Resident. Common in the swamps of the Pacific coast, particularly 
in the mangroves, from western Chiriqui (Estero Rico below Alanje, 
Las Lajas) ; Veraguas (Puerto Vidal, Rio San Pablo below Sona, 
Paracote) ; Los Santos (Tonosi, Punta Mala, Pedasi, Puerto Men- 
sabe. La Honda) ; Herrera (Paris, lower Rio Santa Maria) ; Code 
(Puerto Aguadulce) ; Panama (La Jagua, Chico, Chepo, Chiman, 
Maje) ; and Darien (El Real, Aruza, mouth of Rio Jaque) ; Isla 
Parida; Isla Bolanos; Isla Brincanco, in the Contreras group; Isla 
Canal de Afuera; Isla Cebaco; Archipielago de las Perlas (San Jose, 
Rey, Cafias, Bayoneta, Malaga, and Contadora islands). 

Below Chepo and in the drainage of the Rio Chico these hawks 
range for some distance in swampy areas inland from the coastal man- 
groves. The same is true in the lowlands of Chiriqui where these 
smaller birds are found back to Bugaba. Possibly occasionally, they 
wander inland, as Goldman collected an immature bird of very small 
size on the upper Rio Pacora in the lower levels of the Cerro Azul. 

In the mangroves bordering the Estero Salado, below Aguadulce, 
Code, I saw one at its nest on January 25, 1963, an early date. The 
site was a crotch in a large dead tree 15 meters from the ground. 
Seen from below, the structure was a considerable accumulation of 
twigs and small branches half again taller than the bird that rested 
beside it. On Isla Parida these birds were in pairs during the first 
week of February. 

These hawks were especially common in the swamps bordering 
the Rio Pocri, at Puerto Aguadulce. Here one swooped at a floating 
dowitcher that I had shot, but a heavy load at 70 meters, though it 
did no harm, caused the hawk to veer away. A little later, however, 


one seized another dowitcher that I had killed and escaped with it 
to the shelter of the mangroves. 

Clearly marked color differences that have been alleged to separate 
this form from B. a. anthracinus are not verified in the considerable 
series that I have had available, the only character being that of 
lesser size. These smaller birds are found in Pacific coastal areas in 
mangroves, and in the swampy woodlands immediately inland, from 
the mouth of the Rio Tumbes in northwestern Peru, and the Gulf of 
Guayaquil (Puna Island), Ecuador, north along the coast of Colombia 
(Nuqui), and Central America to Chiapas. Those from Peru, 
Ecuador and southwestern Colombia have the central area of the 
inner primaries and the secondaries heavily marked with cinnamon- 
brown (cross-banded with black) that forms a prominent patch on 
the folded wing. These are the race Buteogallus a. subtilis Thayer 
and Bangs, described from Gorgona Island, Colombia. Birds from 
Panama and from the coast of Colombia south to Nuqui, Choco, 
have the general coloration of the wing more uniform as the cin- 
namon is restricted or almost absent. These may be recognized as 
a slightly different subspecies, bangsi Swann. Intergradation is pre- 
sumed to take place along the Colombian coast below Buenaventura. 
The type of bangsi, though marked as a male, has a wing length of 
363 mm. so that it must be a female. 

Monroe (Occ. Pap. Mus. Zool. Louisiana State Univ. no. 26, 1963, 
pp. 1-5) has described a northern race rhizophorae from El Salvador 
and Honduras, which differs in the adult in lack of rufous or buff on 
primaries and secondaries. As no intergradation in wing size between 
anthracinus and the coastal population is evident he treats the smaller 
birds as a distinct species under the name subtilis. The suggestion is 
interesting and one that requires careful consideration in further 
field studies. 

Amadon (Nov. Colombianas, vol. 1, no. 1, Sept. 1, 1961 = 1963, p. 
358) has identified specimens of subtilis from Tumbes, northwestern 
Peru, which marks an extension in range southward to this point. 
An early report for this locality is that of Taczanowski (Proc. Zool. 
Soc. London, 1877, p. 745), who, under the name of "Urubitinga 
schistacea (Sund.)," lists two males and a female from Santa Luzia, 
Peru. In his Ornithologie du Perou (vol. 1, 1884, pp. 109-110) he 
describes these specimens in careful detail. Sundevall's name properly 
refers to another hawk of similar color pattern now known as 
Leucopternis schistacea (Sundevall). It appears evident that 
Taczanowski made his error in identification through reference to 


Sharpe's account in volume 1 of the Catalogue of Birds in the 
British Museum (1874, p. 216), where the genus name Uruhitinga is 
used for the species anthracina Lichtenstein and schistacea Sundevall. 
The description given by Taczanowski is detailed and complete and 
agrees fully in color and in small size with the race currently known 
as subtilis. This is substantiated by his quotations from Stolzmann 
and Jelski, collectors of his specimens, who describe the birds as 
found in the mangroves in the delta of the Rio Tumbes, where they 
fed on crabs, and were almost stupidly tame. 

Aguila Solitaria 

Circaettts solitarins Tschudi, Arch. Naturg. vol. 10, Bd. 1, 1844, p. 264. (Rio 
Chanchamayo, Peru.) 

Of eagle size, dark gray, with tail banded with white. 

Description. — Length 600 to 800 mm. Adult, dark slaty gray; 
upper tail coverts tipped with white ; tail black, tipped narrowly with 
white, and with a broad central band of white, mixed with neutral 
gray on some of the feathers ; feathers of hindneck basally white ; 
primaries and secondaries banded indistinctly with paler gray ; outer- 
most primaries banded with grayish white, more prominently toward 

Immature, back and wings fuscous, edged on back with cinnamon, 
and with indistinct grayish and buff mottling on the middle and 
greater coverts; crown fuscous; rest of head and under surface, in- 
cluding under tail coverts, buff to whitish buff, streaked with fuscous ; 
a fuscous-black patch on breast; tibia fuscous, barred lightly with 
cinnamon ; under surface of wing cream buff, with heavy fuscous 
markings on the under wing coverts. 

Measurements. — This species is so rare that it has been difficult to 
assemble comparable measurements since most records in literature 
do not indicate whether the wing size given is taken from the chord 
or from the wing flattened. Some figures apparently include a mix- 
ture of the two. The notes that follow I have made personally, with 
the wing measured on the chord. 

Males (3 specimens), wing 490-506 (496), tail 219-227 (222), 
culmen from cere 38.2-41.5 (39.8), tarsus 125.1-127.5 (126.1). 

Female (one specimen), wing 513, tail 255, culmen from cere 44.0, 
tarsus 120.2 mm. 

Four additional birds with sex not marked have the wing 492-500, 
tail 254-260, culmen from cere 39.5-40.0, and tarsus 122.6-129.8 mm. 

Resident. Rare, in areas of heavy forest. 


The species is one that is little known. The only definite records 
are two birds in immature dress in the British Museum taken by 
Arce at Calobre, Veraguas, one in 1869 and the other in 1870. On 
April 14, 1949, as I descended a narrow, open ridge from the higher 
slopes of Cerro Carbunco, northwest of Chepo, an adult eagle that 
I was certain was this species crossed directly in front of me. At 
my shot it pitched down the steep slope above the Rio Tranca. We 
could not see where it struck because of the trees that blocked our 
view, and though we searched long and carefully we were unable to 
find the bird because of the rough and broken contours of the steep 
descent. From its size, relatively short tail, and color, I felt certain 
of the identification. 

Published accounts usually state that this eagle has a short bushy 
crest, though actually the feathers on the back of the head are not 
lengthened more than they are in related hawks that are regarded 
as not crested. Amadon (Auk, 1949, pp. 53-56) has placed Urubi- 
tornis as a synonym of Harpyhaliaetiis. And Hellmayr and Conover 
(Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 4, 1949, pp. 199-200) go further, as they 
list solitarius as a subspecies of Harpyhaliaetus coronatus. Friedmann 
(U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 10, 1950, p. 415) has called to attention 
the similarity of solitaria to the greater black hawk, Buteogalhis 
urubitinga, and it is my own opinion that affiliations of solitaria are 
closer with Buteogalhis than they are with Harpyhaliaetus. It re- 
sembles the greater black hawk in proportionate length of the feather- 
ing on the back of the head, in rounded wing tip, in tarsal scutellation, 
particularly at the lower end, and also in the reduction of feathering 
on the side of the head. The much larger Harpyhaliaetus coronatus 
has a distinct crest of narrow, elongated feathers, and appears com- 
pletely different in other ways. 

In view of these differences, I prefer to maintain Urubitornis as a 
separate generic entity pending further information. The internal 
structure of the two groups as yet is not known. 

A larger race, Urubitornis solitaria sheffleri van Rossem, recognized 
from the mountains of southeastern Sonora, with the wing in the 
male 530, and in the female 552 mm., is said to have heavier tarsi 
and toes, to be darker in the adult, and to have a definite subbasal 
white band across the outer rectrices. This latter mark in typical 
solitaria is indicated only as a grayish brown trace. 

In the original description of solitaria, cited in the heading above, 
Tschudi listed this species only as from Peru, which is the type 
locality given in most of the current accounts. In his Fauna Peruana, 
Ornithologie, 1845-1846, p. 94, he states that he had only one specimen 


taken in the heavy forests of Chanchamayo, which therefore is the 
definite locality. Tschudi (p. xiii) locates the Rio Chanchamayo as 
a stream in northern Junin that joins the Rio Paucartambo to form 
the Rio Perene. 

SPIZAETUS TYRANNUS SERUS Friedmann: Black Hawk Eagle; Aguila 

Crestuda Negra 

Spisaetus tyranmis serus Friedmann, Smithsonian Misc. Coll., vol. Ill, no. 16, 
Feb. 28, 1950, p. 1. (Rio Indio, near Gatun, Canal Zone, Panam4.) 

A black, crested eagle, with relatively long tail. 

Description. — Length, 570 to 680 mm. Head with a prominent, 
rather bushy crest of numerous broad-ended feathers, without the 
considerably elongated central plumes found in Spisaetus ornatus; 
tarsus feathered nearly to the toes ; tail three- fourths as long as wing 
or more. Adult, black, with feathers of crown, crest, throat, and upper 
back white basally; tail with 3 broad bars and narrow tip that are 
gray above, white underneath; under tail coverts and legs barred 
heavily with white, the latter to the lower end of the tarsus; sides 
usually barred lightly with white ; under wing coverts marked exten- 
sively with white; under surface of primaries and secondaries with 
wide white bars. 

Immature, brownish black; crown streaked widely with white to 
deep buff; lower back, rump, and upper tail coverts barred with 
white ; breast brown, with black shaft streaks, the feathers edged and 
tipped with white; lower breast, abdomen, sides, legs, and under 
tail coverts barred with white. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Costa Rica, Panama and Colom- 
bia), wing 371-383 (378.2), tail 291-312 (302.8), culmen from cere 
27.3-30.2 (28.4), tarsus 78.1-86.0 (82.0) mm. 

Females, (3 from Panama and Venezuela), wing 390-393 (391.2, 
average of 2), tail 296-311 (303), culmen from cere 29.5-30.3 (30.0), 
tarsus 84.6-92.0 (87.9) mm. 

According to L. L. Jewel (Stone, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadel- 
phia, 1918, p. 250) a female taken at Gatun, February 4, 1912, had 
the "iris bright orange, bill blue-black, cere slaty, toes yellow." 

Resident. Uncommon, in areas of heavy forest, mainly in the 
tropical zone, but recorded in western Chiriqui to 1,650 meters. 

Definite records are as follows : 

CHiRiQuf : Lerida, May 20, 1933 (Blake, Fieldiana: Zool., vol. 36, 1958, p. 

Veraguas: Calobre (Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1870, p. 215). 
BocAs DEL ToRO: Changuinola, Sept. 29, 1927; Fruitdale, Nov. 18, 1928 

(Peters, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 71, 1931, p. 309). 


Canai. Zone: Near Cerro Galera (K-6 Road), Oct, 26, 1953; Gamboa, 1957, 
and Nov. 20, 1961 (specimens in U. S. Nat. Mus.) ; Barro Colorado Island, 
sight records June 28, 1949 (Eisenmann, Smithsonian Misc. Coll., vol. 117, 
no. 5, 1952, p. 16), May 5, 1953 (VVetmore) ; Lion Hill, March 1900 
(Bangs, Proc. New England Zool. Club, vol. 2, 1900, p. 15) ; Gatun, Feb. 
4, 1912 (Stone, cit. supra), Jan. 28 and Mar. 4, 1911 (E. A. Goldman). 

Col6n : Peluca Hydrographic Station, on Rio Boqueron, Feb. 27, 1961. 

CoMARCA DE San Blas : Puerto Obaldia (Hellmayr and Conover, Cat. Birds 
Amer., pt. 1, no. 4, 1949, p. 208). 

Goldman secured his first specimen near Gatun as it sat in the 
top of a tall tree eating an iguana. His second one circled over him 
in early morning as he was ascending the Rio Indio, near Gatun, A 
pair that I saw high in air above Barro Colorado Island were easily 
identified by the long tail and dark color; and with binoculars I 
could see the light markings on wing and tail. 

The present subspecies ranges from southeastern Mexico through 
Central America to northern and western Brazil, The typical race, 
Spisaetus tyr annus tyr annus (Wied), of eastern and southeastern 
Brazil, according to Friedmann in his description of serus, is larger. 
Another difference in the typical race is found in the lesser amount 
of white on the under wing coverts, and in the narrower barring on 
the legs, a character, however, that is variable, as immature individuals 
of both subspecies have more white than the adults. 

When I came to Isla Coiba on January 6, 1956, Capitan Juan A. 
Souza, Director of the Colonia Penal, showed me the partly decom- 
posed feet of a hawk, kept as curiosities from a bird killed the week 
before my arrival. These had the tarsi feathered, and appeared to 
be blackish in color. Because of their condition I could detect no 
markings, nor was I able to preserve them. I believed that they came 
from a hawk eagle, probably from Spisaetus tyrannus, but of this I 
was not certain. Some of the guards and convicts seemed to know this 
group of hawks but I did not succeed in finding it. 

SPIZAETUS ORNATUS VICARIUS Friedmann: Barred Hawk Eagle; 
Aguila de Penacho 

Figure 44 

Spisaetus ornatus vicarius Friedmann, Journ. Washington Acad. Sci., vol. 25, 
no. 10, Oct. 15, 1935, p. 451. (Near Manatee Lagoon, British Honduras.) 

A crested eagle, with undersurface white, heavily barred. 

Description. — 560 to 630 mm. Tarsi feathered nearly to the toes ; 
head crested with the central feathers narrow and elongated. Adult, 
crown, including crest, black ; filamentous feathers of loral area white 
at base, with elongated shafts black ; sides of head and neck to sides 



of upper breast rufous brown, forming a ring around the hind neck 
that becomes darker until it merges with the black back ; lesser, middle, 
and greater wing coverts black, tipped narrowly with white ; primary 

Fig. 44. — Barred hawk eagle, aguila de penacho, Spisaeius ornatus vicarius. 

coverts mouse brown basally, tipped with black; primaries and sec- 
ondaries mouse brown, banded indistinctly with dull black, with 
inner primaries and outer secondaries tipped lightly with white; 
upper tail coverts brownish gray, with a black terminal band, and 
narrow tip of white; tail brownish gray, with 4 black cross bands, 


and narrow tip of white ; a black line below the brown on tlie side of 
the head ; under surface, including under wing, white ; throat and 
foreneck pure white, elsewhere banded heavily with black. 

Immature, head and neck white, washed more or less with cin- 
namon; mainly mouse gray above and white below, with black bars 
restricted to sides, legs, tail, and undersurface of wing. 

An adult male taken at the mouth of Rio Tuquesa, Darien, March 
27, 1959, had the iris bright yellow ; loral area (bare except for 
bristles) bluish gray; bill black, except for neutral gray shading on 
side of maxilla at base (below the level of the upper margin of the 
nostril), and on side of mandible at base; toes yellow basally, shaded 
distally with greenish ; claws black. 

Measurements (adapted from Friedmann, U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, 
pt. 10, p. 446).— Males, wing 338-349 (340), tail 244-268 (255.6), 
culmen from cere 25.5-29 (27.1), tarsus 87-92 (89) mm. 

Females, wing 353-388 (377.8), tail 266-290 (281.6), culmen from 
cere 27-31.5 (30), tarsus 89.5-100 (94.1) mm. 

Resident. Uncommon, in regions of heavy forest, ranging from 
the lowlands to above 1,500 meters in the mountains of Chiriqui 
and Darien. 

Though these birds are widely distributed there are no records as 
yet from the Azuero Peninsula. 

I have seen this handsome hawk soaring over an opening made by 
a fallen tree on Barro Colorado Island (Feb. 8, 1950), and there 
is a specimen from that reserve in the University of Michigan 
Museum, taken on August 17, 1927, by J. Van Tyne. One in the 
U. S. National Museum from near Gamboa, C. Z., was collected 
November 25, 1960, by N. Gale and C. M. Keenan. Near Chepo, on 
April 26, 1949, one shot by W. M. Perrygo was lured within range 
by calls to attract smaller birds. A living individual presented to the 
National Zoological Park by Dr. H. M. Mitchell was captured on 
the Rio Maestra, eastern Panama, in January 1961. In the woodland 
along the Rio Chucunaque, near the Tuquesa, a pair ranged in one 
section of forest, hunting usually through the middle branches, below 
the tree crown. I shot the male here on March 27, 1959. Goldman 
collected one at over 1,500 meters elevation at the head of Rio 
Limon on Cerro Pirre on April 19, 1912. H. von Wedel secured 
one March 4, 1938 (sex not marked), "24 miles inland" from 
Cricamola, Bocas del Toro, and a female June 15, 1932 at Puerto 
Obaldia, San Bias. 

The nest and eggs have not been reported in literature that I 
have seen. They are said to feed on reptiles, but also take birds. On 


the Rio Pucro in Darien I saw one capture a ringed kingfisher 
(Megaceryle torquata) . 

In tlie original description of this race, through a typographical 
error, the type, taken by Morton E. Peck, was listed as from 
"Manatol" Lagoon. Stephen M. Russell informs me that Peck's 
field notes state that the bird was collected "in the pine ridge near 
Manatee Lagoon." Mr. Russell writes that tall rainforest and pine- 
lands are found in this area. The former is the usual habitat of 
this eagle. 

The subspecies vicarius is found from southern Mexico through 
Central America and northern South America to western Ecuador. In 
northern Colombia it ranges eastward across northern Antioquia to 
western Guajira (to Riohacha). The typical subspecies, Spisaetus 
ornatus ornatus (Daudin), which has the brown of the head and 
neck brighter, more rufous, is found from eastern Colombia, east 
of the eastern Andes, Venezuela, and Trinidad, south to Bolivia, 
northern Argentina, and southern Brazil. 

SPIZASTUR MELANOLEUCUS (Vieillot): Black-and-white Hawk Eagle; 
Aguila Blanca y Negra 

Bufeo melanoleucus Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 4, Dec. 1816, 
p. 482. (Guiana.) 

Crest short and bushy, like that of Spizaetus tyrannus; tarsus 
feathered nearly to the toes; readily identified by the white under 
surface and black back. 

Description. — Length 460-580 mm. Adult, loral area, a very nar- 
row line above the eye, a small spot on either side of the upper breast, 
posterior half of crown, crest, back, and wings black ; primaries edged, 
in part, with grayish brown ; tail mouse brown, with 4 black bands, 
and a white tip ; under surface, including under side of wing, except 
as noted beyond, pure white ; tips of primaries, and indistinct bands 
on inner webs above end, dull black ; tips of secondaries gray. 

Immature, upper surface black mixed with brownish gray; lesser 
and middle wing coverts tipped with white. 

An adult female taken near Chepo on April 22, 1949, had the 
iris light orange-yellow; maxilla and mandible to symphysis black; 
cere, base of mandible, and entire gape bright orange, shading 
anteriorly to dull yellow toward the mandible; bare eyelids dull 
greenish gray ; feet bright yellow ; claws black. 

Measurements (adapted from Friedmann, U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 
SO, pt. 10, 1950, p. 439). Males, wing 340-386 (364.6), tail 230-245 


(238.5), culmen from cere 24.5-28.0 (25.9), tarsus 72-84 {77) mm. 

Females, wing 394-423 (411.7), tail 230-253 (242), culmen from 
cere 26-30 (28), tarsus 88-99 (93.4) mm. 

Resident. Rare, in forested areas from the tropical lowlands to 
1,650 meters elevation in the mountains of Chiriqui. 

Though this handsome hawk eagle ranges from southern Mexico 
to northeastern Argentina and southern Brazil it seems uncommon 
throughout this vast area, since it is known mainly through scattered 

The few records for Panama are as follows : 

CniRiQuf : Above Boquete, at Lerida, June 10, 1936, and Velo, May 26, 1932, 
Sept. 1, 1939 (Blake, Fieldiana ; Zool., vol. 36, 1958, p. 506). 

Veraguas : Specimen in British Museum, without specific locality, taken in 
May 1874 by Arce. 

BocAs DEL ToRo: Banana River, Dec. 10, 1927 (Peters, Bull. Mus. Comp. 
Zool., vol. 71, 1931, p. 309) ; Cricamola, Sept. 4, 1936, specimen at Univer- 
sity of California in Los Angeles, taken by Loye Miller. 

Canal Zone: Near Lion Hill, specimen taken by McLeannan, 1863, in 
British Museum; Barro Colorado Island (Chapman, My Tropical Air 
Castle, 1929, p. 401). 

Panama Province : La Jagua, Jan. 25, 1958, F. A. Hartman (identified from 
kodachrome slides ; specimen not preserved) ; Chepo, April 22, 1949, fe- 
male; Charco del Toro, Rio Maje, March 28, 1950 (sight record, Wet- 

The bird shot on April 22, 1949, was secured in the hills at 
Camaron, near the Rio Mamoni above Chepo. It came with con- 
siderable force through high forest to strike at Aragari toucans that 
chattered and dashed about in the branches, much excited. Another 
was seen the following year in heavy forest above the head of 
tidewater on the Rio Maje, The contrasted black and white colors 
made both of these individuals conspicuous even in the dark shadow 
beneath the dense leaves of the forest canopy. 

Nothing appears to be recorded regarding the nest. Schonwetter 
(Handb. Ool., pt. 3, 1961, p. 170) gives the dimensions of 3 eggs 
as 60.1-62.4x49.9-53.3 mm., but includes no details regarding color or 
marking. Kreuger (Ool. Rec, 1963, p. 6) reports two sets of 2 
eggs each, both collected in British Guiana on April 27, 1927, and in 
March, 1928. He describes the ground color as cream-white spotted 
with dark brown, gray-lilac, and light brown, varying in extent of 
marking from heavily spotted to sparingly marked. Size in one 
set is given as 62.4 X 47.5 mm., and 62.2 X 48 mm. 

From external characters this species is separated generically from 
Spizaetus by the outermost or first primary longer than the inner- 


most or tenth, instead of the reverse. The whole wing appears 
more pointed, the tail is relatively shorter, the cere proportionately 
larger, and the bristly feathering of the lores more abundant. 

MORPHNUS GUIANENSIS (Daudin): Crested Eagle; Aguila Monuda 

Falco guianensis Daudin, Traite Elem. Compl. Orn., vol. 2, May 1800, p. 78. 
(French Guiana.) 

Size large ; head crested ; tail nearly as long as wing ; body form 
slender; varying from white underneath to lightly banded with cin- 
namon, or in some heavily banded with black. 

Description. — Length 710 to 830 mm. Adult, light phase, crown, 
sides of head, basal crest feathers, hindneck, and band across lower 
f oreneck and upper breast gray ; crown feathers streaked and spotted 
with dark neutral gray ; elongated central crest feathers white at base, 
black on tips; upper surface black, with rump and upper tail co- 
verts white; wing coverts tipped and mottled with gray; primaries 
and secondaries mottled obscurely with gray; tail black, with white 
tip and 3 broad cross bands of gray, mottled with mouse brown; 
throat white; lower surface from gray breast band to under tail 
coverts white, with narrow bars of cinnamon, lined with gray; un- 
der surface of wing white, becoming gray on the outer half of the 
primaries, which are gray banded with black. 

Immature, crown, sides of head, crest, and under surface white, 
washed with pale gray on crown and upper breast; upper surface 
dull black, with wing coverts freckled with white and gray, and wings 
with irregular gray bars spotted with black ; under surface of wings 
as in adult. 

Dark phase, crown and sides of head dark gray; above black, 
with the wing coverts tipped lightly with white, and the wings faintly 
freckled with gray; tail banded with gray, mottled with black, and 
tipped with white ; breast band black ; rest of lower surface, including 
under wing coverts white, barred heavily with black. (The dark in- 
dividuals are less common.) 

A male, in dark phase, taken on the Cerro Azul, had the following 
colors : Iris hazel ; bill dull black ; cere and loral area (bare except 
for scattered bristles) dark neutral gray; tarsus and toes dull yellow; 
claws black. 

Measurements (from specimens from Panama, Colombia, and the 
upper Amazon). — Males (7 specimens), wing 425-449 (437), tail 
340-380 (364, average of 5), culmen from cere 30.1-33.6 (32.6, 
average of 6), tarsus 105.2-117.7 (110.9) mm. 


Females (5 specimens), wing 450-477 (464), tail 373-407 (381), 
culmen from cere Z^.7-Z7.7 (36.0), tarsus 108.1-116.2 (113.4) mm. 
Resident. Rare, in regions of heavy forest. 
The available records are as follows : 

Chiriqui : Boquete, Mar. 15, 1960 (sight record, Wetmore). 

BocAS DEL ToRO: Changuinola, Banana River (Peters, Bull. Mus. Comp. 
Zoo!., vol. 71, 1931, p. 309). 

Cocle: Head of Rio Guabal, Caribbean slope (sight record, Wetmore). 

Canal Zone: Lion Hill (taken by McLeannan, specimen in British Mu- 
seum) ; Barro Colorado Island, March 30, 1936 (specimen in American 
Museum of Natural History), Feb. 8, 1950 (dark phase), and May 5, 1953 
(sight records, Wetmore). 

Panama: Quebrada Carriaso on Pacific slope of the Cerro Azul (head 
waters of Rio Pacora) ; dark phase, April 25, 1949; Chepo, March 18, 1911. 

Darien: Mouth of Rio Imamado on the Rio Jaque, April 8 and 11, 1947 
(dark phase; sight records, Wetmore). 

Comarca de San Blas: Perme and Puerto Obaldia (Griscom, Bull. Mus. 
Comp. Zool., vol. 72, 1932, p. 315) ; male and female, Puerto Obaldia, Dec. 
10, 1931, and March 28, 1932 (specimens in Brandt collection, University 
of Cincinnati); Puerto Obaldia, Feb. 17, 1963 (sight record, Wetmore). 

Isla Coiba: Jan. 15 and 22, 1956 (sight records, Wetmore). 

As this is a species that lives in tall forest, it is seen mainly by 
chance, and probably it is more common than the few records in- 
dicate. In my own experience I have observed it at Boquete soaring 
high over the valley, when the long tail and short wings served to 
identify it at sight. This is the only report for Chiriqui at present. 
On Isla Coiba one rested on an open perch below the top of a tall 
tree, where it was seen first by the keen eye of Vicente, my com- 
panion. It perched quietly, with raised crest. Others were seen here 
soaring high over the forest. 

On April 25, 1949, my last day afield for that season, I had gone 
up the Rio Pacora into the eastern part of the Cerro Azul and had 
continued higher on foot along the Quebrada Carriaso, to an ele- 
vation of about 350 meters, in an area that at the time was little 
troubled by human intrusion. I noted tracks of tapir, deer, and 
jaguar at intervals along the stream, and smaller forest creatures 
appeared in the undergrowth and in the trees. Toward noon I 
found it necessary to return to meet my companions at the jeep, 
left near the main river. But first, reluctant to leave, I tried calling 
once more. A few small birds were attracted, then a hummingbird, 
and then this beautiful eagle came swiftly into a little open space 
above me, circled expertly, opening and closing the long tail, and 
then smashed through slender branches to a perch only 12 meters 


distant, where it turned its head quickly to search for the source 
of the distress call that I was making. As I raised the gun it looked 
directly at me, and a second later it was on the ground. Its motions 
were rapid and certain, a true bird of prey. This was a fine example 
of the dark phase. 

Earlier, on April 8, 1947, on the upper Rio Jaque, I had a clear 
view of one, also in dark phase, as on set wings it crossed a small 
clearing in the forest. Another was seen here in the forest a few days 

The dark phase of this attractive eagle in its fully colored form, 
with heavy black barring across the lower surface of the body below 
the black upper breast, presents a decidedly different appearance 
from the paler coloration seen in most individuals. Gurney, who 
received a specimen of this kind from Ecuador, believed it to repre- 
sent a distinct species and described it as Morphnus taeniatus (Ibis, 
1879, p. 176). For some time the few known came from South 
America, where the bird ranges south to Bolivia and to Misiones 
in northeastern Argentina. A specimen in the American Museum of 
Natural History from Ecuador has the lower surface from the lower 
breast to the under tail coverts barred somewhat sparingly with black, 
and another from the same country has the axillars and flanks 
heavily barred, while elsewhere on the under parts the markings 
are reduced to scattered flecks of black. These appear to bridge 
over to the paler, more common style. 

Lehmann (Caldasia, no. 7, 1943, pp. 172-175) has described and 
figured a specimen from the Rio Jurado, Choco, that is almost 
entirely blackish brown beneath, with few light markings, which, 
as an extreme manifestation of melanism, strengthens the supposi- 
tion that the taeniatus style is merely a color variant. 

The nesting of these birds is little known. The Penards (Vog. 
Guyana, vol. 1, 1908, p. 409) were told that the nest was made of 
sticks placed in the tallest trees. Kreuger (Ool. Rec, 1963, pp. 
5-6) describes a single egg in his collection from "Polaro" ( = Potaro), 
British Guiana as "deep cream with large pale yellow-brown spots, 
richly dispersed round the larger end of the egg, with finer small 
spots spread over the rest of the surface. Additionally a few pale 
lilac-gray, smaller-sized spots are visible." The measurements are 
73.7x53.4 mm. The dguila monuda is said to feed on the smaller 
monkeys, large birds, and iguanas. Dr. Lehmann states that the 
call is somewhat similar to that of the greater black hawk. 


HARPIA HARPYJA (Linnaeus): Harpy Eagle; Harpla 
Vultiir harpyja Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol, 1, 1758, p. 86. (Mexico.) 

The largest and most powerful of the eagles; general form and 
appearance like that of Morphnus guianensis, but much greater 
in size; head with a prominent, double-pointed crest; tail long; 
wings relatively short and rounded ; feet very strong and powerful. 

Description. — Length, 950 mm. to more than a meter. Adult, 
head all around, including throat, smoke gray; bushy crest darker, 
blacker, with elongated central feathers that often are erected in a 
double point; upper surface black, with a wash of bluish gray; 
rump and upper tail coverts narrowly tipped with white; wing 
coverts and scapulars tipped with white or pale gray ; outer primaries 
black; inner primaries and secondaries mottled with gray and dull 
black ; tail with 4 black bands, separated by 3 that are grayish white, 
and tipped with white ; upper breast black ; rest of under surface 
(except for the gray throat) white, with sides streaked, and tibia 
barred, with black ; under wing coverts white, with large, irregular 
spots of black; bases of flight feathers pale gray; tips dull black, 
barred with white; under surface of tail grayish white, barred nar- 
rowly with black. 

Immature, head, neck, and under surface white; crest black 
mottled with gray, and tipped with white ; above mottled gray and 
black; tibia lightly barred. The weight of a living male in the New 
York Zoological Society collection is given as 4.6 kilograms (Conway, 
Auk, 1962, p. 275). A male collected March 8, 1963, near Armila, 
San Bias weighed 4.53 kilos. Fowler and Cope (Auk. 1964, p. 209) 
record the weight of living birds in a male as 4.8 kilos and in two 
females as about 7.6 kilos. 

The iris in the male last mentioned was orange; cere and bill 
black ; tarsus and toes yellow ; claws black. 

Measurements (from Friedmann, U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 
10, 1950, p. 434).— Males, wing 543-580 (556.5), tail 372-412 (392), 
culmen from cere 41.5-54 (48.3), tarsus 114-120 (115.8) mm. 

Females, wing 583-610 (587.6), tail 417-420 (418), culmen from 
cere 46-63 (53), tarsus 118-130 (123) mm. 

Resident. Rare, in areas of heavy forest. 

This great eagle, usually acknowledged as the most powerful 
of its group in the entire world, ranges through the forested lowlands 
of tropical America from southern Mexico to northern Argentina. 
A hundred years ago it was fairly common in Panama, as McLean- 
nan, station master on the Panama Railroad, on the Atlantic side, 


told Osbert Salvin that he saw them regularly in the forests (Sclater 
and Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1864, p. 368). Definite records 
however are relatively few. The Museum of Comparative Zoology 
received two from Almirante, Bocas del Toro, shot April 15, 1923, 
and March 26, 1924, by H. S. Blair, division manager for the 
Chiriqui Land Co., and one from Banana River, taken on April 21, 
1928, by Wedel (Peters, Bull Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 71, 1931, p. 
309). There is a male in the Brandt Collection at the University 
of Cincinnati received from Wedel, labeled Almirante Bay, March 
21, 1939. Charles O. Handley, Jr., had report of one 7 kilometers 
southwest of Changuinola, February 26, 1960, and received the skull 
of one shot on the Rio Teribe in October 1962. 

In the Canal Zone these birds have been recorded occasionally on 
Barro Colorado Island, and McLeannan collected one near Lion 
Hill. The newspaper Star and Herald of Panama published an 
account and a photograph of one killed by a hunter in the Bohio area 
on September 14, 1951, that judged from the picture was a fully 
grown immature individual. It was reported to have had a wing 
spread of 6 feet 5 inches (nearly 2 meters). An older bird, brought 
to Dr. Alejandro Mendez P., Director of the Museo Nacional in 
Panama, was killed on November 11, 1951, by Adolfo Arias Espinosa 
on the farm of Dr. Adolfo Arias near the Rio Pacora, beyond 
Pacora. A sight record is of one flushed from a low perch in 
dense brush near the Rio Camaron, west of La Campana, Panama, 
March 9, 1951. Apparently it was hunting the marmosets that were 
numerous in the area. H. von Wedel secured a male at Miel, on 
the boundary at Puerto Obaldia, San Bias, June 15, 1934 (in the 
Brandt Collection at the University of Cincinnati) . 

The harpy is reported to prey on the smaller monkeys and sloths, 
to attack smaller deer, and also to capture macaws and other large 
birds. The one taken near Armila, San Bias, shot by a hunter em- 
ployed by C. O. Handley, Jr., had fur and claws of a young two-toed 
sloth in its stomach. While the flight appears rather slow and heavy, 
this perhaps is misleading, because of its large size and heavy body. 
The feet and legs are muscular and heavy, far more so than in any 
other of the eagles. 

Joseph Parker Norris, Jr. (Ool. Rec., vol. 7, 1927, pp. 25-26), 
has published an account of two eggs in his collection obtained by 
Rodolphe M. de Schauensee and James Bond at "Costanhal, near 
the Rio Apehu" in Brazil in 1926. De Schauensee informs me that 
the locality is near the Belem-Braganqa Railroad, about 85 kilometers 
east of Belem. The nest was placed on the bottom limb next to 


the trunk of a huge tree about 35 meters (111 feet) from the ground. 
It was made of large sticks and was lined with the hair of sloths. 
A fresh egg taken here on April 27, white without markings, al- 
though badly nest stained, measured "2.80x2.35 inches, or 71.12 x 
69.9 mm." (The final figure should be corrected to 59.69, which is the 
equivalent of 2.35 inches.) On a second visit, on May 9, another 
egg, with incubation begun, was secured that measured "76.71 X 
57.15 mm." This also was stained, but Norris believed that it was 
marked also with blotches of light brown. Fowler and Cope (I.e., 
pp. 260, 262) describe two nests examined in British Guiana built in 
forks in tall silk-cotton trees. They were bulky structures from 1.2 to 
1.3 meters in diam.eter placed at about 40 meters from the ground, 
above the level of the surrounding forest canopy. 

Five eggs in the U. S. National Museum were laid by a captive 
bird at the National Zoological Park between 1946 and 1951, 4 
in the month of July and 1 in August. These are white, somewhat 
nest-stained (but without markings) with a finely granulated shell. 
They are short subelliptical to nearly elliptical in shape and measure 
as follows: 73.4x60.5, 77.4x62.2, 78.0x62.1, 78.0x62.3, and 
78.1x60.2 mm. 

This species is often called aguilucho. 

Gavilan Sabanero 

Figure 45 

Falco hudsonius Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 128. (Hudson Bay.) 

Marsh hawks, in any plum.age, are distinguished from all others 
of the family by the small but distinct semicircular ruff of feathers 
with decurved tips that extends from the sides of the base of 
the head forward and around across the lower throat ; and by the 
white patch on the lower rump and upper tail coverts, prominent 
when the birds are in flight. 

Description. — Length, 450 to 530 mm. Adult male, upper surface, 
throat, and upper breast pale gray, washed above more or less with 
brown to produce indefinite streaks on crown and hindneck; rest of 
under surface white, barred indefinitely with gray on upper breast, 
and barred and spotted lightly with cinnamon elsewhere ; tips of 
flight feathers black; rest of under wing surface white, barred and 
spotted lightly with gray ; rump and upper tail coverts white ; tail 
gray, barred rather indefinitely with grayish brown. 

Adult female, fuscous-brown above, with feathers of crown, hind- 
neck, back, and wing coverts edged with buffy brown to cinnamon; 


below cinnamon-buff, except for foreneck and extreme upper breast 
which are fuscous-brown ; sides streaked with dark brown to rufous ; 
under wing surface strongly barred with grayish brown. 

Immature, like female but browner. 

Migrant from the north. Tolerably common; found on open 
lands from sea level to the slopes of the higher mountains. 

Fig. 45. — Marsh hawk, gavilan sabanero, Circus cyaneus hiidsonius. 

Present from late October to April. Early dates of arrival: Oc- 
tober 16, 1929, Perme, San Bias (Griscom, Bull, Mus. Comp. Zool., 
vol. 72, 1932, p. 316) ; October 21, 1935, Puerto Obaldia, San 
Bias (specimen in Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, 
taken by Wedel) ; October 20, 1961, near Penonome, Cocle (Loftin, 
Carib. Journ. Sci. 1963, p. 64) ; October 26, 1927, Cocoplum, Bocas 
del Toro (Chapman, Auk, 1931, p. 120). Late dates of departure: 
April 4, 1948, near Chico, Panama; Balboa, C. Z., April 10, 1942 
(T. Imhof, field notes) ; Canal Zone, April 18, 1911 (Jewel, Auk, 
1913, p. 426) ; April 27, 1949, Pacora, Panama. 

There is record of one banded as a nestling in Kansas on June 
15, 1951, that was taken in southern Los Santos, near Tonosi, on 
December 3, 1953. 

Usually the marsh hawk is seen in graceful flight low over open 
fields or grassy marshes, where it quarters the ground in search of 
the mice, small birds, and lizards on which it feeds. At any move- 


ment in the grass it pounces quickly, with long legs and sharply 
armed toes fully extended to reach through the open grass cover. 
It may rise with its prey in its feet, but then drops back to the 
ground in some open area where it has clear view around while it 

During March those that have wintered farther south are in 
passage northward, and then the birds are more common. Those 
noted in this movement travel in the great flocks of Swainson's and 
broad-winged hawks. As the majority pass before the end of the 
month, only a few are seen during April. 

ISCHNOSCELES CAERULESCENS (Vieillot): Crane Hawk; Guino 

Sparvius caerulescens Vieillot, Nouv. Diet, Hist. Nat,, nouv. ed., vol. 10, June 
1817, p, 318. (Cayenne.) 

Size medium; slate to grayish black; tail long, black, with two 
broad white or buff bands ; legs long and slender ; feet small, with 
outer toe decidedly shorter than inner one; tibiotarsal joint flexible 
both forward and backward. 

Description. — Length 430 to 500 mm. Adult, slate gray to blackish 
slate ; primaries and secondaries dark neutral gray ; tail black, be- 
coming gray at the end, tipped with white, with two broad bands of 
buff or white, often variegated with gray ; under tail coverts banded 
with white, or buff; legs and abdomen plain or banded narrowly 
with white; under wing slaty black, banded narrowly with white 
on under wing coverts, and with a prominent white band across the 
outer primaries. 

Immature, upper throat, forehead, superciliary line, and streaks 
on side of head and crown white ; a brownish wash over the blackish 
upper surface ; upper tail coverts banded with white ; abdomen and 
legs banded with buff. The eye in the immature is reddish brown to 
orange (Dickey and van Rossem, Birds El Salvador, 1938, p. 130). 

Hellmayr and Conover (Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 4, 1949, 
p, 227) point out that Geranospiza Kaup, 1847, in current use for 
this group of birds, is antedated by Ischnosceles Strickland, Ann. 
Mag. Nat. Hist., ser. 1, vol. 13, no. 86, June 1844, p. 409, type, 
Falco gracilis Temminck. Under the rules of nomenclature Strick- 
land's name is not invalidated by Ischnoscelis Burmeister, 1842, for 
a genus of Coleoptera. 

Two subspecies (/. c. niger and /. c. halsarensis) are found in 
the Republic, one in the west and the other in the east. 

These are hawks of slender form that range along the borders 
of streams, usually in more open woodland. The exceptionally long 


legs are most noticeable when they are seen on the ground, as then 
they stand very erect, almost as though on stilts. In the hand, the 
broad scutes on the front and back of the tarsus are smooth, and 
in part may appear fused in one long plate. The outer toe, definitely 
shorter than the inner one, is also slightly shorter than the hind toe. 

The flight is direct and rather slow, performed by a succession of 
rapid wing-beats, followed by a short sail with the wings held fully 
extended. At La Jagua, toward evening, one came occasionally 
to rest on an open branch, where, in the steady trade wind, it bent 
forward until the body was nearly horizontal. The food appears to 
be mainly frogs, lizards, and small snakes for which it may search 
on the ground at the open borders of streams. They also clamber 
about rather awkwardly in open trees, bending far over to examine 
the under side of the limbs. I have observed small flycatchers pur- 
suing them, but the hawks have paid no attention to these attacks. 

The nesting of these birds in Panama has not been reported but 
should not differ from that of related subspecies. Two eggs of 
/. c. livens (Bangs and Penard), a form of northwestern Mexico, 
in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, taken at Alamos, Sonora, 
on February 9, 1888, by M. A. Frazer are chalky white, without 
gloss, with a very faint bluish tinge. They are oval in form and 
measure 50.0x39.6, and 51.0x39.2 mm. The collector described 
the nest as about 10 meters from the ground, placed insecurely on 
a tangle of small thorny branches growing from two larger limbs. 
It was built of small sticks, lined with others still smaller, and was 
so flimsy that the eggs were visible through the bottom. The tree 
stood in a small grove in the bottom of an arroyo. Two other sets 
of two, and one with a single tgg, in the W. J. Sheffier collection, 
taken near the Hacienda Guiracoba, in southeastern Sonora, were 
in nests built of small sticks, vine stalks and weed stems, lined with 
finer materials including twigs with green leaves, located high in 
trees growing along nearly dry washes. The eggs, described as 
plain white, have the following range in measurement: 50-53 X 
38-43 mm. (Sutton, Wilson Bull, 1954, pp. 241-242). 

Hewitt (Ool. Rec, vol. 17, 1937, p. 12) records a single egg of 
the typical race /. c. caerulescens from southern Venezuela also 
as white, without gloss, with measurements of 47.5x38.5 mm. The 
nest, of small sticks lined with "dry leaves and a few feathers from 
the breast of the bird," was an open cup about 25 centimeters across 
located near the end of a branch 25 meters from the ground. 



Ischnosceles niger Du Bus, Bull. Acad. Roy. Sci. Lett. Beaux Arts Belgique, 
vol. 14, pt. 2 (for August) 1847, p. 102. (Mexico.) 

Adult, blackish slate ; tail bands white, occasionally with the upper 
one faintly tinged with buff; slightly larger. Wing, male 290-305, 
female 310-332 mm. 

Iris "bright red ; the cere, eyelids, and mouth corners dull gray ; 
the bill black with bluish cast; the tarsi and toes orange or red- 
orange; the claws black" (Sutton, Wilson Bull., 1954, p. 237). 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Mexico, Guatemala, and western 
Panama), wing 290-305 (299.8), tail 215-240 (230.2), culmen from 
cere 18.6-19.9 (19.3), tarsus 81.0-90.0 (84.2) mm. 

Females (4 from Mexico and western Panama), wing 310-332 
(316.3), tail 233-247 (237.6), culmen from cere 20.0-21.5 (20.5), 
tarsus 88.0-93.4 (90.1) mm. 

This subspecies is found from north-central Mexico through the 
tropical lowlands of Central America to central Panama. 

Resident. Tolerably common; found locally, in western Panama, 
east to the Canal Zone. 

Records for this race follow : 

Chiriqui : Divala, Nov. 24, 1900 (Bangs, Auk, 1901, p. 358). 
Veraguas : Mina de Chorcha (Salvin, Proc. Zool. Sec. London, 1870, p. 216). 
Herrera : El Rincon ; Santa Maria. 

Canal Zone: Atlantic slope, near the railroad (Lawrence, Ann. Lye. Nat. 
Hist. New York, vol. 7, 1861, p. 289) ; Barro Colorado Island. 

Birds from the Canal Zone and Herrera show intergradation to- 
ward the next race. 


Geranospisa caerulescens balsarensis W. L. Sclater, Bull. Brit. Orn. Club, vol. 
38, March 4, 1918, p. 45. (Balzar, Provincia de Guayas, Ecuador.) 

Adult like Ischnosceles caerulescens niger but grayer; pale bars 
on tail tinged with buff ; size somewhat smaller. 

Measurements. — Male (1 from northwestern Colombia), wing 
279, tail 217, culmen from cere 18.2, tarsus 73.0 mm. 

Females (8 from Panama and Colombia), wing 288-298 (290), 
tail 218-237 (229), culmen from cere 19.2-20.4 (20.1), tarsus 81.7- 
87.0 (83.3) mm. 

Resident. Found locally from the eastern sector of the Province 
of Panama eastward. 


Records are as follows : 

Panama : Rio La Jagua, Chico. 

DARifiN: Rio Tuira (Chapman, Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., vol. 55, 1926, 

p. 223). 
San Blas: Perme (Griscom, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 12, 1932, p. 316) ; 

Puerto Obaldia, July 18, 1933 (Specimen in the Brandt collection at the 

University of Cincinnati). 

Family PANDIONIDAE : Ospreys ; Aguilas Pescadoras 

The ospreys, specialized for capturing their food of fish, are 
widespread through the great continents of the world and as marginal 
populations range in the Bahamas in the West Indian area and to 
distant islands of the Pacific, in addition to an extensive distribution 
through the East Indies. The single species is divided into 5 geographic 
races, distinguished by differences in size and in extent of dark 
markings, but all unmistakably ospreys wherever they are found. 



Figure 46 

FaXco Halta'etos carolinensis Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 1, 1788, p. 263. 
(South Carolina.) 

Size large, wings long and pointed ; under surface and side of head 
white, with a prominent dark streak through the eye. Found over 
or near water. 

Description. — Length, 510 to 610 mm. Adult, forecrown, hindneck, 
streak through eye, and rest of upper surface deep brownish black ; 
rest of crown and under surface white, with a band of rufous-brown 
spots across the upper breast. 

Immature, crown streaked with brownish black ; feathers of dorsal 
surface tipped conspicuously with white. 

Outer toe reversible so that it may be directed forward or back; 
imdersurface of toes with sharp spicules; undersurface of claws 
rounded, instead of grooved as in other hawks; tarsus strong; leg 
with short compact feathers. In the hand ospreys have a strong, oily, 
fishy odor. 

Measurements (from Friedmann, U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 11, 
1950, p. 529).— Males (15 specimens), wing 462-498 (477.4), tail 
199-220 (208.8), culmen from cere 31-34 (32), tarsus 58-63 (60) 

Females, wing 488-512 (503.7), tail 212-240 (225.4), culmen 
from cere 32-36 (35), tarsus 58-68 (63.3) mm. 



Migrant. Tolerably common along the coasts and on larger bodies 
of water. 

Ospreys arrive from the north in October and November and leave 
in March and April. A few remain in Panama through the period 
of northern summer but do not nest. 

The osprey is found along the coasts, about the mouths of rivers, 
and inland regularly along their lower courses to the head of tide- 
water. On the larger streams where there are wide stretches of open 
water favorable for fishing it goes farther. I have recorded it on 

Fig. 46. — Foot of osprey, aguila pescadora, Pandion haliaetus carolinensis. 

the Tuira to the mouth of the Rio Paya, on the Chucunaque to 
the Rio Canglon, and far inland on the Rio Boqueron, the Rio 
Pequeni and the Rio Pucro. It comes also to the lakes near El 
Volcan, and is seen regularly on Madden and Gatun Lakes. They 
are recorded also at Isla Coiba, and Isla Coibita; Isla Taboga, and 
Isla Taboguilla; and in the Archipielago de las Perlas at Isla San 
Jose, Isla del Rey, Isleta Malaga, and Isla Saboga. On October 11, 
1940, I saw one at sea 60 kilometers north of Cristobal in flight to 
the south out of sight of land. 

The osprey feeds on fishes, captured near the surface of the water. 
It flies slowly about at a moderate elevation, occasionally pausing to 
hover, until prey is sighted, when it drops swiftly with long legs 


extended. The grasp of the long, sharp daws is aided in holding 
the slippery prey by the horny spicules on the underside of the toes. 
If the bird has been successful in capture it rises and flies to an 
open perch in a tree, carrying the fish head forward, grasped with its 
feet one behind the other. As it comes to the perch one foot is re- 
leased to grasp the limb. In feeding on the larger fish flesh is 
stripped and the head, bones, and body are discarded. As the bird 
comes regularly to favored resting places these discards accumulate 
on the ground below when not carried away by scavengers. The 
birds feed as indicated on both salt and fresh water, and may go 
some distance from land as around the off-shore islands of Isla Villa 
on the coast of Los Santos, and Farrallon del Chirii, near La Venta, 
Code. On the Rio Chiman near the mouth of the Curutu I saw 
one carrying a bird the size of a small pigeon in its feet, a highly 
unusual occurrence and one seldom recorded. 

Occasionally ospreys rest on a gravel bar, usually so that they may 
bathe. Near Fort Amador one came at low tide to a small islet ex- 
posed by the falling water, walked with short mincing steps for a little 
distance, and then began to splash its breast and wings in the wash 
of small waves. 

The call, that I have heard only occasionally in Panama, is a high- 
pitched, whistled note, repeated several times, that carries for some 

Migrants are seen occasionally in company with the great flights 
of Swainson's hawks. At such times the osprey may stop to rest 
in open country at a distance from water. I have observed one, 
for example, perched briefly in a huge dead tree in an inland area 
near El Uracillo on the Atlantic side of Code, and another in a 
similar situation on one of the ridges at the base of the Cerro Azul. 

There are 3 records at present of ospreys banded in the north as 
nestlings, one from New York State recovered near Jaque when 2 
years old, one from New Jersey marked in July and killed at La 
Jagua the following December, and one from Maryland with the date 
of June 23, found near Tonosi on October 4 of the same year. 

Near Jaque on March 20, 1946, one showed heavy molt in the 
flight feathers of both wings. One taken here a week later appeared 
about to begin migration as it was extremely fat. Some of the birds 
that I have seen in summer were in very worn plumage, suggesting 
that they had not returned north because of an abnormal physiological 

This species, in addition to the usual name is known locally as the 
gavildn de playa and the dguila de mar. 


Family FALCONIDAE: Falcons, Forest-Falcons, and Caracaras; 
Halcones, Halcones del Monte, y Caranchos 

Members of this family are found throughout the world with 
the exception of the Antarctic Continent, as residents, or on oceanic 
islands as birds of passage during migration. The true falcons 
take living prey regardless of the rapidity through which bird 
or mammal may attempt escape, and because of their skill the larger 
species have been trained by man as hunters for hundreds of years. 
Other kinds, more secretive, but skilled in their hunting, are in- 
habitants of the forest, where they watch from lookout stations 
and kill when hungry; or skulk low in undergrowth, with equal 
success in the capture of living prey. A few descend to any flesh 
living or dead, and so are scavengers ; fewer still are insect eaters. 

Representatives of all these types are found among the 12 species 
recorded from the Republic of Panama, one of the hunters being 
especially active in the capture of snakes. 


1. Exige of maxilla straight or slightly sinuated, never with a sharp projecting 

angle or toothlike process 2 

Maxilla with a distinct sharp, toothlike process near tip; mandible notched 
to receive this (genus Falco) 8 

2. Head with a distinct crest 3 

Head not crested 4 

3. Breast and tibia white or buffy white ; crest short and bushy. 

Laughing falcon, Herpetotheres cachinnans, p. 260 
Breast and tibia black, or dark brown more or less streaked. 

Caracara, Caracara plancus, p. 271 

4. Wing tip longer; longest primaries more than 70 mm. longer than 

secondaries 5 

Wing tip rounded; longest primaries exceeding secondaries by less than 
40 mm. (genus Micrastur) 6 

5. Head fully feathered except on lores and eyelids; lower surface mainly 

buff Yellow-headed caracara, Milvago chimachima cordatus, p. 274 

Throat and sides of head with feathering scanty or absent; bare skin red 
in life ; plumage black, with white abdomen. 

Red-throated caracara, Daptrius americanus americanus, p. 276 

6. Smaller ; wing not more than 180 mm. 

Barred forest-falcon, Micrastur ruficollis interstes, p. 268 
Larger ; wing more than 200 mm 7 

7. Wing less than 240 mm. ; tail definitely shorter than wing. 

Slaty-backed forest-falcon, Micrastur mirandollei, p. 264 

Wing more than 250 mm. ; tail equal to wing, or longer 

Collared forest-falcon, Micrastur semitorquatus naso, p. 266 


8. Back and tail bright cinnamon-brown, barred, more or less, with black. 

Sparrow hawk, Falco sparverius sparverius, p. 291 
Back and tail gray, dark brown, or nearly black 9 

9. Larger ; wing more than 300 mm. 

Peregrine falcon, Falco peregrinus anaUmt, p. 280 
Smaller ; wing less than 290 mm., usually much less 10 

10. Breast white, or buffy white, streaked with black, or brownish black. 

Pigeon hawk, Falco columbarius, p. 288 
Breast black, usually banded with white 11 

11. Side of head black, but with a distinct white, or buffy white superciliary. 

Aplomado falcon, Falco fetnoralis femoralis, p. 287 
Side of head black with no light colored superciliary stripe 12 

12. Larger; wing more than 240 mm.; feet stronger, middle toe without claw 

as long as tarsus Orange-breasted falcon, Falco deiroleucus, p. 281 

Smaller ; wing less than 225 mm. ; feet weaker, middle toe without claw 
shorter than tarsus Bat falcon, Falco rufigularis petoensis, p. 283 


Falcon ; Vaquero 

FiGUHE 47 

Falco cachinnans Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 90. (Surinam.) 

A falcon with bushy crest, long tail, and short rounded wings, 
that in life appears black on the side of the head and back, white 
on the crest and lower surface. 

Description. — Length, 430-470 mm. Adult (sexes alike), sides of 
head, back, wings, and tail fuscous-black ; the tail with 4 or 5 bands 
of white, that in some individuals are only spots; rest of head and 
under surface white, the bushy crest, streaked narrowly, more or less, 
with fuscous-black; under surface of wings light buff, with dusky 
spots on the under wing coverts, and indistinct bars on the primaries 
and secondaries. In some the white of head and lower surface is 
washed more or less with buff. 

Immature, feathers of back and wings, including wing coverts, 
edged narrowly with buffy brown; some individuals with sides, 
tibia, and under tail coverts streaked and spotted lightly with cin- 
namon-buff and fuscous. 

Iris dark brown ; cere and gape yellow ; rest of bill black ; tarsus 
and toes deep olive-buff ; claws black. 

Measurements (birds from Costa Rica, Panama, and Colom- 
bia).— Males (12 specimens), wing 252-276 (265), tail 186-216 
(200), culmen from cere 21.2-26.1 (22.4), tarsus 59.8-63.8 (61.3) 

Females (12 specimens), wing 255-268 (260), tail 185-207 (194), 
culmen from cere 22.5-26.1 (23.5), tarsus 59.8-63.5 (61.2) mm. 



Resident. Throughout the tropical zone, locally common, but 
in recent years rare or absent from the more heavily settled regions 
(including the Canal Zone) ; ranging to 1280 meters in the lower 
subtropical zone (Palo Santo, El Volcan) on the Pacific slope in 

The strange calls of this interesting species of the falcon family 
are the usual indication of its presence, as the birds themselves may 
be seen infrequently, especially in heavily forested areas. Though 

Fig. 47. — Laughing falcon, vaquero, Herpetotheres cachinnans cachinnans. 

they are not particularly wary, it is usual for them to rest on 
high, open perches that many times are concealed from observation 
by leafy cover below. At rest they stand erect, the bushy crest 
causing the head to appear large. During flight the short, rounded 
wings, which beat rapidly, and the long tail present an unusual 
silhouette. The loud calls, heard most often in morning and eve- 
ning, as well as through the night, in still air carry distances of 
more than a kilometer. They begin with a single note, repeated 
rather slowly, increase in tempo, and change to a loud gua kow, 
uttered more and more rapidly. Presently a companion may join 
when the two may call, sometimes alternately, sometimes in unison, 
for 10 minutes or more, a strange, weird concert, startling to one 


who hears it for the first time without knowing its author. Some 
complain of its loudness but to me it has always been one of the 
more pleasing among the stranger tropical sounds. Near at hand 
paired birds utter lower cackling or chuckling calls that often are 
quite amusing to the human ear. 

Snakes form the principal food of this species, and in their capture 
they are most adept. I recall particularly a pair near our little house 
above Concepcion, in western Chiriqui, that once or twice daily flew 
past with the limp form of a snake dangling from the feet. One 
came regularly with its prey into the dead top of a tree on the slope 
immediately below us, where it called until another, that I believed 
to be a grown young one, came scrambling up to seize the food 
and carry it down into the leafy cover below. The parent then usually 
stood erect with flaring crest, while it called vociferously for several 
minutes. Often one or both carrying prey flew past uttering guttural, 
chattering notes that we found entertaining through their resemblance 
to low-voiced human laughter. On several occasions I saw a chi- 
mango hawk following as the laughing falcon passed with its dangling 
prey, and once one came tailed by a group of half a dozen parakeets, 
all chattering excitedly. These sights were of daily occurrence, but in 
over two weeks during which I covered miles of the surrounding ter- 
rain, I myself did not see a single serpent. In the stomach of one that 
I collected near Alanje, Chiriqui I found the end of the tail of a 
coral snake that Dr. Doris Cochran identified as Erythrolamprus 

Those who have seen this hawk hunting have told me in detail of 
how it alights on the ground and spreads one wing whose stiff feathers 
fend off the strikes of an aggressive snake until the falcon can seize 
it in one foot near the head and so hold it until it is killed. 

Though this falcon is one of wide distribution, there is little in- 
formation as to its nesting habits. In southeastern Sonora W. J. 
Sheffler found it using cavities in cliffs and from one nest collected 
a young bird several days old. This was covered with light brownish- 
buff down, paler on the chin and throat, and darker on the upper 
surface, with a "black facial mask and collar around the nape" like 
the similar markings of the adult plumage (Sheffler and van Rossem, 
Auk, 1944, pp. 141-142). The first authentic tgg, sent to Col. L. R. 
Wolfe (Ool. Rec, vol. 18, 1938, p. 77) from Horqueta, Paraguay, 
was "clear white, fairly well marked around the large end with flakes 
and splashes of rich reddish-chestnut and a few flecks of light red 
scattered over the remainder. Size 56.5x45.6 mm." Later, in 
Tamaulipas, Wolfe (Condor, 1954, p. 161) flushed a laughing falcon 


from a cavity in a large tree and saw another broken stub where the 
birds were said to nest. In the same account he describes an egg taken 
in San Luis Potosi from a natural cavity where it lay without lining 
other than the debris usual in such openings. This egg, subelliptical 
as shown in an accompanying illustration, had the ground color 
entirely concealed by a "wash of dark chocolate brown and a few 
splashes of burnt umber, but there are a few streaks of lighter 
yellowish brown where the pigment is thinner." It measured 58.0 X 
44.6 mm. 

There is an egg in the U. S. National Museum collections, long 
attributed to the collared forest- falcon (Micrashir semitorquatus) 
that was collected by John Xantus on the "Nishpa Rio" in Michoacan 
in April 1863. This is between subelliptical and oval and between 
cinnamon-buff and clay color in ground color, irregularly washed and 
blotched with chestnut-brown, thickened in occasional irregular spots 
until it appears almost black. It measures 59.2x43.3 mm. Under date 
of April 19, 1863, Xantus wrote to Prof. S. F. Baird from the 
mountains of southern Michoacan that he had collected an egg of the 
"vaco" from "the hollow top, about 5 feet in the trunk" of a large 
wild fig tree. He attributed the nest to the collared forest- falcon 
which he had collected at or near this point, but in evident error. 
Though the nest and eggs of the latter are unknown, in the numerous 
specimens of this species that I have handled there has been no 
evidence whatever of feather wear that is inevitable in any hole- 
nesting bird with such a long tail. The site, the common name, the 
form, and color of the egg are those of the laughing falcon. 

There has been uncertainty as to the geographic variation found 
in these birds, so that the number of subspecies recognized by different 
authors has varied from two to six. The main difficulty has come 
from lack of understanding of the considerable amount of individual 
variation both in color and size. After examination of more than 125 
specimens I still find it reasonable to recognize the three races that I 
outlined in a study of more than 20 years ago (Wetmore, Proc. U. S. 
Nat. Mus., vol. 95, 1944, pp. 35-38). These are Herpetotheres 
cachinnans chapinani Bangs and Penard, which is more grayish brown 
above, with the edgings of the dorsal feathering of the immature 
lighter, brighter brov/n, found from Mexico to northern Honduras 
and El Salvador; H. c. cachinnans (Linnaeus), darker, blacker 
above, with the edgings in the immature darker, more chestnut brown, 
that ranges from Honduras to Peru and central Brazil; and H. c. 
queribundus Bangs and Penard, which is lighter, more grayish brown 
above than chapmani, with the edgings in the immature paler and 


grayer than in either of the other two races. This extends from 
eastern Bolivia and eastern Brazil south to Chaco and Misiones in 
northern Argentina. 

Size as a distinction between subspecies is not reliable. And the 
presence of a wash of buff over the white of the head and lower 
surface that some students have used to separate one supposed race 
has no value, as this color appears in some specimens in all the 
groups outlined above. It is found more frequently in wet areas so 
that the color may be intensified through stain from damp vegeta- 

MICRASTUR MIRANDOLLEI (Schlegel): Slaty-backed Forest-Falcon; 

Halcon Gateador 

Astur mirandollei Schlegel, Mus. Pays-Bas, Astures, 1862 (after Sept.), p. 27. 

Micrastur mirandollei extimus Griscom and Greenway, Bull. Mus. Comp. Z06I., 

vol. 81, May 1937, p. 418. (Perme, San Bias, Panama.) 

In form the adult suggests the similar stage of the collared forest- 
falcon, but is smaller, with a shorter tail, dark gray back, and no 
light band across the hindneck. The immature is marbled with gray 
and buffy white on the lower surface. 

Description. — Length, 400-450 mm. Adult, dark slate gray above, 
and on the side of the head ; tail blacker, with tip and 3 narrow bands, 
sometimes indistinct, of white or buffy white ; below white or buffy, 
in some lined narrowly with black; under side of wing white or buffy 
white, barred with dark gray. 

Immature, similar, but with breast and foreneck mottled and lined 
with dark gray. In some heavily marked individuals a dark gray 
band crosses the breast. 

An adult male, from Armila, San Bias, shot on March 7, 1963, had 
the iris verona brown; bare skin on side of head, cere, and base of 
the bill forward to a point in front of the nostril yellow ; anterior 
half of bill black ; tarsus and toes yellow ; claws black. 

An immature male, taken at Juan Mina on January 11, 1961, had 
the iris wood brown ; base of maxilla along cutting edge to level of 
anterior end of nostril neutral gray; rest dark neutral gray, except 
the lower half forward of the nostril, and the hooked tip, which, with 
the lower mandible and gape, were bright yellow; line on side of 
mandibular rami neutral gray ; free edge of eyelids bright yellow ; 
rest of bare skin on side of head, including the lores, neutral gray; 
tarsus and toes bright yellow ; claws black. 


Measurements. — Males (1 from Costa Rica, 8 from Panama), wing 
218-231 (224), tail 175-199 (188), culmen from cere 20.0-23.0 
(21.1), tarsus 75.7-80.5 (78.3) mm. 

Females (3 from Panama), wing 224-229 (227), tail 189-196 
(191), culmen from cere 21.3-21.9 (21.5), tarsus 74.5-79.9 (77.0) 

Resident. Rare, in the tropical zone in regions of heavy forest. 

The few records based on specimens are as follows : 

Cocle: EI Uracillo. 

Canal Zone: Caribbean slope along the railroad (McLeannan) ; Gamboa, 

Apr. 4, 1962 (Hayward), Juan Mina, Jan. 11, 1961 (Wetmore) 
Panama : Puerto San Antonio, on the lower Rio Bayano ; Charco del Toro, 

on the Rio Maje. 
Darien : Jaque. 
San Blas : Perme, Obaldia. 

There is one in the British Museum marked "Panama" that is said 
to have been collected by Arce. 

The bird is little known. In my own experience, in which I have 
come across it on six different occasions, I have found it always on 
low perches in forest, with one exception only, at La Jagua, when, 
during a lull in a rainstorm, one rested briefly in an open tree top. 
Those I have taken, attracted by my bird calls, have dashed in to 
perch very near at hand. One was so intent on prospective prey that 
it followed my companion as he moved away to a proper distance for 
a shot. Those taken had eaten birds except for one which had the 
crop filled with remains of a green snake. Near Jaque I saw one 
carrying a lizard. This locality, in Darien, is the only place where 
my Panamanian helpers have known the bird. They called it halcon 
(or gavildn) gat ea dor, and I was told that sometimes it hunted on 
foot on the forest floor, where, on occasion, it could run more rapidly 
than a dog. This is verified by the one taken at Armila, San Bias, 
which was on the ground. 

The body, on the open areas between the feather tracts, including 
the underside of the fleshy part of the wings and the wing membranes, 
is covered heavily with white down, as is common in many forest- 
inhabiting hawks. Nothing is recorded of the breeding of this species, 
except the usual statement of Indians in South America that it nests 
in tall trees. 

The characters ascribed to a supposed race extimus from Panama 
prove to be those of individual variation. 


MICRASTUR SEMITORQUATUS NASO (Lesson): Collared Forest-Falcon; 
Halc6n del Monte CoUarejo 

Carnifex iiaso Lesson, £cho du Monde Savant, vol. 6, ser. 2, no. 46, Dec. 15, 
1842, col. 1085. (Realejo, Nicaragua.) 

A large, long-tailed hunting falcon, inhabitant of dense jungle, with 
plain (adult) or widely barred (immature) breast. 

Descriptio)!. — Length, 460-560 mm. Adult (sexes alike), upper sur- 
face brownish black to black, with a line of the same color on the side 
of the head, and down the base of the foreneck ; upper tail coverts and 
long tail barred and tipped rather narrowly with white; under sur- 
face, cheeks, and a narrow collar across the hindneck, either white 
or cinnamon-buff, the latter varying from pale to dark; under sur- 
face of wings barred with white and dark brownish gray. 

Immature, crown, side of head, hindneck, and side of neck blackish 
brown ; rest of upper surface very dark dull brown, with the feathers, 
including the wing coverts, tipped or barred brokenly with dull buff ; 
tail and upper tail coverts black, barred and tipped with white as in 
the adult ; under surface white, or occasionally buffy, barred broadly 
with brownish black; under surface of wing as in the adult. In an 
older stage the upper surface is as in the adult, with the breast and 
sides white or buff lightly streaked with brownish black. 

Dark phase (rare) : In the full stage the entire plumage is dark 
brownish slate, with narrow, sometimes partly indistinct, bars above 
and below on the posterior half of the body; varying from this to 
brownish black above and on foreneck and breast, with dark bars 
predominating on the rest of lower surface. In these unusual melan- 
istic plumages the tail has the usual light bars, but with the white 
obscured, so that they may appear gray. 

An adult male, taken on the Rio Pequeni, had the iris light wood 
brown ; bare skin around eye, over loral area, and back of cere, dull 
green ; mandibular rami, and base of maxilla below nostril, also dull 
green, with a spot of dull honey yellow in the center of the base of 
the rami ; bare skin across base of gonys, and in center of chin area, 
also dull honey yellow; rest of bill black; tarsus and toes bright 
yellow ; claws black. 

Measurements (birds from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and 
Panama).— Males (7 specimens), wing 251-263 (260), tail 247-275 
(261.7) ; culmen from cere 19.7-23.2 (21.4), tarsus 85.3-97.4 (88.6) 

Females (4 specimens), wing 270-279 (274), tail 270-288 (281), 
culmen from cere 23.6-24.1 (23.8), tarsus 86.5-95.0 (90.1) mm. 


Many museum specimens have the sex wrongly marked, so that the 
differences in size that exist between male and female are obscured. 

Resident. Not common, in forested areas of the tropical zone; 
found less often to 1600 meters in subtropical woodlands in Chiriqui 
(Quiel, Finca Lerida). Not recorded to date, though probably present, 
in Code, Los Santos, and Colon. 

This is a hunting falcon of the forests, where it lives under cover and 
is little seen. My main observations of it have been when calling to 
attract small birds, as occasionally a forest-falcon has come swiftly 
through the undergrowth to alight near at hand. Their savage hunt- 
ing spirit was illustrated especially by one on the Rio Tuira that was 
carrying a bird and that flew ahead of me several times, until finally 
I lost it in dense undergrowth. A short time later as I called to attract 
hummingbirds the hawk came dashing in to perch a few feet distant 
where a charge of shot soon put it in my hand. I was interested to 
find the crop crammed with bits of bird flesh to the amount of a good- 
sized cupful, but still it had come precipitately at the prospect of an- 
other kill. 

The principal food appears to be lizards and birds. The hawk 
seems usually to tear off the flesh, as I have found only flesh and 
internal organs without bones or feathers in the crop and stomach of 
the dozen or so that I have handled in the field. Once, at La Jagua, 
in late afternoon, one rested for some time on a stub at the border 
of forest, my only observation of this falcon in the open. A pair of 
Wagler's woodpeckers that had a nest hole on the underside of a 
slanting limb lower down were much excited but took care to remain on 
perches where, though near, they were safe. Occasionally I have seen 
one of these hawks in swift pursuit of small parrots or other birds 
in the forest, or engaged in hunting faisanas (chachalacas) through 
the tree tops in early morning. The latter bird is recognized as a 
favored quarry throughout the range of the falcon, an indication of 
its fierce strength, as such prey is as large and heavy as the hawk 
itself. On one occasion in northern Herrera while stalking faisanas 
that were moving rapidly through the branches I made right and 
left kills with a double-barreled gun, to find that one bird was a 
chachalaca and the other a forest- falcon that also was hunting the 
other species. 

Van Rossem (Dickey and van Rossem, Birds El Salvador, 1938, 
pp. 133-134) describes the voice as a series of loud calls, hah hah hah, 
uttered deliberately, in tone like the laughing falcon but without the 
change to rapid tempo common with that species. I have heard this 
in Panama, but have not actually seen the bird calling. 


There appears to be no definite report of their breeding. Indians in 
Surinam told the Penards that these hawks made large nests of 
sticks, twigs, and similar materials in trees during the little dry 
season. On Barro Colorado Island F. W. Loetscher, Jr., recorded 
two grown young resting in a tree on July 20, 1949. 

While there is much individual variation in color in this species, 
differences that may be correlated with geographic range are slight. 
Birds from Mexico south through Central America to Darien, 
recognized as the race naso, average blacker above, and in the im- 
mature stage usually have the dark barring on the under surface 
somewhat heavier. The population of Panama is especially black. 
This subspecies extends into northwestern Colombia, and according to 
Hellmayr and Conover, (Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 4, 1949, p. 
244) ranges south to western Ecuador. Typical M. semitorquatus 
semitorqiiatus of Vieillot, with type locality in Paraguay, in the 
adult is more brownish black above, especially on the head. Immature 
birds are slightly lighter colored above, and usually are less heavily 
barred below. This race extends from northern Antioquia (Taraza) 
and Bolivar (probably also from Cordoba) in northwestern Colombia 
east through Venezuela, and south to northern Argentina and south- 
ern Brazil. 

Many persons do not distinguish between the adults of this species 
and the laughing falcon because of their similarity in color and in 
color pattern. 

MICRASTUR RUFICOLLIS INTERSTES Bangs: Barred For est -falcon; 
Halcon del Monte Rayado 

Micrastur interstes Bangs, Auk, vol. 24, no. 3, July 1907, p. 289. (La Estrella, 
Cartago, Costa Rica). 

A small forest-falcon with rounded wings and long tail, dark gray 
above and narrowly barred black and white below; immature a 
miniature of the collared forest-falcon. 

Description. — Length 320-350 mm. Adult, grayish black above; 
tail black, with 2 or 3 narrow bars and tip white ; wings like back, or in 
some brownish black ; chin white ; side of head and foreneck dark 
gray ; rest of under surface and under wing coverts barred narrowly 
with grayish black and white ; under surface of flight feathers dark 
gray, banded narrowly and irregularly with white. 

Immature, brownish black above, with head, hindneck, and tail, 
blacker, the latter with 5 narrow bars and tip white ; a narrow white 
collar around base of hindneck; underneath white or buffy white, 
with a narrow line of grayish black or gray down the sides of the 


base of the neck, a band that in some is united across the center ; rest 
of under surface barred sparsely and irregularly with grayish black; 
wing coverts white or buffy white; under surface of flight feathers 
as in adult. 

An adult female taken, on February 28, 1964, at 1,350 meters on 
Cerro Tacarcuna, Darien, had the iris dull orange ; bare skin on side 
of head and the gape bright yellow ; cere dull greenish brown clouded 
with fuscous; maxilla black except cutting edge back of nostril, 
which is bright yellow changing to dull neutral gray on the project- 
ing tooth ; tip of mandible dull neutral gray ; rest dull yellow ; tarsus 
and toes bright yellow ; claws black. 

Measuremetits.— Males (8 from Panama), wing 158-167 (165), 
tail 142-159 (151), culmen from cere 13.7-15.6 (13.9), tarsus 58.1- 
64.8 (61.9) mm. 

Females (6 from Panama), wing 170-175 (172), tail 147-164 
(155), culmen from cere 14.1-16.3 (15.6), tarsus 61.0-65.3 (63.1) 

Resident. Locally fairly common, in tropical and lower subtropical 
zone forests, to 1,350 meters in the mountains; not recorded from 
the eastern side of the Azuero Peninsula. 

This interesting member of its genus is fairly common in forested 
areas, mainly along the Pacific slope, though its presence is detected 
usually through its calls, as the bird is shy and is seldom seen. It 
ranges to some extent in the lowlands but is more frequent in hill 
country, probably because it is in such areas that suitable forest cover 
still remains. I have found it especially over the lower mountains in 
Chiriqui to 1,500 meters, and there are similar records for it in 
Veraguas at Calobre and Calovevora (Salvin and Godman, Biol. 
Centr.-Amer., vol. 3, 1901, p. HI). Formerly, when the lowlands in 
these provinces were heavily forested, it ranged lower, as there is 
one record for Divala (Bangs, Auk. 1901, p. 358), but suitable cover 
in those areas has long been gone. I have recorded it on Cerro Cam- 
pana and have found it regularly from the Cerro Azul to Darien. 
Formerly it ranged through the Chagres Valley on the Caribbean 
slope, where it was taken by McLeannan at Lion Hill a hundred 
years ago and by Jewel at Agua Clara and Gatun in 1911 and 1912. 
It was found on Barro Colorado Island in the period of Chapman's 
studies but does not appear to have been recorded there since. The 
only other report for it on the Caribbean side is of two taken by 
Wedel near the Colombian boundary at Perme. 


These hawks frequent low perches in the undergrowth, where they 
remain concealed and usually slip away unseen at any approach. As 
stated above, their presence is known mainly through their call, a 
querulous, single note, sometimes a low keh-h-h and at others a 
louder keow, repeated at short intervals, most commonly in early 
morning at sunrise or soon after. I have found it useless to attempt 
to stalk them as they fly so noiselessly and low that they may not 
be seen. When I have been calling small birds one of these falcons 
has come frequently to perch near at hand, though they remain shy 
and fly into cover at any sudden movement. It appears that they hunt 
to some extent on the forest floor as occasionally I have seen them 
fly up from such situations. Immature birds are seen sometimes 
on open perches where they afford a clear view. In such circum- 
stances their color and color pattern invariably suggest the much 
larger collared forest- falcon. 

They appear to feed mainly on small birds and to some degree on 
lizards. Worth (Auk, 1939, p. 310) saw one take a nestling blue- 
black grosbeak from the nest. Jewel (Stone, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. 
Philadelphia, 1918, pp. 248-249) found remains of slugs, batrachians, 
and small lizards in the stomach of one taken near Gatun. 

The variations in this species from the gray-backed populations of 
the north to the brown birds of the south are highly interesting. With 
considerable more material than was available to Hellmayr and 
Conover (Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 4, 1949, pp. 249-252) it appears 
to me to be appropriate to recognize two races in the area from 
Mexico to northern Colombia. While there is some variation, adult 
birds from southern Mexico to Nicaragua have the dark barring 
spaced more widely on the posterior lower surface, so that they appear 
whiter, and also usually have more or less of a cinnamon wash on 
the f oreneck and upper breast. These are Micrastur ruficollis guerilla 
Cassin. Adults from Costa Rica and Panama through western Colom- 
bia to western Ecuador, the race inter stes, have the black barring un- 
derneath more evenly spaced throughout, average darker above, and in 
only an occasional individual is there a cinnamon wash on the fore- 

A few individuals throughout the entire northern area of the 
range, that includes both these races, display a faint brownish tinge on 
the head and back, a hint of the fully brown coloration in these areas 
that prevails through the main part of the South American range. 


CARACARA PLANCUS (Miller): Caracara; Carancho 

Falco Plancus J. F. Miller, Var. Subj. Nat. Hist., pt. 3, 1777, pi. 17. (Tierra 
del Fuego.) 

A long-legged, strong-bodied hawk, with black crest and red bare 
side of head, that in flight appears dark underneath, with prominent 
white patches on throat, base of tail, and near the tips of the wings. 

Description. — Length, 490 to 520 mm. Adult, crown, with slightly 
elongated crest, black ; a dull white band across upper hind neck that 
merges below on upper back with an area of fuscous-black barred with 
white ; wings, lower back, rump, breast, upper abdomen, tibia, sides, 
under wing coverts, and end of tail brownish black to black; a 
prominent white patch, somewhat broken by grayish brown bars and 
edgings, across the middle of the flight feathers ; f oreneck white ; 
upper breast buffy white, barred and spotted with brownish black; 
lower abdomen and under and upper tail coverts white ; basal three- 
fourths of tail white, with many narrow grayish brown bars. 

Immature, lower foreneck, and upper breast buff, lined with buffy 
brown ; breast and upper abdomen dark brown, streaked indistinctly 
with buffy white; upper back brown tipped and streaked with dull 
white, with narrow shaft lines of fuscous brown. 

Iris dull orange ; cere and bare skin on side of head dull red ; line 
of culmen, cutting edge, distal third of maxilla, and tip of mandible 
dull white; base of both mandibles bluish gray; tarsus and toes 
yellow ; claws black. 

The caraiKho is a forceful bird, alert, with direct, strong flight 
performed with steadily beating wings. It is both a scavenger and 
a predator, seen often in pairs, frequently alone, always using care to 
avoid too close human approach, whether at rest on some tree that 
gives it outlook, walking on open ground, or in flight toward some 
distant point. 

Dead fish in a drying pool, an injured bird unable to escape, the 
bodies of lizards and rats killed by autos along a highway, small 
chickens and ducks that stray too far afield, turtles, rabbits, other 
small mammals, all are food to this aberrant falcon. It also comes to 
larger carrion and about slaughterhouses for waste, but usually it is 
wary. Farmers are inclined to shoot the carancho on sight, par- 
ticularly where sheep are herded, as the birds are relentless in their 
attacks on newborn lambs. 

The bulky open nest, made of sticks, weed stems, dried rushes, 
and like materials, is placed in a tree in some secluded area. The two 


or three eggs have the white ground color nearly or wholly con- 
cealed by a wash of warm brown, mingled with blotches, irregular 
spots, and lines of chestnut and darker shades of brown. There is 
much variation in marking, and occasionally eggs are merely lightly 
spotted, or, rarely, nearly plain. At first view of a series the 
variation is so great as to give the impression that several species 
must be represented. Bent (U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 170, 1938, p. 
130) gives the average size as 59.4x46.5 mm. (taken principally 
from eggs collected in Texas and Florida) . 

The rattling, clattering call of these birds, almost mechanical in 
its sound, is heard mainly in the nesting season. 

Near Pacora, caranchos are called guaraguo, a name that applies 
properly to the red-tailed hawk. 

Caracaras are found from Baja California, southern Arizona, New 
Mexico, Texas, Florida, and Cuba, south throughout the Americas 
to Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands. South to northern 
Brazil the back and rump are plain blackish brown to black, and the 
upper tail coverts also are plain or lightly barred at the side. From 
south of the Amazon River southward the back, rump, and upper 
tail coverts are barred with grayish white. The difference described 
is definite but is one of degree, and the birds throughout agree in 
form, habits, and voice. Though the two styles have long been re- 
garded as separate species, the present-day tendency to unite them as 
one is here accepted. The two intergrade in Brazil in the area im- 
mediately south of the Amazon River. 

Two subspecies, slightly different in depth of color, are found in 

The generic name Caracara used here follows acceptance of this 
name in the last edition of the A.O.U. Check-list of North American 
Birds (1957, p. 116). Polyborus proposed in 1816 by Vieillot (Anal. 
Nouv. Orn. filem., p. 22) with "Caracara, Buff.," which is Falco 
brasiliensis Gmelin, as its only species and therefore its type, was long 
the accepted genus for the caracaras. Buffon's name "Caracara" is 
based on a bird described by Marcgrave in his Historia Natural do 
Brasil published in 1648, with an illustration in the stilted form com- 
mon in works on natural history of that period. In a study of the 
original paintings from which the figure was reproduced Adolf 
Schneider (Journ. Orn., 1938, pp. 93-94, fig. 3) found that the 
Caracara of Marcgrave actually is the harrier known currently as 
Circus buffoni (Gmelin). The generic name Polyborus, 1816, thus 
becomes a synonym of Circus Lacepede, 1799. The next available 
name for the group formerly called Polyborus is Caracara Merrem (in 


Ersch u. Gruber, Allg. Encycl. Wiss. Kiinste, vol. 15, 1826, p. 159). 
Amadon (Auk, 1954, pp. 203-204) has cited a personal communica- 
tion from Stresemann who "would prefer to declare the drawing as 
unidentifiable" in order to avoid this change. But examination of the 
figure reproduced by Schneider shows definitely that it is a harrier. 
While the drawing, like most of its day, is crude, the evident ruff 
on the side of the small head clearly indicates a harrier, and the 
barring on the under tail coverts is characteristic of Circus buffoni. 
This species ranges widely in northern and eastern South America 
from Colombia, Venezuela, and Trinidad to central Chile, Argentina, 
and much of Brazil. Specimens are recorded from Para and from 
Espiritu Santo to the north and south of the area where Marcgrave 
traveled, a point that Stresemann seems to have overlooked in his 
comment that no harrier had been recorded from the region con- 
cerned. There seems to be no reason to reject the identification. 


Polyborus Audiibonii Cassin, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, vol. 17, no. 1, 
Jan.-Mar. (Aug. 7) 1865, p. 2. (Florida.) 

Characters. — Dark markings browner; back, wings, breast, sides, 
and tibia, brown to dark fuscous. 

Measurements. — Males (4 from Mexico and western Panama), 
wing 355-403 (388), tail 201-233 (216), culmen from cere 31.5-32.6 
(32.1), tarsus 86.4-94.1 (91.0) mm. 

Females (6 from Mexico and western Panama), wing 374-401 
(387), tail 201-228 (215), culmen from cere 31.0-33.3 (32.3), tarsus 
88.2-95.6 (91.4) mm. 

Resident. Pacific slope, in the tropical lowlands, from western 
Chiriqui (Alanje, Bugaba) east to near the western boundary of the 
Canal Zone ; Isla Taboga. 

In the range outlined caracaras appear to be most common on the 
drier, eastern side of the Azuero Peninsula, where they range to the 
southern end near Punta Mala. The record for Taboga, of one seen 
on a high grass-grown ridge, may have been a straggler from the 


Falco cherizuay Jacquin, Beytr. Gesch. Vogel, 1784, p. 17, pi. 4. (Aruba, Nether- 
lands Antilles). 

Characters. — Dark markings blacker ; back, wings, breast, sides, 
and tibia fuscous-black to black. 


Measurements. — Males (5 from Panama and Colombia), wing 
352-385 (366),taill70-205 (191), culmen from cere 29.8-31.7 (30.5), 
tarsus 87.5-92.8 (90.2) mm. 

Females (4 from Colombia and Venezuela) wing 355-388 (376), 
tail 180-210 (198), culmen from cere 30.1-33.7 (31.8), tarsus 88.3- 
95.5 (91.2) mm. 

Resident. On the Pacific slope, in the tropical lowlands, from 
Tocumen east to Chiman and the Rio Maje ; Archipielago de las 
Perlas (Isla Pacheca). 

While "Darien" is usually cited as a northern locality in the range 
of this race, I have no record in Panama to the east and south of the 
mouth of the Rio Maje, though it is probable that these birds range 
to the Golfo de San Miguel. I have not found caracaras above the 
gulf along the Rio Tuira, nor did I encounter them along the coast 
to the south at Jaque. The only record for the Pearl Islands is of 
2 taken on Pacheca by W. W. Brown, Jr., on April 14, 1904. 

This race of the carancho is common in the savanna country east 
of Panama City, particularly between Pacora and Chepo where they 
may be recorded during most days afield. The nesting period begins 
toward the close of the dry season, as the birds pair at the beginning 
of March. 

Near the mouth of the Rio Chico I saw one make passes at a 
cormorant resting on a mud bar, until finally the latter scrambled into 
the water. At La Jagua turtles lay their eggs in holes dug in the 
slopes above the marsh. Caracaras search out these nests, scrape them 
open with their feet, break the eggs and eat the contents. The 
wrinkled, parchment-like shells beside the hole where they were laid 
are a common sight. 

MILVAGO CHIMACHIMA CORDATUS Bangs and Penard: Yellow-headed 

Caracara; Chimango 

Milvago chimachima cordata Bangs and Penard, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 
62, Apr. 1918, p. 35. (Isla del Rey, Archipielago de las Perlas, Panama.) 

A small hawk with buffy-white head and undersurface (streaked 
below in the immature) and barred tail, found in open country, 
regularly about cattle. In flight the markings of the underside of the 
wing often show as a light bar. 

Description. — Length, 400 to 430 mm. Adult, head, hindneck, and 
undersurface, including the under wing coverts, warm buff to buffy 
white ; slender filaments fringing eyelids, and a narrow streak on the 
side of the head behind the eye, brownish black, wings and back 
fuscous-black, the back, scapulars, and inner wing coverts margined 


indistinctly with grayish white; lower rump mixed buffy white and 
fuscous-black, with a few irregular spots of the latter color on the 
central feathers of the buffy upper tail coverts ; tail barred with buff 
and brownish gray to black, the dark bands equal in width to the 
pale ones, with a broad subterminal band of fuscous-black, and a 
narrow tip of white ; under surface of wing buffy white, barred nar- 
rowly, and tipped broadly with brownish black. 

Immature, with head, neck all around, breast, and sides streaked 
with fuscous ; under wing coverts barred with the same color ; tip of 
tail banded like the central portion. 

Measurements. — Males (8 from Panama), wing 265-287 (278), 
tail 177-201 (188), culmen from cere 21.5-23.5 (22.6), tarsus 50.4- 
54.2 (51.8) mm. 

Females (4 from Panama), wing 272-288 (282), tail 183-198 
(189), culmen from cere 21.7-24.1 (22.7, average of 3), tarsus 
51.0-52.2 (51.3) mm. 

Resident. Fairly common in the tropical lowlands of the Pacific 
slope, from western Chiriqui (Alanje) east to the lower Rio Bayano 
(El Llano), including the Azuero Peninsula, and the Archipielago de 
las Perlas (reported from Pacheca, Saboga, Rey, Canas, Viveros, La 
Vivienda, Pedro Gonzalez, Trapiche, and San Jose islands) ; ranging 
upward to 600 meters in western Chiriqui (Buena Vista above 

These are birds of savanna lands bordered by trees and open 
scrub, that are not found in the more humid Caribbean lowlands 
or in Darien. As the forests are cleared they spread to some degree 
through country formerly not suited to them. In January 1961 I 
saw one at Gatuncillo on the Rio Chagres between Juan Mina and 
the dam. They are found constantly feeding on the ground around 
cattle and often fly up to perch on the backs of grazing or resting 
beasts, where ordinarily their great companions pay no attention to 
them. On occasion I have seen one fluffing and arranging its feathers 
as it sat on the hip bone of a cow at rest on the ground. At La 
Jagua one early morning one alighted on the back of a resting bull 
where it moved along to its head in search of ticks, particularly 
around its ears. Later other bulls were less complaisant, for when 
two birds came they switched their tails and moved their heads to 
drive the hawks away. 

The flight is direct but not swift, divided between flapping and 
sailing, and seems rather weak for a bird of this family. They are 
scavengers to some degree, and in addition eat such small animal 
prey as is available — large insects, small birds (including young), 


lizards, and small mammals. Though they are not regularly aggres- 
sive I saw one stoop at a groove-billed ani which hid on the ground 
at the base of a low stub, on which the hawk perched to look for its 
prey. Immediately it was attacked so fiercely by a fork-tailed fly- 
catcher that the hawk ducked and turned about repeatedly in such 
confusion that the ani escaped unnoticed. Country people complain 
that caracaras take young chickens. I have noticed them lingering about 
more powerful hawks that were carrying prey or feeding, and have 
seen them eating bits of flesh that I have discarded in the preparation 
of specimens. In the Pearl Islands it is common to see them along 
the beaches, half running, half flying in pursuit of the abundant crabs. 
Their notes are harsh, including some high pitched, and some that are 
squalling sounds. 

The nest, of good size, built of sticks is placed in trees. Two eggs 
constitute the usual set. Col. L. R. Wolfe (Ool. Rec, vol. 18, 1938, p. 
37) describes eggs of the typical race from Brazil and Paraguay as 
varying "from deep red, red smeared with dark mahogany, and 
brown to light yellowish-brown." Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 3, 
1961, p. 186) gives the measurements of 5 eggs of the race cordatiis 
as 41 .2-46.0 X 33.3-38.2 mm. 

In the Pearl Islands these birds are known as the aguirre, in the 
southern Azuero Peninsula they were called guaracho, and in Code 
province I heard them called gavildn garrapatero. 

This northern race of the species, found from Panama through 
Colombia and Venezuela to northern Brazil, differs in the adult from 
Milvago chimachima chimachima (Vieillot) of the region south of 
the Amazon River in the marking of the tail in which the dark bars are 
definitely wider and heavier, with the white marks equal to the dark 
ones or narrower. In M. c. cordatus the dark tail bars are appreciably 
narrower. Also, cordatus averages slightly darker buff on the head 
and underparts, a character, however, that is not completely definitive 
since this color may fade as the feathering becomes worn. The im- 
mature cordatus has the markings on the lower surface browner. 

DAPTRroS AMERICANUS AMERICANUS (Boddaert): Red-throated 
Caracara; Cacao 

Figure 48 

Falco americanus Boddaert, Table Planch. Enl., 1783, p. 25. (Cayenne.) 

Easily identified by the bare bright red or orange-red skin on the 
throat and side of the head and the black-and-white plumage. 

Description. — Length 490 to 560 mm. Adult (sexes alike), throat, 
upper foreneck, and side of head, around and directly behind the 


eye, bare except for scattered, slender, filamentous feathers, which 
are arranged in a line from the bill down the center of the upper 
neck, are scattered over the lores, and across the lower eyelid, and 
form a stronger fringe along the free border of the upper eyelid; 
lower border of breast, abdomen, flanks, tibia, and under tail coverts 

Fig. 48. — Red-throated caracara, cacao, Daptrius americanus americanus. 

white ; auricular region, and side of ujoper neck behind it, with the 
feathers white basally, producing faint light lines (absent in some 
specimens) ; elsewhere black, and a faint sheen of dull green. 

Immature birds are said to lack the light lines on the sides of the 
head, but this is not certain. 

A male, taken at El Uracillo, Cocle, February 28, 1952, had the 
iris deep red ; bill honey yellow ; cere, gape, and base of mandible 


dark neutral gray, extending forward irregularly into the brighter 
color of the tip; bare skin of throat and side of head deep red; an 
area of marguerite yellow on lower eyelid, concealed when the eye 
is open ; tarsus and toes coral red ; claws black. 

Another male, from Armila, San Bias, March 2, 1963, had the iris 
reddish orange; cere, gape, and mandibular rami light blue; rest of 
bill bright yellow ; bare skin of throat and side of head orange-red ; 
tarsus and toes bright reddish orange ; claws black. 

A female from the mouth of the Rio Tuquesa, Darien, March 22, 
1959, otherwise similar, had the tarsus and toes orange red. 

Measurements. — Males (10 from Panama), wing 340-355 (346), 
tail 229-248 (239), culmen from cere 24.0-26.7 (25.6, average of 8), 
tarsus 52.0-57.5 (54.1) mm. 

Females (7 from Panama), wing 331-362 (344), tail 227-258 
(243), culmen from cere 22.9-27.9 (25.5, average of 6), tarsus 53.4- 
60.0 (56.2) mm. 

Resident. Locally fairly common in forested areas in the tropical 
zone. Found to 600 meters on Cerro Pirre, at 1000 meters and more 
rarely to 1500 meters on Cerro Mali, the highest elevations on the 
isthmus at which it has been reported. Not recorded from the 
Pacific slope in Code, Herrera, or Los Santos. 

A first acquaintance with this interesting forest species of the 
falcon family is certain to come through its loud, raucous calls of 
cao ca cao, ca ca cao, kee yow-w-w, with other variations. The birds 
frequently range in groups of half a dozen but are found in pairs 
toward the end of the dry season. At a distance their cawing, croak- 
ing calls in their harsh, explosive tones sometimes suggest the notes 
of macaws, but near at hand they are like nothing else heard in 
the forest. Only in amount of noise produced do they suggest those 
of the laughing falcon, whose calls have a certain musical intona- 
tion entirely lacking in the present species. At times when a pair 
of red-throated caracaras has lingered in the trees near my forest 
camps their harsh, continued racket has passed the amusing stage to 
become a bit annoying. 

These birds range through the tree crown, flying rather heavily 
with quickly flapping wings, which then are set to sail for short 
distances when they have sufficient momentum. In places remote 
from settlement, where ammunition is too valuable to use except to 
kill game, the cacao is often tame and so curious that it may fly down 
within a few meters to watch any human intruder, always with a 
steady repetition of its calls. The bird is one that is widely known 
through its noisy habits, and its notes are the base of several names. 


The common one of cacao in imitation of its calls is usual from 
Costa Rica south through northern South America. Another ap- 
pellation from the same source is deslenguado, often abbreviated to 
'lengiiado, explained as given because of resemblance to the uncouth 
sounds made by persons who have lost their tongues, a name that 
may date back to the early period when this was a punishment for 
certain crimes. Another term, heard in Bocas del Toro, is hahlador, 
whose derivation is readily understood. The Cuna Indians at Armila 
called it pai kd kd, apparently in imitation of its uncouth calls. The 
cacao also is one of the birds of ill omen called pa jar o brujo — wizard 
or sorcerer bird — which superstition says, may bring misfortune if 

The food of the cacao is mainly the larvae of wasps and bees, and 
apparently includes also quantities of the adults of the abundant 
little black stingless bees, obtained by tearing open the nests of these 
species. Some of my specimens have had the crop and stomach 
crammed with these insects, and often when I have handled them 
when freshly killed I have noted the sweetish odor common to many 
kinds in these groups of Hymenoptera. That they are also fruit 
eaters is indicated by one that had the stomach filled with seeds and 
other remains of small drupes. 

The breeding habits are unknown. The badly worn wing and tail 
tips on some of the specimens I have examined may be indication 
that they place their eggs in holes, though related species in southern 
South America build nests. One female that I collected on the Rio 
Chucunaque in Darien, on March 21 held an egg nearly ready for 
the shell. 

Daptrius americanus as a species ranges from Chiapas in southern 
Mexico south through Central America and South America to Bolivia 
and southern Brazil. Two races have been recognized that currently 
have been treated as meeting in central Panama. The only distinc- 
tion is in size, the more northern group being larger. The specimens 
that I have been able to examine indicate that while two forms may 
be accepted the ranges assigned need adjustment northward. There 
is no appreciable difference in size between male and female, and so 
the two sexes may be considered together. Birds from Guatemala 
and Costa Rica (11 specimens) with the wing from 360 to 375 mm. 
are Daptrius americanus guatemaletisis (Swann), a form that ranges 
from the Pacific slope in Chiapas and Guatemala to southern Costa 
Rica, where there is intergradation with typical americanus. The 
link between the two is not a continuing cline, as some have sup- 
posed, since from Panama southward the wing of Daptrius ameri- 


camis americamis, while smaller, varies from 325 to 360 mm. regard- 
less of location in the vast region that it inhabits. Occasional in- 
dividuals in this population range slightly larger to 363 mm. though 
these larger specimens are uncommon. 

FALCO PEREGRINUS ANATUM Bonaparte: Peregrine Falcon; Halcon 


Falco Anatum Bonaparte, Geogr. and Comp. List, 1838, p. 4. (Egg Harbor, New 

A large hawk (largest of the falcons found in Panama), with long 
pointed wings ; a broad black stripe on the side of the head below and 
behind the eye. 

Description. — Length, male 390 to 430 mm., female 440 to 500 mm. 
Adult, head, including cheeks, and hindneck black, the crown washed 
with gray; back, wing coverts, and secondaries, light gray, with 
faint, irregular crossbars of darker gray and fuscous, and shaft lines 
of black ; primaries black, washed lightly with gray, with a white 
line around tip ; under surface white to buffy white, with throat, fore- 
neck, and upper breast immaculate, or with a few dark lines; else- 
where, including tibia and under wing, barred narrowly with fuscous- 
black ; under side of primaries barred with dark gray and white. 

Immature, brownish black above, with the feathers edged very 
narowly with brownish white ; tail with indistinct broken crossbars of 
dull buffy white ; primaries black ; side of head and throat white, with 
a bold band of black on the cheeks ; underneath white to buff, streaked 
heavily with dull brown to fuscous-black; under wing buffy white, 
with irregular blotches and cross bars of fuscous; under surface of 
primaries dark gray, with narrow bands of dull buffy white. 

The tarsus is short and the foot large, the middle toe being as long 
as the tarsus. 

Measurements (from Friedmann, U.S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 11, 
1950, p. 652).— Males, wing 301-327 (314.2), tail 138-154 (145.1), 
culmen from cere 18-21 (19.6), tarsus 46-54 (50.6) mm. 

Females, wing 340-376 (356.3), tail 167-192 (178.9), culmen from 
cere 20-25 (23.4), tarsus 50-57 (54.4) mm. 

Migrant and winter visitor from the north. Fairly common ; mainly 
in the lowlands; Isla Coiba; Isla Taboga; Archipielago de las Perlas 
(San Jose, Contadora). 

Peregrines arrive in October (Oct. 14 earliest date), and remain 
through April, occasionally later (May 3, Changuinola; May 5, Barro 
Colorado Island). 


Single birds are seen regularly during the periods of migration, 
moving southward in October and November, and toward the north 
in March and April. A fair number remain through the months of 
northern winter, when they may be found frequently around the 
Bay of Panama. Their migrations appear to follow the main line of 
movement of other hawks, viz., along the Carribbean coast to the 
Canal Zone, and the Pacific littoral from there southward. On March 
1, 1950, at Chiman I recorded 4 in a great migration flight of thou- 
sands of turkey vultures and Swainson's hawks. While it is cer- 
tain that the halcon peregrino visits all the political divisions, it has 
not been formally reported from the San Bias, or from Chiriqui, un- 
doubtedly owing to the absence of interested observers in coastal areas 
at the proper seasons. 

The duck hawk universally is one of the most spirited hunters of 
its family, feeding on birds, mainly of aquatic species that it captures 
at rest or in flight with ease. Often they stoop at birds in play, and 
rarely may become excited enough to kill when they are not hungry. 
On Isla Coiba I saw one drop on a laughing gull, cripple it, and then 
leave it. At La Jagua on one occasion a large female swung past the 
head of one of my helpers as he waded a muddy lagoon to retrieve 
an ibis, coming so close as to make him throw up an arm ; but each 
time the falcon turned without actually striking him, to stoop at a 
blue-winged teal or at one of the numerous jaganas nearby. Obviously 
it was intent on my specimen, so finally I decoyed it by imitating its 
cackle and waving a red handkerchief, and added it to my bag for the 
day. On another day at the mouth of the Rio Chico a duck hawk 
carried off a willet that I had shot before we could get to it. On other 
occasions I have seen two heckling a pair of black crab hawks, and 
others swooping at soaring turkey vultures which swerved and turned 
to avoid them. 

FALCODEIROLEUCUS Temminck: Orange-breasted Falcon; Halcon 

Falco deiroleucus Temminck, Nouv. Rec. Planch. Col., livr. 59, June 25, 1825, 
pi. 348. (Ilha de Sao Francisco, Santa Catharina, Brazil.) 

Color and color pattern that of the bat falcon, but bird larger, 
more robust. 

Description. — Length, 300-350 mm. Adults, entire upper surface 
and side of head dull black, with back, wing coverts, rump, and upper 
tail coverts margined with dark gray ; tail with tip and narrow cross 
bands white ; f oreneck white, bordered on either side by an irregular 


line of cinnamon; upper breast, abdomen, tibia, and under tail co- 
verts cinnamon-brown ; middle and lower breast and sides black, 
barred with white and buff; under wing coverts black with irregular 
spots of white and buff; under surface of wing dark gray, barred 
with white. 

Immature, similar, but upper surface with narrow edgings of buffy 
brown, except that secondaries and scapulars are tipped with white; 
foreneck buffy white; breast, tibia, and under tail coverts barred 
heavily with buff ; under wing coverts heavily spotted with buff. 

Measurements. — Males (3 from Mexico, Costa Rica, and Peru), 
wing 244-249 (247), tail 115-130 (120.4), culmen from cere 18.1- 
19.2 (18.6), tarsus 39.6-41.2 (40.2) mm. 

Females (3 from Brazil, Peru, and Paraguay) wing 265-284 
(277.6), tail 133.5-145.7 (138.3), culmen from cere 21.6-23.0 (22.2), 
tarsus 44.6-47.8 (46.2) mm. 

Resident. In the tropical zone, very rare. 

The present specimen records for Panama known to me are of 
a male, now in the British Museum, collected at Bugaba, Chiriqui, in 
1869 by Enrique Arce; and another skin labeled Chiriqui in the 
Rothschild Collection. 

Little known. The species has been reported at scattered points 
from Veracruz south through Central and South America to Para- 
guay and northern Argentina. 

Griscom's inclusion of Veraguas in his check-list (Bull Mus. Comp. 
Zool., vol. 78, 1935, p. 302) apparently was based on sight records 
that he made during his travels through that area. In an earlier 
account on the birds of Guatemala (Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., 
vol. 64, 1932, p. 164) under this species he wrote that in "western 
Panama the bird nests in church towers and belfries in the hearts 
of towns and cities." Later he informed Eugene Eisenmann that 
his observations were made in Santiago and Las Palmas. The 
records seem so unusual that they require confirmation, especially 
since the bat falcon, so similar in markings, is the species found 
frequently in the plazas of such towns. 

On March 29, 1957, along the highway 18 kilometers west of 
Penonome, as I drove slowly one of these falcons crossed close 
in front of my jeep and swung into the shelter of a grove along 
a small stream. When it swerved from side to side I had a clear 
view of the back, and saw the under surface less plainly. My 
impression was of a beautifully marked and graceful bird, similar 
to a bat falcon but of larger size. 


The close superficial resemblances of this species to the bat falcon 
have led to some uncertainties as to its classification. The proportions 
of the foot, where the middle toe with its claw is definitely longer than 
the tarsus, place it near the duck hawk. The form of the tail also 
agrees with that of Falco peregrinus as the central feathers are very 
slightly longer than the outer ones so that the form is slightly tapered 
when folded. However, the supposition that deiroleucus is merely 
a tropical form of Falco peregrinus is not to be accepted. 

Coltart (Ool. Rec, vol. 26, 1951, p. 43) has described two nests, 
one with 2 eggs and one with 3, from Trinidad, "collected by G. D. 
Smooker on 21st April, 1930, and 28th March 1937. One nest was 
30 feet up in a knot hole in a ceiba tree, whilst the other was in the 
hollow at the base of a palm branch about 40 feet up. The eggs have 
a whitish or yellowish ground, more or less obscured by smears and 
blotches of browny-red and dark-red with a few darker superim- 
posed blotches." They measure 43.0 X 35.0 ; 42.2 X 34.7, and 40.5 
X 34.5 ; 41.7 X 35.3 ; 39.7 X 34.5 mm. 


Figure 49 

Falco rufigularis petoensis Chubb, Bull. Brit. Orn. Club, vol. 39, Nov. 30, 1918, 
p. 22, (Peto, Yucatan.) 

A small, heavy-bodied falcon that in life appears black, with 
white or buff throat, cinnamon abdomen and tibia, (some with a 
cinnamon band on upper chest) ; breast and sides barred narrowly 
with white and buffy white. 

Description. — Length, 230 to 270 mm. Adult (sexes alike), head, 
including cheeks, and hindneck black; back, wing coverts, tertials, 
rump, and upper tail coverts black basally, tipped and washed with 
dark gray; primaries and secondaries black, the inner primaries and 
secondaries in fresh plumage edged narrowly at the tip with white; 
tail black, tipped narrowly with white ; throat and f oreneck white or 
buff, often cinnamon-buff at sides and across chest ; breast and sides 
black, barred narrowly with white to cinnamon-buff ; abdomen, tibia, 
and under tail coverts dark cinnamon; under wing coverts black, 
spotted and barred with white and buff; undersurface of primaries, 
secondaries, and tail barred very narrowly with white. 

Immature, like adult but blacker above, and with under tail coverts 
barred broadly with cinnamon-bufif. 



Iris dark brown ; cere greenish yellow ; bare orbital region brighter 
yellow; base of mandible neutral gray; rest of bill black; tarsus and 
toes yellow ; claws black. 

Fig. 49. — Bat falcon, halcon cazamurcielagos, Falco rufigularis petoensis. 

Measurements. — Males (9 from Panama), wing 180-191 (185.2), 
tail 86.8-96.2 (90.4), culmen from cere 10.8-12.1 (11.5), tarsus 
31.6-33.8 (32.7), middle toe with claw 35.5-37.8 (36.4) mm. 

Females (4 from Panama), wing 209-221 (214.7), tail 97.8- 
106.5 (103.0), culmen from cere 13.8-14.6 (14.2), tarsus 34.6- 
39.0 (37.0), middle toe with claw 38.4-42.0 (40.8) mm. 

Resident. Locally fairly common, throughout the Tropical Zone. 
Recorded in Chiriqui in the uplands to Boquete and the Cordillera 


de Tole, and in Veraguas near Santa Fe, but found mainly below 800 
meters elevation ; Isla Coiba ; Isla Taboga ; Isla San Jose. 

This handsome falcon is the species of its genus most frequently 
seen on the isthmus, as, in addition to its usual resting places on stubs 
projecting above the forest canopy, it comes regularly to the dead 
trees that stand in pastures and other clearings. 

Rarely I have seen one soaring in favorable thermals in company 
M^ith turkey vultures. In Sona, in May and June 1953, I recorded 
one or two daily, toward sunset, when they came to hawk over the 
plaza for flying beetles and other large insects, and a little later as 
darkness approached to capture some of the numerous bats. They 
are so amazingly quick in the air that few are the flying creatures 
that may elude them. On the coast of Darien I saw them pursuing 
dragonflies and verified the capture of these insects when I found one 
in the stomach of a falcon that I had shot. Cicadas also are taken. 
On Barro Colorado Island Chapman (My Tropical Air Castle, 1929, 
pp. 240-241) recorded them feeding on moths. The small birds 
around them, myriad in number, are a principal item in their food, 
particularly when they are feeding young. William Beebe (Zool., 
vol. 35, 1950, pp. 69-86) has published a graphic account of obser- 
vations made at Rancho Grande in the coast range of northern 
Venezuela of a pair that he watched for over five months, while they 
mated and reared two young. As the birds lived within a hundred 
meters of his laboratory windows he was able to identify many items 
of their food. These included 33 mammals of 5 species, 163 birds of 
56 species, 19 insects of 14 species, a lizard, a snake, and a frog. Most 
of the insects were butterflies, among them a morpho and a swallow- 
tail. The mammals, aside from one mouse, were bats. The hunting 
skills of these swift-flying falcons are illustrated well in the kinds of 
birds taken, which in addition to wood warblers, tanagers, and finches 
included 17 swallows of 5 kinds, 34 hummingbirds, ranging from 
tiny emerald hummers to large hermits, and 26 swifts of 8 species. 
This last amazing item included 3 collared swifts, large, heavy bodied 
birds, capable of great speed in flight, with wings nearly as long as 
those of the falcon which captured them. The male falcon regularly 
brought food for his mate and later for her to feed to the young. 
Birds usually were prepared for eating by careful plucking, with 
feathers discarded, except casually for some of the more firmly 
attached wing quills. 

I have noted that bat falcons protest disturbance of their nesting 
areas frequently with cackling notes ke ke ke ke, which suggest those 


of the duck hawk in tone. And males harass passing large birds, es- 
pecially the larger hawks, darting at them angrily. 

The bat falcon nests in hollows in trees, where the eggs are placed 
on whatever material has been deposited by chance — usually decayed 
wood fragments, perhaps with a few wind drifted leaves or twigs. 
At Barro Colorado Island on March 23, 1955, a falcon of this species 
of good size that I supposed was a female rested beside a hole near 
the top of a tall stub that stood in the water 50 meters from shore. 
I assumed it to be a nest cavity, for the bird turned to peer into it at 
intervals, and she spread wings and tail in threat when a pair of red- 
fronted parrots circled to alight. A Wagler's woodpecker, marooned 
in a hollow branch 10 meters above, protested his immolation from 
time to time but did not dare move except to thrust out his head to 
call for a few seconds. A nest, with two small young, found by 
J. P. E. Morrison on Isla San Jose on May 12, 1944, was in a hollow 
12 meters from the ground. The nest described by Beebe was at an 
elevation of approximately 15 meters, perhaps a little more. The 
eggs in a set of 3 in the U.S. National Museum, collected near Vic- 
toria, Tamaulipas, Mexico, on April 11, 1908, by F. B. Armstrong, 
are short-subelliptical, with a pinkish white ground color almost 
completely covered by a blotchy wash of clay color that changes in 
some areas around the larger end to deeper brown. They measure 
39.0x31.3, 40.3x32, and 40.8 x 32.1 mm. They were taken from 
a hole in a tree about 10 meters from the ground. 

A juvenile only a few days old, from the nest on Isla San Jose, 
is completely covered with white down except for the loral area and 
the space around the eyes. Beebe describes the three in the nest that 
he had under study as creamy white when about a week old. 

Disagreement as to the recognition of a northern subspecies of 
the bat falcon has resulted from misunderstanding of variation due to 
age. Immature individuals are blacker than full adults, the difference 
in the two age groups being most pronounced in the area from north- 
ern Colombia north through Central America. When adult specimens 
are compared it is found that birds from this northern region are 
lighter, grayer above, in particular on the head than those from Vene- 
zuela and northern Brazil, The northern population may be separated 
from typical F. r. rufigularis as the race petoewis. The nominate race 
is found from the base of the eastern Andes of Colombia east through 
Venezuela to Trinidad, and south to northern Bolivia, and northern 


FALCO PEMORALIS FEMORALIS Temminck: Aplomado Falcon; Halcon 


Falco fetnoralis Temminck, Planch. Col., livr. 21, April 1822, pi. 121. (Brazil) 

Of medium size, with light throat and upper breast ; a heavy black 
patch on lower breast and sides, in some partly divided by pale mark- 
ings at center. 

Description. — Length, 315 to 360 mm. Adult (sexes alike), upper 
surface very dark gray, in some with faint shaft lines of black, with 
a light wash of brown; rump, and upper tail coverts paler, barred 
with white; primaries black, edged lightly with white; secondaries 
tipped prominently with white ; tail black, barred and tipped narrowly 
with white ; forehead, a narrow broken line over the eye, that broadens 
behind and joins with the companion line of the opposite side as a 
narrow band across the hindneck, white or buff ; a broad band through 
eye to side of neck, and moustachial stripe black ; cheeks, throat, 
f oreneck, and upper breast white or pale cinnamon-buff ; sides and 
lower breast black, barred narrowly with white; abdomen, tibia, and 
upper tail coverts cinnamon, with this color mingled with the black 
in the central line of the lower breast; under wing coverts buff to 
pale cinnamon, streaked and barred with black; tmder surface of 
remiges dark neutral gray, barred broadly with white. 

Occasional birds have the lighter markings cinnamon throughout. 

Immature, blacker above, with a wash and edgings of brown ; 
rump, and upper tail coverts like back ; upper breast streaked heavily 
with black. 

Iris brown; cere and bare space around eyes yellow; base of 
mandible and sides of maxilla yellowish ; rest of bill slate, becoming 
black at the tip, and along the culmen ; tarsus and toes yellow ; claws 

Measurements (specimens from Colombia, Venezuela, and north- 
ern Brazil).— Males (12 specimens), wing 226-240 (233), tail 142- 
159 (149), culmen from cere 14.0-15.9 (15.0), tarsus 40.6-43.2 
(41.9) mm. 

Females (15 specimens), wing 245-273 (258), tail 155-186 (167), 
culmen from cere 16.9-18.9 (17.9), tarsus 41.3-48.8 (45.2) mm. 

Resident. Rare, in the lowland savannas: Recorded from Code 
(near Aguadulce), Veraguas, Herrera (Paris, Potuga), and the 
Canal Zone (Barro Colorado Island). 

This is a falcon little known in Panama that lives in savanna 
country bordered by groves. It was first recorded for the Republic 
by Griscom (Amer. Mus. Nov. no. 280, 1927, p. 1) from one taken 


by Benson near Aguadulce. Hellmayr and Conover (Cat. Birds 
Amer. pt, 1, no. 4, 1949, p. 316) in a table of measurements list a 
male and a female from Veraguas, without indication of specific 
locality. (Their statement in the range should read western, instead of 
eastern, Panama.) In Herrera on March 2, 1948, I saw three in an 
open pasture near Potuga, two of them in mating play. One stooped 
gracefully at a plumbeous kite. Two days later I recorded another 
near Paris. On March 10, 1957, 1 saw a falcon along the beach dunes 
near Pedasi, Los Santos, that I believed to be this species, but I was 
not wholly certain of the identification. On February 19, 1954, I 
watched one that circled over the shore of Barro Colorado Island, at 
Salud Point. 

The typical form of this species is found in open savanna or semi- 
arid plains regions from Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, and Trinidad 
south through eastern South America to Tierra del Fuego. A 
northern form Falco femoralis septentrionalis, distinguished by 
lighter-gray upper surface, with the breast solid black, and some- 
what larger size, breeds from southern Arizona, southwestern New 
Mexico, and southern Texas south through Mexico and ranges 
casually to Guatemala. While there is little definite information on 
the nesting of the bird of Panama, that of the northern subspecies 
just mentioned is known. According to Bent (U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 
170, 1938, pp. 96-97) the nest is a platform of twigs lined with grass, 
placed in a low tree. Some pairs in southern Arizona are said to 
have used old nests of the white-necked raven, which are of similar 
form to those made by the falcons. The eggs, usually 3, are oval, 
"white, creamy white, or pinkish white. This is usually nearly, or 
quite, covered with small spots or minute dots of russet, cinnamon- 
rufous, or other bright browns." Some are less heavily marked, so 
that they show the ground color. The average is 44.5 X 34.5 mm. 

Aplomado falcons are bird hunters, doves and quail being common 
food. They also take lizards and mice. 

FALCO COLUMBARIUS Linnaeus: Pigeon Hawk; Halcon de Paso 

Size that of the bat falcon ; streaked underneath and on head ; 
upper surface gray in adult, brownish gray to sooty gray in imma- 

Description. — Length, 275 in male, to 340 mm. in female. Male, 
gray above, streaked with dull black on crown and hindneck, with 
heavy shaft streaks of black on wing coverts, back, and upper tail 
coverts ; wings black, with secondaries and inner primaries tipped 
lightly with white ; tail black, barred widely with light gray, and tipped 


with white; undersurface white to huffy white, with sides of head, 
breast, sides, abdomen, tibia, and under tail coverts streaked heavily 
with black to brownish black ; under wing coverts white to buffy white, 
streaked and spotted with dull black ; undersurface of primaries and 
secondaries dark neutral gray, barred broadly with white. 

Female, similar to male but much browner above, except on the 
rump and upper tail coverts ; light markings on under side of wings 
more buffy ; under parts washed with buff. 

Immature, similar to the female but browner above, with feathers 
of back edged with rusty. 

While these falcons, American representatives of the Old World 
merlin, spread widely in migration from their nesting grounds, which 
extend from the limit of tree growth in the far north south to the 
more northern United States, comparatively few reach the Isthmus 
and northern South America. They are true falcons that feed mainly 
on birds, regularly killing doves that are their equal in size. 

The few records for Panama are divided between two subspecies 
that differ in color, but are similar in size. 


Falco columbaritis Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 90. (South 

Characters. — Darker above. 

Measurements. — Males (10 specimens), wing 182-194 (187.6), 
tail 114-125 (121.1), culmen from cere 12-13 (12.6), tarsus 36-41 
{Z7.7) mm. 

Females (10 specimens), wing 206-215 (209.7), tail 130-140 
(135.8), culmen from cere 13.5-15.0 (14.2), tarsus 38-42 (40.2) mm. 

Winter visitor from the north. Rare; recorded from Chiriqui, 
Veraguas, the Canal Zone, and eastern San Bias ; Isla San Jose. 

The specimens listed by Salvin and Godman (Biol. Centr.-Amer., 
vol. 3, 1901, p. 120) from Chiriqui, and Calobre, Veraguas, taken by 
Arce, and from Lion Hill, Canal Zone, collected by McLeannan, now 
in the British Museum, I have identified as the typical subspecies in ac- 
cordance with treatment by Griscom (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 78, 
1935, p. 303). H. von Wedel sent a female to Herbert Brandt, taken 
at Puerto Obaldia, San Bias, November 3, 1931. This bird is now 
in the U. S. National Museum. 

On February 9, 1944, in forest on Isla San Jose a pigeon hawk 
struck a pale-vented pigeon in flight and knocked it down almost at 
my feet. At the same instant it saw me and rose to perch on a branch 
where I shot it. The pigeon, actually larger in body than the falcon, 


lay bleeding under one wing, with most of its tail feathers torn out 
while I retrieved the hawk, and then, as I returned, recovered suf- 
ficiently to fly away. The falcon is an adult female of the eastern 
subspecies, marked by its darker color. 

I recorded a pigeon hawk on the Rio Escota, near Santa Maria, 
Herrera, on March 8, 1948, and one at Panama Viejo, Panama, 
February 2, 1952. The records are listed here, though the subspecies 
is uncertain. 


Falco columbarius hendirei Swann, Bull. Brit, Orn. Club, vol. 42, no. 265, Feb. 
2, 1922, p, 66, (Fort Walla Walla, Washington.) 

Characters. — Lighter, grayer above. 

Measurements. — Males (10 specimens), wing 186-198 (192.6), 
tail 124-129 (125.2), culmen from cere 12-13 (12.1), tarsus 36,5-40.0 
(39.1) mm. 

Females (10 specimens), wing 206-215 (210.2), tail 135-142 
(139.6), culmen from cere 14-15 (14,2), tarsus 39-42 (40.7) mm. 

Winter visitor from the north. Rare. 

The three records for this western subspecies are as follows : A 
female came at sunset on April 15, 1946, to rest in the top of a 
tall tree standing beside our quarters near the air strip at Jaque, 
Darien, We had been occupied through the day in packing in readi- 
ness for a plane to call for us early the following morning so that 
guns and ammunition were not available. As Perrygo and I watched 
the bird with longing eyes, and the wish that we had it, Tom Watson, 
Air Force sergeant, an expert marksman, brought it down with his 
service rifle from a distance of 90 meters, I expected to retrieve 
broken bits of skin and feathers, but instead I found that with careful 
aim he had creased the falcon across the back of the neck and the 
head so that it was only slightly marked. Two additional specimens 
in the Brandt Collection at the University of Cincinnati were taken 
by H. von Wedel — a female at Bocas del Toro, September 29, 1938, 
and another (from its size, probably a male) secured at Puerto 
Obaldia, San Bias, October 16, 1934. 

This western form, the breeding race from Alaska across to 
northern Saskatchewan, and south to Oregon and Idaho, has been 
reported previously in migration only to southern Mexico. It is 
slightly paler in color in adult and immature than the eastern race, 
with the paler markings in the female and immature more buflF. The 
specimen from Jaque is a female of the previous season. It is probable 
that the race equals the typical one in its southward limits, as there is 


another in the U. S. National Museum taken by M. A. Carriker, Jr., 
on the high paramo of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in northern 

FALCO SPARVERIUS SPARVERIUS Linnaeus: Sparrow Hawk; Cemlcalo 

Falco sparverius Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 90. (South 

A small falcon, reddish brown on back and tail, with a spot of 
the same color on the center of the crown. 

Description. — Length, 245 to 270 mm. Male, top of head and 
hindneck dark gray, with a patch of chestnut brown in the center 
of the crown ; back, rump, and tail cinnamon-brown, the back barred 
with black; primaries and secondaries black, the latter tipped with 
gray ; wing coverts gray spotted with black, very heavily at the bend 
of the wing; tail cinnamon brown, with a broad subterminal band 
and a few lateral spots of black; outer web of outer rectrix, and 
terminal half white, barred broadly with black ; tip of tail white or 
buffy white; side of head white, with a black vertical band below 
the eye, and another over the auricular region ; breast and sides 
cinnamon to buffy white, spotted more or less with black ; throat, 
abdomen, and under tail coverts white to buffy white; under wing 
coverts white, spotted with black; under surface of flight feathers 
dull gray barred boldly with white. 

Female, similar, but with wing coverts cinnamon-brown like the 
back; entire upper surface from the upper back to the end of the 
tail barred heavily with black ; breast and sides streaked broadly with 
buffy brown to brownish gray. 

Measurements. — Males (10 specimens), wing 178-187 (182.2), 
tail 120-130 (125.8), culmen from cere 12.0-12.5 (12.1), tarsus 38-40 
(38.5) mm. 

Females, wing 187-195 (191.9), tail 125-136 (131.4), culmen from 
cere 12-13 (12.7), tarsus 37-40 (38.5) mm. 

Winter visitor throughout the isthmus. Locally fairly common. 
Arrives about the middle of October (Oct. 11, 1936, above Boquete; 
Oct. 14, 1953, Pacora; Oct. 16, 1929, Perme), and remains until 
the latter part of March or early April (Apr. 8, 1949, Chepo ; Apr. 1, 
1954, Aguadulce; Mar. 30, 1955, (i:hico) ; Isla Coiba; Isla San Jose. 

As the sparrow hawk ranges in open country it is most common 
in the savannas of the Pacific slope from southern Chiriqui to (Thepo, 
including the eastern side of the Azuero Peninsula. Although heavily 
forested areas do not afford it suitable habitat, its annual travels soon 


bring it to any extensive clearings, and so it may be found in any 
part of the Republic. In 1952 I saw none in the recently made farms 
along the Rio Indio in western Colon, from its mouth to the foothills 
in the Caribbean comer of northern Code. But in the older plantation 
areas in Bocas del Toro, between Almirante and the Costa Rican 
border, the bird has been common during the period of northern 
winter for many years. As it is a species adapted to northern 
climates its zonal range is broad, particularly on the more open 
Pacific side of the mountains. In Chiriqui I have found sparrow 
hawks from the coastal area near San Felix and Las Lajas to near 
2,000 meters elevation above Cerro Punta; in other words, from 
the tropical to the temperate zones. Occasionally I have recorded one 
in park areas in Panama City, Balboa, and Ancon. 

The birds are solitary and select what commanding perches may 
be available on dead trees, shrubs, or failing such higher points, on 
boulders, or termite hills, as stations from which to watch for food. 
Telephone poles along the highways and fence posts in cultivated 
lands are favored stations. 

Their food is largely the grasshoppers (Acrididae) common in 
their haunts, varied with small lizards, and an occasional mouse, 
rarely a bird. Though they stoop frequently at flying swallows or at 
other small species at rest in open tree tops, and also at larger hawks 
this is in play. They often hover with rapidly moving wings a few 
meters above the earth in their watch for food. 

The call, heard rather seldom from these migrants, is a rapidly 
uttered killy killy killy. 

In March when the annual burnings — the candelas — clear pastures 
and areas where the trees have been felled for cultivation sparrow 
hawks become much stained from feeding over the blackened 
ground. I recall in particular one that I stalked for half an hour in 
careful approach on the supposition that it was some strange, dark- 
plumaged species with which I was not familiar. 

While the sparrow hawk is not known to winter farther south 
than eastern Panama the number that reach this distant section is 
larger than has been understood, since in March as they start the 
return northward there is definite increase in the number found on 
the eastern savannas near Pacora and La Jagua. Once, on March 
20, 1949, while night-hunting in a jeep in this area I flushed a 
sparrow hawk from a sleeping place on the ground on the open 
plain. It is probable that some cross into Colombia in northern 
Choco, as the birds have been found in some numbers at Perme and 
Obaldia in the Comarca de San Bias near the boundary. 


Family CRACIDAE, Curassows and Guans ; Pavones y Faisanas 

These are birds of the warmer climatic areas of the Western 
Hemisphere, found mainly in the tropical zone, but there are a few 
kinds of limited distribution that are adapted to life in colder sub- 
tropical and even temperate zone areas. All have a fowl-like form, 
with heavy body, small head, long neck, and rounded wings, and in 
most the tail is elongated. While they live in part on the ground, 
they are mainly arboreal, with a foot adapted for perching, since the 
somewhat elongated hind toe is on the level of the three in front. 
The nearly 50 species now recognized are divided among 11 genera, 
of which 4, each with a single species, are found in Panama. All 
are held in high regard as food and game birds. 

One member of the genus Ortalis ranges north to southern Texas, 
while to the south several are found as far as the northern prov- 
inces of Argentina. Fossil species of Tertiary age are known 
from the north-central United States in Nebraska and South Dakota 
and also from Florida. The greatest variety among living species is 
found in northern South America. 


1. A prominent crest, in which the ends of the feathers curl forward; 

size large Central American curassow, Crax rubra, p. 293 

Crest short, with feathers straight ; size smaller 2 

2. Breast prominently streaked with white. 

Crested guan, Penelope purpurascens, p. 298 
Breast without prominent streaks 3 

3. Color, including wings, mainly black. 

Black guan, Chamaepetes unicolor, p. 303 
Color brown and gray ; primaries chestnut. 

Gray-headed chachalaca, Ortalis cinereiceps, p. 305 

CRAX RUBRA RUBRA Linnaeus: Central American Curassow; Pavon 

Figure 50 
Crax rubra Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 157. (Western Ecuador.) 

Size of a turkey, with heavy body, and long narrow crest in which 
the feathers are recurved at the tip; male, body black; female body 

Description. — Length, male 870 to 920 mm ; female 780 to 840 mm. 
Male, black, with a very faint greenish sheen, except on abdomen, 
flanks, and under tail coverts, which are white; tail in some tipped 
narrowly with white, in others plain. 


Female, brown phase, feathers of head, including the crest, throat, 
and neck (front and back), white in center, tipped with black; 
back, wings, rump, and upper tail coverts deep cinnamon, the wings 
barred narrowly and indefinitely with black ; tail with alternate bars 

Fig. 50. — Head of male Central American curassow, pavon, Crax rubra rubra. 

of buff and black, mixed with cinnamon-brown, tipped with buff; 
upper breast deep cinnamon-brown; lower breast cinnamon; abdo- 
men, flanks, and under tail coverts cinnamon-buff; under surface of 
wing cinnamon-brown barred narrowly with black. 

Female, dark phase, lower neck, above and below, and upper back 
black to brownish black; tail black, or black mottled with deep 
cinnamon ; inner primaries and secondaries like tail, but barred 
narrowly with white or buff. 


Male, iris dark brown ; bare areas on side of head dull black ; 
lower eyelid dull yellow; cere, tubercle, and base of maxilla light 
yellow ; base of mandible dull yellow ; rest of bill neutral gray, shad- 
ing to black at tip ; tarsus and toes neutral gray ; claws brownish 

Female, like male, except the cere, which is dark neutral gray; 
and the bill, which is neutral gray at base, shading to black at outer 

Measurements. — Males (6 from Panama), wing 360-411 (377), 
tail 309-340 (326), culmen from cere 27.2-33.4 (30.9), tarsus 121.2- 
131.8 (124.7) mm. 

Females (7 from Panama), wing 333-370 (354), tail 304-338 
(322), culmen from cere 24.8-30.8 (28.2), tarsus 107.1-121 (114.6) 

Resident, in the tropical and lower subtropical zones, in regions of 
heavy forest; found only in unsettled sections. As of 1960, distrib- 
uted in the more remote areas of the Caribbean slope from Costa 
Rica to Colombia. On the Pacific slope in southeastern Veraguas, 
south of Sona; in the forests of the western side and interior hills 
of the Azuero Peninsula; and locally from the Cerro Azul through 
Darien to the Colombian boundary ; recorded to 1 ,900 meters on 
Volcan Baru, Chiriqui ; and to 1,450 meters in the mountains of 
Darien (Cerro Mali, Cerro Tacarcuna). 

The great pavon is one of the prized game birds of the Panamanian 
forests, formerly widely distributed, but a species that soon disap- 
pears as settlement increases and its haunts become accessible. It 
remains now only in remote areas. 

In the western part of the republic the species is distributed 
through the lowland forests of the Caribbean slope, though it has 
disappeared in the cultivated regions. Hasso von Wedel sent a female 
to the Museum of Comparative Zoology taken near Almirante on 
February 16, 1929 (Peters, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 71, 1931, p. 
297), but in 1958 I heard of it only in distant inland sections in that 
region. To the eastward, in 1952, there were still a few along the 
Rio Indio in Colon and northern Code from Chilar inland to the 
Rio Uracillo, but here they ranged only at a distance from the 
scattered fincas. 

Salvin and Godman (Biol. Centr.-Amer., vol. 3, 1902, p. 273) 
write that the curassow was noticed by Mr. Champion "on the 
Pacific slope of the Volcan de Chiriqui, but specimens were not pre- 
served," a report that is indefinite at best. The female collected by 
W. W. Brown, Jr. (Bangs, Proc. New England Zool. Club, vol. 3, 


1902, p. 21), on April 20, 1901, labeled "Boquete, 5000 feet," probably 
was taken on the Caribbean slope to the north and at a lower eleva- 
tion. In Chiriqui a few range the slopes of Volcan Baru back of 
El Volcan. 

Karl Curtis told me that years ago he shot them in the wooded 
country then found in western Veraguas between the Rio Vira and 
the Rio Tabasara. In June 1953 I recorded a few near the Rio San 
Pablo at Guarumal and La Isleta in southern Veraguas. Aldrich 
(Scient. Publ. Cleveland Mus., vol. 7, 1937, pp. 51-53) shot a pair 
at about 600 meters elevation on Cerro Viejo, on the western side 
of the Azuero Peninsula, but saw no others. These are the only 
records for Veraguas, and are the only definite reports of the bird for 
the Pacific slope west of the Canal Zone. 

Farther east the curassow in early days was widespread, and in 
uninhabited regions it still is fairly common. A hundred and more 
years ago McLeannan sent specimens taken near the railroad on the 
Atlantic side to the Smithsonian and to Salvin. The last recorded 
in the Canal Zone area were on Barro Colorado Island in 1926. 
Chapman (Life in an Air Castle, 1938, p. 224) wrote of them 
regretfully "rare ; I have seen only a feather." In eastern Colon 
Goldman collected one on Cerro Bruja back of Portobelo, June 6, 

In the Comarca de San Bias (as of 1957) curassows ranged 
from Mandinga eastward. And during my work near Chepo in 1949 
they were still present in the lower forests near the Rio Mamoni and 
on Cerro Carbunco, In 1950 they were fairly common along the Rio 
Chiman and were common in the great forests of the southern 
slopes of the Serrania de Maje. Through Darien they have disap- 
peared near the settlements, and where Indians live along the rivers, 
but persist in wilder lands where there are no inhabitants. Festa 
in 1895 (Salvadori and Festa, Boll. Mus. Zool, Anat. Comp. Univ. 
Torino, vol. 14, no. 339, 1899, pp. 9-10; and 1909, p. 22) found 
them near the Rio Lara and the Rio Cianati, above the Gulf of San 
Miguel, but Barbour in 1922 (Bangs and Barbour, Bull. Mus. Comp. 
Zool., vol. 65, 1922, p. 195) noted them as very rare in the Sambu 
region. He prepared one specimen at Jesucito. In 1959 they were 
still common on the middle Tuira and near the Chucunaque, and I 
saw them in 1961 on the slopes of Cerro Pirre. In 1963 they were 
common inland from Armila in the eastern San Bias. Obviously 
the species is one that is steadily on the road to disappearance. 

Usually curassows range in pairs that, following the nesting season, 
may be accompanied by grown young for a brief period. While 


they are tree inhabitants that range into the high leaf crown, they 
descend to the ground to feed, and, at the borders of streams, to 
drink. Males call regularly, a curious sound, subdued in tone, but 
with fair carrying power, that may be imitated by the syllable 
oom-m-m-m, uttered with closed lips, and prolonged. The note is 
ventriloquial, therefore difficult of orientation, in particular to know 
whether the bird is on the forest floor or in trees. If on the ground 
it often moves ahead under cover of the undergrowth until it may 
slip aside and hide. I have also heard a low, excited quit quit from 
them, apparently the note of the female. When startled they rise 
heavily but rapidly so that they are killed only by a quick shot. In 
taking off from high trees they gain swift speed immediately, al- 
ternately flapping and then sailing with set wings. Though they may 
not fly far, usually they hide so that they are not seen again. 

The nesting season in eastern Panama must come in the rainy 
season, as in February and March near Chiman, and in the area to 
the eastward, I noted numerous immature birds that were fully 
grown. And from February to April the males were calling regularly. 
Little is known in detail of their nesting except that they build a 
flimsy structure of sticks, lined with green leaves, in trees 6 to 30 
meters from the ground, in which 2 eggs are laid. Two single eggs 
are in U. S. National Museum, collected by Jose Zeledon in Costa 
Rica, one at Pirris, April 10, 1883, and one near San Jose in 1887. 
Both are subelliptical and creamy-white, with roughened, pitted 
shells. They measure 91.0x72.4 and 90.6x64.5 mm. A third col- 
lected by Charles Sheldon on April 22, 1904, in northern Veracruz, 
75 miles south of Tampico, measures 95.2x64.7 mm., and is 
similar to the others. A notation on the label with this specimen indi- 
cates a "spoiled egg left in nest." The structure is not described. In 
the Museum of Comparative Zoology there are two, presented by Karl 
Curtis, laid in confinement in the Canal Zone, that measure 88.7 x 64 
and 95.3x62.6 mm. 

When the eggs hatch, the down-covered chicks are said to tumble 
out of the nest to the ground and to grow under the care of both 
parents. The wings develop rapidly, and when still quite small the 
young birds fly readily to escape danger. Curassows feed on drupes 
borne by trees and shrubs, often descending to pick up those that have 
fallen to the ground. Females sometimes are called pava rubia from 
their color. 

A male and a female taken back of Armila on March 13, 1963, each 
weighed 3.8 kilograms (8^ lbs). It is widespread behef that while the 
flesh is excellent the bones must not be given to dogs, as they may 


cause the animals to go mad. Apparently this notion has come down 
from early contact with Indians, since Wafer (Isthmus Amer., 1699, 
p. 116) writes that the "Indians either throw the Bones of the 
Corrosou into the River, or make a Hole and bury them, to Keep 
them from their Dogs, being thought unwholesome for the Dogs to 
eat ; and the Indians say they will make the Dogs run mad." 

The Cuna Indians at Armila called this species sihgi (pronounced 
with the g hard). 

Crax rubra rubra ranges from northern Mexico south through 
Central America to the Atrato Basin, the Baudo Mountains of 
northwestern Colombia, and western Ecuador. A subspecies, C. r. 
griscomi, distinguished by smaller size, with the wing in the male 
325 to 355 and in the female 320 to 330 mm., is restricted to Isla 
Cozumel off the coast of Quintana Roo. 

Crested Guan; Pava Cimba 

Figure 51 

Penelope aequatorialis Salvador! and Festa, Boll. Mus. Zool. Anat. Comp. Torino, 
vol. 15, no. 368, Feb. 19, 1900, p. 38. (Rio Peripa, vifestern Ecuador.) 

Form slender, pheasantlike, with long, thin neck, bare reddish- 
colored throat, small bushy crest, and long tail ; size of a small hen 

Description. — Length, 720-800 mm. Adult (sexes alike), crown, 
sides of head, and hindneck dark clove brown, with a slight bronzy 
sheen; upper back, wings, and outer tail feathers blackish brown, 
with a distinct sheen of dark green; middle of back to upper tail 
coverts dark russet; lower foreneck, breast, and sides like back, but 
feathers edged broadly with black ; abdomen, flanks, tibia, and under 
tail coverts dull chestnut ; under wing coverts like back. 

Immature, like adult, but with wing and tail feathers washed with 
rufous-brown, and mottled with blackish brown. 

A young chick in the Museum of Zoology at the University of 
Michigan, found on Barro Colorado Island by J. Van Tyne on April 
19, 1926, with wings large enough to permit flight, and developing 
tail, but otherwise in down, is colored as follows: Forehead, line 
over eye, crop region, foreneck, rump, and area of lesser wing 
coverts sayal brown; line on either side of crown, extending down 
either side of hindneck, pale olive-gray; rest of crown black; hind- 
neck blackish brown; upper back basally pale neutral gray, tipped 
lightly with sayal brown ; greater wing coverts mouse brown, tipped 
with black, with sayal brown down filaments still adhering to the 


tips; wing quills chaetura drab; throat whitish, with the feathers 
tipped indistinctly with pale neutral gray, producing a faintly 
mottled appearance ; breast and abdomen dull white ; sides, flanks, and 
tibia dull sayal brown, with the down mottled somewhat with neutral 
gray at the base ; tail feathers chaetura drab, tipped with sayal brown, 
barred indistinctly with black. 

Fig. 51.— Crested guan, pava cimba, Penelope purpurascens aequat or talis. 

Adult, iris dark red; cere, bare skin of side of head, and chin 
slaty black ; bare throat somewhat dull light red ; bill black ; front of 
tarsus, and top of toes dull dark red ; back of tarsus, and claws black. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Panama), wing 350-368 (356), 
tail 320-365 (344), culmen from cere 33.5-35.5 (34.8), tarsus 87.0- 
91.0 (89.0) mm. 

Females (5 from Panama), wing 333-349 (342), tail 330-348 
(341), culmen from cere 32.0-36.5 (33.9), tarsus 84.0-90.8 (85.7) 

Resident in forested areas in the tropical and lower subtropical 
zones ; absent only from the open savannas of the Pacific slope, and 


from the lowlands of the eastern side of the Azuero Peninsula. 
Fairly common where hunting pressure is not too great. Though 
sought for food and for sport, for reasons not clear this species 
often remains in suitable country after the larger curassow has dis- 

The only positive records for Chiriqui are of specimens collected 
by W. W. Brown, Jr., one taken at Divala, December 8, 1900 (Bangs, 
Auk, 1901, p. 356), and 5 from "Boquete and Caribbean slope 4000 
to 7000 feet" in April and June 1901 (Bangs, Proc. New England 
Zool. Club, vol. 3, 1902, p. 21). Those listed from the Caribbean 
slope are to be allocated to Bocas del Toro, leaving some uncertainty 
as to actual occurrence in the Boquete area. The birds must have 
been rare in this western sector, as the species was not included in 
the Monniche collection from the Boquete region. It may be noted 
also that Arce secured no specimens in his work in Veraguas and 
Chiriqui, though Karl Curtis informs me that about 1912 he found 
these birds plentiful in the area where Puerto Armuelles now is 
located. On the Pacific slope of Veraguas I found a few in 1953 in 
lowland forests along the Rio San Pablo at Congal and Guarumal 
near Sona, and Aldrich (Scient. Publ. Cleveland Mus., vol. 7, 1937, 
p. 53), in 1932, recorded them as not uncommon away from planta- 
tions on the western side of the Golfo de Montijo. Handley found 
them abundant in 1962 on Cerro Hoya to an elevation of 1,000 meters. 
None are known from the eastern lowlands of the Azuero Peninsula 
or from the region through the Pacific slope of Code and the western 
sector of the Province of Panama. Karl Curtis informs me that in 
his early years he found them on Ancon Hill, back of the Gorgas 
Hospital, and that they were common also years ago in timbered 
areas above the Rio La Jagua. In my work since 1946 along the 
Cerro Azul and from there eastward through Darien I have found 
them common in wilder areas, except that I did not record them any- 
where on the lower Rio Jaque. It is probable that hunting by the 
Choco Indians and other residents along that stream has killed 
them. They are common in the mountains of Darien to 1000 meters 
elevation, and in lesser numbers range to 1450 meters (Cerro Mali, 
Cerro Tacarcuna) . 

In the Caribbean forests these birds are found throughout the 
Republic from the Costa Rican boundary to Colombia in sections 
where they have been free from overhunting. From Bocas del Toro, 
there are specimens in the Museum of Comparative Zoology from 
the Boquete Trail and from Guabo. A female in the U. S. National 


Museum was taken on the Rio Changena. McLeannan collected them 
a hundred years ago along the railroad near Lion Hill, but since 
his day the only reports for the Canal Zone come from Barro 
Colorado Island where a few remain. While the crested guan ranges 
in forested level lands, it is most frequent in hill country where it 
ascends regularly to 1,000 meters, though more common lower down. 

They are more active than the bigger curassows and are less timid. 
Their food in large part is such forest drupes as wild figs and 
mangabe berries, which they seek in the high trees and for which 
also they descend to the ground when there are many fallen, dropped 
from their own feeding, and from that of parrots, toucans, and 
other birds. Guans range regularly at times on the forest floor, 
often making considerable scratchings to uncover food. 

They are seen in pairs, or, where common, as many as 6 or 8 may 
be found together. When disturbed on the ground they mount im- 
mediately into the trees, flying with noisy wings, and then run 
actively along the larger branches, taking flight again through and 
over the tree crown. In the air they move with neck outstretched, 
alternately sailing with wings stiffly spread, and flapping quickly 
after a short distance to maintain momentum. It is common in such 
movements to see them sail off from some high point to cross a wooded 
valley, and in regions where the trees are tall birds moving through 
the tree crown often fly across clearings 75 meters or more above 
the ground. When not frightened they walk gracefully along the 
inclined branches, but at an alarm they may freeze motionless among 
the leaves, standing erect, or crouched on a branch with neck ex- 
tended, when it is most difficult to make them out in spite of their 
size and their long bodies. In the more open gallery forests when 
wind is not blowing I have found it profitable at such times to watch 
the leaf shadows on the ground as it possible to detect slight head 
movements of hidden birds that otherwise would remain unnoted. 
In our field work we often use whistles that produce a variety of 
sounds, some shrill and penetrating, others gabbling or moaning to 
attract such species as forest hawks and high-canopy hummingbirds. 
The pava cimba finds these sounds disturbing, and frequently 
betrays its presence by calling in reply. Occasionally, particularly with 
shrill eagle calls, they may become much excited, when I have had 
them run out on open limbs, or even descend to the ground to strut 
about with spread wings within a few meters of my feet. 

Their usual note is a yelping call that is repeated excitedly, often 
for several minutes. Another louder sound with a strange resonant 


quality may be heard especially toward sunset from birds resting 
on open perches high above the ground. An approaching storm, with 
the mutter of thunder, may excite them to this response. Where 
two or three join they produce a ringing jungle melody most pleasing 
to the ear. 

Their meat has been frequent camp fare in remote areas, partic- 
ularly when supplies were low. It is rather dark, and tough unless 
cooked for some time, and is best when broiled, or cut up and cooked 
again with rice. Fully grown, these birds are heavy-bodied and of 
good flavor. 

In spite of their extensive range little is known of their breeding. 
In mating males display among open branches where they fly slowly, 
but with rapidly beating wings that produce a loud rattling, drum- 
ming sound. They are said to build platforms of sticks in trees well 
above the ground as is usual among their relatives. The only egg 
that I have seen is one from the closely related northern race, taken 
by E. W. Nelson and E. A. Goldman from the oviduct of a female 
shot on Cerro Tancitaro, Michoacan, on March 2, 1903. This is 
fully formed and has the dull white to faintly creamy white color 
and the roughened, finely pitted shell common in species of its 
family. It is between subelliptical and oval and measures 77.0 X 56.0 
mm. Leopold (WildHfe of Mexico, 1959, p. 208), in his account of 
this northern subspecies, gives Helmuth Wagner as authority for the 
statement that 2 eggs constitute the normal set and that "these are 
dull white and measure approximately 75 by 51 mm." Schonwetter 
(Handb. Ool., pt. 4, 1961, p. 204) gives the measurements of 3 eggs 
of the race aequatorialis as 70-72x48.3-50 mm. The nesting season 
of the race found in Panama seems to be similar to that of the pavon, 
as I have taken nearly grown immature birds in February and 

The present subspecies, marked by chestnut-brown rump, upper 
and under tail coverts, and lower abdomen, ranges from Nicaragua 
and Costa Rica through Panama and western Colombia to western 
Ecuador. An allied race, P. p. brunnescens, which is more brownish 
on the back and wings, with a less greenish sheen on the crown and 
upper back, is found from the Santa Marta region in Colombia to 
the Maracaibo Basin in Venezuela. In the typical race, Penelope p. 
purpurascens, distributed from southern Mexico to Honduras, the 
rump, upper and under tail coverts, and lower abdomen are dull 
dark brown, much darker and blacker than in the subspecies found 
in Panama. 


CHAMAEPETES UNICOLOR Salvin: Black Guan; Pava Negra 

Figure 52 

Chamacpetes unicolor Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, June 1867, p. 159. 
(Calovevora, Veraguas, Panama.) 

Breast and abdomen brownish black ; elsewhere black. 

Description. — Length 620 to 690 mm. Adult (sexes alike), three 
outermost primaries narrowed at the tip, the third from the outside 
less so than the outer two ; breast, abdomen, and sides fuscous- 
black, with the feathers edged faintly with olive; elsewhere black 
with a sheen of greenish olive. 

Immature, outermost primary falcate at tip, second and third from 
outside narrowed and slightly sinuate at tip; otherwise like adult. 

Male, iris red to reddish brown ; bill black, with a black ring sur- 
rounding the nostril ; a dark neutral gray line along the center of the 
cere from the base of the horny maxilla to the feathers; cere else- 
where light blue, shading into dark violet-blue on the bare lores 
and side of the face, including the basal half of the mandibular 
ramus; bare area around eye dusky neutral gray; tarsus and toes 
light brick red; claws black. 

Female, like male. 

Measurements. — Males (3 from Chiriqui), wing 276-303 (292.3), 
tail 244-277 (263.6), culmen from cere 18.5-19.6 (19.0), tarsus 
70.7-74.5 (73.0) mm. 

Females (5 from Chiriqui), wing 275-294 (284), tail 250-260 
(254), cuhnen from cere 18.0-19.0 (18.4), tarsus 70.9-73.7 (71.8) 

Resident. Uncommon, in the subtropical and upper tropical zones 
of the mountains of Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro, ranging from 1,500 
to 2,500 meters, except on the Boquete Trail in Bocas del Toro where 
it is reported down to 450 meters. 

This interesting species was found first by Arce at Calovevora, 
on the Caribbean slope of Veraguas beyond Santa Fe, and later in 
eastern Chiriqui in the Cordillera de Tole. Brown collected males 
above Boquete in March 1901, and in 1926 Kennard secured several 
in Bocas del Toro on the trail leading to Boquete from Chiriquicito. 
Later it was found to be fairly common on slopes above Boquete, 
where Mrs. Davidson secured males on January 27, 1933, at Quiel, 
and on Horqueta on February 12, 1934. The Monniche collection 
included a series taken at Bajo Mono, Lerida, and on the Rio 
Caldera, and several collected in this same region by Rex Benson in 
1931 are now in the U. S. National Museum. 


The pava negra in the main is a bird of the higher mountains, 
but it ranges in lesser numbers in the upper tropical zone forests. 
I have seen it in life only on the slopes of Cerro Picacho, where it 
still remains in small numbers. Above Cerro Punta in March 1955 I 
noted feathers M^here one had been killed by hunters. 

While heavy bodied the birds move and fly easily through the 
trees much in the manner of the faisana (Or talis cinereiceps) . In 
February I noted them in pairs, some of them accompanied by 

Fig. 52. — Right wing of the black guan, pava negra, Chamaepetes unicolor, with 
incised tips of outer primaries. 

grown young. In my limited observation they have been always in 
trees, never on the ground. The call of the male is a single note that 
suggests that of the pavon but without the resonant tone usual in the 
latter bird. They are reported to be one of the best of their family 
for the table, and therefore are sought by hunters. 

The trachea in both male and female is straight and enters the 
thoracic cavity without convolutions. The tube in the male is 
slightly wider than in the female. Nothing is known of the nest and 

This species is found only in the mountains of Costa Rica and of 
western Panama. 


ORTALIS CINEREICEPS (Gray): Gray-headed Chachalaca; Faisana 

Pheasantlike with long neck, small head, and long tail ; head gray ; 
primary feathers chestnut. 

Description. — Length 480 to 580 mm. Adults (sexes alike), head 
and upper neck gray ; lower hindneck, wing coverts, back, rump, and 
upper tail coverts grayish brown ; tail grayish to greenish brown, 
tipped with dull white or buffy white ; primaries cinnamon ; second- 
aries like back, but with inner webs cinnamon ; lower f oreneck and 
upper breast grayish brown ; lower breast, sides, and flanks grayer ; 
center of abdomen white to grayish white ; under tail coverts grayish 
brown ; under wing coverts cinnamon to grayish brown. 

The faisana is the only species in its family that is able to adapt 
to the changed conditions brought by human settlement, since it is 
not dependent on primitive forest cover for habitat as are its rela- 
tives. It is found throughout the tropical lowlands of the Isthmus 
wherever there are groves or tracts of rastrojo that oflFer cover. When 
these are cleared the birds retreat but spread again wherever thickets 
begin to cover abandoned fields. In heavy forest the faisana ranges 
along the more open borders of streams, or over the high tree crown, 
as it seeks the sun rather than the deep shadows favored by many 
forest species. They are interesting birds, graceful in movement as 
they walk along sloping branches, and equally attractive when rest- 
ing quietly, either standing, or with the legs bent so that the body 
rests on some perch grasped firmly in the feet. They feed on small 
fruits borne on the higher tree branches, and also range constantly 
on the ground, where their presence may be indicated by scratchings 
that often are as extensive as those made by domestic fowls. 

Faisanas are most active in early morning and late afternoon. 
Toward the middle of the day they walk or fly back into some cover 
where people do not regularly penetrate, and to which they return 
quickly at any disturbance. The flight, with neck outstretched and 
tail partly open, begins with quickly beating wings to gain momentum, 
then a sail, the two methods alternating until they are safe behind 
tree cover. On the ground they run rapidly with head erect and 
partly spread tail. 

On the Pacific side they are found regularly in tracts of low, dense 
nionte where the trees may not be more than 6 to 10 meters tall. 
Elsewhere, in better watered sections, with tall trees, they rest 
in early morning in the high, open branches of guarumos in the 
warmth of the rising sun. Where they are not hunted they become 


quite tame. It is usual to find several in company, and where they 
are common a flock may contain ten or a dozen birds. 

The notes of this bird are a series of vi^histling, squeaking calls 
interspersed with harsher chattering sounds, usually uttered rapidly 
as though the bird was much excited. These notes have limited 
carrying power, and in this, as well as in sound, they are quite 
different from the loud calls of the related species Ortalis vetula to 
the north and O. ruficrissa in Colombia, which may be heard easily 
at a distance of a kilometer. The account by Beebe (Book of Bays, 
1942, p. 268) of a bird call heard on board a yacht anchored in 
Bahia Honda that he attributed to the faisana must refer to some 
other kind. 

The species of this genus, as a group, build flimsy nests of twigs, 
grass, and weed stems, usually with a lining of a few green leaves, 
in low trees. The usual set of eggs is three. They are dull white, 
with a distinctly roughened shell that often shows many pits. Measure- 
ments for a series of 10 by Skutch (Wilson Bull., 1963, p. 265) 
show the following range: 55.6-61.9x38.1-42.5 mm. (As the locality 
for Skutch's observations is stated to be the Terraba valley in south- 
western Costa Rica it is presumed that these are of the subspecies 
Ortalis c. cinereiceps.) 

The trachea in the male has the form usual in the genus, in which 
it passes down the front of the neck to the furculum, makes a loop 
down the right side of the body between the skin and the pectoral 
muscles, and then returns to enter the thorax, where it divides in 
the usual manner in two bronchi that lead to the lungs. In an 
immature male, barely grown, taken at Almirante on January 20, 
1958, the loop had formed only far enough to fill the fork of the 
furculum. In another older bird, taken at Mandinga on February 
5, 1957, the loop extended halfway down the length of the pectoral 
muscle, and in a bird that appeared to be fully adult, from near the 
mouth of the Rio Pacora April 3, 1949, the trachea reached to the 
point of the keel on the sternum. 

While this species has been treated regularly as conspecific with 
Ortalis garrula, a bird with chestnut head and upper neck, found in 
northern Colombia from near the Rio Sinu east to the western base 
of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta information now available 
indicates that it is distinct. De Schauensee in connection with his 
description of the race chocoensis (Not. Nat. no. 221, 1950, pp. 2-3) 
listed two females from Tierra Alta, Cordoba, one with the rufous 
head of typical garrula, and the other with the gray head of the race 
mira, which he interpreted as evidence of intergradation at that 


point. In our collections also there is one from Tierra Alta, and 
another from Nazaret to the west of the Sinu, both of which in head 
color are typical garrula. All specimens in the considerable series that 
I have seen are clearly gray or brown on the head and neck with no 
appearance of intergradation. The single gray-headed specimen re- 
corded from Tierra Alta may indicate that the two are found together. 
After a review of the information available it seems desirable to 
regard the complex as a superspecies, with two closely allied species. 
The northern one found in Panama will be called Ortalis cinereiceps. 
Four slightly differentiated races may be recognized in cinereiceps 
of which three are found in Panama. The distinctions are in varia- 
tion in depth of color. Size seems variable regardless of area, the 
individual differences in dimension commonly noted apparently being 
due to age. The three forms of the Isthmus are treated in detail 
beyond. The fourth, Ortalis cinereiceps chocoeiisis described by de 
Schauensee (cit supr,, p. 2), from the Rio Jurado, Choco, in extreme 
northwestern Colombia, is a very dark race, that resembles frantzii 
of the Caribbean slope of southern Central America, but has the 
foreneck grayer, less olive-brown, and the gray of the head paler and 
not extended as far down on the hindneck. The tail tip also is 
paler. It is probable that this form will be found in southeastern 
Darien as it is known in Colombia near the boundary, on the Rio 
Jurado, and at Unguia. 


OrtaUd<i cinereiceps G. R. Gray, List Spec. Birds Coll. Brit. Mus., pt. 5, 
Gallinae, 1867, p. 12. (Isla del Rey, Archipielago de las Perlas, Panama.) 

Ortalis struthopus Bangs, Proc. New England Zool. Club, vol. 2, 1901, p. 61. 
(Isla del Rey, Archipielago de las Perlas, Panama.) 

Ortalis garrula olivacea Aldrich, Sci. Publ. Cleveland Mus. Nat. Hist, vol. 7, 
Aug. 31, 1937, p. S3. (Paracote, Veraguas, Panama.) 

Characters. — Palest in general color of the 3 forms found on the 
Isthmus; compared to the race mira grayer, less brownish, on the 
lower surface, with the center of the abdomen nearly white; light 
tips on tail nearly white ; head, on the average paler gray. 

A female taken at Juan Mina January 18, 1961, had the iris wood 
brown ; bill fuscous-brown, shading to neutral gray at tip ; tarsus 
and toes plumbeous ; claws fuscous. 

Measurements. — Males (6 specimens from Panama), wing 205- 
212 (206), tail 221-242 (231), culmen from base 24.2-29.0 (26.7), 
tarsus 63-74.1 (68.7) mm. 


Females (4 specimens from Panama), wing 198-206 (203), tail 
226-256 (236), culmen from base 23.4-26.4 (25.4), tarsus 61.7-64.0 
(62.9) mm. 

Resident. Fairly common in the tropical lowlands of the Pacific 
slope from the Costa Rican boundary through Chiriqui and Veraguas, 
including both sides of the Azuero Peninsula; east locally to the 
lowlands beyond Pacora, La Jagua, and the mouth of the Rio Chico ; 
found on the Pacific side of the Canal Zone (Farfan), and also in 
the middle Chagres drainage between Madden Dam and Juan Mina ; 
Isla del Rey, in the Archipielago de las Perlas; formerly on Isla 
Pedro Gonzalez. 

This race ranges north on the Pacific slope in southwestern Costa 

The type of cinereiceps, which I have examined in the British 
Museum, received from the Herald expedition in a collection made 
by Kellett and Wood, is marked, owing to some confusion, as from 
the "north-west coast of America." Aldrich (Scient. Publ. Cleveland 
Mus., vol. 7, 1937, p. 55) appropriately has designated Isla del Rey 
as the type locality. The bird formerly was common there, but in 
January, 1960, when I collected one near Ensenada, I was told that 
now few were found. W. W. Brown, Jr., in 1900 secured one from 
a native that had been taken on Isla Pedro Gonzalez. In 1944 I 
failed to find them there, and have assumed that all have been killed 
on that relatively small island. Though these birds have been known 
long from the Archipielago de las Perlas it is possible that the 
faisana may have been introduced there from the mainland, perhaps 
by Indians. 


Ortalida Franfsii Cabanis, Journ fur Orn., vol. 17, May 1869, p. 211. (Eastern 
Costa Rica.) 

Characters. — Head dark gray; undersurface including the center 
of the abdomen washed heavily with brown ; decidedly dark above ; 
light tips on end of tail cinnamon-buff ; decidedly darker throughout 
than the other races found in Panama. 

A chick of this race from Costa Rica (U.S.N.M. 64989), apparently 
less than a week old, has the crown, side of the head, lower back, 
and rump sooty brown ; upper back dull chocolate-brown ; hindneck 
and bend of wing cinnamon-buff ; wing dusky gray with the outer edge 
and tips of the growing remiges cinnamon, and the downy coverts 
tipped with cinnamon-buff ; throat, lower breast, and abdomen white ; 


upper breast cinnamon ; lower breast and sides cinnamon buff ; legs 
and under tail coverts with the down dusky basally. 

Measurements. — Males (8 specimens from Costa Rica and 
Panama), wing 199-208 (203), tail 208-227 (218), culmen from 
base 24.3-26.8 (26.2), tarsus 62.3-68.3 (66.5) mm. 

Females (3 specimens from Costa Rica), wing 190-194 (192), tail 
205-214 (210), culmen from base 23.2-26.8 (24.5), tarsus 61.0-65.3 
(63.1) mm. 

Resident. Fairly common in the tropical lowlands of western 
Bocas del Toro from the Costa Rican boundary to the valley of the 
Rio Changuinola. Birds from the western side of Bahia Almirante 
(Water Valley, Isla Cristobal) east along the Laguna de Chiriqui 
(Cricamola, Guabo) show intergradation with O. c. mira. 

To the north this race extends through the Caribbean lowlands of 
Costa Rica to northeastern Nicaragua. 

The only definite record of the breeding of this form is that of 
Huber (Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, vol. 84, 1932, p. 207), 
who found a nest near the Eden Mine in northeastern Nicaragua on 
May 27, 1922. The 3 eggs were placed on a small structure of decay- 
ing vegetation on the top of a stump hidden in a clump of bushes in 
an open pasture. The eggs, with the roughened, pitted surface usual 
in this genus, were creamy white, much stained from the damp nest 
material. They measured 50.4x36.8, 51.5x36.6, and 52.0x37.7 mm. 
A chick in the Chicago Natural History Museum a little over 2 weeks 
old, collected by von Wedel at Cricamola, July 1, 1937, also indicates 
a nesting season in May. 

In 1958 I found small flocks of these birds in Water Valley in the 
edge of mangroves and along the border of the woodland behind, 
and also noted them near Punta Rodriguez on Isla Cristobal. 


Ortalts garrula mira Griscom, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 72, no. 9, Jan. 1932, 
p. 318. (Ranchon, San Bias, Panama.) 

Characters. — Similar to O. c. frantsii in brownish wash on breast 
and foreneck, but definitely paler, with the head somewhat lighter 
gray ; above paler brown ; tail tipped with buffy white. 

An adult male taken near El Llano on the lower Rio Bayano, 
February 5, 1962, had the iris warm brown; eyelids and bare skin 
on side of head dusky neutral gray; bare area on sides of throat rosy 
red ; bill neutral gray ; tarsus and toes neutral gray ; claws black. 


Measurements. — Males (9, including one from Acandi, Choco), 
wing 198-225 (213), tail 221-253 (241), oilmen from base 25.6-29.8 
(27.8), tarsus 64.9-74.5 (70.1, average of 8) mm. 

Females (7, including one from Acandi, Choco), wing 193-207 
(201), tail 217-244 (226), culmen from base 23.1-28.6 (26.2), tarsus 
64.4-68.2 (65.6) mm. 

Resident. Fairly common in the tropical lowlands of the Caribbean 
slope, from near central Bocas del Toro through western Colon (Rio 
Indio), and the lowlands of extreme northern Code (El Uracillo) to 
the Colombian boundary. At the Cerro Azul this race ranges across to 
the Pacific slope in the lowlands near Chepo, and continues eastward 
to the Rio Maje, formerly at least along the Rio Chucunaque (mouth 
of Rio Tuquesa, specimen 1924), and the Golfo San Miguel (Laguna 
de Pita, specimen 1895). 

Possibly hunting by Indians has reduced or eliminated the faisana 
in parts of Darien, as I did not find it on the Chucunaque-Tuira 
drainage in 1959. There were none in the region of the Rio Jaque in 
1946 and 1947, and none have been reported from the Cerro Pirre 

In the Canal Zone faisaitas are fairly common on Barro Colorado 
Island, mainly near the lake shore, and are found in sheltered localities 
elsewhere from the lower Chagres Valley to the headwaters of that 
stream. At Juan Mina, where the divide is low, the population seems 
nearer cinereiceps. At Mandinga in the San Bias I found them com- 
mon through tracts of rastrojo. 

A female taken on the Rio Chiman on February 20, 1950, was 
nearly ready to lay. 

Family PHASIANIDAE : Quails, Pheasants, and Peacocks ; 
Codornices, Faisanes, y Pavos Reales 

This family of many species, found under natural conditions 
throughout temperate and tropical regions, is best known through the 
domestic fowl, the most valuable bird in a commercial sense in the 
world. In Panama the Phasianidae are represented by five handsome 
species of the group of quails, four of these, the wood quails, forest 
inhabitants, and the fifth found in low coverts near the savanna 
lands of the Pacific slope in the western part of the Republic. Only 
three are sufficiently common to be considered game birds, and these 
are present in limited numbers that cannot survive any extensive 



1. Size small, wing less than 105 mm.; luidersurface strongly spotted and 

barred with buff, brown, and black. 

Crested bobwhite, Colimis cristatus, p. 311 

Larger, wing more than 110 mm. ; undersurface plain, or with less conspicuous 

pattern ; if barred, these markings not present on lower f oreneck and upper 

breast 2 

2. Smaller, wing less than 120 mm. ; head without a distinct crest ; 10 rectrices. 

Banded wood quail, Rhynchortyx ductus, p. 330 

Larger, wing more than 120 mm.; head with a distinct bushy crest; 12 

rectrices (Odontophorus) 3 

3. Breast, sides, and crest plain cinnamon-brown. 

Rufous-breasted wood quail, Odontophorus erythrops melanotis, p. 325 
Breast and crest more or less variegated 4 

4. Throat black, streaked with white; rest of lower surface distinctly spotted 

with white or buff Spotted wood quail, Odontophorus guttatus, p. 322 

Not as in 4. 5 

5. Breast black, in some mixed with brown barred with white; throat white, 

or white mixed with black. 

Black-breasted wood quail, Odontophorus leucolaemus, p. 328 

Breast grayish brown, finely barred, spotted, or marbled with dull black, 

buff, or grayish white 6 

6. Foreneck and throat gray to grayish brown, with many fine cross bars of 

white to grayish white. 

Marbled wood quail, Odontophorus gujanensis, p. 316 

Foreneck white with a broad central band of black mixed with rufous brown. 

Tacarcuna wood quail, Odontophorus dialeucos, p. 327 

COLINUS CRISTATUS (Linnaeus): Crested Bobwhite; Codomiz 

Figure 53 
Tetrao cristatus Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 277. (Curasao.) 

A small quail, with form rounded and compact, short tail, and 
head with pointed crest. 

Description. — Length 190 to 200 mm. Male, crown white or buff 
shading to gray on the crest and back, bordered posteriorly by brown 
more or less lined with black; sides and back of neck black, spotted 
with white; rest of upper surface finely mottled with gray, brown, 
and black; tertials spotted with black, with the inner borders black; 
foreneck in some white, in others chestnut; under surface buff to 
chestnut, spotted with white and barred with black ; ear coverts white 
or buffy white. 

Female, similar, but crown black in front, brown behind, including 
the crest, with sides buff lined narrowly with black; throat buff to 
white with the feathers bordered and tipped narrowly with black. 



Crested bobwhites are found in small coveys in thickets and along 
the edge of woodlands bordering fields and savannas in the western 
part of the Pacific slope. They are shy birds that often run, rather 
than fly, and remain so well hidden that few persons become familiar 
with them in the wild. Occasionally on less frequented country roads 
a little flock may scurry quickly across in front of a car, but ordinarily 
it is useless to try to follow them as they move rapidly and hide even 
where there seems to be scanty cover. My best views of them have 
been in early morning when they have come out from their usual 

Fig. 53. — Crested bob white, codorniz, Colinus cristatus, male. 

cover. On many occasions on open trails I have stopped my jeep and 
have remained without moving, while a dozen or so came fearlessly 
about. Then they walked or ran, often crouching, with a continuous 
murmur of soft quail notes like those of bobwhites of related species 
found through the extensive range of the genus from Canada to 
northern South America. In feeding they peck strongly and rapidly 
to expose whatever might be concealed in the ground, be it soft or 

When startled they may fly, but seldom more than 10 meters, to 
the nearest cover, where they drop instantly out of sight, and then 
usually disappear so that they may not be seen again. These short 
flights though rapid are not strong. Once I saw a three-quarter- 


grown bird that could not rise over a 6-meter bank, at the abrupt 
angle necessary from its point of take-off. Bobwhites usually are 
more common than the small numbers ordinarily seen may indicate, 
as may be learned following heavy rains that soak the vegetation, as 
then they tend to feed more in the open. 

Males begin to call toward the end of January, a 3-noted whistle, 
ah-hoh-white, in a tone familiar to those who know the quail in the 
eastern half of the United States, but uttered much more rapidly. I 
have assumed that like the northern species males of those found 
in Panama whistle until they have found a mate and then cease, 
since I have heard them rather infrequently in relation to the amount 
of time that I have traveled in their haunts. The mating season may 
vary locally, as I have recorded males calling as early as January 29 
(near Bejuco) and as late as June 20 (near Penonome) . 

In addition to this whistle of the males, both sexes have a 
variety of soft calls that serve to hold together the individuals that 
compose the little flocks. A louder sound, high-pitched and rather 
querulous, resembles the syllables ka kwee, ka kwee, heard often 
when a covey has become scattered. 

They appear to nest at the beginning of the rainy season, as I 
saw young nearly grown near Sona at the end of May. 

Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 4, 1961, p. 223) says that eggs 
of Colinus cristatus, as represented by the typical race C. c. cristatus, 
and the subspecies leucotis and sonnmi,a.\\ of northern South America, 
are cream-colored, spotted and blotched, often very heavily, with 
shades of brown. While those of the Panamanian race are not at 
present known, it seems probable that they are similar. 

As a species Colinits cristatus has an isolated colony with two sub- 
species in the western half of the Pacific slope in Panama and then 
appears again in northwestern Colombia to range through Venezuela, 
and south to northern Brazil, including the islands of Aruba, Curagao, 
and Margarita. Two subspecies are found in Panama, and in the 
South American range 7 additional races are recognized. All agree in 
form of the crest and general size but differ in details of depth and 
extent of the color found in their plumage. All live in open regions 
of scrub and savanna with limited rainfall. The populations of 
western Panama thus are isolated from the range of their close 
relatives by the great forests of Darien and the Atrato basin. It 
seems curious that these quail are not known in the savanna country 
between the city of Panama and the lower Rio Bayano. 

An allied species, Colinus leucopogon, found from Guanacaste in 
western Costa Rica northward through western Nicaragua, western 


Honduras, and El Salvador to virestern Guatemala, is generally 
similar in form but has a much shorter crest, a completely white 
superciliary stripe, and much darker cheeks, while in the male the 
throat is mainly black, instead of bright brown. It is said also to lay 
white eggs like those of most other species of Colinus. 

In Panama these birds are known usually as perdiz, since most 
persons do not distinguish them as of a different family from the 
small tinamou. The correct name is codornis. 


Coliims leucotis panamensis Dickey and van Rossem, Condor, vol. 32, no. 1, 
Jan. 20, 1930, p. 73. (Aguadulce, Cocl6, Panam4.) 

Characters. — Black markings restricted so that the dorsal surface 
is grayish brown, and the breast bright brown, rather than black. 
Compared to Colinus c. mariae the coloration throughout is decidedly 

A male taken at El Potrero, Code, March 7, 1962, had the iris 
brown ; bill black ; tarsus and toes light brownish gray ; with the claws 
slightly darker. 

Measurements. — Males (12 specimens), wing 92.3-97.3 (94.1), 
tail 50.0-54.5 (52.1), culmen from cere 12.7-14.0 (13.2), tarsus 27.6- 
31.6 (29.4) mm. 

Females (9 specimens), wing 91.0-100.5 (95.8), tail 47.0-54.8 
(51.4), culmen from cere 13.0-14.0 (13.5), tarsus 28.3-31.4 (30.2) 

Resident. Lowlands of the Pacific slope in western Veraguas 
from 10 kilometers west of Sona eastward (Santiago, near Santa Fe) 
through Code (El Valle, El Cope, El Potrero, Aguadulce, Penonome, 
Rio Hato) and the adjacent area of the western sector of the 
Province of Panama (El Espino, San Carlos, Bejuco) to the valley 
of the Rio de la Mona at the south base of Cerro Campana; south 
on the eastern side of the Azuero Peninsula through Herrera (Santa 
Maria, Potuga, El Barrero, Paris, Parita, Monagrillo, Chitre) and 
Los Santos, (Los Santos, Mensabe) to Pedasi, Los Asientos, and the 
lower Tonosi Valley, 

I have found this race most common in Herrera. In 1948 dozens 
trapped for the market were sold for 10 cents each. It was common 
in Parita to see them alive in small cages that were suspended near 
the household kitchens to protect them from dogs and other marauders 
tmtil they were wanted for the table. 


(Two specimens from the H. Bryant collection in the American 
Museum of Natural History labeled as from the Panama Railroad 
Line collected by "J^ McLellan" undoubtedly have erroneous data, 
as the quail has not been known to range so far to the eastward.) 


Colintts cristatus mariae Wetmore, Smithsonian Misc. Coll., vol. 145, no. 1, June 
26, 1962, p. 5. (7 kilometers south of Alanje, Province of Chiriqui, Panama.) 

Characters. — Definitely darker throughout; blacker on the back 
and wings; black markings on the lower surface more extensive, 
particularly on the upper breast and the lower foreneck. 

Measurements. — Males (6 specimens), wing 92.6-95.3 (93.7), tail 
46.3-52.3 (49.2), culmen from cere 12.7-13.9 (13.2), tarsus 27.9- 
29.1 (28.5) mm. 

Females (3 specimens), wing 92.0-96.1 (94.0), tail 45.7-50.0 
(48.4), culmen from cere 12.4-13.4 (12.8), tarsus 27.2-29.4 (28.5) 

Resident. Western Chiriqui from the southern slopes of the 
Volcan de Chiriqui near Boquete (El Salto, 1,350 meters elevation), 
and El Frances (1,000 to 1,100 meters near El Banco) down to the 
coastal plain near the sea below Alanje (Martina, Paja Blanca). 

On my first brief views of these birds on the sandy plain below 
Alanje the much darker color, compared to the quail of Veraguas 
and Code, was immediately evident, though it was several days before 
I was successful in shooting a pair for specimens. The birds ranged, 
as usual with this species, in small coveys in open lands where thickets 
offered cover, but nowhere did they seem abundant. When I en- 
countered them, usually in driving a jeep along roads deep in sand, 
they flew a few feet or ran among low bushes where they disappeared 
instantly and seldom were seen again, even where the cover was of 
limited extent. Later I found one covey in the sloping fields at El 
Salto above Boquete, where the birds flew a short distance and hid 
in low bushes where we tramped about for some time without success 
in seeing them again. These observations were made in the first 
half of March when the bands included young birds from half to 
three-quarters grown. 

This western population of the crested bobwhite has a decidedly 
restricted distribution, as it was not found by the early collectors in 
Chiriqui. The oldest specimens that I have seen, sent to Rothschild 
by H. J. Watson, were taken at EI Frances below Boquete in 1895, 
Apparently they were not common here, for Watson's further 


collections do not seem to have included others. The only pub- 
lished record of specimens of the race mariae seems to be that of 
Hellmayr and Conover (Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 1, 1942, p. 252), 
who in their account of the subspecies panamensis, of Veraguas and 
Code, listed two of Watson's skins from El Frances. 

My two from near Alanje are definitely blacker than those from 
the higher elevations. It appears that the maximum depth of pig- 
mentation in this race is found in the coastal lowlands. 

I have named this subspecies for Mrs. Robert A. Terry who, as 
Mary E. McLellan Davidson, through her early field work added 
much to our knowledge of the birds of Chiriqui. 

[COLINUS VIRGINIANUS Linnaeus: Bobwhite; Codomiz Nortena 

Members of the Rio Hato Rod and Gun Qub are reported to 
have imported a number of bobwhite quail from the United States 
for release in the savanna country near the Rio Hato military base. 
At present there is no information as to the success of this experiment. 

This species in general body form is like the native quail but is 
larger and does not have the prominent crest of the codorniz {Colimis 
cristatus). The throat in the adult male is white, and in the female 
plain buffy brown without dark spots or streaks. The wing in males 
measures from 106 to 119 mm., in females from 103 to 118 mm.] 

ODONTOPHORUS GUJANENSIS (Gmelin): Marbled Wood 0«ail; Gallito del 

Monte Jaspeado 

Figure 54 

Teirao gujanensis Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 767. (Cayenne.) 

A forest quail with undersurface brown, mottled and barred lightly 
with black, buff, and dull white. 

Description. — Length, 230 to 285 mm. Adult, crown crested, 
brown ; neck all around and upper back brown or gray, finely barred 
with black; wings, wing coverts, and scapulars brown, barred with 
buff, buffy white, and black, with heavy blotches of black, the con- 
cealed web of the scapulars lined with gray; lower back and rump 
brown, barred brokenly with brown and buff ; tail similar but darker ; 
side of head and chin chestnut ; flight feathers fuscous, with broken 
bars of buffy brown on outer webs; throat gray, barred with dull 
white; lower surface brown to grayish brown, barred brokenly and 
spotted with black, buff, and bufify white, more prominently on the 
under tail coverts; under wing covers gray mottled with white. 



There is much individual variation in depth of color and in amount 
of barring. 

These elusive birds, inhabitants of forests, are found in areas of 
irregular terrain, especially in hill country where they live on the 
ground in the cover of undergrowth. Usually they range in small 
flocks of 6 or 8 individuals, rarely more, as the bands have the 
appearance of family groups. These shelter often about a fallen 
tree, or a steep broken slope may be attractive where they walk about 
quietly, often to the accompaniment of low calls that barely are 
heard by the human ear. At an alarm they crouch and hide, and I 


Fig. 54. — Marbled wood quail, gallito del nionte jaspeado, Odontophorus gu- 


am sure that often I have passed near such little bands without 
being aware of their presence. If I chance directly upon them there 
is immediate alarm, in which one or two may fly suddenly, with a 
startling roar of wings, and dart away low for 60 or 80 meters, and 
then alight to run, while others dash off under cover on foot. In 
such manner the entire flock scatters and disappears in a flurry of 
excited chirping calls to hide so effectively that it is seldom that one 
is seen again. In dense cover they crouch with head forward as they 
T\m, but when the forest floor is fairly open they scurry off with 
head and neck erect and feathers compressed, making them appear 
so slender that it is somewhat of a surprise to note their heavy 
bodies when a shot brings one to hand. When all is quiet the birds 


call softly until they are assembled again. In uninhabited areas, where 
they are more common, and may be tame, a male sometimes steps 
out with crest raised, head erect, and feathers fluffed to bow quickly 
with extended neck. 

Sometimes I have found them feeding beneath berry-bearing trees 
on the drupes dropped or knocked down by other birds or by 
monkeys. It is common to observe their scratchings on the forest 
floor, often over considerable areas. Rarely in early morning I have 
seen them venture out on an open sand bank to the edge of a river 
to drink. 

Their presence and abundance are known mainly from their loud, 
rapid calls heard most often at dusk or at dawn, occasionally on 
moonlight nights, and less often in the earlier hours of the forenoon. 
The notes may be written perro-mulato, perro-mulato, repeated with- 
out a break, sometimes for several minutes for a total of several 
hundred times. These notes, audible for half a kilometer or more, 
give them their common country name of perro mulato — mulatto dog 
— ^throughout the whole of eastern Panama. Others, mainly those 
living along the Caribbean, have likened the notes to corcoro-vado, 
and from this call them corcorovado. In 1963 in the eastern San 
Bias, where I heard them frequently, the call there seemed nearer 
to this rendition than to the other with which I had been long familiar 
at numerous localities on the Pacific slope. In addition they are 
known everywhere by the common appellation of gallito monte. The 
Cuna Indians call them ucuru. 

Chapman (My Tropical Air Castle, 1929, pp. 275-276) found 
from observations of two captive birds, presumed to be a pair, that 
the call heard so commonly is a duet, in which the two alternate in 
perfect time. In Chapman's rendition of the call as corcoro vado 
the second bird was responsible for the last two syllables. Some 
observations of my own verify this, as at Boca de Paya in Darien one 
evening I heard one wood quail start with a loud Mu-u-u-latto 
repeated several times until suddenly the call changed to the usual 
perro mu-u-latto, undoubtedly when a companion joined. In 1963, 
near Armila, San Bias, when the female of a pair was taken for a 
specimen, the remaining bird called corcoro — for several evenings, 
until in a week or so this changed again to the full corcoro-vado so that 
we believed that another mate had been obtained. 

The species has a wide distribution from southwestern Costa Rica 
through Panama to northern Colombia and Venezuela, and south, east 
of the Andes, through Ecuador and Peru to eastern Bolivia and 
Brazil. Two geographic races are found in Panama. 



Ortyx (Odontophorus) viarmoratus Gould, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, pt. 11, 

no. 124, Dec. 1843, p. 107. ("Santa Fe de Bogota," Colombia.) 
Odontophorus guianensis panamensis Chapman, Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., vol. 

34, May 27, 1915, p. Z6Z. (Line of Panama Railroad.) 
Odontophorus guianensis panamensis Chubb, Ibis, ser. 11, vol. 1, no. 1, Jan. 8, 

1919, p. 26. (Lion Hill, Canal Zone.) 
Odontophorus guianensis chapmani Griscom, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 69, no. 

8, Apr. 1929, p. 153. (Cana, Darien.) 

Characters. — Neck all around and upper back gray (varying from 
light to dark) ; vi^hite on throat and upper foreneck more extensive. 

A male taken at Mandinga, San Bias, February 12, 1957, had the 
iris wood brown; bill dusky neutral gray, very slightly paler at the 
base of the gonys; eyelids, lores, and skin beneath the gape, dull 
orange ; tarsus and toes neutral gray, with a small area of light neutral 
gray on the front of the tarsus, below the proximal joint. 

Another male shot at Frijolito, Panama, near the Canal Zone 
boundary differed slightly in having the iris russet brown; bill dull 
black ; bare skin around eye and on lores light orange ; tarsus and 
toes neutral gray ; and claws black. 

Measurements. — Males (17 from Panama), wing 137.0-149.2 
(143.8), tail 56.8-71.5 (65.0), culmen from cere 17.0-19.8 (18.8), 
tarsus 41.2-48.1 (45.1) mm. 

Females (4 from Panama), wing 136.7-140.8 (137.3), tail 57.0- 
63.6 (61.1), culmen from cere 16.1-17.8 (16.9), tarsus 40.8-41.8 
(41.4) mm. 

Resident. In the Tropical Zone lowlands, from the Caribbean slope 
of Code (El Uracillo), western Colon (Chilar), and the Canal Zone 
(Lion Hill, Barro Colorado Island, Juan Mina) east throughout 
forested areas on both slopes to the Colombian boundary, ranging to 
500 meters on Cerro Chucanti, and to 1,000 meters on Cerro Pirre; 
fairly common in areas remote from human settlement. 

One in the British Museum was taken near Lion Hill by Mc- 
Leannan (date not recorded). In May 1904 W. W. Brown, Jr. shot 
two near Panama City (Thayer and Bangs, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., 
1906, p. 214) ; on September 3, 1911, and February 22, 1912, Jewel 
collected males near Gatun (Stone, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadel- 
phia, 1918, p. 242) ; and in January or February 1921 M. J. Kelly 
took one near Gamboa that he prepared as a mount for exhibition 
in the Everhart Museum of Scranton, Pa. Formerly these wood 
quail were reported regularly on Barro Colorado Island but now are 
rare, my last record being of one that called at dusk from the 
forested slope above the laboratory on May 5, 1953. My only other 


recent record for the Canal Zone area was on January 14, 1961, when, 
as I landed from a cayuco on the forested bank of the Chagres at 
Guayabalito, above Juan Mina, a pair ran off across the forest floor. 
To the eastward in forested regions the birds remain fairly common, 
as they still find shelter on steep hill slopes that have not yet come 
under cultivation. I have noted them in such locations in numerous 
localities from above Chepo and Chiman eastward through Darien, 
and at Mandinga on the San Bias coast. 

M. A. Carriker, Jr., collecting for the U. S. National Museum in 
Colombia at Unguia, northern Choco on March 2, 1950, flushed a 
female from a nest at the foot of a large tree in the forest. There 
was one egg. This is oval, glossy white, with a very faint buffy tint, 
and measures 36.0x26.7 mm. Another egg, taken from the oviduct 
of a female shot at the Hacienda Belen, in northeastern Antioquia, 
Colombia, March 24, 1948, is also oval, but is pure white without 
gloss (owing probably to a shell deposit still incomplete). It measures 
36.3x27.7 mm. This description and the dimensions correspond to 
those given by Oates (Cat. Eggs Brit. Mus., vol. 1, 1901, p. 69) for 
2 eggs collected by Salmon at Remedios, Antioquia. Schonwetter 
(Handb. Ool., pt. 4, 1961, p. 224) says that occasionally eggs of 
this form are finely spotted, or more rarely heavily marked with 
brown. He gives the measurements of 6 as 35-38.6x27.0-28.0 mm. 

Four-fifths of the contents of the stomach and crop of one taken 
at Cana consisted of the broken fragments of starchy seeds, with a 
few harder ones that may have helped in grinding the others. In 
addition there were remains of a dozen or more millipeds, 6 ants, 2 
roaches, a spider, and bits of beetles and beetle larvae. 

In any series of these birds there is much range in marking from 
those very dark to others much lighter, and from those definitely 
barred to others that show finely marbled markings, but these appear 
to be purely individual variations. Our series of 21 from Panama 
and 28 from northern Colombia, most of them recently taken, con- 
firms the final conclusions of Chapman (Amer. Mus. Nov. no. 380, 
1929, p. 5) and Griscom (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 72, 1932, pp. 
319-320), based on older material, that the bird of Panama must be 
recorded under the name marmoratus described by Gould from a 
Bogota trade skin. This subspecies, therefore, has a range extend- 
ing from central Panama across northern Colombia (through the 
lower valleys of the Atrato, Simi, Cauca, and Magdalena Rivers), 
and along the eastern base of the eastern Andes, into northwestern 


A chick, a male recently hatched, collected by Bernard Finestein at 
900 meters on the slopes of Cerro Mali, Dari6n, on February 26, 
1959, is darker than burnt umber above and on the legs and under 
tail coverts, with a tint of cinnamon on the bases of the down on 
the sides of the head and the upper neck, where it forms an indefinite, 
rather broad line; less distinctly cinnamon on the wings; a narrow 
line of bufify white from the base of the wing to the rump on either 
side; below dull buffy white, barred indistinctly with neutral gray 
on the throat and foreneck; breast and sides dull brownish black; 
center of lower breast and abdomen dull white. 

An older male that I secured at Jaque, Darien, on April 6, 1946, 
has short, narrow stripes of cinnamon buff on the breast, and the 
upper fore neck grayish brown, with faint basal markings of grayish 


Odontophorus castigatus Bangs, Auk, vol. 18, no. 4, Oct. 1901, p. 356. (Divala, 
Chiriqui, Panama.) 

Characters. — Neck, all around, and upper back brown ; with less 
white on throat and upper foreneck than O. g. marmoratus. 

Measurements. — Males (6 specimens from Panama) wing 139- 
148.8 (142.6), tail 61.2-71.0 (65.3), culmen from cere 17.8-19.5 
(18.6), tarsus 43.0-46.3 (44.6) mm. 

Females (3 from Panama), wing 137.8-144.8 (142.1), tail 56.2- 
61.0 (59.5), culmen from cere 16.9-17.3 (17.1), tarsus 43.1-44.6 
(43.9) mm. 

Iris brown; tarsus lead color (from label of a male, collected by 
W.W.Brown, Jr.). 

Resident. Tropical Zone of western Chiriqui; known in Panama 
from early collections made at Divala and Bugaba ; no recent records. 

The race was described originally from 7 specimens taken at the 
end of 1900, near Divala, by W. W. Brown, Jr. Arce had obtained 
a pair earlier at Bugaba (Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1870, p. 
218) which came to the British Museum in the Salvin-Godman col- 
lection. Bangs (Proc. New England Zool. Club, vol. 3, 1902, p. 22) 
received 3 males taken by Brown at Bugaba in July 1901, the latest 
published report of this race in the republic. 

This form of the marbled wood quail has most of its range in 
southwestern Costa Rica, as it barely enters Panama. An early report 
of it from "Veragua" (Sclater and Salvin, Nomen. Avium Neotrop., 
1873, p. 138) refers to the skins sent by Arce from Bugaba. 


The two lowland areas from which it has been recorded, both in or 
near the drainage of the Chiriqui Viejo river system, formerly 
heavily forested, have been cut over until little of the original cover 
remains. It seeems doubtful that any are still to be found in the 

Two specimens in the American Museum of Natural History, 
sent originally by J. H. Batty to the Rothschild collection, have data 
that are not to be trusted, as they are labeled "Isla Cebaco" with 
the dates February 4 and 5, 1902. Probably they are Arce skins from 
somewhere on the mainland. 

ODONTOPHORUS GUTTATUS (Gould): Spotted Wood Quail; Gallito del 

Monte Pintado 

Ortyx guttata Gould, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, pt. 5, no. 56, 1837 (Feb. 13, 

1838), p. 79. (Bay of Honduras.) 
Odontophorus V eragnanensis Gould, Athenaeum, no. 1490, May 17, 1856, p. 

620. ("Near David, in Veragua," Panama.) 
Odontophorus veraguensis Gould, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, pt. 24, no. 307, 

Aug. 13, 1856, p. 107. (Boquete, Chiriqui.) 

A forest quail with under surface grayish brown or dull cinnamon 
spotted with white ; throat black, streaked with white. 

Description. — Length, 230-275 mm. Adult male, (in gray-brown 
phase) crown brownish black, with the elongated crest feathers 
bright cinnamon-buff, except for the darker tips ; side of head gray- 
ish brown, with a streak of chestnut, mixed slightly with black from 
beneath the eye back over the ear coverts to the side of the neck ; 
hindneck and upper back mottled olive-brown and gray, with shaft 
lines of white ; a few black feathers mixed with chestnut forming a 
narrow indefinite collar across hindneck; lower back, rump, and 
upper tail coverts finely mottled with grayish brown and olive ; wing 
coverts similar, but with small spots of mixed black and buffy white; 
tertials and inner secondaries with bold, irregular black spots, barred 
narrowly with chestnut-brown, and lined with buffy white; flight 
feathers fuscous, the outer webs of the secondaries with narrow, 
irregular bars and spots of buff to cinnamon ; tail dull black, with 
faintly indicated bars and spots of cinnamon; throat and foreneck 
black, streaked narrowly with white; lower surface grayish brown 
with small elongated spots of white bordered narrowly with black; 
upper breast, sides and flanks washed with warm brown ; under tail 
coverts dull chestnut-brown, banded indistinctly with black; under 
wing coverts dark grayish brown. 


Female, similar but with exposed crown feathers brown, and the 
longer ones at rear duller brown. 

An erythristic phase is common in both sexes in which the con- 
cealed crest feathers vary from cinnamon to chestnut, the upper sur- 
face is brighter colored, and the ground color of the lower surface 
is cinnamon brown to snuff brown. This variant, found throughout 
the range, was supposed to be a distinct species for many years. In 
Panama it was long recorded under the name Odontophorus vera- 
guensis Gould. 

Chick in down, center of crown and occiput, and middle of the 
back russet; forehead and side of crown buff to ochraceous-buff ; 
rest of upper surface dark ochraceous-buff, mottled with dusky; un- 
der surface buff, mixed with olive-gray. This natal down is followed 
by a grayish brown plumage, with narrow elongate streaks that 
terminate in enlarged spots of white narrowly edged with black on 
breast, sides, back, and wing coverts. 

The chick is paler colored than that of O. gujanensis or O. 
erythrops, the former being very dark, almost chocolate-brown above, 
and the latter cinnamon-brown. (The description of the downy 
young given under Odontophorm erythrops melanotis in Friedmann, 
U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 10, 1946, p. 371, is taken from a 
specimen of O. guttatus.) 

Adult, iris light brown ; bill dark neutral gray to black ; bare lores 
neutral gray ; eyelids dull greenish gray ; tarsus and toes dull green, 
with the claws fuscous. 

A juvenile female, three-fourths grown, had the iris hazel; cere, 
base of maxilla, and mandible fuscous ; rest of maxilla light chestnut- 
brown ; tarsus and toes dull greenish gray. 

Measurements. — Males (11 from Chiriqui), wing 134.7-144.1 
(140.4), tail 55.7-68.5 (62.2), culmen from cere 16.2-18.5 (17.3), 
tarsus 42.8-46.8 (44.5) mm. 

Females (11 from Chiriqui), wing 134.1-141.5 (136.0), tail 53.8- 
65.6 (58.7), culmen from cere 15.3-17.8 (16.3), tarsus 40.2-44.3 
(42.9) mm. 

Resident. Fairly common in the subtropical zone in western 
Chiriqui from Cerro Horqueta across the slopes of the Chiriqui 
Volcano, Cerro Picacho, and Cerro Pando to the highlands on the 
Costa Rican boundary, mainly from 1,250 to 2,100 meters; recorded 
at 1,100 meters at El Banco. Confined in Panama, according to 
available records, to the Pacific slope. 


To the north this species ranges through the mountains of Central 
America to southern Mexico. 

These quail are found in small bands on forested slopes where 
locally they may be fairly common, as to the present time they have 
not been hunted extensively. They are secretive like the lowland 
species, and hide at any alarm, but on the whole appear less wary. 
When approached one or two may fly a few feet, but most run 
rapidly away with head erect and crests raised. Their feet make 
a rapid pattering sound on dry leaves that I have heard sometimes 
when the birds were hidden from me in the undergrowth. Often 
they hide and remain so quiet that I have had a band secreted within 
30 meters for a period of 15 minutes, until chance brought me nearer, 
forcing them to run. 

Their presence in the forest often is indicated by their scratchings, 
which are roughly circular, 30 centimeters or more across, with 
the leaves cleared so that the ground is bare. Where the forest floor 
is level such depressions may be spread over an area several meters 

The calls of this species will be recognized at once by those 
familiar with the perro mulatto of the lowlands in the eastern part 
of the Republic, as the two are similar in excited, rapid tone. The 
present species, however, has more variation in its notes. The usual 
series of phrases may be rendered as wheet-o-wet-to-wheo-zvho, 
repeated steadily with the terminal syllables sometimes changed to 
to-whao. Variation in tone, and occasional confusion in utterance, 
that I have noted has indicated that the call was a duet similar to 
that characteristic of the lowland species. They call mainly at 
sunrise, and for a short space afterward, and it is then that their 
numbers become known. At times, I have heard half a dozen groups 
on as many separate wooded slopes. 

When alarmed they give low trilling notes as they become excited 
and run away, and when a flock has been scattered they utter 
mournful whistles, similar to calls of some of the trogons, to unite 
the little band again. 

Schonwetter (Handb. Ool, pt. 4, 1961, p. 224; pt. 5, 1961, p. 267) 
indicates that the eggs are creamy white, sometimes spotted with 
brown. He gives the measurements of 6 as 39.2-40.5x28.5-29.7 mm. 

Recently hatched chicks were taken near El Volcan March 10 and 
25, 1965. 


Quail; Gallito del Monte Pechicastano 

Odontophorus melanotis Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, pt. 3, 1864 (Feb., 

1865), p. 586, (Tucurrique, Costa Rica.) 
Odontophorus melanotis coloratus Griscom, Amer. Mus. Nov. no, 280, Sept. 10, 

1927, p. 3. (Guaval, Rio Calovevora, northern Veraguas.) 

A forest quail with chestnut-brown breast and sides. 

Description. — Length, 220-260 mm, Male, crown chestnut-brown, 
with the longer crest feathers tipped or washed with fuscous-black; 
hindneck and upper back dull black to brownish black, mottled finely 
with dull buff or cinnamon-buff; lower back, rump, and upper tail 
coverts browner, also mottled, and with indistinct spots and broken 
bars of black; wing coverts and scapulars dark grayish brown, 
mottled lightly and spotted irregularly, with black, and lined with 
cream-buff, the scapulars with heavy cross bands of black; flight 
feathers fuscous; outer webs of primaries with irregular bars of 
cinnamon; outer webs of secondaries with heavier, mottled bars of 
mixed grayish buff and cinnamon-buff; tail dull cinnamon-brown, 
mottled and barred indistinctly with dull black ; sides of head, throat, 
and sides and front of neck dull black, with a faintly indicated band 
of chestnut on the side of the head; breast and sides cinnamon- 
brown, merging with the black of the throat through an over wash 
of chestnut, the hidden centers of the feathers of the sides mottled 
finely with black; feathers of the abdomen fluffy, blackish basally, 
tipped with cinnamon-buff; tibia, flanks, and under tail coverts dull 
black, barred and tipped with cinnamon-buff. 

Female, without black on the throat or sides of the head. 

Chick, chestnut-brown above, dark cinnamon to cinnamon-buff 
below. The bird molts immediately into a plumage that resembles that 
of the adult but has the crest feathers duller, and the back with 
prominent white to buffy white lines. Below it is heavily spotted and 
barred with black. 

Birds taken at Cricamola have the iris in a male marked as dark 
red brown, and in a female as coffee brown. The feet in both are 
said to be blue black ; bare skin around eye purplish in male, bluish 
black in female ; bill black ; tarsus and toes blue-black. 

Measurements. — Males (6 from Panama) wing 138.8-147.8 
(143.3), tail 42.7-59.6 (51.7), culmen from cere 18.1-20.0 (18.9), 
tarsus 42,6-47.0 (45,9) mm. 


Females (6 from Panama), wing 139.8-149.4 (143.1), tail 49.8- 
52.8 (50.9), culmen from cere 18.0-18.8 (18.3), tarsus 43.8-47.1 
(45.7) mm. 

Resident. Rare, local in distribution in tropical zone and lower 
subtropical zone forests, ranging on Cerro Pirre to 1,600 meters. Not 
known from the Pacific slope west of the Cerro Azul, except for 
two reports from the southern side of Veraguas. 

While this species is one of wide distribution there is little knowl- 
edge of it in Panama other than the few specimens that have been 
collected. The only records for the Pacific slope of western Panama 
are of one sent by Arce to Salvin (Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1867, 
p. 161), marked as from near Santiago, and another in the American 
Museum collected near Santa Fe on March 31, 1925, by Benson. 
From Bocas del Toro Wedel sent specimens to the Museum of 
Comparative Zoology taken between March 21 and 30, 1928, at 
elevations of 450 to 1,000 meters, on the Boquete trail, back of the 
Laguna de Chiriqui. Another was secured near Cricamola on 
February 15 and one at Guabo on April 10 (Peters, Bull. Mus. Comp. 
Zool., vol. 71, 1931, p. 297). There are two others in the Conover 
Collection of the Chicago Natural History Museum from Cricamola 
taken by Wedel on September 7, 1936, and October 25, 1937. Benson 
and Gaffney secured a pair at Guaval, on the Rio Calovevora in 
Caribbean Veraguas which Griscom described as a distinct race 
color atus. This, however, proves not to differ from O. e. melanotis. 

Goldman on March 22 and 25, 1911, collected 4 females at 750 
meters near the head of the Rio Pacora on Cerro Azul, another on 
June 8 at 600 meters on Cerro Bruja, Colon, and a male on April 
24, 1912 at 1,600 meters on Cerro Pirre in Darien. Hasso von Wedel 
on February 1, 1933, shot a male at Puerto Obaldia, San Bias that 
came to the Conover collection. The latest report of the species is an 
adult male, prepared by C. O. Handley, Jr., that was captured by a 
dog beside a forest trail on Cerro Azul, January 27, 1958. 

Goldman left a manuscript note in which he described their scratch- 
ings as similar to those of other gallinaceous birds and says that the 
birds he collected were visible for a few seconds only as they ran 
with outstretched necks beneath the undergrowth. On Cerro Bruja 
one allowed him to approach closely. The only other observation on 
habits that I have seen is that of C. W. Richmond (Proc. U. S. Nat. 
Mus., vol. 16, 1893, p. 524) on the Rio Escondido, eastern Nicaragua, 
where a flock of a dozen "flew into surrounding trees and afterward 
off into the woods, two or three at a time." The indication is that 
birds of this species may be less wary than their close relatives. 


Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 4, 1961, p. 224; pt. 5, p. 267) says 
that one egg available was marked like the spotted eggs of Odonto- 
phorus gujanensis marmoratus and gives the measurements as 37.6 x 
27.9 mm. 

Individual variation in depth of color, especially on the lower 
surface, is considerable in the series seen both from Costa Rica and 
Panama, so much so that there is no apparent basis for recognition 
of more than one race in this area. 

ODONTOPHORUS DIALEUCOS Wetmore: Tacarcuna Wood Quail; GalUto del 

Monte Fajeado 

Figure 1, Frontispiece 

Odontophorus dialeucos Wetmore, Smithsonian Misc. Coll., vol. 145, no. 6, 
Dec. 16, 1963, p. 5. (1,450 meters elevation, 62 kilometers west of the summit 
of Cerro Mali, Serrania del Darien, Darien, Panama.) 

Upper foreneck white, with a broad central band of black, mixed 
with rufous-brown. 

Description. — Length, 220 to 250 mm. Male, crown black mottled 
lightly with rufous and spotted finely with white ; superciHary streak 
white ; a mottled brown band across the hindneck, becoming cinnamon- 
buff where it joins the superciliary on either side ; back brownish 
olive, barred and mottled with sooty black and cinnamon ; inner 
secondaries and wing coverts snuff brown, finely marked with buffy 
white ; tertials marked heavily with black ; upper foreneck white, 
with a broad central band of black mixed with rufous-brown ; rest 
of lower surface dull buffy brown to tawny olive, darker on flanks and 
under tail coverts, mottled with sooty black and buffy white. 

Female, brighter brown on the lower surface. 

Immature, like female, but with black band across foreneck broader 
so that it covers most of the area to the base of the bill ; white of 
lower segment duller. 

Measurements. — Males (3 specimens), wing 128.8-131.4 (129.9); 
tail 50.1-54.0 (52.5); culmen from base 19.8-20.0 (19.9); tarsus 
45.2-47.6 (46.6) mm. 

Females (4 specimens), wing 125.6-132.0 (130.9) ; tail 46.4-50.4 
(47.8) ; culmen from base 19.4-20.0 (19.7) ; tarsus 44.5-49.2 (46.5) 

Resident. In the subtropical zone of the southern end of the 
Serrania del Darien ; known at present from Cerro Mali and Cerro 


The three specimens from which this interesting wood quail was 
described were collected by Dr. Pedro Galindo of the Gorgas 
Memorial Laboratory near a camp at 1,450 meters elevation located 
6^ kilometers west of the summit of Cerro Mali. A young female 
came first to hand on June 5, 1963, followed by an adult pair two 
days later. 

Among its relatives Odontophorus dialeucos resembles most O. 
strophium of the subtropical zone of the mountains of central Colom- 
bia. This also has a white upper foreneck banded broadly with black 
across the center but differs in the presence of a narrow black collar 
below the lower white neck band and in being rufous and cinnamon 
on the breast and sides, with prominent white spots and shaft lines. 
Its crown is fuscous-brown and its whole upper surface is rufescent 
with prominent black markings. The darker bird of Darien is an 
interesting contrast in its plainer pattern. 

In February and March of the following year we found these 
birds fairly common on the slopes of Cerro Mali and Cerro 
Tacarcuna from 1,200 to 1,450 meters. They ranged in pairs and 
little flocks of six or eight in undergrowth, and were not wild since 
they had had no hunter contact. While they were birds of the forest 
floor, once one flew to a perch in a small tree 5 meters above the 
ground. When disturbed they gave the low, rapid calls common to 
other wood quail when approached. 

ODONTOPHORUS LEUCOLAEMUS Salvin: Black-breasted Wood QuaU; 
Gallito del Monte Pechinegro 

Odontophorus leucolaemus Salvin, Proc. Zool. Soc. London, June 1867, p. 161. 

(Cordillera de Tole, eastern Chiriqui, Panama.) 
Odontophorus smithianus Oberholser, Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, vol. 45, Apr. 

2, 1932, p. 39. (San Joaquin de Dota, Costa Rica.) 
Odontophorus smithians "Oberholser" Griscom, Auk, vol. SO, July 6, 1933, p. 298. 

(Lapsus for smithianus.) 

A forest quail with black breast and white throat (white sometimes 
much reduced). 

Description. — Length, 220 to 240 mm. Adult (sexes alike), above, 
including the crest, dark cinnamon-brown, very finely barred with 
black to produce a mottled appearance; scapulars and inner sec- 
ondaries spotted and barred boldly with black; flight feathers 
fuscous; outer web of primaries faintly spotted with cinnamon; 
outer webs of secondaries heavily mottled with dark cinnamon and 
dull black ; tail dull black, with numerous narrow indefinite bars of 
cinnamon and cinnamon-buff; sides of head, malar region, lower 


foreneck, and breast black, the breast barred narrowly with white; 
throat and upper foreneck white; abdomen dull fuscous with faint 
tippings of cinnamon ; sides, flanks, tibia, and under tail coverts like 
the upper surface but brighter brown ; shorter under wing coverts like 
back, longer ones fuscous like flight feathers. 

There is much variation in color in which the upper surface may 
be blacker, and the white of the throat much reduced or nearly 
absent; or both upper and lower surface, including much of the 
breast, are brighter brown. The supposed species smithianus was 
described from birds in the blacker phase. 

Immature birds have the tip of the bill cinnamon to huffy brown, 
while in the adult it is black. 

Measurements. — Males (10 from Panama and Costa Rica), wing 
117.9-130.1 (124.6), tail 44.2-58.6 (49.1), culmen from base 14.7-17.5 
(16.3), tarsus 44.5-48.0 (45.9) mm. 

Females (7 from Panama and Costa Rica), wing 125.0-129.7 
(127.2), tail 46.2-50.2 (48.2), culmen from cere 14.6-17.2 (15.6), 
tarsus 43.2-45.5 (44.1) mm. 

Resident, Rare, in the subtropical zone of Chiriqui, Veraguas, and 
Bocas del Toro; recorded from 1,350 to 1,600 meters elevation. 

This distinct species was named by Salvin from a female taken 
by Arce in the Cordillera de Tole, which is in eastern Chiriqui under 
present political boundaries, though recorded originally from 
"Veragua." Arce later sent Salvin (Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1870, 
p. 217) a specimen from Calovevora, Veraguas, and also one to 
Gould from Chitra (Salvin and Godman, Biol. Centr.-Amer., vol. 3, 
1903, p. 311). In western Chiriqui Bangs (Proc. New England 
Zool. Club, vol. 3, 1902, p. 22) received specimens taken by W. W. 
Brown, Jr., near Boquete and also on the Caribbean slope beyond, 
which would place them in Bocas del Toro. In the American Museum 
of Natural History collection there is one specimen from Boquete, 
taken by Watson, another collected by Arce at Chitra, and two taken 
at this same point at over 1,000 meters, December 30 and 31, 1925, 
by Benson. Monniche (Blake, Fieldiana: Zool., vol. Z6, 1958, p. 508) 
secured a male at Camp Cilindro on July 14, 1933, and a female at 
Camp Holcomb on June 26, 1933, both on the Caribbean side of the 
divide in Bocas del Toro. These last are the latest records for the 
species in Panama. 

There is a skin in the U. S. National Museum collected by Heyde 
and Lux labeled "Nata, Code," a lowland locality where this species 
would not be found. It is possible that the collectors secured it in 
a journey that they made into the subtropical zone beyond La Pintada. 


The black-breasted wood quail ranges in the highlands to eastern 
and northern Costa Rica, but other than specimens that have been 
taken little is known of it. Carriker (Birds of Costa Rica, 1910, pp. 
388-389) wrote of it in Costa Rica that like "all other species of the 
genus it is an inhabitant of the forest, congregates in small coveys, 
and keeps to the thickest parts of the jungle." Oberholser (Proc. 
Biol. Soc. Washington, 1932, p. 41) cited observations by Austin 
Paul Smith, who found it an elusive inhabitant of steep, heavily 
wooded slopes in Costa Rica where the "birds were noisy early in the 
morning during March and April." 

Gallito del Monte Menor 

Odontophorus cinctus Salvin, Ibis, ser. 3, vol. 6, no. 23, July 1876, p. 379. 

(Veraguas, Panama.) 
Odontophorus spodiostethus Salvin, Ibis, ser. 4, vol. 2, no. 8, Oct. 1878, p. 447. 

Odontophorus rubigenis Lawrence Mss., Richmond, Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., vol. 

16, Oct. 4, 1893, p. 525. (Panama.) 
Rhynchortyx cinctus hypopius Griscom, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 72, no. 9, 

Jan. 1932, p. 320. (Puerto Obaldia, San Bias.) 

A small forest-quail, with upper breast plain gray (male) or plain 
brown (female) ; head not prominently crested ; bill heavy. 

Description. — Length 170 to 200 mm. Male, crown and hindneck 
dark brown, very faintly spotted with buff and black ; upper back dark 
gray, slightly mottled with buff, the feathers tipped more or less with 
brown; lower back paler gray, washed with buff, barred lightly and 
indistinctly with darker gray, and spotted with cinnamon-buff and 
black; uppermost lesser wing coverts black, barred narrowly with 
cinnamon ; rest of wing coverts brownish gray, with irregular bars 
and spots of buff and black ; tertials and innermost secondaries spotted 
boldly with black and barred with cinnamon ; flight feathers fuscous ; 
outer webs of primaries spotted faintly with buff; outer webs of 
secondaries with irregular spots and broken bars of cinnamon-buff ; 
rump, upper tail coverts, and tail dull cinnamon, with shaft lines of 
black and mottling of fuscous ; band from eye back over ear coverts 
dark grayish brown ; side of head, including a broad superciliary line 
and the malar area, cinnamon; throat mixed white and light gray 
f oreneck and upper breast dark gray ; lower breast cinnamon-buff 
sides dull gray, mottled and washed with buff and cinnamon-buff 
abdomen and tibia white ; flanks and under tail coverts cinnamon- 
buff, barred with black ; shorter under wing coverts brownish black, 
spotted faintly with white. 


Female, browner above ; a dull black stripe over eyelids and 
auricular region ; superciliary and a spot on lores buffy white ; throat 
white ; foreneck and upper breast brown, with the feathers more or 
less gray basally; lower breast and sides white, barred heavily with 

Downy young, (3 to 6 days old from Darien, collected March 26, 
1915 by W, B. Richardson, A. M. N. H. 135313) down of crown, 
back, rump, and tail chocolate brown ; line through eye across auric- 
ulars brownish black ; throat, malar region, lores, and an indistinct 
line along side of crown dull cinnamon-buflf ; line from eye back 
above auricular region buff; lower foreneck, side and back of neck, 
upper breast, and upper back bright buffy brown; sides, flanks, 
and tibia dark gray ; lower breast and abdomen white. 

An adult female taken near Armila, San Bias, March 4, 1963, 
had the iris warm brown ; cere and mandible neutral gray ; base of 
culmen mouse brown ; rest of maxilla black ; tarsus, toes, and claws 
dull bluish gray. 

Measurements. — Males (16 from Panama), wing 112.0-119.5 
(115.3), tail 38.0-49.1 (42.7), culmen from cere 14.7-16.0 (15.3), 
tarsus 32.7-36.7 (34.3) mm. 

Females (7 from Panama), wing 108.0-114.7 (111.7), tail 38.1- 
45.6 (42.3), culmen from cere 13.6-16.1 (14.6), tarsus 32.0-35.5 
(33.1) mm. 

Resident. Rather rare in forested areas of the tropical and lower 
subtropical zones ; reported from Veraguas, and from western 
Province of Panama (sight record on Cerro Campana) ; recorded 
mainly from the eastern half of the isthmus from eastern Colon 
(Cerro Bruja), eastern Panama (Rio Pequeni, Chepo, Cerro 
Chucanti), Darien (Cerro Sapo, Cerro Mah), and San Bias 
(Mandinga, Armila, Puerto Obaldia). 

The first specimens of this bird collected by Arce came to Salvin 
through the dealer Boucard labeled "Veragua," without more definite 
locality. The sexes are so different that they were named as two 
distinct species and were so regarded until their identity was estab- 
lished by Hartert (Nov. Zool., vol. 9, 1902, pp. 600-601). Hellmayr 
(Proc. Zool. Soc. London, 1911, p. 1207) finally determined that 
the bird described as cinctus in 1876 was the female and that 
spodiostethus, named two years later, was based on the male sex. 

The little known of this wood quail relates to the few localities in 
the eastern half of Panama at which it has been taken. On the 
Pacific slope I secured a male on April 9, 1949, on a low hill at 
Zanja Limon on the Rio Mamoni back of Chepo. In February 1950, 


we saw two in forest along the Rio Chiman near the mouth of the 
Rio Corotu. And on March 13 and 14 we secured specimens on the 
Cerro Chucanti, where they were found to elevations of 500 meters. 
In Darien Barbour and Brooks, in April 1922, collected 7, including 
2 downy young, on Cerro Sapo, and Galindo secured two on Cerro 
Mali, a female at La Laguna at 1100 meters June 10, 1963, and a 
male on Cerro Mali at 1450 meters June 7, 1963. Goldman shot one 
April 18, and another May 3, 1912 at 1400 meters on Cerro Pirre. I 
saw one at Boca de Paya on the Rio Tuira on March 13, 1959. 

In the Caribbean drainage Griswold (Proc. New England Zool, 
Club, vol. 15, 1936, p. 101) recorded them on the Rio Pequeni above 
the old Salamanca Hydrographic Station. Goldman shot a male on 
June 7, 1911, at 600 meters on Cerro Bruja, and at Mandinga, in the 
Comarca de San Bias, Florentino, a native hunter, shot one for me 
in the forest immediately back of our little house. I saw another 
near here on February 14. H. von Wedel collected a series at Puerto 
Obaldia and Perme in 1930. 

In addition to the specimen records W. M. Perrygo on March 
21, 1951, flushed several in heavy forest on Cerro Campana. 

These birds range in the same forests as the larger marbled wood 
quail. Perhaps because of their smaller size they seem often to hide, 
even when near at hand, rather than fly or run, and because of this 
habit they may be more common than the few observations that have 
been published indicate. In the heavy cover that they frequent it is 
only by chance that I have come onto them so directly as to cause 
them to fly. Near the mouth of the Paya early one morning one 
flushed near the border of a small clearing and flew so swiftly that 
it was in the cover of the bordering woodland before I could bring 
my gun around, the only time that I have seen one in the open. In 
their forest cover sometimes they run aside for a meter or two and 
sometimes fly for a few meters above the undergrowth, and then 
with set wings scale down again to the ground. 

The claws of this species are quite small for birds of this family, 
indication that it may not share the scratching habit common in the 
related genus Odontophorus. 

The typical subspecies has been found rarely north on the Caribbean 
slope of Costa Rica (recorded from Villa Quesada). It is more 
frequent in northwestern Colombia in Cordoba, northern Antioquia 
(Taraza) and southern Bolivar (Volador). A much darker race R. 
c. australis Chapman is found on the Pacific slope in the Province of 
Choco. An adult female from Cerro Pirre is somewhat intermediate 


toward this race. Rhynchortyx cinctus hypopius Griscom, described 
from the eastern San Bias, through the additional specimens now 
available is not separable, as the characters described from the 
original series are merely those of individual variation, 

George N. Lawrence received a specimen from Panama marked 
"Dec. 1879" with "Wallace" indicated as collector (A. M. N. H. 
no. 45162) that apparently he believed to be new as the label bears 
the name "Odontophorus ruhigenis" in Lawrence's handwriting. 
Evidently he then found Salvin's description of the bird in the Ibis 
for 1878, as he added this reference on the label. Richmond inad- 
vertently quoted Lawrence's manuscript name with descriptive data 
in comparing this specimen with one that he collected in eastern 
Nicaragua, and so the name ruhigenis needs to be included in s)m- 

Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 4, 1961, p. 224; pt. 5, 1961, p. 268) 
describes 3 eggs of R. c. australis of northwestern Colombia as white 
without markings, with measurements 29.6-30.0x23.5-23.8 mm. 
The female taken at Armila, March 4, 1963 contained a nearly de- 
veloped egg. 

[PHASIANirS COLCHICUS Linnaeus: Ring-necked Pheasant; Faisan Comtin 

Phasianus colchicus Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 158. (Rion, 
formerly Phasis, Georgian S. S. R.) 

In September 1959, Pablo Brackney released 80 pheasants on his 
property at Palo Santo near El Volcan, Chiriqui. These were birds 
about 5 months old that had been reared in a pheasantry near Panama 
City. Corn had been planted as food and cover for them, and in 
February and March of the following year many were present, as 
I heard males crowing regularly. One nest had been found at that 
time and the eggs taken and placed under a hen, as the area was 
to be burned, but they were lost. On March 18, 1960 Mr. Brackney 
saw one brood of young chicks. By 1963 they had multiplied and 
had begun to spread into adjacent areas. But in 1965 I was told that 
all had been shot by hunters. One had been killed about November, 
1959, near Santa Clara, 25 kilometers west toward Costa Rica.] 

[Family NUMIDIDAE : Guineafowl ; Gallinas de Guinea 

The seven living species of this family are native in Africa, in- 
cluding Madagascar and the Cape Verde Islands, with one extending 
to southwestern Arabia. 


The guinea, or guinea-hen, common now in poultry yards, was 
known in the period of the Roman Empire, though the present-day 
domestic stock stems from birds brought to Europe from Africa by 
Portuguese traders during the fifteenth century. In the beginning the 
guinea-hen was known as the bird of Turkey, that geographic name 
being appHed widely to Moslem countries from Africa eastward. In 
the writings of early naturalists it became confused with the larger 
turkey introduced from America a little later, which finally inherited 
the original name, and the bird from Africa became the guinea. 

NUMIDA MELEAGRIS GALE ATA Pallas: Guinea-hen, Gallina de Guinea 

Ntmtida galeata Pallas, Spic. Zoo!., vol. 1, fasc. 4, 1767, p. 13. (Based on the 
domesticated fowl: Murphy, Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., 1924, pp. 264-265, 
suggested Bathurst, at the mouth of the Gambia River, as type locality.) 

According to the records of La Jagua Hunting Club, 27 guinea- 
fowl were released at the clubhouse at 4:30 a.m. on June 11, 1933. 
The birds, obtained through Mr. Van Reed of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, 
from wild stock naturalized in that island, came in three lots on May 
14, 25, and 31 of the year in question to Capt. William Ancrum at 
Balboa Heights. Karl Curtis informs me that some were seen from 
time to time through the following year, but that eventually all 
disappeared. There is no record of their nesting. 

The species has been known as a game bird in the wild in 
Hispaniola for more than 200 years, and it was hoped that it might 
have become established in the woodlands that border the Rio 
La Jagua marshes.] 


Family ARAMIDAE : Limpkin ; Carrao 

The single living species of this family ranges in the New World 
from the Okefinoke Swamp in southeastern Georgia through Florida 
and the Greater Antilles, and from south central Mexico through 
Central America and South America to northern Argentina and south- 
ern Brazil. The relationships of the family are with the cranes and 
the trumpeters. Bones of two fossil species described from Oligocene 
deposits in South Dakota, and of a third from Middle Miocene beds 
in Nebraska, are indication of former diversity in the group and of 
its long history in the Americas. Bones of the living species have 
been found in Pleistocene deposits in several localities in Florida. 


ARAMXJS GUARAUNA (Linnaeus): Limpkin; Carrao 
Figure 55 

Form ibislike, but with shorter, heavier, nearly straight bill ; 
blackish brown, with white streaks on the neck, and in some races 
on the body. 

Description. — Length 580 to 630 mm. Adult (sexes alike), fore- 
head and lores grayish brown ; crown blackish brown, paler on the 
forehead ; throat white ; neck black to dark gray, streaked with white ; 
body olive-brown, more or less streaked with white, the amount 
varying in the different subspecies (see beyond) . 

Downy young, chin dull white ; throat and upper f oreneck, an in- 
distinct superciliary, malar region, and upper abdomen dull white, 
with the downy plumes tipped lightly with buffy brown ; elsewhere 
dull brown, darker above and paler below. 

Iris brown; bill grayish brown, almost black at the tip, with the 
base reddish brown on the mandible, and dull buff on the maxilla; 
tarsus and toes dull olive-black ; claws darker, nearly black. 

The limpkin is so rare in its occurrence in Panama that its presence 
there has been overlooked until recent years. On the Isthmus these 
birds are found mainly along the lower courses of larger rivers 
where the forested banks are low so that they may be flooded in 
periods of high water. Their presence may be detected by the empty 
shells of large apple snails left on muddy shores, as these form their 
main food supply. In early morning limpkins may be found in the 
open, but at any alarm they retreat to the shelter of forest and there 
remain concealed. In other parts of their extensive tropical and sub- 
tropical range they come out in open marshes, but there is little 
suitable habitat of that type in Panama, except in the banana farms 
of Bocas del Toro. Here limpkins are found occasionally on cleared 
lands that have been flooded. 

To secure their food limpkins wade in shallow water probing with 
the bill. When an apple snail is found it is carried to the bank, and 
set in the mud with the opening upward. The bird, with partly 
opened bill tip, with quick dexterity then removes the horny oper- 
culum that protects the snail, when the mollusk is pulled out and 

Limpkins walk rather slowly, with constantly twitching tail, and 
a curious undulating tread that gives the impression of lameness or 
limping, from which the common name of limpkin is derived. Their 
flapping flight is performed with head and neck extended, and feet 
and legs projecting behind, in the manner of a crane. Where not 


hurried they often show an attractive mannerism in the air in which 
open wings are raised to a 45° angle and then brought down to 
body level, suggestive of the flight method of many of the larger 

As they move about they utter low clucking notes and then may 
burst out in loud calls of car-r-r-rao car-r-r-rao, from which they 

Fig. 55. — Limpkin, carrao, Aramus guarauna gnarauna, northern subspecies, 
heavily streaked with white. 

derive their usual common name among those few of the country 
people that recognize them. To most they are not distinguished from 
the ibises, or cocos. The loud call, often mingled with harsher 
sounds, is given sometimes in flight, and also may be heard at night. 
In the adult male limpkin the trachea, as it descends the neck, is 
elongated, and below the center is folded in a tight double loop on 
the right hand side. It then continues to enter the thorax, where it 
divides in the usual matter in two bronchi. The loop is not found in 
females, and I have found it absent also in males that I assumed to 


be immature. Apparently it is this stage that has misled some early 
authorities who have stated that such convolutions were not present 
in this species. 

The nests of limpkins are masses of vegetation placed on tangled 
branches, or growths of vines. In areas of extensive marsh land they 
are built on mats of saw grass. The 4 to 8 eggs are ovate, with a 
slightly glossy, smooth shell, buff to olive-buff, with blotches of drab 
and brown. 

Two of the recognized subspecies are found in Panama. 


Scolopax guarauna Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 242. (Cayenne.) 

Characters. — White stripes confined to the sides of the head and 
neck, with a few on the lower surface and rarely on the wing coverts, 
partly concealed by darker feather ends ; darker olive-brown ; smaller. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Panama and Colombia), wing 
301-309 (305.2), tail 122.8-138.8 (129.1), culmen from base 104.6- 
116.8 (111.2), tarsus 109.6-126.8 (117.2) mm. 

Females (3 from Panama and Colombia), wing 290-291 (290.3), 
tail 122.2-129.7 (127.0), culmen from base 101.5-107.0 (104.7), 
tarsus 106.0-114.7 (109.4) mm. 

Resident. Rare; found in the Canal Zone on the middle Rio 
Chagres (above Juan Mina) and in Darien on the middle Rio Tuira 
(Boca de Paya), and the lower middle Rio Chucunaque (mouth of 

The first report for Panama was of a male taken by Festa at the 
Laguna de Pita near the mouth of the Rio Tuira in August 1895 
(Salvadori and Festa, Boll. Mus. Zool. Anat. Comp. Torino, vol. 15, 
1900, p. 42) . At Juan Mina on the Rio Chagres on several occasions 
Enrique van Horn described to me an ibislike bird that I was certain 
must be a limpkin. In January 1958 he shot one for Dr. Frank 
Hartman, who in the course of his studies prepared it as a skin 
that he presented to the U. S. National Museum. The following 
year I found the empty snail shells left by these birds scattered 
over a muddy shore beneath overhanging bushes. And on January 
28, 1958, 1 secured one for a specimen. 

Later in the same season I collected a female on February 18 
at our camp where the Rio Paya enters the Tuira; and during the 
following month I noted one from time to time on the Paya im- 
mediately above its mouth. Collectors for the Gorgas Memorial 
Laboratory took another here on April 15. On the Chucunaque one 
was reported to me on March 21. 


Hellebrekers (Zool. Med. Nat. Hist. Leiden, vol. 24, 1942, p. 245) 
gives the following description of a set of 6 eggs from Surinam in 
the Penard collection : "Ground : light buff . . . some eggs with a very 
slight greenish tinge. Spots : yellowish brown, sayal brown . . . especially 
at the large end, and purplish under markings. Average measure- 
ments in mm : 56.1 X 44.2." 

On both the Chagres and the Tuira the limpkin ate the local apple 
snail Pomacea seteki Morrison. 


Aramus pictus dolosus Peters, Occ. Pap. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., vol. 5, Jan. 
30, 1925, p. 144. (Bolson, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.) 

Characters. — Olive-brown, with breast, sides, and wing coverts 
heavily streaked with white ; back similarly marked but less heavily ; 
secondaries with broad, partly concealed, white shaft streaks ; larger. 

Measurements (from Peters's original description). — Males (4 
from Mexico and Costa Rica), wing 315-333 (324), culmen 123-127 
(125.7), tarsus 126-135 (131.5) mm. 

Females (3 from Mexico, British Honduras, and Costa Rica), 
wing 300-308 (304), culmen 102-115 (109.3), tarsus 117-119 (117.6) 

Status uncertain, rare. Recorded from western Bocas del Toro. 

A male in the Chicago Natural History Museum was taken by Hasso 
von Wedel at Cricamola, Bocas del Toro, April 15, 1937. The only 
other probable occurrence of this race is a limpkin that I saw on the 
shore of an impoundment of water in the banana farms at Changuin- 
ola on January 24, 1958, a bird that I stalked without success. This 
subspecies ranges regularly from the lowlands of south central Mexico 
and Honduras south to Costa Rica. To date it has not been recorded 
in Guatemala. 

Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 5, 1961, p. 306) gives the measure- 
ments of one egg of this race from Mexico as 58.0x45.6 mm. 

Family RALLIDAE : Rails, Gallinules, and Coots ; Cocalecas y 
Gallinetas de Agua. 

Rails are found throughout much of the world, even on oceanic 
islands, absent only in arctic regions. Typically they are marsh 
inhabitants, with certain groups, the coots and gallinules, that swim 
and feed like ducks in open waters. Some others have adapted to 
dry land conditions, and may range in upland country, though these 
seem to require access with regularity to water. The 9 species found 
in Panama are widely distributed and may be locally common, but 
are so retiring that little is known in detail of their manner of life. 



1. Flanks plain, without bars 3 

2. Flanks barred with black and white 10 

3. Smaller, wing less than 130 mm. 

Uniform crake, Amaurolimnas concolor guatemalensis, p. 339 

4. Larger, wing more than 150 mm 5 

5. Without a prominent frontal shield above the base of the bill; bill longer 

than the head (genus Aramides) 7 

6. With a prominent frontal shield above the base of the bill; bill not longer 

than the head 8 

7. Head and neck gray, somewhat darker on the occiput; under wing coverts 

cinnamon-brown, barred with black. 

Gray-necked wood rail, Aramides cajanea, p. 341 
Head and upper neck chestnut-brown; under wing coverts black, barred 
with white (in some partly mixed with cinnamon). 

Rufous-crowned wood rail, Aramides axillaris, p. 346 

8. Toes with prominent lateral membranes or lobes on each joint; frontal 

shield small, not extended on forehead back of the eyes. 

American coot, Fulica amcricana americana, p. 363 
Toes without lateral membranes or lobes ; frontal shield large, much ex- 
panded on forehead, and extended back to center of eyes or farther. . . 9 

9. Bill stouter ; nostril small, its width about one half its length ; feathering 

in front of eye terminated in a nearly straight vertical line along the 
base of the bill ; adult brilliant green and blue ; immature with more or 

less blue on wings Purple gallinule, Porphyrula martinica, p. 360 

Bill more slender; nostril elongated, its length much more than twice its 
width; feathering in front of eye projecting at an angle on the base of 
the bill ; coloration slate gray, black on the head. 

Common gallinule, Gallinula chloropus, p. 357 

10. Back mixed brown and black, streaked narrowly with white (genus 

Porsaim) 11 

Back plain reddish or grayish brown, without streaks (genus Laterallus) 12 

11. Larger, wing 100 mm. or more; space in front of eye black or dark gray. 

Sora, Porsana Carolina, p. 350 

Smaller, wing 70 mm. or less; a prominent white line from base of bill 

to above eye. .Yellow-breasted rail, Porsana flaviventer flaviventcr, p. 348 

12. Sides of neck and breast gray; rump and upper tail coverts black barred 

narrowly with white Gray-breasted rail, Laterallus exilis, p. 355 

Sides of neck and breast reddish brown; rump and upper tail coverts black 
or brownish black, without bars. 

White-throated rail, Laterallus albigularis, p. 351 

Crake; Rascon Castano 

Corethrura Gautemalensis (sic) Lawrence, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, 
June 1863, p. 106. (Guatemala.) 

A rail of mediitm size, rufescent-brovvn on lower surface; oliva- 
ceous-brown above. 


Description. — Length, 200-210 mm. Adult (sexes alike), oliva- 
ceous-brown above, more rufescent on the scapulars; side of head 
grayish brown ; under surface rufous brown, lighter on the throat, 
darker on the sides and under tail coverts ; wings fuscous, margined 
with brown; under wing coverts grayish brown to nearly black, 
washed lightly with rufous brown. 

Immature, duller, more grayish brown on lower surface. 

Iris orange-brown ; side of maxilla, to a point anterior to nostril, 
and mandibular rami, dull yellowish green ; rest of bill dusky neutral 
gray ; bare skin adjacent to gape, and along the base of the mandible, 
dull grayish purple ; front of tarsus and toes fuscous ; sides and back 
of tarsus somewhat reddish brown ; crus light reddish brown ; distal 
end of claws dark neutral gray. 

Measurements. — Males (4 from Panama), wing 110.9-118.0 
(114.3), tail 39.0-43.2 (41.8), culmen from base 25.5-28.2 (26.6), 
tarsus 40.8-42.9 (41.5) mm. 

Females (3 from Panama and Nicaragua), wing 110.0-114.0 
(111.5), tail 44.7-46.7 (45.3), culmen from base 26.2-26.5 (26.3), 
tarsus 39.8-42.4 (41.3) mm. 

Resident. Tropical zone, rare; recorded from Chiriqui (without 
definite locality) ; Bocas del Toro (Almirante) ; San Bias (Man- 
dinga) ; Darien (sight record. El Real) ; and Isla San Jose, 
Archipielago de las Perlas. 

There is a female from Chiriqui in the American Museum of 
Natural History (Chapman, Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist., vol. 36, 
1917, p. 217). H. von Wedel collected one at Almirante, Bocas del 
Toro, on August 5, 1927, and I shot two there on February 15 and 
March 5, 1958. At Mandinga, San Bias, I secured another on 
January 28, 1957. The record for Isla San Jose is of a female taken 
August 23, 1944 by Dr. J. P. E. Morrison. On January 23, 1964, I 
had a brief view of one at the edge of a road leading through marshy 
land near El Real, Darien. 

The first one that I found at Almirante was in a dense thicket at 
the border of a banana plantation. My companion saw it move in the 
dark shadows, and after a few minutes, during which we remained 
partly hidden, it came furtively to peer at me. The second bird lurked 
half concealed under the ground cover at the border of a swampy 
spot. The one taken at Mandinga was in second growth at the 
border of a small quebrada. 

The only published record of the egg that I have seen is that of 
Nehrkorn (Kat. Eiersamml., 1899, p. 202), who described one from 


Guatemala, as reddish gray with a few small spots of violet and rust 
brown, and measurements of 34x31.5 mm. According to Schon- 
wetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 5, 1961, p. 316) this egg has disappeared. 
(The measurements are quoted incorrectly by Schonwetter as 33 X 
26.5 mm.) 

When I identified the collections made on the islands of San Jose 
and Pedro Gonzalez, in the Archipielago de las Perlas (Wetmore, 
Smithsonian Misc. Coll., vol. 106, no. 1, 1946), I made no mention 
of two eggs brought from San Jose by Dr. J. P. E. Morrison, after 
I had left the island, as at that time I was not wholly certain of their 
identity. Through familiarity with the avifauna of Panama that has 
come since I am certain now that they are of the present species. 
They were brought by one of the work force for the Chemical 
Warfare Service on September 1, 1944, with the statement that they 
had been found in a low nest, but no other information. Their 
form is somewhat pointed short subelliptical, with the slightly glossy 
shell smooth. The color is pale buff with a faint cinnamon cast, 
marked sparingly with small scattered spots of chestnut brown, that 
appear violet or grayish blue when overlaid by a thin deposit of 
shell. Though one is broken, measurements may be made from 
both as follows : 32.7 X 27.3 and 32.6 X 26.5 mm. 

There is a study skin of this race in the British Museum (Natural 
History) from the Salvin-Godman collection with the data "Guate- 
mala (McLeannan)," cited in this same form by Sharpe (Cat. Birds 
Brit. Mus., vol. 23, 1894, p. 88), in which either the locality or the 
collector is in error, since McLeannan worked only in Panama. 

ARAMIDES CAJANEA (Miiller): Gray-necked Wood Rail; Cocaleca Gris 

Figure 56 

Large size, gray head and neck, brown breast, and black abdomen 
mark this species. 

Description. — Length 325 to 350 mm. Adults (sexes alike), head 
and neck gray, brownish on the crown; throat white to light gray; 
upper back and scapulars olive-green ; breast, sides, and wings cin- 
namon-brown ; lower back, rump, tail, flanks, and abdomen black ; 
tibia dark, somewhat brownish, gray; under wing coverts cinnamon 
barred with black. 

Downy young, head, foreneck, and upper breast sayal brown, with 
an indefinite line of deep mouse gray extending up the upper breast 
onto the foreneck; hind neck, wings, and rest of body, dull black, 
somewhat brownish black on under surface. 



Iris red; bare skin around eye, and gape dull red; base of bill 
yellow to level of nostrils, changing there to light green for terminal 
half ; gape red ; crus, tarsus and toes red ; claws grayish brown. 

Though wood rails are widely distributed, and are as widely known, 
they are so secretive that their presence is recognized mainly from 
their calls heard in morning, evening, and during the early hours of 

Fig. 56. — Gray-necked wood rail, cocaleca gris, Aramides cajanea. 

night. Their range is governed by suitable cover to afford conceal- 
ment, as they are found from the borders of mangrove swamps 
inland throughout the tropical zone, and in places they may follow 
streams to the lower edge of the subtropical zone at elevations up to 
1,300 meters. In hill country they often range on slopes where forest 
is not too high to points that are far from water. On Isla San Jose 
in the Pearl Islands, and on Isla Coiba, I heard them or noted their 
tracks regularly in the drier upland areas. 

They are found in pairs, except for limited periods when they 
may be accompanied by young. In the dry season on the eastern 


side of the Azuero Peninsula I have seen them regularly in early 
morning in the open trails, walking about like chickens. The tail is 
held at an angle, and the birds move stealthily, with the head held 
forward. At any alarm their slow steps change instantly to a rapid 
run and they disappear. Aside from this I have had only an oc- 
casional glimpse of one at the edge of mangroves, or along some 
stream, though often their presence has been known from their 
calls. These are loud, with a curious halting cadence, and rise and 
fall in sound with the individual syllables. They may continue for 
several minutes. Regularly the notes are uttered as a duet, with two 
birds alternating in their utterance. At a distance the sound is 
melodious and pleasing, but near at hand low, rattling, clacking notes 
intermingled completely spoil the agreeable effect. 

The names by which they are known are taken mainly from imita- 
tion of their calls, the usual one being cocaleca. Sometimes this is 
shortened to code, or varied to chilico, or chilicote. English-speaking 
Panamanians in the province of Bocas del Toro call them mangrove 
hens, a name obviously of Jamaican origin. And those American 
hunters near the Canal Zone, who know them, refer to them as the 
king rail. The name cocaleca, obviously derived from the call notes, 
is also applied to other rails, even to those of small size. 

In upland areas on occasion I have eaten the bodies of those that 
I have shot for specimens, but birds taken in the mangrove swamps, 
where their main food is crabs, often have an offensive odor. 

Though they move about at night, usually in the hour or two im- 
mediately after sunset, or in periods of bright moonlight, they also 
sleep, as I have come across them occasionally while night-hunting. 
They rest two or three meters above the water, or above the ground 
in the brush adjacent to a stream or swamp, often in exposed situa- 
tions, and may be so dazed by the jack light that I have caught them 
by hand. I have seen captive birds in possession of native boys 
tethered in a curious way by a slender cord of tough bark fastened 
to the bill through the open nostrils, which are perforated naturally 
from side to side. 

In addition to small crabs they eat roaches and other large insects 
and often have the stomach crammed with small seeds and the 
remains of drupes. George Shiras, 3d (Nat. Geogr. Mag., Aug. 1915, 
p. 174), had them come regularly at night to his cameras set with 
flashlight powder, regardless of whether the bait used was meat or 



Fulica cajanea P. L. S. Muller, VoUstand. Natursyst. Suppl. Register-Band, 
1776, p. 119. (Cayenne.) 

Characters. — Averaging somewhat larger; darker in color, above 
and on the under surface. 

Measurements. — Males (8 from Panama), wing 172-192 (182.2), 
tail 57.8-71.8 (62.9), culmen from base 51.0-58.3 (53.2), tarsus 
70.0-81.0 (75.8) mm. 

Females (9 from Panama), wing 174-184 (179.1), tail 57.5-67.1 
(63.8), culmen from base 50.0-54.1 (52.0), tarsus 69.0-81.6 (75.2) 

Resident. Coastal lowlands throughout the Republic, mainly in the 
larger river valleys ; found locally in the subtropical zone ; in Chiriqui 
a few range to 1,000 to 1,300 meters on the southern and western 
mountain slopes; in Los Santos to 1,000 meters on Cerro Hoya; in 
Darien to 1,400 meters on Cerro Mali: Isla Coiba; Isla Cebaco; re- 
ported on Isla Parida. 

The open nest of these birds is built of twigs, dried weed stems, 
and similar materials placed in a bush or low tree over or near water, 
at an elevation of a meter to 5 or 6 meters above the surface. Usually 
it is well concealed, and when seen may not be distinguished from 
other masses of dried vegatation left amid the branches by flood 
waters. The well formed inner depression normally holds 3 to 5 
eggs. Belcher and Smooker (Ibis, 1935, p. 282) record exceptional 
sets of 6 and 7. A set of 3 in the U. S. National Museum taken by 
Smooker on the Caroni River, Trinidad, on September 3, 1931, vary 
from subelliptical to oval and are somewhat glossy, with a very slightly 
roughened shell. Two are pale cream color, while the third is pale 
buff. All are marked sparingly with small spots of cinnamon, chest- 
nut, and lavender, mainly near the larger end. They measure 46.7 X 
33.3, 46.8x32.4, and 46.8x33.5 mm. Belcher and Smooker state 
that some eggs are marked with "scrawlings and hair Hnes of 

These rails are hunted to some extent but are not common enough 
to be regarded as game birds. 

Three that I secured on Isla Coiba are equal in size to typical 
cajanea of the mainland, but are slightly darker. Occasional main- 
land specimens, however, approach their color closely. The tendency 
toward deepened pigmentation, common in birds resident on Coiba, 
thus is indicated, but not sufficiently to warrant recognition by name. 



Aramides cajanea latens Bangs and Penard, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 62, 
Apr. 1918, p. 41. (Isla del Rey, Archipielago de las Per las, Panama.) 

Characters. — Averaging smaller than typical cajanea and definitely 
paler in color, especially on crown, neck, and under surface; brown 
of breast and sides more cinnamon-buff, less rufous. 

Measurements. — Males (2 specimens), wing 168, 173; tail 57.5, 
59.7 ; culmen from base 50.0, 51.8 ; tarsus 68.2, 69.0 mm. 

Females (2 specimens), wing 161.0, 172.0; tail 57.5, 63.8; culmen 
from base 51.0, 51.5 ; tarsus 67.0, 70.3 mm. 

Resident. Archipielago de las Perlas (Isla del Rey, Isla Viveros, 
probably Isla de Cafias, and Isleta Malaga). 

This race is known from the four specimens of the type series in 
the Museimi of Comparative Zoology collected on Isla del Rey in 
February and March 1904 by W. W. Brown. The statements of 
characters and the measurements given above are from my personal 
examination of these birds. Rendahl (Ark. Zool., 1920, p. 22) listed 
a female taken on Isla Viveros, on April 4, 1882, by Carl Bovallius, 
that is unquestionably this race as the bird is said to be paler on 
the head, neck, and underparts, when compared with skins from 
Surinam and Baia. From January 21 to 23, 1960, I heard wood rails 
calling on several occasions on Isla Canas, which is separated from 
the eastern side of Rey by a very narrow channel; and at Isleta 
Malaga, immediately east of Isla Bayoneta, heard others on January 
29. It is probable that these records refer to the race latens since 
the islands listed lie on the same shallow submarine platform that 
surrounds Isla del Rey. 


Aramides cajanea morrisoni Wetmore, Proc. Biol. Soc. Washington, vol. 59, 
Mar. 11, 1946, p. 50. (Isla San Jose, Archipielago de las Perlas, Panama.) 

Characters. — Similar in small size to A. c. latens, but gray of 
hindneck clearer, less brownish, and also darker ; back, wing coverts, 
and scapulars darker, more olivaceous green. 

Measurements. — Males (6 specimens), wing 165-179 (174.3), tail 
54.1-64.2 (58.3), culmen from base 46.8-58.7 (52.5), tarsus 64.2-71.0 
(67.6) mm. 

Females (6 specimens), wing 161-173 (166.5), tail 54.5-56.8 (54.9), 
culmen from base 48.0-51.9 (49.8), tarsus 62.7-70.0 (66.5) mm. 

Resident. Fairly common; islands of San Jose and Pedro Gonzalez, 
Archipielago de las Perlas. 


During field work on Isla San Jose in 1944 I found these rails 
common but so shy that, though I heard them constantly, it was only 
on occasion that I had a glimpse of one in the undergrowth of the 
forest. They were recorded in my notes almost daily but mainly 
from their calls, or from their tracks, seen in the dust of trails and 
roadways. During February and March they ranged in pairs. Later 
in the season, as construction work concerned with a field laboratory 
for chemical tests spread, they became more accustomed to human 
presence through the many workmen engaged on roads and trails, and 
were less timid. After my departure, Morrison, who remained on 
the island, secured a dozen adults and one young bird in down 
taken July 22. 

This race is like the form of Isla del Rey in small size, but in 
the series from the two islands available, morrisoni differs definitely 
in darker color. It should be noted that San Jose and Pedro Gonzalez 
are separated from the shallow bank around Isla del Rey by depths 
of 12 to 15 meters or more. 

ARAMIDES AXILLARIS Lawrence: Rufous-crowned Wood Rail; Cocaleca 


Aramides axillaris Lawrence, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, June 3, 1863, 
p. 107. (Barranquilla, Colombia.) 

Smaller than the gray-necked wood rail, with head and neck rufous- 

Description. — Length 250-280 mm. Adults (sexes alike), head, 
upper hindneck, foreneck, and breast rufous-brown; throat white; 
lower hindneck and extreme upper back gray; back and scapulars 
olive brown ; wings chestnut ; rump, tail, flanks, and under tail coverts 
black ; center of abdomen grayish brown ; under wing coverts white, 
barred with black. 

Immature, neck and breast grayish brown. 

A male taken on January 19, 1963, at Puerto Aguadulce had the 
iris orange-brown; bill greenish gray, darker toward the tip, with 
the side of the maxilla behind the nostril, and the base of the mandible 
shading from this grayer shade to dull honey yellow which becomes 
true honey yellow on the lower half of the base of the mandible; 
crus, tarsus and toes dull red ; claws black. 

Measurements. — (From Ridgway and Friedmann, U. S. Nat. Mus., 
Bull. 50, pt. 9, 1941, p. 125). 

Males (18 from Mexico and Colombia), wing 163-174 (169), tail 
53-63 (58.3), exposed culmen 39.5-46.0 (43.7), tarsus 52.5-63.0 
(59.5) mm. 


Females (13 from Mexico and Panama), wing 145.5-170.0 (163.6), 
tail 47.0-62.5 (57.3), exposed culmen 37.5-46.0 (42.2), tarsus 50.0- 
60.5 (57.6) mm. 

Resident. Known in Panama from the mangrove swamps near 
Almirante, Bocas del Toro, and the Rio Pocri, at Puerto Aguadulce, 

Hasso von Wedel collected two females, one adult and one im- 
mature, on January 14 and 15, 1929, on the Quebrada Nigua, across 
from Almirante. On January 27, 1958, as I sat at the landing place 
on the south side of Water Valley, to skin out a heron that threatened 
to spoil, one of these rails came quietly across the mud of the swamp 
to watch me. In the hand this proved to be an immature female, still 
gray underneath, but with head and neck partly changed to the 
chestnut of the adult. 

In January 1963 I was interested to find this species in the man- 
groves bordering the Rio Pocri at Puerto Aguadulce and to learn 
that local hunters were familiar with it as a species distinct from the 
larger cocaleca. On my first fleeting view of one I noted what 
seemed unusually dark coloration but attributed this to the dark 
shadows in which it ran. Male and female were taken at this same 
point on January 19 and 22 as they came out to the water's edge at 
low tide. Mannerisms in walking, in jerking the tail, and alert 
though furtive posture were like those of the companion species. 
From what I was able to learn the cocaleca cabecicastana is confined 
to the mangroves and does not wander far from their shelter. Though 
specimens have been reported from the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa 
Rica, and from Nuqui in northwestern Choco in Colombia, this is 
the first report from the Pacific side of the republic. Nothing more 
is known of the species in Panama. (The records in Ridgway and 
Friedmann, cited above, for David and Lion Hill refer to Aramides 
c. cajanea.) 

Belcher and Smooker (Ibis, 1935, p. 283) in Trinidad record the 
nest as "an open bowl of small twigs, lined with weed-stems, dead 
leaves, and, finally, with green bamboo leaves. One was at about ten 
feet from the ground in a small tree, the other on a dead stump over- 
hanging the river, six feet above the water. The clutch in each case 
was five." They describe the color and form of the eggs as like those 
of Aramides c. cajanea. 

Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 5, 1961, p. 317; pt. 6, 1962, p. 343) 
gives the size of ten eggs that he has examined as ranging from 
43-47x31-36.1 mm. 


Rail; Cocalequita Enana 

Figure 57 

Rallus flaviventer Boddaert, Table Planch, Enl., 1783, p. 52. (Cayenne.) 

Smallest of the rails in Panama ; crown dull black, with a white line 
over the eye. 

Description. — Length 120 to 130 mm. Adult (sexes alike), top of 
head and nape, and a streak through eye dull black ; line from base 
of bill over eye white ; side of head pale gray or pale buff ; feathers 
of back, scapulars, and tail black or brownish black centrally, with 
wide borders of buff to dark cinnamon-buff, and narrow shaft lines 
of white; lesser wing coverts brown, with faint tips of white; a 
streak of black, with the feathers tipped with white, on the central, 
middle, and greater coverts ; wings in some barred heavily with black 
and white ; throat, upper f oreneck, upper breast, and abdomen white, 
with a strong wash of buff to cinnamon buff on lower f oreneck, 
upper breast, and adjacent sides; sides of lower breast, abdomen, 
flanks, and under tail coverts barred heavily with black and white. 

Immature, with indefinite bars of dark neutral gray on neck and 
breast, faint in the center, more evident at the sides. 

Downy young not known. 

Iris reddish brown; most of maxilla and tip of mandible dark 
neutral gray; sides of maxilla at base, below the nostril, and the 
mandibular rami dull greenish olive ; tarsus and toes honey yellow ; 
crus and posterior face of tibiotarsal joint mouse brown ; claws mouse 

Measurements. — Males (7 from Panama), wing 64.2-69.8 (66.5), 
culmen from base 16.1-18.5 (17.3), tarsus 22.0-24.2 (23.5) mm. 

Females (3 from Panama), wing 64.3-67.3 (66.0), culmen from 
base 15.9-17.7 (16.8), tarsus 23.0-25.6 (24.2) mm. 

Resident. Found locally in fresh marshes; fairly common near 
Juan Mina on the Rio Chagres ; recorded also at Playa Jobo, below 
Las Lajas, Chiriqui ; sight record near Changuinola, Bocas del Toro. 

On the early morning of January 8, 1955, as I watched the marsh 
at the border of the Rio Chagres, a short distance below Juan Mina, 
two of these little rails came walking out at the edge of the floating 
water plants. The one that I secured on this occasion was the first 
record for the Isthmus. The following year in eastern Chiriqui on 
February 24, as I waded through an extensive fresh-water cienaga 
back of the coastal sand dunes at Playa Jobo, below Las Lajas, one 
flushed from low grass growing in the water, and I killed it on the 



wing. Another was seen on this same occasion. Following this I 
found these rails fairly common in the marshes bordering the 
Chagres between Gamboa and Juan Mina, though to be seen only 
with understanding of their habits. They seem to congregate in 
small groups in limited areas, and in these are fairly common. In 
early morning, soon after dawn, they often climb up in the top of 
clumps of grass growing in the water, and rest there briefly in the 

Fig. 57. — Yellow-breasted rail, cocalequita enana, Porsana flaviventer flaviventer. 

early morning sun. And for an hour or so they may appear in little 
open areas in the marsh, on muddy shores, or on floating water 
plants, but then withdraw to heavy cover for the day. Again to- 
ward sunset they may appear, but more briefly. The larger white- 
throated rails, common in these same areas, may drive at them if they 
approach closely, but the smaller species escapes readily, sometimes 
running across the floating plants with flapping wings to keep from 
sinking. None taken in January and February were in breeding 
condition, though gonads were beginning to develop in some of the 
males examined. Nothing is known of their nesting. 


Eisenmann (Condor, 1957, p. 250) reported two of these rails seen 
near Changuinola, Bocas del Toro, on June 30, 1956. 

From the records available it is evident. that this species is widely 
distributed in Panama. The series of 10 that I have taken agree in 
size, and in extent and depth of the deep buff to cinnamon-buff on 
the forepart of the body, with the typical race of northern South 

The race Porzana flaviventer woodi named from El Salvador, and 
known now from northern Veracruz in Mexico, and from the Rio 
San Juan in Nicaragua, is smaller, and paler in the colors mentioned. 

PORZANA CAROLINA (Linnaeus): Sora; Cocalequita Pasajera 

Rallus carolinus Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 153. (Northeastern 

Breast gray; back olive brown, streaked with black, and lined 
with white. 

Description. — Length 190-200 mm. Adult male, center of crown, 
forehead, loral area, side of head to eyes, throat and foreneck black ; 
line from fore crown back over eyes, side of head behind eyes, side 
of neck, and breast light gray; line on either side of black crown, 
back of neck, and upper back dull buffy brown, changing to light 
olive-brown on back and scapulars, the whole marked with irregular 
streaks of black, and lined with white; wings fuscous, edged with 
dull buffy brown ; wing coverts dull buffy brown ; lower breast and 
abdomen white ; under tail coverts white, washed with buff ; sides 
and flanks dull black, barred with white. 

Females have the black of head and throat reduced, and more 
white on the back. 

Immature birds have still less black on the throat and foreneck. 

Measurements. — Males (10 specimens), wing 103.0-109.5 (106.7), 
tail 43.5-53.0 (47.9), culmen 20.0-22.0 (21.1), tarsus 31.0-33.5 (32.7) 

Females (10 specimens), wing 99.5-104.5 (101.1), tail 40.0-49.0 
(45.6), culmen 18.0-22.0 (19.5), tarsus 27.0-31.0 (29.2) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Fairly common ; recorded from October 
1 to March 18: Reported from Chiriqui, Veraguas, Bocas del Toro, 
Canal Zone, eastern Province of Panama, San Bias; Isla Coiba. 

These rails are found in fresh-water marshes, areas of wet lands 
grown with low sedges and grasses, and along the open banks of low- 
land streams and drainage ditches. In such localities they range in 
company with the white-throated rail and like that species are seen 
walking and skulking under cover. They often fly short distances 


when approached, but also may crouch and hide. I have found them 
occasionally climbing about in marsh growth that stood in water 
about a meter in depth. 
In Panama they are most common on the Caribbean slope. 

LATERALLUS ALBIGULARIS (Lawrence): White-throated Rail; 

Figure 58 

Small ; throat white, with sides of neck and breast reddish brown. 

Description. — Length 130 to 150 mm. Adult (sexes alike), above, 
reddish brown throughout, or (in the race cinereiceps) with crown 
dark gray, and back and wings reddish brown ; wing coverts in some 
individuals plain, in others barred with white ; throat white ; sides 
of neck and breast rufous brown ; rest of lower surface, including 
flanks and under tail coverts, white barred with black ; in some the 
center of the breast and abdomen white. 

Immature, neck and sides dark gray, with only a slight amount 
of rufous-brown ; center of breast and abdomen white ; sides and 
flanks dusky neutral gray, barred lightly with white. 

Downy young, black. 

An adult female of the typical form L. a. alhigularis that I took 
at El Real, January 22, 1964, had the iris orange-red ; base of maxilla 
below nostril, cutting edge except at tip, and basal three-fourths of 
mandible greenish neutral gray ; rest of basal half of maxilla fuscous 
black ; tip of maxilla and mandible fuscous ; front of crus, tarsus, 
and toes dull yellowish brown; back of crus fuscous black; back of 
tarsus dull greenish brown ; claws fuscous. 

This is the most common of the rails in the republic, found in 
the tropical zone, where it ranges along the wet borders of streams 
wherever there is cover, and in marshy areas in general. Occasionally 
there is a glimpse of one as it runs or flies a few meters across some 
open space, but usually their presence is known from their rattling, 
chattering calls that are given at any alarm. Though this note is 
heard regularly it is seldom that the bird is seen in its delivery, so 
that it was several years before I was certain of the identity of the 
bird, though frequently the rail calls from a distance of a few meters. 
The note is a rapid repetition that begins suddenly, is repeated for 
several seconds, and then terminates more slowly. Often when one 
calls two or three nearby answer. 

In the period of rains these rails range widely away from the 
marshes in any low cover, but in dry season, though they may come 



out briefly on higher ground, they are found mainly in lower areas. 
It is seldom that one is seen wholly in the open, and when they cross 
trails, or other areas where there is no cover, usually they fly. On 
floating vegetation they often run with wings flapping to keep from 

As noted in the heading, some individuals have the wing coverts 
marked with light bars that vary from white to cinnamon-brown. 
Two distinct races are found in the Republic. 

Fig. 58. — White-throated rail, carrasqueadora, Lateralhis alhigularis. 

Hellmayr and Conover (Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 1, 1942, pp. 
375, 376) list the forms of Laterallus alhigularis as races of Laterallus 
melanophaius (Vieillot), found from southeastern Colombia and 
Venezuela to northern Argentina and Brazil. The two groups are 
closely similar in color pattern, but in melanophaius the under tail 
coverts are plain brown without markings, while in alhigularis this 
area is barred heavily with black and white. An occasional alhigularis 
has some brown markings in the area concerned, varying from a 
faint cinnamon wash on the tips of a few feathers to a light suffusion 
of cinnamon brown, that however does not obscure the pattern of 
barring. This is found in only about 20% of the series of more than 


60 specimens that I have handled. It should be added that in extreme 
examples the cinnamon color extends up over the abdomen, so that 
it appears to be a tendency toward a rufescent phase rather than an 
indication of close relationship with the other species. 


Corethrura albigularis Lawrence, Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. New York, vol. 7, 1861, 
p. 302. (Atlantic side of the Isthmus of Panama, along the line of the Panama 

Characters. — Top of head reddish brown ; side of head similar, or, 
in some, brighter brown. 

Measurements. — Males (14 from Panama), wing 73.3-81.1 (76.4), 
culmen from base 17.7-20 (19.2, average of 13), tarsus 27.8-32.3 
(30.9) mm. 

Females (12 from Panama), wing 71.0-77.4 (74.2), culmen from 
base 16.5-18.6 (17.9), tarsus 29.0-31.2 (29.7) mm. 

The length of the tail is omitted, as this measurement cannot be 
made with accuracy. 

Resident. Tropical zone, locally common ; on the Pacific slope from 
Costa Rica eastward through Darien; ascending in Chiriqui from 
sea level to 1,250 meters near El Volcan ; recorded also from Boquete; 
in Code taken at El Valle (600 meters) ; and in Darien from sea 
level to 600 meters elevation near Cana ; on the Caribbean side found 
from western Col6n east to the Colombian boundary ; Isla Coiba. 

These rails are especially common around Gatun Lake and along 
the Rio Chagres from Gamboa to the bridge on the Trans-Isthmian 
Highway. I found them present in numbers around Mandinga in 
the San Bias, where they ranged from marshy spots for some distance 
out into high grass in open clearings, especially in early morning. In 
Darien specimens were taken by Festa at the Laguna de Pita, and 
by W. B. Richardson at El Real. In 1912 Goldman found them 
abundant around swampy places in the level valley at Cana and 
collected several. Benson secured others here in 1928. Soon after 
that date the mines of that area were closed and the whole region 
was abandoned. In January 1961 I found that the valley was again 
heavily forested, and so the only rail habitat was in small marshy 

On Isla Coiba, there were a few pairs around a small lagoon back 
of Catival, and others in a marshy spot nearer the sea, both areas in 
the drainage of the Rio San Juan. The three taken do not differ from 
birds of the mainland. 


In laboratory examination of 6 stomachs it was found that ap- 
proximately 90% of the food was vegetable. In part this was a 
mass of fiber that was not identified. Mixed with it were seeds of a 
grass (Panicum) , sedges (including Scleria and Fimbristylis) , spurge, 
and Solanum. The animal food included spiders, Orthoptera, a va- 
riety of beetles, flies, and ants. 

The label on a specimen in the British Museum (Natural History) 
received with the Salvin-Godman collection reads "Veraguas, 1876, 
Arce" and is so listed (without the date) by Sharpe (Cat. Birds 
Brit. Mus., vol. 23, 1894, p. 142). Inasmuch as Arce at the date in 
question had transferred his collecting to Chiriqui, the bird probably 
came from that Province, where this rail is locally common. There 
are no records from the Pacific slope of Veraguas, as the bird has 
not been found between eastern Chiriqui (Las Lajas) and eastern 
Code (El Valle). It is also unknown at present from the entire 
Azuero Peninsula. 

Outside of Panama this race is found north on the Pacific slope 
to the Gulf of Nicoya in southwestern Costa Rica, and to the south 
from Antioquia, in western Colombia, to western Ecuador. 

In spite of the widespread abundance of this subspecies nothing is 
recorded of its nesting. 


For Sana cinereiceps Lawrence, Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. New York, vol. 11, nos. 
3-4, Feb. 1875, p. 90. (Talamanca, Costa Rica.) 

Characters. — Crown and sides of head gray, in contrast with the 
dark brown of the nape, hindneck, and back. 

Measurements. — Males (10 from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and 
Panama), wing 70.0-75.0 (72.3), culmen from base 17.1-19.7 (18.6), 
tarsus 29.2-32.5 (30.7) mm. 

Females (5 from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama), wing 
67.8-73.8 (71.2), culmen from base 16.4-18.3 (17.3), tarsus 26.8-29.0 
(28.3) mm. 

Resident. Tropical zone on the Caribbean slope in Bocas del Toro, 
from Costa Rica east to the Rio Calovevora, on the boundary with 
the Province of Veraguas. 

These rails are fairly common near Changuinola and around the 
western border of Almirante Bay. On the Chiriqui Lagoon they 
have been recorded on Isla Bastimentos and at Chiriquicito and 
Cricamola. H. von Wedel secured specimens also at Guabo near 
Chiriqui Grande. Specimens taken by Benson on the Rio Calovevora 


are of this race, which indicates a range extending into western 
Veraguas in this river valley. To the north this form ranges on the 
Caribbean slope to northeastern Nicaragua. 

Richmond (Proc. U. S. Nat. Mus., vol. 16, 1893, pp. 528-529), 
who found these rails common on the Rio Escondido, in southeastern 
Nicaragua, described nests as globular, with a small opening in one 
side, slightly elevated above the ground in grass, built of grass, and 
lined with similar materials. Three sets of 3, 4, and 5 eggs in the 
U. S. National Museum that he collected on May 30, July 18, and 
August 26, 1892, are subelliptical to slightly oval, with a very slightly 
roughened shell without gloss. The ground color is light creamy 
white, marked with small spots of cinnamon and cinnamon-brown, 
varied to lilac, scattered over the eggs, but more abundant at the 
larger end. The range of measurement is as follows: 27.3-28.9 X 
20.6-21.8 mm. A nest found by Huber (Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Phil- 
adelphia, vol. 84, 1932, p. 209) at Eden in northeastern Nicaragua, 
was similar in form and location, and in color and marking of the 3 
eggs, which, with measurements of 28.1-32.5x20.9-22.0 mm., were 
slightly larger. 

A recently hatched young bird, received from the Gorgas Memorial 
Laboratory, taken from a nest a little over half a meter from the 
ground, found near Almirante, March 28, 1962, came preserved in 
alcohol. The down appears black over the entire body. The bill is 
pale brownish white, with an irregular band of black around the 
center, anterior to the nostril. 

In an occasional specimen the crown is washed strongly with 
cinnamon-brown so that the appearance is that of L. a. albigularis. 
On close examination, however the feathers of the loral area, and 
around and over the eye are gray either wholly or on the partly 
concealed basal area. 

LATERALLUS EXILIS (Temminck): Gray-breasted Rail; 
Cocalequita Pechiceniza 

Rallus exilis Temminck, Nouv. Rec. Planch. Col. Ois., livr. 88, 1831, pi. 523. 

Small, with gray crown, and a broad reddish brown band on hind- 

Description. — Length 135 to 145 mm. Adult (sexes alike), crown 
gray, paler on sides of head, sides of neck, and breast ; a broad band 
of bright reddish brown from the back of the head and the hind- 
neck down to the upper back; back, scapulars, and wing coverts 


light olive-brown, the wing coverts barred narrowly with white ; pri- 
maries and secondaries fuscous on inner webs, light olive-brown on 
outer webs; throat, upper foreneck, and center of abdomen pure 
white; sides, flanks, rump, and upper and under tail coverts barred 
narrowly with black and white ; tail olive-brown. 

Immature birds are said to lack the brown band on the hindneck. 

Downy young are not known. 

Iris crimson; eyelids clay color; under part of mandible neutral 
gray; rest of bill dull green; tarsus and toes umber brown; claws 
dark neutral gray. 

Measurements. — Males (2 from Honduras and Nicaragua), wing 
72, 72.1 ; culmen from base 16.5, 17.2 ; tarsus 22, 26.8 mm. 

Females (2 from Isla Coiba and Colombia), wing 74.2, 74.7; 
culmen from base 16.8, 17.4 ; tarsus 24.8, 24.8 mm. 

Resident. Very rare ; Puerto Obaldia, San Bias ; Isla Coiba. 

The only records for the Republic are of an adult female brought 
to me alive by a convict on Isla Coiba on January 28, 1956, and of 
another female, an immature bird, also caught alive in the partly dry 
channel that passes through the village of Puerto Obaldia, San Bias 
on March 14, 1963. The one first mentioned was captured when 
men cleared a tract of marshy ground near the Catival work camp 
at the Rio San Juan, back of Bahia Damas on the eastern side of the 
island. The second was taken following similar clearing operations 
in the coconut groves bordering the village of Puerto Obaldia. 

In the latter part of 1961 Mrs. Ricardo Marciaq of Panama 
purchased one of these rails alive in the city market but was not 
able to ascertain where it had been captured. It is probable that it 
came from Panama, but this is not certain, since live birds are 
brought in rather regularly from Colombia. In February 1962 I 
saw this bird in the collections of living animals at Summit Gardens 
in the Canal Zone, where it was confined in a small aviary. It showed 
a trace of albinism in a few scattered feathers over the body. 

The species is widely distributed in tropical America but is one 
that is little known. To the north it has been found in southern 
Honduras on the Rio Segovia and in southeastern Nicaragua on 
the Rio Escondido. In South America it is recorded from northern 
Colombia, Venezuela, and Trinidad to Ecuador and northern Brazil. 

Belcher and Smooker (Ibis, 1935, p. 284) describe a nest found 
on the Caroni marshes, Trinidad, as "globular, with a large side 
entrance-hole ; it was built of dry coarse grass-blades and weed-stems, 
and set near the root in the center of a stool of sugar-cane. The 
three eggs * * * are rather long ovals, smooth-shelled, and with a 


little gloss ; the ground-colour in all is cream, but in two the spotting 
is of dark brown with underlying pale grey markings, thickest at 
the big end, while the third has smears of two shades of brown, 
disposed irregularly over the surface," Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., 
pt. 6, 1962, p. 346) gives the measurement of 5 (including those from 
Trinidad described above) as 29.8-32.5 X 22.5-24.0 mm. 

GALLINULA CHLOROPUS (Linnaeus): Common Gallinule ; 
Gallineta de Agua 

FiGtJKE 59 

Fulica Chloropus Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 152. (England.) 

Frontal shield, and bill (except for the yellow tip) red; toes with- 
out lobes. 

Description. — Length 290-310 mm. Adult (sexes alike), head and 
upper neck slate-black; lower neck, breast, and sides slate-gray, the 
sides with prominent white streaks ; upper abdomen and outer under 
tail coverts white; lower abdomen, central upper and under tail 
coverts, and tail black; back, rimip, lateral upper tail coverts, and 
ends of tertials and secondaries dull olive-brown ; primaries and sec- 
ondaries fuscous; outer edge of wing, including outer web of outer 
primary, white. 

Immature, paler gray, with throat, sides of head, and tips of 
breast feathers white. 

Downy young, black above, and on the head, with a faint greenish 
sheen on lower back; somewhat grayish black underneath; throat 
and sides of head with somewhat elongated, and slightly curled, ends, 
tipped with silvery white ; down covering of head scanty so that skin 
is visible, particularly on crown and throat. 

Iris dark red; tip of bill greenish yellow; remainder, and frontal 
shield red; tarsus and toes greenish, with a band of red around the 

In tropical Panama the common gallinule, like its relatives else- 
where through the Americas, lives around broad expanses of fresh 
waters where water hyacinth and other floating plants afford feed- 
ing grounds, with taller, denser growths of marsh vegetation ad- 
jacent for cover when needed. Though many remain hidden in this 
taller growth many others move about outside, often in stretches of 
water that are completely open, where they swim with nodding heads. 
It is common also to see them walking on muddy shores, or across 
masses of water plants. Intruders are greeted with clucking or 
chattering calls, and when alarmed the birds dash to shelter, or rise 


and fly low over the water. In feeding they dab at the surface to 
pick out bits of succulent vegetation, which may be shaken to scatter 
adhering water before they are swallowed. Often the head is com- 
pletely immersed. They are local in occurrence compared to the more 
widely distributed purple gallinule. 

The two subspecies present as breeding birds in the Isthmus differ 
slightly in size, and in the extent and depth of brown coloration on 
the back. 

Fig. 59. — Common gallinule, gallineta de agua, GaUimda chloropus. 


Gallinula chloropus cachinnans Bangs, Proc. New England Zool. Qub, vol. 5, 
May 17, 1915, p. 96. (Arbuckle Creek, De Soto County, Florida.) 

Gallinula chloropus caitralis Waldron DeWitt Miller and Ludlow Griscom, 
Amer. Mus. Nov. no. 25, Dec. 7, 1921, p. 3. (12 miles south of Metapa, 
central Nicaragua.) 

Characters. — Brown of back and wing coverts more extensive, 
darker, and of a brighter shade, and spread over the greater wing 
coverts, in some as a slight wash, but in many in an amount equal to 
that found on the back. 

Measurements. — Males (16 from eastern United States and 
Mexico), wing 167-181 (174.5), tail 64.0-86.0 (71.6), tarsus 49.0- 
56.5 (52.7) mm. 


Females (8 from eastern United States and Mexico), wing 158- 
174 (166.5), tail 63-71 (66.9), tarsus 48-50 (49.2) mm. 

Resident. Found locally in western Bocas del Toro on fresh water 
ponds and lowland streams where there are borders of marsh growth. 
One record, possibly of a migrant, for western Chiriqui, on the smaller 
of the two lakes near El Volcan. 

Kennard secured a female near Almirante on February 14, 1926 
(Kennard and Peters, Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. Hist., vol. 38, 1928, 
p. 447), and at about the same time Griscom (Amer. Mus. Nov. no. 
293, 1928, p. 1) recorded one taken by Benson (under the name 
Gallinula chloropus centralis), a specimen that I find was collected 
near Almirante, August 24, 1927. H. von Wedel forwarded several 
others from near Changuinola taken October 28, 1926, November 17 
and December 2, 1927, and July 14, 1928, which were obviously 
resident birds, a series that Peters (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 71, 
1931, p. 301) found to be identical with birds of eastern North 
America so that he declared the supposed race centralis described 
from Nicaragua one without validity. There is also a specimen in 
the Havemeyer Collection at Yale, taken at Farm 3 near Almirante 
by Austin Paul Smith in April 1927. In 1958 near Changuinola I 
recorded 4 on January 30 and a mated pair on March 4. Eisenmann 
(Condor, 1957, p. 250) found juvenile birds here on June 30, 1957. 

One that I saw on !March 6, 1954, on the smaller of the lakes near 
El Volcan in western Chiriqui may have been a migrant bird from 
the north. 

The race of the West Indies, G. c. cerceris, is similar in size to 
cachinnans but has the brown of the dorsal surface grayer and 
restricted in extent on the v^^ing coverts. Those resident on Cuba and 
Jamaica are intermediate but slightly nearer cerceris. 


Gallinula chloroptts pauxilla Bangs, Proc. New England Zool. Club, vol. 5, May 
17, 1915, p. 96. (Guabinas, Valle, Colombia.) 

Characters. — Differs from Gallinula chloropus cachinnans in 
slightly smaller size and in more grayish brown on the dorsal sur- 
face, with this color restricted mainly to the back, only a light wash, 
or none at all, being found on the wing coverts. The distinctions are 
slight, but the two groups indicated are apparent when a series 
of specimens is examined. 

Measurements. — Males (8 from Panama, Colombia, and Vene- 
zuela), wing 162-173 (168), tail 64.3-70.0 (68.0), tarsus 50.2-58.8 
(55.0) mm. 


Females (2 from Colombia), wing 159-167 (163), tail 64.9-67.0 
(66.6), tarsus 49.8-55.7 (52.5) mm. 

Resident. Found locally on fresh-water lakes; recorded on the 
Rio Chagres from Gamboa to above Juan Mina, and on the Miraflores 
lakes, Canal Zone. 

The first report that may refer to this race was by L. L. Jewel 
(Auk, 1913, p. 425) who recorded one, but apparently did not pre- 
serve it, on January 18, 1911. He does not give the locality, but this 
may be presumed to be near Gatun as his observations were made 
mainly in that area. 

Gallinules of this species appear to have been rare in central 
Panama until recently, as none were reported by the early collectors 
before Jewel. The formation of Gatun Lake has provided favorable 
habitat both in the lake and along the Chagres which has allowed 
these birds to increase. Possibly they had been held down earlier by 
competition with the more abundant purple gallinule. 

On the Chagres and the Miraflores lakes the nesting season appears 
to begin in December, perhaps in November, and in January young, 
in size from those recently hatched to others half grown, are common. 
Pairs of adults are seen regularly swimming in company, and oc- 
casionally preening one another's neck feathers. Small young when 
threatened escape by diving, but may not be able to progress under 
water because of the submerged plants. If captured they call with 
high-pitched notes when a parent bird may charge across the water 
scolding loudly. 

These gallinules should be found elsewhere in eastern Panama, 
though as yet they have not been reported. The race panxilla ranges 
in South America from northern Colombia to western Ecuador and 
western Peru. 

PORPHYRULA MARTINICA (Linnaeus): Purple Gallinule; Polla Sultana 

Fulica martinica Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 259. (Martinique, 
West Indies.) 

Brilliant blue and olive-green in the adult and light brown head 
and back and white breast in the immature stage identify this species 
from its companion coots and gallinules. 

Description. — Length 265-300 mm. Adult (sexes alike), head, 
breast, sides, and wings deep blue ; back, rump, tertials, and tail dull 
green ; abdomen and tibia black ; under tail coverts white. 


Immature, head, neck, sides, and tibia buffy brown; back, rump, 
and tail dull brown ; wings greenish blue, washed with brown ; throat, 
breast, abdomen, and under tail coverts white. 

Downy young, above black, underneath brownish black; crown, 
sides of head from bill to back of eyes, and throat with somewhat 
elongated filaments of very pale bluish white. 

Iris brown ; frontal shield pale bluish white to dull grayish blue ; 
bill red, tipped with greenish yellow to yellow ; tarsus and toes light 
greenish yellow ; claws brownish. 

Measurements. — Males (6 from Panama and northern Colombia), 
wing 178-188 (181.8), tail 65.8-73.7 (69.2), culmen from base of 
frontal shield 30.0-32.8 (31.5), tarsus 57.6-67.0 (61.7) mm. 

Females (5 from Panama and northern Colombia), wing 166-172 
(168.2), tail 56.8-63.3 (60.8), culmen from base of frontal shield 
27.2-30.7 (29.0), tarsus 59.0-63.6 (60.1) mm. 

Resident. Locally common along lowland rivers, in the backwaters 
of Gatun and Madden Lakes, and in fresh-water marshes elsewhere. 

There is no record for the Pacific slope from western Chiriqui east 
through Veraguas, Code, and the western sector of the Province of 
Panama to the Canal Zone. 

These handsomely colored gallinules are found amid the floating 
water planis that border the courses of lowland streams and in 
fresh-water marsh areas in general. The formation of Gatun Lake 
has greatly expanded their habitat in the central area of the Canal 
Zone and is certain to have brought increase in their numbers in this 

These gallinules are seen during travel in small boats, sometimes as 
they walk over the aquatic vegetation, but more commonly when 
they flush from scanty cover to fly a few meters with cackling calls 
and quickly beating wings. The main impression of color on such 
occasions is of white from the expanded under tail coverts and of 
yellow from the dangling legs and feet. When they rise 2 to 3 meters 
in the air to fly directly and rapidly in more sustained flight, the 
legs and feet are raised to the line of axis of the body. At times 
they are seen swimming, but they appear on open stretches of water 
far less frequently than the common gallinule. 

In feeding, in addition to working through the water plants, they 
climb about in trees, particularly those that grow in water, where 
wet forests with dense branches stand partly flooded along the streams. 
In such activities they often go up to 20 meters above the surface. 


When the birds are not seen their presence is often known by 
their clacking or guttural calls, that may be accompanied by cracking 
sounds made by snapping the bill. 

The breeding period is long as eggs or newly hatched young have 
been recorded in Panama from March to early November. Nests 
are shallow platforms made of the marsh vegetation adjacent to the 
site, usually placed at a slight elevation, that allows a small margin 
of safety when water levels rise during heavy rains. Gross and Van 
Tyne (Auk, 1929, pp. 431-446) describe in detail their observations 
of a nest found along the shore of Barro Colorado Island. The site 
was concealed in tall grass on a floating island, a few meters from 
the jungle covered shore. Green grass blades still attached at the 
base had been woven into a platform 35 centimeters across with a 
shallow depression to hold the eggs. A runway 3 meters or so long 
woven from the surrounding grass led to a little platform less than 
a meter above the water. This was a pathway used to reach and 
leave the nest, repaired constantly, to keep it in proper shape. The 
four eggs ranged in measurement from 39.1-42.8x28.5-29.8 mm. 
and in weight from 15.15 to 16.35 grams. They hatched after an 
incubation period of about 22 days. 

The eggs vary from subelliptical to oval, are without gloss, and 
have the shell very faintly roughened. The color varies from very 
pale cream color (nearly white) to bufif and pale cinnamon-buff, 
spotted sparingly with dots of cinnamon or rufous-brown, that ap- 
pear bluish or purplish where covered by a thin deposit of shell. In 
Florida the usual set of eggs numbers 6 to 8 with an occasional 
increase to 10, but the number recorded in Panama is less, being 
normally 4 or 5. The young remain in the nest a day or so after 
hatching, and then follow the parent birds in the water. 

Food of these gallinules is made up of the insects and spiders 
available in their watery haunts. The bits of vegetation found in 
examination of stomachs of birds killed for specimens probably are 
swallowed by accident with other food items. 

The species ranges widely through the tropical zone of the 
Americas, extending to southeastern United States on the north and 
northern Argentina on the south without evident differences in size 
or color. 

The species is often called gallito, and cocaleca de la laguna by 
country residents. 


Gallineta Cenicienta 

Figure 60 

Fulica amerkana Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 704. (North America.) 

Similar to the common gallinule but bill white ; toes with elongated, 
fringing webs or lobes on each joint. 

Description. — Length 340-380 mm. Sexes alike ; head and neck 
black; under surface gray; above darker gray, tinged with olive on 
the back ; under tail coverts, and tips of secondaries white. 

Small frontal shield dull red ; rest of bill white. 

Measurements. — Males (10 specimens), wing 182-199 (192), tail 
47.0-52.5 (50.2), tarsus 43-50 (46.6) mm. 

Females (10 specimens), wing 176-188 (178.8), tail 41.0-54.0 
(48.7), tarsus 47-56 (50.6) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Common on fresh-water lakes and larger 
rivers east to central Panama through the Canal Zone. Recorded 
from mid-November to the end of March. 

During the period of northern winter a few coots appear on the 
small lakes at Miraflores, in areas of quiet water on Madden and 
Gatun Lakes, and along the broad expanse of the Rio Chagres between 
Gamboa and Madden Dam. They may come in greater numbers on 
impounded waters among the banana farms near Changuinola, where 
on January 30, 1958, I recorded about 400 in one forenoon. I have 
seen a few on the lakes near El Volcan in Chiriqui, and years ago 
Arce secured specimens for Salvin at Laguna del Castillo and 
Calobre in Veraguas. Karl Curtis informs me that he has found a 
few at La Jagua, usually in November and December, but that they 
do not remain for long. 

Griscom (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 7d>, 1935, p. 305) was 
misinformed when he recorded this species as resident around Laguna 
de Chiriqui, since though they appear near Almirante, it is only as 
migrants. I have taken specimens for identification on the Chagres 
near Juan Mina, Canal Zone, January 8, and near El Volcan, Chiriqui, 
February 9, 1955. 

In Panama coots range on open v/aters, often in shallow channels 
bordered by aquatic weeds, where they swim and dive for food like 
the ducks that often are present with them. The small, pointed bill, 
as well as the constantly nodding head, mark them from their duck 
companions, and the white color of the bill distinguishes them from 
the gallinules that also may be their companions. 


[?PARDIRALLUS MACULATUS (Boddaert): Spotted Rail; 
Cocalequita Pintada 

Rallus maculatus Boddaert, Table Planch. Enl., 1783, p. 48. (Cayenne.) 

At Mandinga, San Bias, in the early morning of January 22, 1957, 
a rail that appeared to be somewhat larger than a sora flushed in 
fairly open, high grass near the border of the abandoned airfield. 
The bird rose 5 or 6 meters from the ground, flew swiftly for 75 

Fig. 60. — ^Foot of American coot, galHneta cenlcienta, Fulica americana ameri- 

cana, with lobed toes. 

meters or so, and then dropped down on wet, bush-and-grass-grown 
ground, where it disappeared in the manner usual in this family. On 
the wing the upper surface of the body appeared black, well-streaked 
with light gray. I made search in this area on several occasions 
afterward but did not find the bird again. 

It is probable that this was the spotted rail, the only species known 
to me of the size and marking described that might be found in 
this area. This species has been recorded in Central America from 
Mexico, Costa Rica and British Honduras and to the south from 
northern Colombia. None have been taken to date in Panama. 


In the hand the spotted rail has the throat and under tail coverts 
white ; the rest of the lower surface black, streaked on the neck, and 
barred elsewhere with white; above blackish on the head and neck, 
brown mixed with black on the back and wings, streaked narrowly 
everywhere with white. The wing measures about 120 mm. 

Rallus jamaicensis Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 718. (Jamaica.) 

A black rail is reported by Stephen T. Harty (Cassinia, no. 48, 1964- 
1965, p. 19) as seen July 6 and 7, 1963, near the International High- 
way west of Chepo at a point 16.2 miles by auto speedometer from 
the road circle at the Tocumen Airport. The observation was made 
in company with George B. Reynard, Philip A. Livingston, Henry 
Matthews, and Thomas C. Crebbs, Jr. On July 6 two birds called re- 
peatedly so that Reynard was able to make a tape recording, and 
finally Harty located a globular nest in tall grass that contained 3 
fresh eggs. On the following day Matthews had a brief view of a 
"small dark sparrowlike rail." The eggs, from a photograph sub- 
mitted to me and the measurements 23.5-24 X 18.5-19 mm. (taken by 
James Bond) in appearance and size resemble those of the black rail 
{Laterallus jamaicensis). They are distinctly smaller than eggs re- 
corded for Laterallus alhigularis and L. exilis. Those of the yellow- 
breasted rail Porsana flaviventer flaviventer, not yet recorded, may be 
of similar size or smaller. As the general color of Porsana flaviventer 
is light buffy brown it does not fit the description of the bird that 
was seen. The area also is not a suitable haunt for the yellow- 
breasted rail, which is a species of open marshes where grasses stand 
in shallow water. 

On January 4, 1964, with Rudolpho Hinds as assistant, I visited 
the locality described. We located the spot without difficulty but could 
not find the rails. 

The black rail is recorded by Russell (Amer. Orn. Union Ornith, 
Mon, 1, 1964, p. 58) in British Honduras, and there are uncertain re- 
ports for Guatemala and Colombia,] 

Family HELIORNITHIDAE : Finfoots ; Zambullidores 
de Agua 

The three species of this family are tropical in distribution, one in 
Africa, another in southeastern Asia, and the third, the smallest, in 
the Americas. Structurally, they are allied to rails, but except for 
museum specimens, are little known as naturalists have had limited 


opportunity to study them because of their retiring habits. All have 
close, firm plumage, like tliat of a duck, and slender, rather elongated 
bills, with perforate nostrils like those of rails. The feet are webbed, 
and the tail is long and broad. While they fly readily when ap- 
proached, more often they dive, as they are truly aquatic in habit. 

HELIORNIS FULICA (Boddaert): American Finfoot; Patico de Agua 

Figure 61 
Colymbus fulica Boddaert, Table Planch. Enl., Dec. 1783, p. 54. (Cayenne.) 

Like a grebe, but with head and side of neck black ; streaked 
prominently with white behind the eye, and on lower side of neck. 

Description. — Length 280 to 305 mm. Adult male, crown and 
hindneck black, with a white line extending from above eye back 
to upper neck ; back and wing coverts olive-brown ; wing feathers 
fuscous ; rump and upper tail coverts brown ; tail black, tipped 
narrowly with white ; throat and f oreneck white ; side of head below 
eye white, in some washed lightly with buff; a black band at each 
side of lower f oreneck, in some united across the front, separated 
from the black of the hindneck by a broad white line ; a faintly 
indicated buffy brown band across upper breast and adjacent sides ; 
rest of breast and abdomen white ; sides and under tail coverts grayish 
brown ; under wing coverts dark gray. 

Adult female, like the male, but with a prominent band of cinnamon 
brown on the cheeks and adjacent sides of neck. 

Immature, like the adult, but with cheeks and sides of neck white. 

An adult female, taken on the Rio Chagres, at Juan Mina, January 
18, 1955, had the iris dark brown; maxilla and side of mandible at 
base dull red, becoming blackish at the extreme base, and on the tip 
of the culmen; mandible light horn color on the sides, and light 
neutral gray at the tip; bare edge of eyelids dull red, forming a 
narrow ring ; lower tarsus, toes, and webs honey yellow ; three bands 
on inner toe, four on the middle toe, five on the outer toe, and two 
on hind toe dull black; upper third of tarsus dull brownish yellow; 
a band of dull black on inner side, and on anterior face of tarsus, 
and also on the posterior half of the outer face. 

Measurements. — Males (6 from Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, 
and Panama), wing 138.4-152.0 (141.3), tail 83.0-91.0 (86.7), culmen 
from base 30.0-33.6 (31.5), tarsus 22.4-24.0 (23.5) mm. 

Females (6 from Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama), 
wing 133.3-142.2 (137.7), tail 78.0-81.5 (80.1), culmen from base 
28.5-33.2 (30.3), tarsus 21.7-23.7 (22.7) mm. 



Resident. Found locally in the tropical zone on larger bodies of 
fresh water ; recorded from the Rio Changuinola and the Changuinola 
Canal in Bocas del Toro ; on Gatun Lake and the Rio Chagres in the 
Canal Zone ; Rio La Jagua, Panama (one record) ; and the Rio Tuira 
at Boca de Paya, Darien (one record) . 

On the lateral channels and bays bordering the Chagres below 
Madden Dam these curious birds are fairly common, though easily 
overlooked because of the broad masses of floating vegetation that 
furnish them cover. Occasionally they are encountered as they swim 
in open waters along the shores, when in form they resemble grebes 

Fig. 61. — American finfoot, patico de agua, Heliornis fulica. 

because of the slender bill and neck. When startled they may dive, 
or may rise, with feet paddling the water for a short distance, and 
then fly just above the surface to the shelter of water plants where 
they disappear. Again, they may rise a meter or two in the air and 
fly swiftly, like a small duck, for a hundred meters or more. When 
moving slowly in a cayuco so as not to alarm the marsh birds I 
have had them swim to the shelter of the shore and there remain 
partly hidden until 1 approached within a few meters. At such times 
the dark body merges with the shadows, so that only the white 
streaks on head and neck are seen. I have observed them swimming 
in company with small groups of lesser scaup ducks, when, as the 
ducks take flight, the finfoot may dive, or may rise with them to 
accompany them for a short distance, but soon to circle back and 


alight on the water. Once on the surface they swim or fly into the 
cover bordering the shore. 

When I have come quietly in a cayuco into their haunts where the 
birds remained concealed, I have often induced them to call by 
striking a paddle on the side of the canoe. The note, resembling the 
syllable kow, in tone closely like the call of the pied-billed grebe, 
may be given once or may be repeated quickly several times. 

On Gatun Lake they frequent sheltered coves, and may be seen in 
such localities around Barro Colorado Island. 

Enrique van Horn, of the staff of the Gorgas Memorial Laboratory, 
who has accompanied me on much of my work on the Chagres, told 
me that the nest, built of sticks, placed on a bush or branch over the 
water, is small in size and flimsy in structure. Soon after hatching 
the young enter the water where they are carried on the back of the 
parent, in the manner well known among grebes. The adult when 
alarmed may dive, when the young cling tightly. As the bird cannot 
go far with this encumbrance it is soon again on the surface, with the 
young still in place. 

A nest that Enrique Van Horn collected for me on the Rio 
Chilibre near its junction with the Chagres, on June 16, 1963, is 
made of twigs and dried stems of coarse marsh plants, ranging in 
diameter from small to pencil size. These formed a flattened plat- 
form approximately 180 by 225 mm., with a slight depression that 
held 3 eggs, buft'y white, spotted finely with cinnamon and pale 
purple rather uniformly over the entire surface. They measure 26.1 
X20.9, 26.8x20.1, and 27.3x20.7 mm. A second nest, found on 
July 15, was similar in construction, with measurements of 200 by 
250 mm, and held 4 eggs which could not be saved. Both nests were 
placed in bushes that hung over the water, elevated about a meter 
above the surface. 

Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 6, 1962, p. 355, pi. 7, fig. 11) 
describes the eggs as reddish cream, dotted with lilac gray, dark brown 
and reddish markings, denser around the larger end, with the size 
range of 27.1-29.3x20-20.6 mm. 

An early account by Wied (Beitrag. Naturg. Brasilien, vol. 4, 
pt. 2, 1833, pp. 827-828) states that the young when hatched are 
naked ("vollig nacktes") and in this condition are carried beneath the 
wings of the parent. While this statement has been repeated by later 
authors, so far as I am aware it has not been verified by later ob- 

At night I have found the finfoot sleeping on branches a few feet 
above the water. 


In handling them in the flesh, it has been interesting to note the 
great development of the caudal muscles, in addition to the robust 
size of those that control the legs. This heavy form in the posterior 
part of the rather flat body may be noticed in outline when they fly. 

In some published accounts this species is called the sungrebe. 

Family EURYPYGIDAE: Sunbitterns ; Abanicos 

These are birds of the American Tropics found locally in forested 
areas from Tabasco and Chiapas in southern Mexico through Central 
America and South America to eastern Bolivia and central Brazil. 
The birds of the north have stronger, heavier bills, and are more 
subdued in color on the upper surface, with the black bars narrower, 
less in width than the gray interspaces. While described originally as 
a distinct species under the name major these are now placed as 
conspecific with the form helias of the southern part of the range. 
In southern Peru birds of this type have the black bars on the rump 
and upper tail coverts slightly narrower and are recognized as another 
race, meridionalis. The typical subspecies helias, found from the 
Orinoco Valley southward, is quite distinct in more slender bill and 
in a mixture of buff on the back, where the black bars are wider. 

EURYPYGA HELIAS MAJOR Hartlaub: Sunbittern; Abanico 

Figure 62 

Eurypyga major Hartlaub, Syst. Verz. Naturh. Samml. Gesellsch. Mus. Bremen, 
pt. 1, Vogel, 1844, p. 108. (Colombia.) 

Slender in form, with long neck and legs, white throat and abdomen, 
brown breast and neck; a striking pattern of chestnut, black, and 
white in the spread wing. 

Description. — Length 460 to 475 mm. Adult (sexes alike), head 
black, with a slender line of white over the eye, and another across 
the cheeks ; neck dull chestnut, barred narrowly with black ; upper 
back like neck but black bars wider ; rest of back and tertials brownish 
gray, barred heavily with black ; scapulars spotted with white ; rump, 
upper tail coverts, and base of tail dull black, barred narrowly with 
white ; a band of chestnut bordered with black across center of tail, 
and another near tip; center and tip of tail gray, banded narrowly 
with white and pale grayish white ; primaries barred widely with chest- 
nut, black, and white; center of secondaries mottled with buff; throat, 
lower breast, and abdomen white ; upper breast dark buff to cinnamon- 
buff, barred narrowly with black ; sides, flanks, and under tail coverts 
buff, the latter marked finely and irregularly with black. 


Young, when hatched, covered with down, with longer filaments 
thinly scattered over head and body; dark brown above, spotted on 
the head and streaked on the back and wings with buff and white; 
buffy brown below, with indistinct darker markings (Bartlett, Proc. 
Zool. Soc. London, 1866, pi. 9) . 

Iris red ; eyelids yellow edged with brownish ; inside of mouth 
bright orange ; maxilla black, brownish at base with tip orange-yellow, 
and edge of commissure bright orange ; mandible bright orange ; tarsus 
and toes bright orange, with front of tarsus and upper surface of 
toes brown-orange; claws yellow (Deignan, Auk, 1936, p. 188). 

Fig. 62. — Sunbittern, abanico, Eurypyga helias major. 

Measurements. — Males (7 from Panama and Colombia), wing 
216-230 (223), tail 148-156 (151), culmen from base 61.1-65.1 
(62.8), tarsus 54.1-58.0 (55.4) mm. 

Females (8 from Panama and Colombia), wing 218-229 (222), 
tail 147-155 (150, average of 7), culmen from base 61.1-67.3 (63.4), 
tarsus 54.6-59.3 (57.1) mm. 

Resident. Local, in forests of the tropical and lower subtropical 
zones; recorded throughout except in the savanna regions of the 
Pacific slope. 

While this is a bird of forested areas it is one that lives around 
gravel playones, on open-floored quebradas, and along the shores of 
swift-flowing streams, where it has the protection of shade from the 
full power of the sun, but open ground on which to move about. It is 
found in pairs, or at times alone, and it is seldom that more than two 
are seen together. Since it moves about quietly, often in the cover 
of bushes, and usually is not wary, when approached it may merely 


walk aside and hide so that it is often found with some difficulty. 
Occasionally one may fly into low branches and there remain con- 
cealed. As it moves the slender form and long legs and neck often 
give the impression of a huge sandpiper, a resemblance heightened 
by its rather somber colors. But this impression vanishes instantly 
when one begins its display, with the wings and tail fully spread to 
show their beautiful pattern of black, white and chestnut mingled with 
light buff, while the bird turns and whirls, in shade or in sun. Then 
its size seems more than doubled as both wings and tail are broad. 

In the field the only note that I have recorded from them is a low 
trill, but repeatedly in the bird house of the National Zoological 
Park I have heard a ringing call, ko way, that has resounded through 
the building. 

They are often found walking over the rocky beds of small streams, 
and it is here that they secure much of their food. The stomach of 
one that I examined, taken in Darien where the Rio Ucurganti joins 
the Chucunaque, held 15 to 20 tiny snails, the elytron of a beetle, 
and leg bones of a small batrachian. In two taken by Goldman near 
Gatun on May 16, 1911, one had eaten fragments of a river crab 
(Pseudothelphnsa sp.). The other held remains of 2 large spiders, a 
bug (Heteropteran), moths, 2 large scarabaeids, and another beetle 
(Temnochila sp.). Deignan (Auk, 1936, p. 188) found a shrimp and 
remains of smaller crustaceans in one taken in Honduras. The bill 
tip in most museum specimens shows wear from feeding among the 
stones and hard ground of the usual habitat. 

Skutch (Wilson Bull., 1947, p. 38), in Costa Rica, found a bulky 
nest in a small tree near the bank of a boulder-filled stream, that was 
built of leaves, stems, and other decaying vegetation, with green moss, 
and some earth. Two eggs lay in the open cup, which w&s lined with 
green leaves. I have seen no description of the eggs of the form of 
Central America and northwestern South America. Three single 
eggs of the allied, but quite distinct Eurypyga helms helms in the 
U. S. National Museum collected by R. N. Berryman, Jr., May 10, 
1934, June 26, and July 9, 1935, at Guanoco, Sucre, in northeastern 
Venezuela, have the shell smooth, with a faint gloss, and in ground 
color vary from tilleul-buff to somewhat darker than pinkish buff. All 
are spotted sparingly with black, violet-gray, chocolate, and chestnut, 
mainly around the larger end. They measure 42.8x33.3, 44.0x35.0, 
and 44.6 X 33.7 mm. 

The species is one of limited habitat and apparently of restricted 
territorial range so far as individual birds are concerned, that while 
shy is not especially wary, so that it is vulnerable as settlement en- 


croaches on its haunts. Formerly it was spread widely through the 
republic, but hunting and casual killing have destroyed it over exten- 
sive areas. It has not been reported recently from Chiriqui and 
southern Veraguas though some may remain in mountain areas, and it 
has been a good many years since it has been found in the Canal 
Zone. Some remain in remoter areas in Bocas del Toro, northern 
Veraguas, Colon, eastern Panama, Darien, and San Bias, mainly in 
hill country. C. O. Handley, Jr. found them at a thousand meters 
and higher on Cerro Mali in 1959, and in 1962 recorded them at 
similar elevations on Cerro Hoya in western Los Santos. 

They are called primavera on the Rio Tuira; and in Venezuela 
are known as tigana, or locally as pavito real. 

Family JACANIDAE : Ja^anas ; Gallitos de Agua 

The eight species of this family, found in the tropical and sub- 
tropical areas of Africa, southeastern Asia (from India to the 
Philippine Islands), and America are marked by long, slender legs 
with the toes tipped with greatly elongated, straight claws, so that 
these birds walk with ease over the floating plants that carpet the 
quiet waters of their haunts. In all of the forms the bend of the 
wing is armed with a sharp-pointed, strong spur, a weapon to be 
regarded with respect. The wide distribution of the living species 
indicates a considerable antiquity in geologic time. 

In America, where jaganas range from the lower Rio Grande 
Valley in Texas through Mexico, the Greater Antilles (except 
Puerto Rico), Central America, and South America to northern 
Argentina and Uruguay, two populations are found, superficially so 
similar that there has been uncertainty as to their status. In the 
accounts that follow, where their characters are described they are 
treated as species that may hybridize when they are in contact in the 
breeding season. 

JACANA SPINOSA SPINOSA (Linnaeus): Northern Jagana; Gallito de Agua 


Figure 63 

Fulica spinosa Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 152. (Western 

Legs and toes very long in proportion to size of body; back and 
abdomen chestnut-brown. 

Description. — Length 220 to 230 mm. Frontal plate with a central 
division so that it is 3-lobed. Adult (sexes alike, except in size), 
head, neck, and upper breast black with a greenish sheen ; rest of body 


and under wing coverts, chestnut-brown; primaries and secondaries 
light greenish yellow, edged with fuscous. 

Immature, crown, back, and tertials brownish gray ; line behind eye, 
back of neck, and sides black ; rump washed with chestnut ; broad line 
over eye, side of head, and entire under surface white. 

Iris dark brown; bill yellow, with base of maxilla pale bluish 
white ; frontal plate orange-yellow to yellow ; tarsi and toes dull gray- 
ish green ; wing spur bright yellow. 

Measurements. — Males (7 from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salva- 
dor, and Panama), wing 116.2-120.8 (119.4), tail 37.5-43.5 (40.3), 
bill from nostril 16.8-19.0 (17.9), tarsus 51.0-57.5 (54.6) mm. 

Fig. 63. — Head of northern ja?ana, gallito de ag^a castano, Jacana spinosa 


Females (7 from Nicaragua and Panama) wing 130.6-136.6 
(134.6), tail 41.6-46.6 (44.1), bill from nostril 19.0-20.4 (19.5), 
tarsus 55.0-61.8 (58.7) mm. 

Resident. Common in the tropical zone of western Panama, 
through the lowlands of Chiriqui to extreme western Veraguas (El 
Zapotillo) ; wandering casually to the lower subtropical zone (lakes 
near El Volcan) ; on the Atlantic side from the Rio Sixaola to Almi- 
rante in Bocas del Toro. 

These brown-backed birds are found in western Chiriqui, and in 
Bocas del Toro, east to Almirante. They are especially common near 


Changuinola and there often come to rain pools on the golf links. On 
the Pacific slope, in eastern Chiriqui, they mingle with the black- 
plumaged wattled jaqana from Las Lajas and Remedios to the Rio 
Tabasara, and in lesser number in Veraguas to the Rio Bubi west of 
El Zapatillo, an overlap in range of between 40 and 50 kilometers. 
The two to date have not been found associated on the Caribbean side. 

The northern jacana in haunt, habits, and notes is the counterpart 
of the other species found throughout most of the Republic. 

While I have not seen eggs from Panama, those in a series in the 
U. S. National Museum from Mexico and Cuba are slightly larger 
than those of the black form from the Canal Zone, the range in 15 
specimens being 29.3-31.2x21.6-24.0 mm. They are also somewhat 
more heavily marked. 

With the large series of these birds now available it is found that 
populations of the Greater Antilles, Mexico (except for a limited 
area in the northwest), and southern Central America, formerly re- 
garded as 3 distinct geographic races, are to be merged in one as 
Jacana spinosa spinasa. Specimens from Sinaloa to northern Colima, 
Mexico, are slightly smaller, so that they are separated as Jacana 
spinosa lozvei van Rossem. The northern group, the species Jacana 
spinosa (Linnaeus), has a well-marked central division between the 
two lateral broader sections in the frontal plate, so that the free up- 
per margin is clearly and definitely three-lobed. The base of the bill 
is pale bluish or greenish white, and the frontal plate is bright yellow 
to orange yellow. Birds of the southern species, Jacana jacana (Lin- 
naeus), found from western Panama southward, have only two di- 
visions in the upper margin of the frontal plate and also possess a 
well-developed lappet on either side of the gape. The frontal plate 
and the lappet are dark red in color. It should be noted that the lap- 
pet is absent in younger juvenile individuals but begins to grow as 
the frontal plate develops, so that it is present before the bird molts 
into adult dress. As stated, the ranges meet in western Panama where 
the two species now are found together over a space of about 50 
kilometers. My own observations in this area of overlap confirm the 
early reports of Griscom (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 78, 1935, p. 
305) who found the two together in the same pools near Remedios, 
in eastern Chiriqui, "without producing intermediates." However, I 
have examined several specimens in the British Museum, collected by 
Arce in 1869, labeled Calobre, in eastern Veraguas, that appear to 


be hybrids. Two have maroon backs with trifid frontal lappets, and 
also a small rictal lappet. Two others with only a tinge of maroon on 
the back have a small median frontal wattle between the two large 
ones, and also a rictal wattle. One other, fully adult is completely 
black on the back, with a small middle frontal wattle, and large ones 
in the rictal area. All others seen have shown the normal differences 

Part of the confusion in understanding of the differences that sep- 
arate the two has been due to individual variability in Jacana jacana 
hypomelaena, the race of the southern species involved. This name 
is applied to the population found through most of Panama and 
northern Colombia, in which the head and body are deep black. It 
appears that this is a condition of melanism in which the dark pig- 
ment conceals the chestnut brown pattern of the back and breast nor- 
mal in other populations to the south. It is fairly common to find 
specimens of hypomelaena in which a definite wash of brown is evi- 
dent on the back and wings, often hidden by black tips of the feathers, 
and an occasional individual in which there are definite chestnut 
markings on back and breast. As the chestnut pattern is found also 
in the northern Jacana spinosa, these aberrant individuals have been 
attributed mistakenly to intergradation between the two groups, a 
supposition supported by specimens of /. /. hypomelaena in which 
the free margin of the frontal plate, through slight distortion in dry- 
ing, appears to simulate the true central lobe of /, spinosa. The clear- 
cut and striking differences in color of the frontal plate may be the 
effective factor that separates the two groups during pair formation, 
and thus maintains the two distinct. I have not seen a supposed in- 
termediate adult specimen that could not be allocated specifically on 
the characters that I have outlined. 

Current acceptance of Todd's designation of "Panama" as type 
locality for this species (Ann. Carnegie Mus., vol. 10, 1916, p. 219) 
requires amendment to western Panama in view of the limited range of 
this bird in the Republic. The specific name spinosa of Linnaeus is 
based solely on Edwards, Nat. Hist. Birds, 1743, p. 48, pi. 48. Edwards 
was told that his specimen, "preserv'd a good while in spirits," lent 
to him by Sir Hans Sloane, "was brought from Carthagena, South 
America." It seems probable that it came from farther north in 
Central America rather than from the limited area where this species 
is found in western Panama. 


JACANA JACANA HYPOMELAENA (Gray): Wattled Jajana; Gallito de 

Agua Barbudo 

Figure 64 

Parra hypomelaena G. R. Gray, Gen. Birds, vol. 3, May 1846, pi. 159. (Bogota, 

Similar to the northern jagana in general form, but head, neck, 
back, and abdomen black. 

Description. — Length 210 to 230 mm. ; frontal plate with two 
lobes ; a distinct lappet on either side of the mouth at the gape. Adult 
(sexes alike, except in size), wings as in the northern jaqana; entire 
body and under wing coverts, in most black. Some show a tinge of 
chestnut on the back, and in a very few this color is sufficiently strong 
to suggest the markings of the other species. 

Immature, crown and back dark brown ; side of head, neck, upper 
back, and sides extensively black, often with a mixture of black on 
the wing coverts ; rump and upper tail coverts black. 

Iris dark brown; base of the maxilla, frontal plate, and rictal 
lappets rather dull red ; rest of bill cinnamon to yellow, tinged with 
slate at the tip ; tarsus deep neutral gray, with a tinge of green on 
the posterior face of the crus ; toes and claws dusl<y brown. 

Measurements. — Males (8 from Panama), wing 115.5-120.1 
(117.6), tail 36.3-42.4 (38.8), bill from nostril 17.4-19.4 (18.3), 
tarsus 53.4-56.8 (55.1) mm. 

Females (9 from Panama), wing 127.0-134.8 (130.7), tail 40.2- 
44.8 (42.4), bill from nostril 18.5-20.8 (19.7), tarsus 54.8-64.1 (58.7) 

Resident. Common in the tropical zone along lowland rivers and 
in fresh-water marshes from eastern Chiriqui (Las Lajas, Remedios), 
the Rio Indio in extreme northern Code (El Uracillo), and western 
Colon (Chilar and Rio Indio) to Colombia. Casual on Isla Coiba. 

It is probable that these birds will be found to range much farther 
west along the rivers of the Caribbean lowlands when field studies 
have been made in the area from the Valiente Peninsula in Bocas del 
Toro through northern Veraguas. 

The wattled jagana, like the northern species, primarily is a bird of 
fresh-water marshes and the borders of the larger lowland streams 
where shores, bays, and side channels are lined with water-lilies, 
pondweeds, and other floating aquatic plants. As the small body is 
light in weight the long toes afford a broad support so that the bird, 
with nodding head, walks about with ease. Where the plant growth 



is scanty the wings are fluttered to assist in support in more rapid 
movement to denser growth. They come frequently to shallow pools 
in wet pastureland. Once, in the marsh at La Jagua, a pair ranged in 
the same manner as anis about a bull that fed in water up to its body. 
Adults usually are found in pairs, in which the sexes may be 
distinguished by difference in size, the female being much larger in 
body than the male. Where the birds are common several pairs may 
be associated, and with them there are often many of the white 
breasted young. All feed quietly, picking at the water surface for 
small insects, or with a quicker dab at a minnow. At any disturbance 

Fig. 64. — Wattled jagana, gallito de agua barbudo, Jacana jacana hypomelaena. 

the wings may be raised to show the striking, light-colored pattern, 
and the birds give cackling and grunting calls. Adults often spar 
with the spread wings raised high, the body horizontal, and the head 
thrust forward, but seldom seem to come to actual blows, the sharp 
spurs with which all are armed being a sufficient deterrent. I have 
noticed this especially where one of a pair in a small group has been 
killed, when the survivor is constantly driven away when it ap- 
proaches its companions. 

Jaganas fly easily and in the air present an unusual outline with 
the neck and feet extended, the latter with a slight curve upward 


from the linear axis through the head and body. At Juan Mina, 
when traveUng by cayuco along quiet channels, small groups of 
jaganas often rise explosively from behind the taller vegetation, with 
each individual headed in a different direction, but immediately 
all shift and with chattering calls straggle off together. 

They are most abundant in the open lowlands of the Pacific slope. 
A few, usually, but not always, in the white-breasted immature dress, 
wander inland along gravel bars exposed in dry season on the larger 
rivers, and then may be encountered within the open valleys in the 
hills. I supposed that it was such a wanderer, an adult bird in this 
instance, that I recorded on Isla Coiba on January 21, 1956. 

Four sets of 4 eggs each and one of 3, presented to the U. S. 
National Museum by Maj.-Gen. G. Ralph Meyer, indicate that this 
species nests in the main during the rainy season, as these, taken at 
the Summit Gardens, Canal Zone, from 1940 to 1942, range in date 
from August 10 to November 26. At Juan Mina, on the Rio Chagres, 
I recorded two broods of 4 young each, on December 14, 1955. 
Some nest later, as Thomas Gilliard found 4 young recently hatched 
at Barro Colorado Island March 24, 1937 (Chapman, Life in an Air 
Castle, 1938, p. 226). And Jackson Abbott has told me of finding 
a pair with a nest containing 4 eggs in a lily pool at the Summit 
Gardens on February 15, 1942. General Meyer also reported newly 
hatched young on May 17, 1941. 

The usual nest is a slight depression in a mass of floating vegeta- 
tion. The eggs, in general, are similar to those of Jacana spinosa 
spinosa, recorded under that species, but average slightly smaller, 
and viewed as a group are less heavily marked. In form they vary 
from oval to short subelliptical. The ground color is somewhat 
brighter than deep olive-buff, marked heavily with irregular, scrawling 
lines and occasional spots of black, that here and there are modified 
to dull grayish brown. Measurements of 4 sets are as follows : 27.7- 
29.7x21.0-22.3 mm. A fifth set is somewhat smaller, as indicated by 
the following dimensions : 23.6-27.5 X 21.0-21.5 mm. 

The usual name in Panama is gallito de agua, often abbreviated to 
gallito. In Los Santos they were called rasca tortilla, and on the 
Rio Jaque in Darien they were known as the lagunero. 

Family HAEMATOPODIDAE : Oystercatchers ; Ostreros 

The species of this family, true shorebirds in foim, are among the 
largest of the group. All have heavy bodies and strong feet and bills, 
the latter long, and compressed from side to side at the tip to a 


chisel form. This is used in prying loose and opening the mollusks 
that are their principal food. Part of the species recognized are 
wholly dark in color, and part are blackish on the head and neck, 
gray or gray-brown on the back and white underneath. As a group 
they are found worldwide in continental areas, except in regions of 
heavy cold. 

HAEMATOPUS PALLIATUS PITANAY Murphy: American Oystercatcher; 

Ostrero Blanco 

Figure 65 

Haematopus palliatus piianay Murphj'^, Amer. Mus. Nov. no. 194, Nov. 17, 1925, 
p. 1. (Pisco Bay, Peru.) 

A large shorebird with long red to yellow bill, compressed at the 
tip ; sooty black head and neck, grayish-brown back and white under- 

Description. — Length, 420 to 440 mm. Adult (sexes alike), head 
and neck sooty black, slightly grayer on the crown; spot on lower 
eyelid white; back, longer tertials, lesser and middle wing coverts 
grayish brown; greater wing coverts, and secondaries white except 
for the black tips; wings and tail sooty black; upper tail coverts, 
sides of rump, and under parts white ; under wing coverts white more 
or less spotted with sooty black. 

A juvenile, half grown, from Isla San Jose, with the general color 
pattern of the adult, has the throat covered with gray down, spotted 
indistinctly with white and darker gray; entire upper surface with 
feathers tipped narrowly with cinnamon-buff; rump and tail tipped 
with cinnamon. 

Iris yellow; edge of eyelids red; bill red, becoming yellow at tip, 
and orange at base ; tarsus and toes pinkish white to pale flesh color ; 
claws fuscous. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Panama), wing 141-156 (150), 
tail 90.6-107.0 (98.7), culmen from base 75.0-81.0 (78.5), tarsus 
54.5-58.3 (56.3) mm. 

Females (2 from Panama), wing 157, 158; tail 101.6, 104.0; 
culmen from base 82.1, 90.0; tarsus 58.0, 61.5 mm. 

Resident. Local along the Pacific coast: Archipielago de las 
Perlas (recorded from islas San Jose, Pedro Gonzalez, Bayoneta, 
Malaga, Pacheca, Pachequilla, Saboga, Contadora and Rey). Rare 
elsewhere: Veraguas (specimen in British Museum without definite 
locality or date taken by Arce) ; Los Santos (La Honda) ; east of 
Panama City (Sturgis, Field Book Birds Panama Canal Zone, 1928, 
p. 54) ; mouth of Rio Maje. 


These large shorebirds are found now mainly in the Pearl Islands 
where they are widely distributed, but nowhere common, on rocky 
coasts. On the mainland I have seen them on unfrequented sand 
beaches on the coast of Los Santos and at the mouth of the Rio 
Maje in eastern Panama near the frontiers of Darien. But only in 
work in the Pearl Islands have I encountered them regularly. Arce 
secured one that is labeled "Veragua," but there are no other records 
for western Panama. And the species has not been reported for the 
long reach of the Caribbean coast. 

Fig. 65. — American oystercatcher, ostrero bianco, Haematopus palliatus pitanay. 

Usually oystercatchers are found in pairs on rock flats near the 
water, and are wary so that it is necessary to stalk them behind cover 
to secure specimens. They nest in February and March and then 
call by day and night, though at other seasons they are vocal mainly 
when disturbed. 

They eat small mollusks, the strong bill with both upper and 
lower halves compressed at the tip being specially adapted to secure 
such food. One taken on Isla San Jose had opercula of the abundant 
snail Nerita and a bit of barnacle in its stomach. 

On March 20, 1948, on the beach at La Honda, near the mouth 
of the Estero Espigadilla, in northern Los Santos, I collected a pair, 
and by following their tracks in the loose sand located their nest. 


The 3 heavily incubated eggs were placed in a slight depression with- 
out lining in an open expanse of sand, back of the high water mark, 
clearly visible at a distance of 15 meters. They are oval in shape, 
with a slightly roughened shell that is without gloss. The ground 
color is very pale buff, rather evenly spotted with small irregular 
marks of fuscous, that appear dull gray to bluish gray where over- 
laid by a deposit of shell. They measure 57.5x37.6, 57.6x38.3, and 
59.5x38.1 mm. 

Oystercatchers throughout the world are closely similar in ap- 
pearance, particularly in the more common color pattern in which 
the underparts are white. Those of this type of the Old World have 
the back and rump clear white, while the eye, feet, and tarsi are 
red. In the New World all have dark-colored backs, only the sides of 
the rump and the upper tail coverts being white. The eye is bright 
yellow, and the legs and feet are flesh color or faintly pinkish white. 
While these are not great differences they are clearcut and are 
constant, and therefore sufficient to indicate two specific groups 
Haematopus ostralegus for the Old World and Haematopus palliatus 
for the Americas. 

As a whole, the white-breasted New World populations are darker 
colored above along the Pacific coast and lighter in the Atlantic area. 
The eastern group appears fairly uniform from New Jersey south 
to Florida, west to Texas and the Yucatan Peninsula, and through 
the West Indies, on the Guajira Peninsula of northeastern Colombia, 
and in northern Venezuela. The bird is not known in the Caribbean 
coastal area from British Honduras, to central Colombia, or along 
the Atlantic coast from eastern Venezuela to northern Brazil. In 
the latter country oystercatchers appear on the coast of Para and 
range southward to Santa Cruz in southern Argentina. Through this 
vast area the birds are remarkably uniform. Some from the Bahama 
Islands have larger bills and have been recognized as a subspecies 
H. p. prattii Maynard, with a range that extends through the Greater 
and Lesser Antilles and the islands off the north coast of Venezuela. 
The character, however, is one that is not constant, nor does larger 
size, alleged in a longer wing, hold, so that the supposed subspecies 
is one of doubtful value. 

In the far south in Argentina, from the east coast of the Province 
of Buenos Aires to southern Patagonia, oystercatchers average faintly 
browner above, and are known as Haematopus palliatus durnfordi 

Along the Pacific coast from Baja California to Guerrero, Mexico, 
the breeding birds are recognized as H. p. frazari Brewster. Com- 


pared to palliatus these average darker above, have less white on 
the inner webs of the inner primaries, and the white of upper 
breast heavily mottled with black, a pattern that in some extends a 
short distance down the sides. At the Isthmus of Tehuantepec this 
mottled pattern tends to disappear. Few oystercatchers have been 
recorded on the Pacific side of Guatemala, there are none known 
for El Salvador, western Honduras, and Nicaragua, and only two 
for western Costa Rica. The birds are found regularly only from 
the Gulf of Panama south to southern Chile. In this region the 
population has a clear-cut line between light and dark in the breast 
pattern like palliatus, agrees with frasari in restricted white on the 
inner primaries, but is darker, grayer on the dorsal surface. This 
may be known as Haematopus palliatus pitanay, described from Peru, 
with a range extended here to include Panama. 

On the Galapagos Islands the birds are much darker than any 
others in the white-breasted group and have mottled upper breasts, 
an extensive black pattern on the under wing coverts, and decidedly 
larger feet. These are Haematopus p. galapagensis Ridgway, a 
population definitely distinct from any others. 

Family CHARADRIIDAE : Plovers ; Chorlitos 

Plovers are birds of worldwide distribution in ice- free areas, 
related to the sandpipers, snipes, and curlews, but with shorter and 
somewhat more swollen bills. While several visit Panama in their 
migrations only one, the collared plover or chorlito de collar, is a 
resident on the isthmus. Most of the species range the sand beaches 
of the seashore, but the golden plover in its passage flights comes 
to open pastures and savannas. 


1. A long, slender crest ; throat black. 

Southern lapwing, Belonopterus chtlensis, p. 383 
Head not crested ; throat white 2 

2. A very small hind toe ; axillars dark gray to black. 

Black-bellied plover, Squatarola squatarola, p. 384 
No hind toe ; axillars pale gray or white 3 

3. Dorsal surface spotted and barred with white and black, some with golden- 

yellow ; breast mottled with dark gray. 

Golden plover, Pluvialis dominica dominica, p. 385 

Dorsal surface plain, or feathers tipped lightly with pale buff or grayish 

white ; breast not mottled 4 


4. Breast with two prominent black bands. 

Killdeer, Charadrius vocijerus, p. 390 
Breast with a single black or grayish-brown band 5 

5. Bill entirely black, strong and heavy, 19 mm. long or more. 

Wilson's plover, Charadrius wilsonia, p. 391 
Bill with orange or yellow at the base, short and more slender 6 

6. Larger, wing more than 114 mm.; dark brownish gray above; a distinct 

web between the outer and middle toes. 

Semipalmated plover, Charadrius semipalmatus, p. 386 

Smaller, wing less than 105 mm. ; light brown above ; no web at base of 

toes Collared plover, Charadrius collaris, p. 387 

Lapwing; Teru-teru 

Parra cayennensis Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 706. (Cayenne.) 

A large plover, with a long, slender crest. 

Description. — Length, 290 to 330 mm. Bend of the wing armed 
with a strong, curved, sharply pointed spur. Adult (sexes alike), 
forehead, crest, throat, center of upper foreneck, and breast black, 
with a faint bluish sheen ; a narrow line across the back of the fore- 
head, and on the anterior area of the cheeks, dull white; rest of 
crown grayish brown; rest of head and neck dull buffy gray; back 
dull greenish gray with a bronzy area on either side; upper tail 
coverts white; lesser wing coverts, alula, primaries, and outer sec- 
ondaries black ; middle and greater wing coverts white ; secondary 
coverts and inner secondaries dull gray; tail black, with basal half 
and tip white ; abdomen and sides white. 

Iris red; bill red on the basal half and black on the tip; tarsus and 
toes dull red ; wing spur red. 

Measurements. — Males (5 from Colombia), wing 218-231 (224), 
tail 92.2-103.0 (97.2), culmen from base 30.0-34.8 (32.7), tarsus 
74.3-84.3 (80.8) mm. 

Females (5 from Colombia), wing 220-227 (223), tail 89.2-95.5 
(92.7), culmen from base 32.6-34.4 (33.4), tarsus 73.0-78.0 (75.7) 

Casual visitor. Recorded from the eastern sector of the Province 
of Panama (La Jagua, Chepo), and San Bias (Puerto Obaldia). 

This is a species of South America, found in open lands, that 
ranges across Colombia to the lower Rio Atrato, and wanders oc- 
casionally to eastern Panama. It was first recorded for the isthmus 
when Karl Curtis shot one at La Jagua on May 17, 1936 (Griswold, 
Auk, 1936, p. 457). Curtis informs me that about 1950, toward the 


end of the dry season, he encountered a flock of about 30 below La 
Jagua, near the mouth of the Rio Chico, and shot two or three that 
he was unable to retrieve as they fell on mud banks that were not 
passable. In March 1921, M. J. Kelly, of the Everhart Museum at 
Scranton, Pa., secured two on a savanna area near Chepo. These, 
mounted for exhibition for a time, subsequently came in an ex- 
change to the U. S. National Museum. 

On August 27, 1934, Wedel shot a female at Puerto Obaldia, 
San Bias, which was purchased for the Brandt collection, now in 
the museum at the University of Cincinnati (Brandt, Auk. 1938, p. 

The specific name chilensis is from Parra chilensis Molina of 1782, 
a name that some have refused, since the description includes a 
reference to a frontal shield like that of a jagana. The formal 
diagnosis describes the short toes and crested head of the plover, 
and the extended account of habits also is of that species. Many 
early descriptions are in part composite but are accepted from the 
action of a reviser who decides the proper allocation of the name. In 
the present instance the question has been discussed in detail by me 
(U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 133, 1926, pp. 168-169) and by Peters (Bull. 
Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 65, 1923, pp. 295-296). In both references 
chilensis is designated as the name to be accepted for the Belonopterus. 

SQUATAROLA SQUATAROLA (Linnaeus): Black-bellied Plover; 
Chorlito Gris 

Tringa squatarola Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 149. (Sweden.) 

A plover of medium size, with the axillars black. 

Description. — Length, 270 to 290 mm. Sexes alike. Breeding dress, 
face, foreneck, and breast black; forehead, sides of neck, and abdo- 
men white ; crown and hindneck grayish, primaries and axillars black; 
rest of upper surface barred and spotted with brownish black and 

Winter plumage, above brownish gray, barred and spotted ir- 
regularly with white and grayish white; forehead, sides of head, 
and undersurface white, the cheeks and sides of neck, streaked with 
dusky ; breast streaked and mottled with dusky. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. 50, pt. 
8, 1919, p. 73).— Males, wing 178-199 (189.3), tail 68-82 (75.4), 
culmen 29.5-31.5 (30.4), tarsus 42-51 (45.3) mm. 

Females, wing 179-196 (187.5), tail 69-84 (73.7), culmen 27.5- 
31 (29.5), tarsus 41.5-48.5 (44.7) mm. 


Migrant from the north. Locally common along the sea beaches ; 
Isla Coiba ; Isla del Rey. A few nonbreeding birds remain through 
the period of northern summer. 

The main migration arrives from the north in September and 
early October, and most have left on return by April. I have seen 
them mainly along the Pacific coast, particularly around the shores 
of Parita Bay. Near Fort Amador, Canal Zone, and on the golf 
links at Changuinola, Bocas del Toro, they often range on grass, like 
golden plover. Eisenmann (Wilson Bull., 1951, p. 182) has re- 
ported a few non-breeding individuals near Panama Viejo between 
June 16 and July 17, from 1948 to 1951, with 13 individuals as 
the maximum number seen at one time. 

In 1956 I found them regularly on the beaches at Isla Coiba, and 
collected a female on January 12. Though they should be found 
throughout the Gulf of Panama a report for Isla del Rey for 
March 11, 1904 (Thayer and Bangs, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool, vol. 
46, 1905, p. 146), is the only record for the Pearl Islands. 

PLUVIALIS DOMINICA DOMINICA (Miiller): American Golden Plover; 
Chorlito Dorado 

Charadrius Domintcm P. L. S. Muller, Natursyst. Suppl., 1776, p. 116. 

Slightly smaller than the black-bellied plover, darker on the dorsal 
surface, with pale gray axillars. 

Description. — Length, 245 to 260 mm. Sexes alike. Breeding dress, 
entire undersurface, including side of head black; a broad band of 
white from the forehead over the eye and down the side of the neck 
to the side of the upper breast; dorsal surface dusky speckled with 

Winter plumage, forehead, side of head, and under surface white, 
streaked with dusky on the side of the head, and mottled with 
brownish gray on breast and sides; under surface of wings and 
axillars light gray ; upper surface brownish gray, spotted indistinctly 
with black, white, and dull buff. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 84). — Males, wing 159- 
183.5 (176.4), tail 60-75 (67.9), culmen 20.5-24 (22.2), tarsus 38.5- 
45 (41.9) mm. 

Females, wing 176-183 (180.8), tail 64-70 (66), culmen 22-23.5 
(22.5), tarsus 41-44.5 (43) mm. 

Passage migrant. Locally, tolerably common; reported mainly on 
the Pacific slope toward the end of the dry season when in north- 


ward migration; found in flight southward from the middle of 
August to November. 

The golden plover was first recorded from Panama when T. A. 
Imhof (Auk, 1950, p. 256) saw a flock of a dozen on the parade 
grounds at Fort Clayton, Canal Zone on October 4, 1942. Loftin 
(Carib. Journ. Sci., 1963, p. 65) in 1962 at Panama Viejo found 
2 August 12, another September 23 (statement corrected from that 
published from data supplied by the author). At Jaque, Darien, in 
1946 I found them regularly from March 15 to April 13, on the 
airfield and along the river adjacent, and collected the first specimen 
for Panama on the date first mentioned. This bird, a male, was in 
good flesh but was not fat. On the Sabana San Jose, east of the 
Rio Pacora I recorded them in 1949 on March 22 and 23, and on 
March 22, 1958, shot one from a flock of a dozen that flew and ran 
ahead of my jeep. The bird taken on this occasion was a female 
that was heavy, but with fat that was dry so that it was not difficult 
to prepare. It appeared that the oily elements normal in such a 
condition may have been consumed in the first stage of its northward 
flight from the wintering grounds in Argentina. On April 3, 1955, 
I recorded a dozen on the mudflats at Panama Viejo, and on March 
2, 1956, saw another flock of similar size on the golf links near 
Summit, Canal Zone. None that I have observed have been in 
breeding plumage. 

CHARADRIUS SEMIPALMATUS Bonaparte: Semipalmated Plover; 
Chorlitejo Semipalmeado 

Charadrius semipalmatus Bonaparte, Journ. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, vol. 
S, Aug. 1825, p. 98. (Coast of New Jersey.) 

A small plover with a dark grayish brown back and a single dark 
breast band. 

Description. — Length 145 to 160 mm. Breeding plumage, band 
across center of crown, a narrow line across base of bill, becoming 
wider on the cheeks, and a broad band across the upper breast 
black; rest of crown, back, and wing coverts dark grayish brown; 
primaries and distal half of tail, except tip, black ; rest of under sur- 
face, tips of primary coverts, and of tail white. 

Winter dress, black markings of summer replaced by dark grayish 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 117). — Males, wing 114- 
122.5 (119.4), tail 52-57.5 (54.8), culmen 11.5-13 (12.5), tarsus 
21-24 (22.3) mm. 


Females, wing 115-127 (119.8), tail 52.5-61 (55.7), culmen 10.5- 
13.5 (11.9), tarsus 21-23 (21.9) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Common along both Atlantic and Pacific 
coasts : Isla Coiba ; Archipielago de las Perlas ( San Jose, Saboga, 
Viveros, and Rey islands) ; Isla Escudo de Veraguas. A few non- 
breeding birds are present during the period of northern summer. 

These plovers range the sand beaches, sometimes alone, but 
usually in small groups of half a dozen to a dozen individuals. The 
ocean front is a regular haunt, but on the larger rivers of the Pacific 
slope, as on the Chiman and the Jaque, these plovers regularly come 
inland to the head of tidewater where the period of low water ex- 
poses open bars of sand and gravel on which they may feed. When 
the tide is in they often take refuge on rocky islets or headlands. 
At such times they may go back also among the mangroves to rest 
on exposed roots. A favored place at high tide is on the offshore 
rocks at Panama Viejo. At Changuinola, in Bocas del Toro, I have 
seen them on the golf links, about small pools left by heavy rains. 

Some nonbreeding birds remain through June, during the period of 
northern summer, but when flocks of fair size are recorded after 
early July, probably they are early arrivals in the fall migration. 
Large flocks may be encountered in late March and April when the 
birds are on their way north. 

At Puerto Mensabe on the coast of Los Santos on March 26, 
1948, two in full plumage, that I assumed to be males, called, sang, 
and postured as they do on their northern breeding grounds. 

CHARADRIUS COLLARIS Vieillot: Collared Plover, Turillo 

Figure 66 

Charadrhis collaris Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 27, Dec. 1818, 
p. 135. (Paraguay.) 

Smallest of the plovers that have a black breast band ; bill black, 
except for the extreme base of the mandible. 

Description. — Length, 130 to 145 mm. Adult (sexes alike), fore- 
head, line through eye, including lower eyelid, and under surface, 
except breast band, white; fore part of crown, line from eye to 
bill, and breast band black; upper surface from center of crown to 
upper tail coverts, including ear coverts, and lesser and middle wing 
coverts, grayish brown, in most with faint tips of dull white to pale 
cinnamon ; usually with a band of cinnamon brown between the 
black and the gray of crown, and a mixture of the same color on 


the ear coverts and the side of the neck ; greater wing coverts tipped 
narrowly with white ; wings and central tail feathers fuscous ; outer 
tail feathers white. 

Juvenile, black band on fore crown much reduced or absent ; black 
band on breast reduced to a spot on either side, broken in the center. 

Iris dark brown ; bill black, except for a small orange spot on the 
side of the mandible at the base that extends from side to side across 
the bare skin between the mandibular rami; tarsus and toes flesh 
color ; claws black. 

Fig 66. — Collared plover, turillo, Charadrius collaris. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 141). — Males, wing 86-103 
(95.3), tail 40-52.5 (45.2), culmen 13-16.5 (14.4), tarsus 24-27 
(25.2) mm. 

Females, wing 89-102 (94.4), tail 41-48 (42.8), culmen 13-16 
(14.6), tarsus 23.5-26.5 (24.9) mm. 

Resident. Local; rather rare; found on gravel bars of larger 
streams, and on sand beaches. 

The early specimens of this interesting species were those sent by 
McLeannan, who collected it in company with Galbreath somewhere 
on the Caribbean slope along the line of the Panama Railroad. The 
two specimens concerned, male and female, are in the U. S. Na- 
tional Museum, but as usual with this older material have no 
definite locality noted on the label. It is probable that they were 
obtained on the Rio Chagres. 


The species is one that I have known in other regions, but one 
that I sought over many miles of beach, mudflat, and stream edge 
for ten years before I found my first individual on the isthmus. On 
March 26, 1957, above the head of tidewater on the Rio Tonosi in 
Los Santos, mangrove swallows and black jaqanas drew me to a 
broad gravel bar in the river bed. Here, presently, two small 
plovers that at a casual glance I supposed would be the semipalmated 
rose, but in the same instant it was obvious that they were a lighter, 
browner gray, and as they alighted I saw that they were my long- 
sought collared plover. Both were males. 

At Changuinola, Bocas del Toro, in January 1958, a few of this 
species ranged with other shore birds on the golf course after rains. 
On January 30 I counted six in company. I found others on the outer 
beach along Tirbi Bight, above Boca del Drago, on February 20, 
where I believed they were on their breeding grounds, as a male 
taken here had the testes beginning to enlarge. Apparently they are 
more common in this area than elsewhere, as Eisenmann (Condor, 
1957, p. 252) found 2 pairs at the mouth of the Rio San San, farther 
along on this same stretch of shore. 

The flight of these plovers is direct, fairly rapid, and low over 
open ground or water. Usually after alighting they teeter once or 
twice, but then walk about slowly, seeming rather inactive. But also 
they may run quickly with the head down, and then stop suddenly 
with the head erect but the neck still shortened. In general actions 
they resemble the snowy plover, but seldom run as far without 
stopping. On the outer beaches when approached they move back 
above the crown, where they are inconspicuous among the scattered 
bits of drift. 

The alarm note is a sharp metallic tsee. Another common note 
is a slightly rolling tur-r-r. These notes are heard most often during 
the breeding season. At other periods usually they are silent. 

A set of 2 eggs in the U. S. National Museum was collected on 
September 30, 1926, by E. G. Holt, on the Rio Araguaya, below 
Macauba, Goias, Brazil. The shell is smooth, without gloss, with the 
ground color slightly paler than pinkish buff. Small, irregular black 
spots are scattered over the surface, somewhat less abundantly near 
the small end. The measurements are 28.3 X 20.9 and 28.4 x 21 .2 mm. 
Schonwetter (Handb. Ool., pt. 7, 1963, p. 387) lists the variation in 
size found in 36 eggs as 26-31x19.1-22.5 mm. 


Chorlito Griton 

Charadrius vocijerus Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 150. (South 

A plover with two black bands on the under surface, one on the 
lower f oreneck, the other on the breast. 

Description. — Length, 235 to 250 mm. Forehead, line behind eye, 
collar on hindneck and under surface white ; band across anterior edge 
of crown, extending back over eye, one on malar stripe, one around 
lower f oreneck, and one across breast black; crown, side of head, 
back, and wing coverts dark grayish brown; rump and upper tail 
coverts cinnamon-buff ; primaries black ; primary coverts tipped with 
white; outer tail feathers cinnamon-buff, banded near the end with 
black, and tipped with white; 3 central pairs grayish brown, banded 
with black near the tip. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 100). — Males, wing 154-167 
(160.2), tail 88-103 (95.6), culmen 19-23 (20.3), tarsus 33-36.5 
(34.6) mm. 

Females, wing 147-170 (160.1), tail 90-103 (94.9), culmen 19.5-22 
(20.4), tarsus 32-37 (35.2) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Fairly common wherever there are open 
savannas and pasture lands, from sea level to 2,000 meters eleva- 
tion ; Isla San Jose. Present usually from November to March. 

The killdeer is a land plover that is found as frequently in dry 
pastures as it is around water. Often it ranges alone, except when 
moving in migration, when several may appear in company. When 
approached, if at a little distance, these birds may merely turn the 
back to conceal the striking black and white of the lower surface of 
the body, or, if near at hand, may run quietly away. When they take 
wing, flight is usually accompanied by the loud calls in imitation of 
which they have received their English name. 

The majority arrive in November, though a few have been re- 
ported earlier in late October, (October 31, Finca Lerida, above 
Boquete; Oct. 24, 1931, Oct. 27, 1932, Puerto Obaldia, San Bias). 
Most leave for the north during March, but a few remain until April, 
my latest date being April 13, 1946, at Jaque, Darien. Here, a few 
days earlier (on April 9) one on the old airfield amused me when it 
settled down, with wings and body moving gently as though it was 
adjusting eggs against its breast, and then presently stood up and 
ran away, a realistic performance, but one not at all convincing in 
view of the vast distance to its northern nesting grounds. 


CHARADRIUS WILSONIA Ord: Wilson's Plover; Chorlito Piquigordo 

A small plover, with a single breast band, the bill much larger and 
heavier than in others with similar marking. 

Description. — Length, 160 to 180 mm. Breeding dress, male, 
anterior part of crown, lores, and a band across upper breast black ; 
posterior area of crown, hindneck, back, wing coverts, and tertials 
grayish brown ; side of head and nape in some washed with cinnamon ; 
greater wing coverts tipped narrowly with white; primaries dull 
black; central tail feathers blackish, outer pairs light gray tipped 
with white; forehead and underparts, except for breast band, pure 

Female, similar but dark bands on fore crown, lores, and breast 
grayish brown, with little or no black. 

Winter plumage, like the female in breeding dress, but more 
grayish brown. 

Iris dark brown; bill black; tarsus and toes grayish flesh color; 
claws black. 

These plovers are found in small numbers on sand beaches, usually 
remote from areas frequented by fishermen and bathers. They are 
quieter and more retiring than the semipalmated plovers encountered 
in the same localities, as when approached usually they run back into 
the loose sand above high tide mark. There, with the breast turned 
away, the dull gray back forms an effective camouflage so that they 
are hidden. Often, too, they crouch so that they become completely 

There is much to learn regarding Wilson's plover in Panama as 
there are few published records, and in my own studies I have en- 
countered them infrequently. The specimens that I have collected 
indicate that two geographic races are present. 


Clmradrius wilsonia Ord, in Wilson, Amer. Orn., Ord reprint, vol. 9, 1814, p. 
77, pi. 73, fig. 5. (Cape May, New Jersey.) 

Characters. — Lighter, grayer on the dorsal surface; middle toe 
longer, 18 to 20 mm. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 109). — Males, wing 106- 
121 (116.4), tail 44-50 (47.5), culmen 19.5-21.5 (20.7), tarsus 
27.5-30.5 (29), middle toe without claw 18-20 (19.2) mm. 

Females, wing 112-121 (117.6), tail 42-50 (46.9), culmen 19-22 
(20.8), tarsus 27-31 (28.6), middle toe without claw 18-20 (18.6) 


Possibly resident. Status uncertain from present information; 
recorded on the Caribbean coast of western Colon, Canal Zone, and 
San Bias. 

At Mandinga, San Bias, on February 6, 1957, I found half a 
dozen Wilson's plovers on a sand bar at the mouth of the Rio 
Mandinga and collected two females. These prove to be the typical 
subspecies, not previously reported for the republic. A pair recorded 
on February 10, 1952, near Boca del Rio Indio, in the western sector 
of Colon, I believe to have been the eastern race, but this is not 
certain as I did not obtain one for a specimen. They were on a 
sand beach at the mouth of a small stream about 3 kilometers east 
of the village, and at my approach ran aside to hide, as they do 
when on their nesting grounds. They have been recorded breeding 
on Grassy Key off the coast of British Honduras but are little 
known south of that point. 

The only other report for these birds on the Caribbean side of the 
Isthmus is a sight record by Arbib and Loetscher (Auk, 1935, p. 
326) of 21 on August 23, 1934 at the spillway on the Chagres at 


Pagolla wilsonia beldingi Ridgwaj', U. S. Nat. Mus. Bull. SO, pt. 8, June 26, 
1919, p. 112. (La Paz, Baja California.) 

Characters. — Darker gray on the dorsal surface ; middle toe shorter, 
17-18mm., or less. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 112). — Males, wing 115-116 
(115.5), tail 45-48.5 (46.7), culmen 19.5-20.5 (20), tarsus 27.5-28 
(27.7), middle toe without claw 17-18 (17.5) mm. 

Females, wing 113.5-119 (115.5), tail 45-49.5 (47.2), culmen 
19.5-21.5 (20.7), tarsus 27-29 (28), middle toe without claw 17.5- 
18.0 (17.8) mm. 

Probably resident. Local in occurrence on the Pacific coast ; 
recorded from Los Santos (La Honda) ; Canal Zone (Fort Amador) ; 
eastern Province of Panama (near Panama City ; mouth of the Rio 
Chico) ; Isla Coiba; Isla San Jose; Isla del Rey. 

Two males and a female taken March 20, 1948, at La Honda, on 
the coast of northern Los Santos, were near breeding condition. I 
believed from their actions that they were on their nesting ground, 
as when approached they ran back into the loose sands behind high 
tide mark for concealment. One that I recorded March 16, 1949, 
on the mudflats at the mouth of the Rio Chico, and 4 seen April 


2, 1955, on the beach at Fort Amador, probably were migrants. 
Arbib and Loetscher (Auk, 1935, p. 326) saw several at Panama 
Viejo on August 7 and 28, 1934. HalHnan (Auk, 1924, p. 309) 
collected one near Panama City on August 11, 1907. 

A female with undeveloped ovaries was taken on Isla Coiba on 
January 30, 1956, and another female shot on January 24, 1960, at 
Manzanillo, on the eastern side of Isla del Rey, was in similar stage. 
It is possible that the birds may nest on this island as Brown col- 
lected 3 near the town of San Miguel on February 29 and March 11, 
1904 (Thayer and Bangs, Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 46, 1905, 
p. 146). Morrison secured an immature male, fully grown, on Isla 
San Jose, August 2, 1944. 

Family SCOLOPACIDAE : Snipe, Sandpipers, and Allies ; 
Agachadizas, Playeros, y Aliados. 

In this, the most abundant group of the true shorebird families, 
the species in general resemble the plovers, but most have longer, 
more slender bills, and there is a greater variation in size. None of 
those found in Panama nest there, all being migrant from the north. 
While many are found on inland waters their greatest abundance is 
along the coasts, where flocks of thousands may be found on muddy 
shores at appropriate seasons. 


1. Without a hind toe Sanderling, Crocethia alba, p. 416 

Hind toe present 2 

2. Bill long and prominently decurved (size large). 

Whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus, p. 396 

Bill variable in length, usually straight, if not the curvature only slight 

and near tip 3 

3. Bill more than 100 mm. long (size large). 

Marbled godwit, Limosa fedoa, p. 398 

Bill much shorter, less than 80 mm., usually much less 4 

4. Bill more than 40 mm 5 

Bill less than 40 mm 9 

5. Larger, wing more than 170 mm., tip of bill smooth 6 

Smaller, wing less than 160 mm., tip of bill minutely pitted 7 

6. Primaries with a striking, contrasted pattern of black and white. 

Willet, Catoptrophorus scmipalmatiis inornatus, p. 406 
Primaries plain browTiish black. 

Greater yellowlegs, Totamts melanoleuctis, p. 400 

7. Tail with a chestnut-brown subterminal bar. 

Common snipe, Capella gallinago delicata, p. 413 
Tail barred black and white, without chestnut-brown subterminal bar. 8 


8. Black bars on tail and upper tail coverts decidedly broader than white ones. 

Long-billed dowitcher, Linmodrotnus scolopaceus, p. 413 
Black bars on tail and upper tail coverts not wider than white ones, the 
latter usually decidedly broader. 

Short-billed dowitcher, Linmodrotnus griseus, p. 410 

9. Primary wing coverts and secondaries with conspicuous white markings. 10 
Primary coverts and secondaries not broadly and conspicuously white. 12 

10. Bill longer, 30 mm. or more 

Bill straight, rump and upper tail coverts prominently barred with black 
and white Knot, Calidris canutus rufa, p. 415 

Bill slightly but definitely decurved at the tip, rump and upper tail coverts 
gray or brownish gray without bars. .Dunlin, Erolia alpina pacifica, p. 424 

Bill shorter, less than 30 mm., lower back or upper tail coverts white. . . 11 

11. Lower back extensively white; tarsi and feet orange to orange-red. 

Ruddy turnstone, Arenaria interpres morinella, p. 408 

Lower back gray to sooty gray, tarsi and feet duller colored, greenish 

yellow Surfbird, Aphriza virgata, p. 407 

12. Tail feathers all, or except central pair, white banded with black 13 

Tail feathers not extensively white barred with black, except for one or 

two of the outer ones in some species 14 

13. Larger ; upper tail coverts white, barred somewhat with sooty black, wing 

more than 145 mm.; tarsus bright yellow. 

Lesser yellowlegs, Totanus fiavipes, p. 399 

Smaller; upper tail coverts dark, wing less than 145 mm., tarsus dark 

olive-green Solitary sandpiper, Tringa solitaria, p. 400 

14. Tail more than 75 mm.; axillars and under surface of outer primaries 

white or whitish, broadly barred with black or grayish black. 

Upland plover, Bartramia longicauda, p. 395 

Tail less than 70 mm., under surface of outer primaries not distinctly and 

evenly barred 15 

15. With a pronounced buffy color, brightest on lower surface. 

Buff-breasted sandpiper, Tryngites suhruficollis, p. 426 

Without evident buff on lower surface, which is white on the abdomen, 

or wholly white 16 

16. Tarsus more than 35 mm.; legs long and slender, with the bare portion 

(crus) above the tarsal joint equal to middle toe without claw. 

Stilt sandpiper, Micropalama himantopus, p. 425 

Tarsus less than 35 mm.; legs proportionately shorter and stockier, with 

the bare portion (crus) above the tarsal joint definitely shorter than 

middle toe without claw 17 

17. Rump and upper tail coverts gray or greenish gray. 

Spotted sandpiper, Actitis macularia, p. 402 
Rump and upper tail coverts black, sooty, or black and white 18 

18. Larger, wing more than 115 mm 19 

Smaller, wing less than 105 mm 21 

19. Rump white ; tip of maxilla pitted. 

White-rumped sandpiper, Erolia fuscicollis, p. 421 
Rump black or dusky ; tip of maxilla smooth 20 


20. Tarsus and toes greenish Pectoral sandpiper, Erolia melanotos, p, 423 

Tarsus and toes black Baird's sandpiper, Erolia bairdii, p. 422 

21. No webs between the toes; tarsus greenish gray or yellowish green. 

Least sandpiper, Erolia minutilla, p. 420 
A distinct web between the toes ; tarsus black 22 

22. Bill shorter ; in male 17-20 mm., in female 18-22 mm. 

Semipalmated sandpiper, Ereunetes pusillus, p. 417 
Bill longer ; in male 20.5-23.5, in female 23-28 mm. 

Western sandpiper, Ereunetes mawri, p. 419 

BARTRAMIA LONGICAUDA (Bechstein): Upland Plover; Correlona 

Tringa longicauda Bechstein, in Latham, Allg. Uebers. Vogel, vol. 4, pt. 2, 
1812, p. 453. (North America.) 

A medium-sized sandpiper, buffy-brown in general color, with 
small head, and long tail, found in open fields and savannas. 

Description. — Length, 245 to 260 mm. Crown dusky brown to 
sooty black, with an indefinite central stripe of pale buff; forehead 
streaked with white and buff; hindneck buffy, narrowly streaked; 
back and rump sooty black, with feathers on the upper back bordered 
with buff ; lesser wing coverts sooty black ; middle and greater 
coverts cinnamon-buff to buffy white, barred lightly with black; 
tertials brownish gray, barred with black; upper tail coverts black, 
barred with dull cinnamon-buff and pale buff; central tail feathers 
brownish gray, barred with black ; outer ones cinnamon-buff, edged 
with white and barred with black ; primaries and secondaries fuscous, 
barred narrowly with white ; under surface pale buff, darker on the 
under tail coverts, with the lower foreneck streaked, and the lower 
breast marked irregularly and narrowly, with sooty black. 

Birds in fall migration average deeper buff. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 380). — Males, wing 157-181 
(163.3), tail 79-92 (75.6), exposed culmen 26-31 (28.2), tarsus 43.5- 
49 (46.4) mm. 

Females, wing 161-178 (166.6), tail 79-89.5 (84.0), exposed 
culmen 27.5-32 (29.8), tarsus 47-50.5 (48.5) mm. 

(The average measurement for the tail in females through an 
error in computation is given by Ridgway as 75.6 mm. in the refer- 
ence cited above.) 

Passage migrant. Formerly common, but now rather rare; in 
southward migration mainly from September to November ; in move- 
ment northward in March and April (one on May 3) . 


The only records for western Panama are of one taken at Divala, 
Chiriqui, November 30, 1900, by Brown (Bangs, Auk, 1901, p. 358) 
and of two from the town of Bocas del Toro, taken by von Wedel, 
Nov. 18, 1938. Imhof recorded one at Chorrera, western Province 
of Panama, October 11, 1942. In the Canal Zone Jewel (Auk, 1913, 
p. 425) found this species regularly near Gatun in the fall of 1911, 
when the birds arrived on September 12 and remained until December 
8. The following year he saw the first one September 1. Arbib and 
Loetscher (Auk, 1935, p. 326) recorded one there on August 17, 

On the Pacific side Imhof saw them at Fort Clayton October 14 
to 18, 1942, and Hallinan (Auk, 1924, p. 309) secured one at La 
Boca on October 26, 1915. In 1953 collectors for the Malaria Control 
Service secured specimens at Albrook Field on October 6 and 21, 
The bird taken October 6 is in the U. S. National Museum. 

Upland plover have been found less commonly in the spring migra- 
tion. I recorded one on the open savanna at San Jose, above La 
Jagua, Panama, April 7, 1950, and another at the same point on 
April 11, 1959. There is a specimen in the American Museum of 
Natural History that was taken at Boca de Cupe, Darien, May 3, 1915. 

These birds nest from southern Alaska and southern Manitoba 
south to Oklahoma and Maryland. They spend the period of north- 
ern winter in the pampas region of southern South America. 



Nuntenius hvdsonicus Latham, Index Orn., vol. 2, 1790, p. 712. (Hudson Bay.) 

One of the largest shorebirds, with long, decurved bill ; general ap- 
pearance buffy brown, particularly when flying. 

Description. — Length 410 to 450 mm. Crown blackish brown, with 
a median streak of buffy white ; hindneck, dull buffy white, lined 
heavily with dull grayish brown; back and wings brownish black, 
with feathers edged and spotted with dull buffy white; rump and 
upper tail coverts grayer brown, with lighter markings that are 
distinctly brown ; primary coverts tipped lightly with white to produce 
an indistinct band; primaries and secondaries sooty black, heavily 
barred on the inner web with buff ; tail grayish brown, barred nar- 
rowly with dull black, with an edging of pale cinnamon-buff on outer 
web of outer pair; throat, lower breast, and abdomen white to buffy 


white; foreneck and upper breast lined heavily with grayish brown, 
the lines changing to narrow, irregular bars on breast ; sides, flanks, 
axillars, and under tail coverts pale cinnamon-buff, barred heavily 
with grayish brown. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., pp. 403-404). — Males, wing 
231-257 (239.1), tail 88-101 (92.9), exposed culmen 77-93.5 (83.1), 
tarsus 52-61 (55.7) mm. 

Females, wing 240-267 (252.4), tail 92-102 (97.1), exposed culmen 
84-95.5 (91.5), tarsus 54-61 (57.9) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Found along both coasts of the mainland : 
Isla Coiba; Archipielago de las Perlas (Rey, Pajaros, Chapera, 
Saboga, Canas, Malaga) ; Isla Escudo de Veraguas. 

The main flight arrives from the north at the beginning of Septem- 
ber. Most leave in March and April, with a few nonbreeding birds 
present during the months of northern summer. Eisenmann (Wilson 
Bull., 1951, p. 182) has found a few near Panama Viejo in June 
and July, and Imhof recorded one here on June 20, 1942; Festa 
collected one on June 14, 1895, near the mouth of the Rio Coconati, 
Darien. On June 8, 1953, I recorded 5 near the mouth of the Rio 
Vidal in western Veraguas. 

While the whimbrel ranges to some extent on the sand beaches it 
is most common on mud flats near the mouths of rivers, and in such 
localities it goes back inland through the coastal swamps. As the 
tide rises they often seek perches in the mangroves, sometimes as 
much as 10 meters above the water, and there rest until their feeding 
grounds again are open. The mudflats at Panama Viejo are favored 
haunts where they may be found almost without fail — at low tide 
spread widely, and when the flats are covered with water on the 
rocky islets off the beach. Here in December I have seen as many 
as 100 gathered together. On the Caribbean side of the isthmus they 
are less common. I have recorded them there in Almirante Bay, at 
Isla Escudo de Veraguas and at Mandinga. They are recorded along 
this coast east to Perme, near the Colombian boundary. 

At times the whimbrel may come to wet meadows a short distance 
inland in pursuit of insects, as I found them in such a location at 
Catival on Isla Coiba. Jewel (Auk, 1913, p. 426) recorded them 
feeding in the short grass of the clearings around Gatun in 1911, 
and reported that he saw them catching butterflies, an unusual food 
for a bird that normally seeks the small crabs of the beaches. 


LIMOSA FEDOA (Linnaeus): Marbled Godwit; Aguja Moteada 

Scolopax Fedoa Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 146. (Northeastern 

General appearance of the whimbrel but slightly smaller, with long, 
slender bill, that curves slightly upward toward the tip. 

Description. — Length, 395 to 470 mm. Crown and hindneck dark 
brownish gray, edged narrowly with buffy white ; back, tertials, and 
rump fuscous-black, with feathers edged and tipped with buffy white ; 
upper tail coverts pale cinnamon-buff, barred narrowly with brownish 
black; wing coverts, secondaries, and inner primaries cinnamon-buff, 
the flight feathers tipped, and more or less mottled, with dull black ; 
outer primaries the same, but with outer webs white ; outer tail 
feathers cinnamon-buff, barred lightly with grayish brown; central 
pairs pale cinnamon-buff, barred heavily with black; throat faintly 
buffy white; rest of under surface buff to pale cinnamon-buff, lined 
finely on the foreneck, and barred lightly on the upper breast, sides, 
flanks, and under tail coverts with dusky brown ; under wing coverts 
cinnamon-buff, nearly immaculate. 

In full winter plumage the under surface is plain buff, except for 
a few faint dusky bars on the sides and under tail coverts. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 185). — Males, wing 221- 
228 (225.4), tail 77.5-95 (82.9), exposed culmen 92-119 (100.3), 
tarsus 67-76 (69.4) mm. 

Females, wing 212-234 (224.1), tail 79-89 (83.4), exposed culmen 
88.5-117.5 (104.8), tarsus 67-76.5 (71.4) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Known only from sight records at Panama 
Vie jo, with one report from Fort Clayton. 

The first published record of the presence of this species in 
Panama is that of Eisenmann (Auk, 1955, p. 426), who found the 
marbled godwit at Panama Viejo on August 11 and 19, 1954, and on 
September 4 and 11, 1955. In the latter year Maj. F. O. Chapelle 
recorded these birds on several occasions between April 2 and May 
20. I saw 3 there on December 3, 1955. There is an earlier sight 
record for Fort Clayton, given to me by T. A. Imhof, who saw one 
November 24, 1942. Dr. Eisenmann informs me that his later records 
run from April 4 through May and June, and in August and 

They feed on the open flats at low tide, and then, as the sea rises, 
come to the rocky offshore islets, often in company with the whimbrel. 
There is no report of a specimen taken. 


The species breeds in the north from central Alberta and southern 
Manitoba south to Montana and western Minnesota. It is found in 
winter on the Pacific coast from California to Chile. Others winter 
from the southern and southeastern coasts of the United States 
south to Mexico and British Honduras. On the return flight north- 
ward they are recorded occasionally in the West Indies. There are 
no reports as yet from the Caribbean coast of Panama. 

TOT ANUS FLAVIPES (Gmelin): Lesser Yellowlegs; Playero Chillon Chico 

Scolopax flavipes Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 659. (New York.) 

A slender-bodied sandpiper, of medium size, with long, bright 
yellow legs. 

Description. — Length 240 to 250 mm. Breeding plumage, head and 
hindneck light gray, streaked with dusky brown ; back and scapulars 
brownish gray, spotted irregularly with black and smaller marks of 
white; rump, upper tail coverts, and tail white barred with grayish 
black; wing coverts and secondaries brownish gray, edged with 
white and barred indistinctly with grayish black; primaries black; 
underneath white with f oreneck and upper breast with narrow streaks, 
and sides, underwing coverts, and under tail coverts with bars of dull 

Winter plumage, gray above, in some with back and wing coverts 
spotted lightly with dusky and white ; foreneck and chest light gray, 
lightly streaked. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 338). — Males, wing 149- 
163 (153.5), tail 61-67 (62.8), exposed culmen 35-38 (36.4), tarsus 
45.5-55.5 (50) mm. 

Females, wing 149.5-157 (155.8), tail 55-66 (63.2), exposed cul- 
men 30-39 (35.5), tarsus 46.5-52 (50.3) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Common on muddy shores, and to a lesser 
extent along the lower, more open, lowland courses of the larger 
rivers ; Isla Coiba. Present from August to April, rarely later. 

A few lesser yellowlegs appear in early August, but the majority 
arrive later. They are found singly, or a few together, feeding on 
tidal mud flats, about pools in wet meadows, or less often along the 
sand and gravel bars on the broad courses of rivers. They range 
on both coasts, but apparently are attracted only casually to the 
offshore islands, as my only record in such localities is of one seen 
on February 2, 1956, on Isla Coiba. 

The yellow legs identify this bird and its larger companion, the 
greater yellowlegs, from other shorebirds. The present species calls 
quickly when startled, a shrill whew or whew whew. 


TOTANUS MELANOLEUCUS (Gmelin): Greater Yellowlegs; Playero 
Chill6n Grande 

Scolopax melanoleucus Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 659. (Chateaux 
Bay, Labrador.) 

Similar to the lesser yellowlegs, but definitely larger; legs bright 

Description. — Length 320 to 340 mm. Differs from the lesser 
yellowlegs, Totanus flavipes, only in decidedly larger size, as the 
colors in breeding plumage, and in winter, in the two are the same. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 332). — Males, wing 180- 
198.5 (187.8), tail 71-83 (76.9), exposed culmen 52-61 (55.8), tarsus 
57-68 (60.7) mm. 

Females, wing 180-197 (188.9), tail 71-83 (76.6), exposed culmen 
53.5-58 (55.5), tarsus 55-62.5 (59.4) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Common; found on tidal flats, and 
along the larger streams in the lowlands ; casually to such upland 
localities as the lakes near El Volcan, Chiriqui. Present from August 
to April. 

At Gatun Arbib and Loetscher (Auk, 1935, p. 326) recorded this 
species from August 22 to 26, 1934. I saw half a dozen at Panama 
Viejo on April 3, 1955. 

Greater yellowlegs, like the smaller species, are found singly, or 
in small bands, on attractive feeding grounds. Their greater size 
usually is evident, as in body they are nearly as large as the willet 
that often are nearby. Their note in sound is like that of the other 
yellowlegs but is decidedly louder and also is repeated several times 
in rapid sequence. 

This species may be somewhat the more abundant of the two, as I 
find that it is recorded more frequently in my field notes. 

TRINGA SOLITARIA Wilson: Solitary Sandpiper; Playero Solitario 

A small sandpiper that in flight appears dark above, with black 
wings and white borders on the tail. 

Description. — Length, 200 to 215 mm. Breeding plumage, above 
dark grayish brown; wings black; crown and hindneck streaked 
indistinctly with whitish ; back, scapulars, and wing coverts with many 
fine spots of white; upper tail coverts blacker, barred with white; 
lateral tail feathers white, barred with black ; central pair black, with 
white spots on the outer edges of the webs ; underneath white ; sides 
of neck, foreneck, and upper breast streaked with grayish brown; 
eyelids and supraloral streak white ; under wing coverts black, barred 


narrowly with white ; flanks and under tail coverts barred with black. 

Fall and winter plumage, similar but grayer above, with streaks 
on lower surface less distinct. 

The solitary sandpiper is the most widely distributed species among 
the northern migrants of its family that come to Panama, as it may be 
found about any small fresh-water pool, and is encountered also along 
rivers wherever there are open channels. These birds range in suit- 
able places into the lower mountains. As the name indicates, they do 
not congregate in bands, but in periods of migration, or on especially 
attractive feeding grounds, they may be found in scattered company. 

They tilt the forepart of the body constantly as they walk, whether 
in water an inch or so deep, or on the shore. When flushed they rise 
quickly, and fly swiftly, often with a sharp call note. It is common 
for them to dart away, and then turn to come back and drop again 
close by. 

The two forms of the species are both known in Panama. 


Tringa solitaria Wilson, Amer. Orn., vol. 7, 1813, p. 53, pi. 8, fig. 3. (Pocono 
Mountains, Pennsylvania.) 

CJwracters. — Blacker, more dusky olive above ; a well-defined dark 
streak on the lores ; smaller in size. Wing, males, 121.5-129; females 
126-134 mm. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., pp. 358-359). — Males, wing 
121.5-129.5 (126.5), tail 50-57 (53.7), exposed culmen 27.0-30.5 
(28.8), tarsus 28-31 (29.9) mm. 

Females, wing 126-134 (127.8), tail 52-59 (55.4), exposed culmen 
28-32 (29.3), tarsus 27.0-32.5 (29.4) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Common throughout the mainland 
around fresh-water pools, and along the rivers. Present from August 
to April. 

There is one record for July 29, 1929, at Perme, San Bias (Griscom, 
Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 72, 1932, p. 322), but the majority ar- 
rive from the north after the middle of August. They remain com- 
monly until mid-April, sometimes somewhat later, as I saw them in 
1947 on the Rio Jaque, Darien, until April 19. They appear regularly 
at the lakes at an elevation of 1280 meters near El Volcan in 

This race nests from southeastern Yukon and Labrador, south to 
eastern British Columbia and eastern Ontario. It is found in winter 
from northeastern Mexico, Louisiana, and Florida, to Argentina. 



Totanus solitarius cinnamomeus Brewster, Auk, vol. 7, no. 4, Oct. 1890, p. 377. 
(San Jose del Cabo, Baja California.) 

Characters. — Lighter, more grayish oHve above ; loral area usually 
with fine scattered dusky spots, instead of a definite bar; inner web 
of outermost primary usually mottled with white; spotting on back 
distinctly buff in birds in fall plumage ; larger, wing, males 124-137 ; 
females 137-142 mm. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 363). — Males, wing 124-137 
(132.2), tail 52.5-59.0 (56.2), exposed culmen 27.5-32.0 (30.2), tar- 
sus 29-32 (30.1) mm. 

Females, wing 137-142 (138.7), tail 56-59 (57,6), exposed culmen 
29-32 (30.3), tarsus 30-33 (31.7) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Rare ; one record, a female, taken at the 
lakes at 1,280 meters, near El Volcan, Chiriqui. 

This bird was shot with another of the typical race on March 14, 

This is the western subspecies that nests from central Alaska and 
MacKenzie to northwestern British Columbia and northeastern 
Manitoba. It winters mainly in South America, south to central 
Argentina, so that it may occur with some regularity as a migrant 
through Panama. 

ACTITIS MACULARIA (Linnaeus): Spotted Sandpiper; Playerito 


Figure 67 

A small sandpiper. In breeding dress, with round black spots on 
lower surface ; in winter plumage grayish olive-brown above ; mainly 
white below; teeters the body constantly as it walks; flight usually 
low with quick strokes of the decurved wings. 

Description. — Length 160 to 175 mm. Breeding dress, above gray- 
ish olive-brown with irregular fine, duslcy lines and scattered irregular 
spots and bars on the dorsal surface ; a white line over eye ; wing 
coverts tipped narrowly with white or buffy white, and barred nar- 
rowly with black; primaries and secondaries fuscous, the latter, and 
the inner secondaries, tipped with white; outer tail feathers white, 
barred with fuscous; under surface white dotted with small, round 
black spots. 

Winter dress, above grayish olive-brown, with indistinct shaft lines 
of dull black ; wing coverts as in breeding plumage ; underneath white ; 
with a dark gray wash on the sides of the neck and upper breast; 
wings and tail as in breeding plumage. 



Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 373). — Males, wing 89-105 
(100.5), tail 45-53 (49), exposed culmen 21.5-25.5 (23.6), tarsus 
19.5-24 (22.2) mm. 

Females, wing 100-109 (104), tail 47-53 (50.4), exposed culmen 
21.5-25.0 (23.6), tarsus 21-25 (22.8) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Found around water from ocean beaches 
and mangrove swamps to small streams in the mountains ; common 
from August to May : Isla Parida ; Isla Bolaiios ; Isla Coiba ; Isla 
Canal de Af uera ; Isla Cebaco ; Isla Iguana ; Isla Taboga ; Isla Tabo- 

FiG. 67. — Spotted sandpiper, playerito coleador, Actitis macularia. 

guilla; Isla Urava; Archipielago de las Perlas (Pacheca, Saboga, 
Contadora, Chapera, Rey, Cafias, Bayoneta, Malaga, and San Jose 

In Chiriqui I have found spotted sandpipers regularly near El 
Volcan and have seen them occasionally near Boquete. 

The main flight begins during the first week in August, though an 
occasional bird may arrive toward the end of July, the earliest report 
to date being of one taken at Cana, Darien, July 25. The movement 
northward starts in March, and continues through April, with a few 
birds still present during the following month. Late dates for speci- 
mens include a male in the Havemeyer collection at Yale, taken at 
Zegla, Bocas del Toro, May 19 (1927), and a male in the U. S. Na- 
tional Museum collected at Portobelo, Colon, May 23 (1911). During 
the first half of April, near Jaque, on the coast of Darien, I recorded 
a considerable flight, evidently in passage from South America, when 


a hundred or more were seen during single days. On April 11, 1946, 
soon after dark, at least 200 dropped down on the tar-gravel surface 
of the old fighter air field. During another flight two evenings later 
fully 100 appeared about 9:30 p.m. Nonbreeding birds frequently re- 
main far south during the northern summer, so that it may be ex- 
pected that a few will be recorded during that period in Panama. 

Spotted sandpipers range about water, either salt or fresh, and 
are found on the coasts on sandy beaches, mudflats, rocky headlands, 
and mangrove swamps. In the interior they are seen along streams, 
and around ponds and lakes. They are not gregarious, as though sev- 
eral may be found near one another on attractive feeding grounds, it 
is only during the height of migration that they join in numbers, and 
then the flocks appear diffuse. In fact, they are often pugnacious, as 
one individual often pre-empts one bit of shore, and drives at any 
other that may appear. Single birds seem in some instances to guard 
a definite territory where they may be seen daily. Ordinarily, the 
territorial disputes that I have seen have been merely pursuit and 
chase, where one bird yielded to another. Occasionally, where two 
seemed to have asserted definite claims, both stood and pecked hard 
and steadily at one another for a minute or so. At the end usually 
both turned and ran off in opposite directions. From a human view- 
point, the apparent pretense seemed to be either that the bout was a 
draw, or that each felt it was the victor. 

They frequent the water's edge, or open areas laid bare by reced- 
ing water at low tide, moving quickly with the steadily tilting bodies 
that gives the common Spanish name of chorlito or playerito coleador, 
varied sometimes to meneacola, of similar meaning. Among English 
speaking residents around Almirante in Bocas del Toro these birds 
are called chicken peddy. When flushed they fly rapidly and rather 
stiffly, with the wings little elevated above the level of the back, and 
the body usually only a few inches above the water, so that as they 
move they are mirrored on the surface immediately beneath. Instantly 
on alighting the teetering motion again begins. In the mangrove 
swamps it is common to find them at high tide standing on projecting 
logs, or on small branches, often in the sun, and then they remain 
quiet without movement, except to preen, until they are approached 
when teetering may begin before they fly. At other times they may 
rest quietly for a few minutes to receive the warmth of the early 
morning sun. 

The stomach of one from Portobelo was filled with remains of 
small crustaceans, with a few bits of ants and a neuropteran. Two 


Others from inland localities in the Canal Zone contained a number of 
aquatic insects, and a few ants, beetles, and Orthoptera. 

Recently this species has been separated into eastern and western 
subspecies on the basis of a difference in color of the dorsal surface, a 
distinction that is slight, but one that may be recognized in migrant 
birds as well as those on their breeding grounds. Both forms come to 
Panama, and from the numerous specimens that I have examined are 
present in equal number. As the two may be distinguished only with 
birds in the hand and may not be identified in life I have included both 
in the statement of range given above. The two are similar in size. 


Tringa macnlaria Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 249. (Penn- 

Characters. — Dorsal surface grayish brown, with a brownish cast, 
and a faint metallic gloss ; in breeding dress, with under surface more 
heavily spotted, and the markings more intensely black. 

The typical race breeds from California, Montana, Wyoming, and 
Saskatchewan east to Labrador, and south to southern Nevada, cen- 
tral Texas, northern Alabama, western North Carolina, and Virginia. 
Specimens in the U. S. National Museum indicate a winter range that 
covers Central America, through South America to Argentina, the 
West Indies, and the Bahama Islands. Definite specimen records for 
this subspecies in Panama are as follows : 

BocAS DEL ToRO : Zegla, May 19, 1927. 
Herrera : Parita, Feb. 13 and 19, 1948. 
Canal Zone: Miraflores, May 13; Rio Indio, near Gatun, Feb. 15; Gatun 

May 8 ; and Monte Lirio, Jan. 24 ; all in 1911. 
Panama : Cerro Azul, Sept. 18, 1953. 
Darien : Jaque, March 17, 1946. 
IsLA San Jose : Aug. 13 and Sept. 3, 1944. 


Actttis macularia rava Burleigh, Auk, vol. 77, no. 2, Apr. 30, 1960, p. 210. 
(Lewiston, Nez Perce County, Idaho.) 

Characters. — Dorsal surface grayer, with only a faint trace of 
metallic gloss. In breeding dress, less heavily spotted on the under 
parts, with the markings less intensely black. 

This race breeds from northwestern Alaska, Yukon, and western 
MacKenzie south to Oregon and Idaho. It is found in winter mingled 
with the other subspecies south to Peru, Venezuela, and the West 


Definite specimen records for Panama are as follows : 

Los Santos : Guanico Arriba, Jan. 25, 1962. 

Canal Zone : Lion Hill, May 1 ; Rio Indio, near Gatun, Feb. 8, 1911. 

Col6n: Portobelo, May 23, 1911. 

San Blas : Mandinga, Jan. 31, 1957. 

Dari6n : Jaque, Mar. 17 and 27, 1946. 


Playero Aliblanco 

Symphemia semipalmata inornata Brewster, Auk, vol. 4, no. 2, Apr. 1887, p. 
145. (Larimer County, Colorado.) 

Large ; gray above, white underneath, with a striking black and 
white pattern in the wing in flight. 

Description. — Length, 340 to 355 mm. Breeding dress, above 
slightly brownish gray ; crown and hindneck streaked, back and scap- 
ulars, spotted and barred, with dusky ; wing coverts nearly plain ; pri- 
maries white for basal half, rest dusky black; secondaries white; tail 
mottled with darker gray ; underparts white, with f oreneck and upper 
breast spotted, and sides barred, with dusky ; axillars and under wing 
coverts sooty black. 

Winter plumage, above light brownish gray ; underneath white 
shaded on sides, and in some individuals on front of foreneck with 
pale gray ; wings as in breeding dress. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, 1. c, p. 319). — Males, wing 193- 
218 (205.2), tail 73-84.5 (79.4), culmen 58-63.5 (59.4), tarsus 57-69 
(64.9) mm. 

Females, wing 209.5-220 (213.5), tail 74-88 (80.9), culmen 63-65 
(64.1), tarsus 66.5-70 (68.3) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Common along the Pacific coast; rare 
on the Caribbean side ; Isla Coiba ; Isla Cebaco ; Isla del Rey, Isla San 
Jose. Common from August to April, with numbers of nonbreeding 
birds remaining through the period of northern summer. All of the 
hundreds that I have seen have been in plain plumage, with none in 
barred breeding dress. 

T. A. Imhof recorded in his unpublished notes that he saw 35 at 
Panama Viejo on June 20, 1942, and Eisenmann (Wilson Bull., vol. 
63, 1951, p. 182) from 1948 to 1951 found them here from the latter 
half of June to the first half of July, with 23 as the maximum number 
at one time. In 1953 I recorded a dozen at Playa Coronado on June 
19, and 3 at Nueva Gorgona on June 23. 

Willets are found scattered singly or gathered in small bands on 
sandy beaches and on the mud flats at the mouths of the larger rivers. 


At rest, or as they walk slowly about, they appear gray and white, but 
as they fly the extensive areas of white in the otherwise black wings, 
form a striking pattern that serves to identify the species without 
mistake. Often they give their ringing calls as they take wing. In 
addition to the numbers usually present at Panama Vie jo I have 
found them especially common around the Gulf of Parita, and at the 
mouths of the Chico, Chiman, and Maje rivers. On the larger streams 
some range inland but not above the limit of the tide. At high water 
willets often join the whimbrels on perches in the mangroves, to rest 
until falling water again leaves their feeding grounds bare. 

Few range to the offshore islands. I saw them on Isla Coiba in 
January 1956 and collected one. In the Pearl Islands Morrison shot 
a female on Isla San Jose on September 23, 1944, and Brown col- 
lected 2 females on Isla del Rey on February 20 and March 2, 1904. 
I secured a male at the mouth of the Rio Cacique on this island on 
January 27, 1960. 

Peters (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 71, 1931, p. 303) has re- 
corded a female inornatus taken at Cricamola, Bocas del Toro, on 
September 19, 1927. Eisenmann (Condor, 1957, p. 252) saw a willet 
at the mouth of the Rio San San on July 3, 1956, in this same prov- 
ince. And Wedel collected one at Puerto Obaldia, San Bias, March 
15, 1935. These are the only records at present for the Caribbean side. 

The typical race Catoptrophorus semipalmatus semipalmatus has 
been recorded as a migrant visitor south to western Costa Rica, and 
so may range occasionally to Panama. It is darker, more brownish 
gray above and is smaller especially in length of bill and tarsus. In 
males, the bill ranges from 53 to 58, and the tarsus from 54 to 58.5 
mm ; and in females, the bill measures from 52.5 to 59, and the tarsus 
from 51.5 to 58 mm. 

APHRIZA VIRGATA (Gmelin): Surfbird; Chorlito de Rompiente 

Tringa virgata Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 674. (Prince William 
Sound, Alaska.) 

A heavy-bodied shorebird, with short, greenish-yellow legs; dark 
gray to dull black above, with white rump. 

Description. — Length 230 to 245 mm. Breeding dress, head and 
neck with feathers dull black centrally, edged widely with dull brown- 
ish gray; back dull black, with the feathers edged and tipped with 
dull white, dull gray, and a few markings of dull buff; wing coverts 
dark gray ; primary coverts and outer secondaries white, forming a 
distinct white line ; rump and upper tail coverts white ; tail with cen- 


tral feathers fuscous, the outer ones white tipped with grayish ; under 
surface of body white, heavily marked with triangular spots of dark 
neutral gray. 

Winter plumage, dark brownish gray above with the feathers edged 
lightly with white ; crown streaked indistinctly with fuscous ; under 
surface white; throat with scattered small spots of gray; sides of 
head and foreneck streaked, and breast with narrow crescentic bars of 
dark gray. 

Iris dark brown ; tip of bill black ; base of maxilla paler ; base of 
mandible dull orange brown ; tarsus and toes greenish yellow ; claws 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 60). — Males, wing 164-183 
(170.9), tail 63-69 (65.2), exposed culmen 23-26 (24.2), tarsus 29- 
30.5 (29.6) mm. 

Females, wing 169-181 (176), tail 64-66 (65), exposed culmen 
23-26 (24.9), tarsus 29-31.5 (29.6) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Rare ; one taken at Bahia Piiias, Darien ; 
numerous sight records at Panama Viejo, Panama. 

This curious shorebird, migrant from its Alaskan nesting grounds 
south along the Pacific coast as far as Chile, was first reported by 
Eugene Eisenmann (Auk, 1948, p. 605) from 4 seen at Panama 
Viejo, August 14, 1947. Imhof (Auk, 1950, p. 256) found one with 
turnstones at San Francisco de la Caleta, September 2, 1942, a little 
farther west on the same beach. And Eisenmann (Auk, 1955, pp. 
426-427) recorded others, in part observed by Maj. F. O. Chapelle, 
May 15, August 11 and 19, October 6 and 16, 1954, and January 22 
and June 27, 1955. I found one here January 5, 1964, and another 
February 21, 1965. There are other sight records for this locality. 

The only specimen taken as yet in Panama is a male in the museum 
of the University of Miami, collected September 11, 1961, by D. R. 
Paulson during an oceanographic expedition with A. Glassell on his 
yacht Argosy. 

Turnstone; Vuelvepiedras 

Tringa Morinella Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 249. (Coast of 

A heavy-bodied shorebird, with short, orange legs and a broad, 
heavily mottled, dark band on the breast ; in flight the black wings, 
dark upper back, lower rump and the end of the tail are in prominent 
contrast with white lower back. 


Description. — Length, 225 to 240 mm. Breeding dress, head promi- 
nently white, with lores, forehead, cheeks, and fine streaks over crown 
black ; upper back, middle wing coverts and tertials cinnamon, heavily 
spotted with black ; lesser and greater wing coverts grayish brown, the 
latter tipped prominently with white ; lower back and upper tail 
coverts white ; lower rump black ; primaries and secondaries fuscous 
to black; tail white on base, black at tip, edged and tipped with cin- 
namon and white ; throat, sides of lower neck, under side of wing, and 
rest of under parts white ; sides of throat and upper foreneck black, 
continuous with the broad black band across the lower foreneck and 

Winter plumage, differs from the breeding dress in the absence of 
cinnamon, and with the black replaced by dark grayish brown to 
fuscous ; head with less white. 

Iris brown; bill dull black; tarsus and toes yellowish to reddish 
orange ; claws black. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 52). — Males, wing 139.5- 
155 (145.5), tail 56.5-64 (60), exposed culmen 21.5-24 (22.9), tarsus 
22.5-26 (24.5) mm. 

Females, wing 144-157.5 (148.6), tail 57-63 (60.4), exposed cul- 
men 21.5-24 (22.9), tarsus 23-25.5 (24.5) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Common along both coasts of Panama ; 
Isla Coiba ; Isla del Rey, Isla Saboga. 

Turnstones, migrants to Panama from the far north, are birds of 
the seashore, where they range on both sand and rock beaches. Usu- 
ally they are found in little flocks of 3 or 4 to a dozen, often with, or 
near, other groups of shorebirds. When the tide is low they move 
along actively, with low, chattering calls, sometimes pecking quickly 
at the sand, and sometimes, with a quick jerk of the head, flipping over 
small pebbles to expose what may be hidden beneath — the habit 
common to them throughout the world from which the common names 
are taken. At high tide they rest, preen, and doze, often on rocky 
points, to await the next stage of low water. 

The northern migrants appear to arrive in August ; most leave for 
the north in April, though a few nonbreeding birds may be found 
during the northern summer. T. A. Imhof recorded them in 1942 
along the Fort Amador causeway on May 14, June 15, and July 21, 
and Eisenmann (Wilson Bull., 1950, pp. 182, 183) reported this spe- 
cies July 13, 1950, near Panama Viejo. There is a specimen in the 
U. S. National Museum taken near Fort Kobbe on July 24, 1961. 


LIMNODROMUS GRISEUS (Gmelin): Short-billed Dowitcher; Agachona 

Oris Piquicorta 

Of medium size, with bill longer than the tarsus ; back and rump 
white ; legs rather short, light greenish yellow ; tail with white and 
dark bars of about equal width. 

Description. — Length 245 to 260 mm. Breeding plumage, upper 
surface pinkish cinnamon with crown, hindneck, and back streaked, 
and scapulars spotted, with black ; lesser wing coverts dark grayish 
brown with paler margins ; middle coverts black, margined with cin- 
namon-buff; greater coverts and secondaries grayish brown, edged 
and tipped with white ; primaries dusky, margined with white ; lower 
back, rump, and upper tail coverts white, with rump spotted, and 
upper tail coverts barred, with blackish ; tail barred with white and 
black, with the bars and interspaces about equal ; sides of head and 
underparts pinkish cinnamon, mixed with white on breast and ab- 
domen, and spotted with dusky, the spots becoming bars on the sides. 

Winter plumage, above gray, darker on the wing coverts, which 
are margined lightly with white to grayish white ; foreneck, chest, and 
sides gray, mixed somewhat with white ; throat distinctly whitish ; rest 
of lower surface white, with sides and under tail coverts barred with 
dusky ; lower back, rump, upper tail coverts, tail, primaries, and sec- 
ondaries as in breeding dress. 

Shorebirds of this genus in heavy body, rather short legs, and 
long, straight bills, in form resemble the common snipe, but this re- 
semblance need give rise to no confusion as dowitchers live in the 
open on sandy beaches and mud flats. And, further, they have the 
rump and upper tail coverts white, a mark that shows prominently in 
flight. In feeding they move about quietly, sometimes wading in water 
nearly to their bodies, while they probe with their long bills, which 
they may swing from side to side in avocet fashion, often with the 
head completely immersed. Food is seized readily as the tip of the 
maxilla may be opened for 5 to 6 millimeters (while the rest of the 
mouth remains closed) through the operation of muscles at the base 
of the skull on the flexible bones of the bill. The flight is swift, and 
when in flocks the band of birds moves in close formation. When 
tide waters are high dowitchers rest quietly on the upper levels of 
the beaches or on rocky points. At Mandinga on one occasion I 
found several standing on timbers beneath an old wharf when no 
other shelter was near. I have found them in fair numbers on mud- 
flats on the Gulf of Parita, where I have seen as many as 40 in 


Dowitchers appear as migrants from the north, with two of the 
three races of the species griseiis recorded to date. The third, Limno- 
dromus grisens caurinus, that nests in Alaska, differs from the other 
two in darker gray color of the dorsal surface. Its range in south- 
ward migration at present is not known with certainty. 

Some of the published records are of uncertain allocation as un- 
derstanding of the characters of the races of griseiis and of the dif- 
ferences that separate griseus and scolopaceus until recently has been 
confused. The characters in general are of such a nature that sight 
identifications are seldom practicable except as to placement in the 
genus. The earliest report of these birds is that of Lawrence (Ann. 
Lye. Nat. Hist., New York, vol. 7, 1862, p. 479) who Usts a dowitcher, 
under the specific name griseus, as one of the birds received from 
McLeannan, with no explanatory statement. I have not been able to 
locate a specimen on which this report might have been based. Aldrich 
(Scient. Publ. Cleveland Mus. Nat. Hist., vol. 7, 1937, p. 58) saw 
several dowitchers on the mud flats of Monti jo Bay, Veraguas, March 
29, 1932. Eisenmann (Wilson Bull., vol. 63, 1951, p. 182) recorded 
4 seen near Panama Viejo, June 24, 1951 (which is the only record 
to date for the months of northern summer). There have been other 
sight records of uncertain reference. 

There is also a report of one banded in Massachusetts on August 
24, 1935, taken on the Rio Chagres, on September 12, less than a 
month later. 


Scolopax griseus Gmelin, Syst. Nat., vol. 1, pt. 2, 1789, p. 658. (Long Island, 
New York.) 

Characters. — Darker gray above; throat only slightly whiter than 
f oreneck and breast. 

Measurements (New England specimens, from Pitelka, Univ. Cali- 
fornia Publ. Zo51., vol. 50, 1950, p. 38).— Males, wing 133-145 
(138.8), culmen 51.2-60.4 (55.1), tarsus 31.5-35.7 (33.7) mm. 

Females, wing 136-144 (140.4), culmen 56.4-66.3 (58.8), tarsus 
31.3-37.3 (34.3) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Local in occurrence and not common; 
found along the coasts on sandy beaches and mudflats, where it is 
recorded from September to March ; a few nonbreeding birds appear 
to remain through the period of northern summer. 


The first definite record for this subspecies was by Griscom (Bull. 
Mus. Comp. ZooL, vol. 72, 1932, p. 322), who reported a male from 
Perme, San Bias, taken by Wedel. Through the kindness of Dr. R. A. 
Paynter, Jr., I have been able to verify the subspecific identification 
of this specimen as L. g. griseus and find that it was collected on 
October 25, 1929. The gray of the back agrees in dark color with 
typical griseus, being definitely darker than that found in hendersoni 
to which it had been allocated with uncertainty by Pitelka (cit. supra, 
pp. 44, 49, 79). Three that I collected at Mandinga, San Bias on 
January 29, and February 6, 1957, and four from Aguadulce, Code, 
January 18 and 19, 1963, also are of the typical subspecies. 


Limnodromus griseus hendersoni Rowan, Auk, vol. 49, no. 1, Jan. 4, 1932, p. 22. 
(Devil's Lake, Alberta.) 

Characters. — Similar to griseus, but lighter gray on the dorsal sur- 
face; also paler on the under surface of the body, with the throat 
distinctly whiter. 

Measurements (Birds from Alberta and Saskatchewan, from 
Pitelka, I.e., p. 32).— Males, wing 136-150 (143.4), culmen 52.6-61.2 
(57.5), tarsus 33.8-39.3 (36.7) mm. 

Females, wing 138-152 (145.7), culmen 58.2-65.9 (62.4), tarsus 
35.3-41.3 (37.9) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Known at present from one record. 

A specimen in the American Museum of Natural History, collected 
at Aguadulce, Code, September 11, 1925, by R. R. Benson, is the 
only record for this race. The bird was listed by Griscom (Bull. Mus. 
Comp. Zool,, vol. 7d>, 1935, p. 307) as scolopaceus, but on examination 
of the specimen I find that the barring on the tail and upper tail 
coverts is that typical of the griseus group, in which the black and 
white bars are about equal in width. The specimen is in transition 
from summer to winter dress, and because of this it requires careful 
study for definite identification. The few remaining colored edgings 
on the scapulars and longer tertials are paler, and are bufif, rather 
than the cinnamon of these markings in L. g. griseus. The hindneck is 
slightly brownish, due perhaps to foxing, but on the whole this area 
is paler as in hendersoni. 

This is the most southern record reported for this subspecies. 


LIMNODROMUS SCOLOPACEUS (Say) : Long-billed Dowitcher; 
Agachona Gris Piquilarga 
Limosa scolopacea Say, in Long, Exped. Rocky Mountains, vol. 1, 1823, p. 170. 
(Council Bluffs, Iowa.) 

Similar to the short-billed dowitcher but darker gray above and 
below, and with longer bill. 

Description. — Length 245 to 270 mm. Differs from Limnodromus 
griseus in all its races in having the tail and upper tail coverts decid- 
edly blacker, with the white cross bars definitely narrower than the 
black ones. Compared with Limnodromus griseus: Breeding plum- 
age, somewhat darker above, with the markings on the back more 
reddish brown ; lower surface much redder brown ; dark markings 
on foreneck and upper breast in the form of short bars (instead of 
rounded spots) . 

Winter plumage, above darker gray; breast and foreneck darker, 
grayer; throat suffused with gray so that it does not appear solidly 

Measurements (Alaskan specimens, from Pitelka, I.e., p. 29). — 
Males, wing 133-144 (138.6), culmen 56.8-68.6 (62.1), tarsus 34.7- 
41.2 (38.2) mm. 

Females, wing 138-151 (143.7), culmen 64.2-76.2 (71.6), tarsus 
38.7-44.9 (41.0) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Abundance uncertain ; known at present 
from two reports. 

At Changuinola, Bocas del Toro, on January 30, 1958, following a 
heavy rain, dowitchers came with other waders to shallow pools on 
the golf course. I noted two or three at first and then a band of a 
dozen. Presently I was fortunate in collecting 3 males, grouped to- 
gether, all of them of the long-billed form. In feeding these birds 
walked about poking with their bills at the short grass. 

There is a male in the American Museum of Natural History taken 
on October 27, 1927, at Cocoplum, near the seaward base of the 
Valiente Peninsula, Bocas del Toro, by R. R. Benson, that also is 
typical of this species. 

The specimen listed by Griscom as scolopaceus in his check-list, as 
indicated above is L. g. hendersoni. 

CAPELLA GALLINAGO DELICATA (Ord): Common Snipe; Agachadiza 
Scolopax delicata Ord, reprint of Wilson, Amer. Orn., vol. 9, 1825, p. ccxviii. 

A long-billed, short-legged snipe of medium size, with dark- 
colored rump. 


Description. — Length, 260 to 275 mm. Sexes alike; above mainly 
black, with a buff line from the bill down the center of the crown, 
and another on either side over the eye; feathers of hindneck bor- 
dered with cinnamon-buff; back with broad lines of dark buff, and a 
few bars of cinnamon-buff; wings and wing coverts fuscous, barred 
with buffy white, the outer web of the outer primary edged with white 
or cinnamon-buff ; rump and upper tail coverts barred with cinnamon- 
buff ; outer tail feathers white, or buffy white, barred with black, with 
the central pairs black, tipped with cinnamon, barred narrowly with 
black; under surface white, with foreneck and upper breast mottled 
with buffy brown and fuscous ; under wing coverts, sides, and flanks 
barred with brownish black; under tail coverts buff, barred with 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 173). — Males, wing 121-130 
(127.1), tail 52-63 (57.1), exposed culmen 57.5-67.5 (62.9), tarsus 
27.5-32 (30.4) mm. 

Females, wing 117.5-135 (125.2), tail 50-58.5 (54.5), exposed cul- 
men 58.5-73.5 (65.4), tarsus 28-33.5 (30.8) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Common locally in boggy ground from 
the lowlands to high mountain slopes : October to April ; most abun- 
dant in southward migration from late October to early December. 

These are birds of wet meadows, partly dry cienagas, and other 
marshy ground where they remain concealed until approached and 
then rise suddenly, utter a harsh call, and dart away in swift zigzag 
flight. It is seldom that one is seen before it flies. They are most 
abundant in swampy lands in the savannas, particularly so east of the 
Rio Pacora, where flights of hundreds come sometimes during No- 
vember. Most are in passage to points farther south so that only a 
small number remain after December. The northward flight, which 
is relatively small, comes during March and early April. 

The earliest record for fall is that of Jewel (Auk, 1913, p. 425) 
for October 7, 1911, near Gatun. T. A. Imhof (manuscript notes) 
recorded one near Chorrera on October 10, 1942, and collectors for 
the Malaria Control Service shot one near Pacora on October 16, 1953. 
Griscom (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 72, 1932, p. 322) Hsted one 
taken October 25, 1929, at Perme, in the San Bias. Loftin (Carib. 
Journ. Sci., 1963, p. 65) caught two in a mist net near Almirante, 
November 10-11, 1962. 

I have found them regularly during February and March near El 
Volcan, and they come also to the mountain slopes around Boquete. 
I have one female caught at night by the light of a head lamp at La 


Jagua on March 16. My latest record for the season is for March 27 
at Laguna de Agua, near El Volcan. 

Capella Frenzel, 1801, to replace Gallinago Koch, 1816, as the valid 
name for the snipes follows the Check-list of North American Birds 
in its fourth edition published in 1931 (continued in the fifth edition 
of 1957), volume 2 of Peters's Check-Hst of the Birds of the World 
of 1934, and other important writings that have appeared in recent 
years. In 1956 the International Commission of Zoological Nomen- 
clature in its Direction 39 ordered that "GaUinago Brisson, 1760" 
be placed on the accepted list of generic names. Two years later 
(Ibis, 1958, pp. 125-127) I ventured to point out that Gallinago 
Brisson did not exist as a generic term, since it is merely the name 
that Brisson gave for the second species in his genus Scolopax, viz, 
Scolopax Gallinago. Obviously it has no validity in the generic sense. 
While Dr. Ernst Mayr recently (Ibis, 1963, pp. 402-403) has argued 
that Capella has no nomenclatural standing, this is not clear in spite 
of his argument. It seems desirable to use it here in conformity with 
current New World practice pending further investigation. 

CALIDRIS CANUTUS RUFA (Wilson): Knot; Playero Gordo 

Tringa rufa Wilson, Amer. Orn., vol. 7, 1813, p. 43, pi, 57, fig. 5. (New 

A short-legged, plump-bodied sandpiper, of medium size, with 
rather heavy bill. 

Description. — Length, 220 to 245 mm. Breeding plumage, narrowly 
streaked on head and hindneck with black and gray ; back mottled 
heavily with black, white, and cinnamon-buff ; rump pale gray barred 
with black ; wing coverts brownish gray, with black shaft lines and 
narrow white edgings ; greater coverts tipped with white to produce 
a wing bar ; flight feathers black on outer web and tip, dark brownish 
gray on inner web, with ivory-white shafts ; tail brownish gray tipped 
very narrowly with white ; line over eye, side of head, breast, sides, 
upper abdomen, and under tail coverts cinnamon-buff; lower abdo- 
men and under wing coverts white; axillars white, barred with 
brownish gray. Females are like the males, or may be paler cinnamon 
on the lower surface. 

Winter plumage, crown feathers sooty black centrally, edged widely 
with dull gray to produce a streaked appearance ; hindneck, back, and 
wings brownish gray, with the feathers margined narrowly with 
dusky and tipped with grayish white to produce a scalloped appear- 
ance; rump white barred with black; under surface white, with the 


lower i^eck, breast and sides with slightly elongated spots of dark 
neutral gray. 

Iris dark brown; bill black; tarsi and feet dull black to blackish 

Measurements (From Ridgway, I.e. pp. 232-233). — Males, wing 
152-174 (162.7), tail 60-66 (62.2), exposed culmen 31-36.5 (33.9), 
tarsus 29.5-33.0 (31) mm. 

Females, wing 155-176 (166.3), tail 57-65.5 (62.3), exposed culmen 
32-38 (36.3), tarsus 29.5-33 (31.5) mm. 

Migrant from the north ; casual in occurrence. 

The knot is another of the sandpipers that nest in the tundras of 
the far north. In winter and in migration it is found from the eastern 
and southern coasts of the United States south to the southern tip of 
South America. 

The only records for Panama are two immature males in winter 
plumage, taken by Wedel, at Puerto Obaldia, San Bias, September 12 
and 22, 1934, preserved now in the U. S. National Museum. 

CROCETHIA ALBA (Pallas): Sanderling; Playerito Arenaro 

Trynga (alba) Pallas, in Vroeg, Cat. Rais. Ois. Adumbratiunculae, 1764, p. 7. 

Palest in color of the small sandpipers ; pure white underneath, with 
a broad white band in the wing that shows in flight. 

Description. — Length, 170 to 180 mm. No hind toe. Winter plum- 
age, broad forehead and undersurface, including under wing coverts, 
pure white ; crown and hind neck pale gray, with narrow streaks of 
dusky ; back darker gray with shaft lines of dusky ; rump and upper 
tail coverts white at sides, blackish in the center, bordered narrowly 
with white ; outer tail feathers light brownish gray, central pair 
dusky, bordered narrowly with white ; lesser wing coverts, primaries, 
and secondaries dull black; middle and greater coverts brownish 
black, edged and tipped with white; a broad white mark across pri- 
maries and secondaries. 

Breeding plumage, basally black above, with the feathers edged 
with bright cinnamon-bufT and grayish white; side of head, throat, 
neck, and upper breast light cinnamon-buff, dotted with black. This 
is the plumage from May to August that, in the main, disappears by 
the end of September. The majority of migrants found in Panama 
are in winter dress. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., pp. 308-309). — Males, wing 
113-124.5 (119.1), tail 45-55 (50.3), exposed culmen 23-26 (24.7), 
tarsus 23-25 (23.7) mm. 


Females, wing 117-127 (123), tail 47.5-54.5 (52.8), exposed cul- 
men 24-28 (26), tarsus 23-26 (24.7) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Fairly common; recorded from August 
to March. 

This species, not included in Griscom's list of 1935, was first re- 
corded by Arbib and Loetscher (Auk, 1935, p. 326) from one seen 
near Gatun, Canal Zone, on August 7, 1933, and another on August 
8, 1934. Imhof (Auk, 1950, p. 256) observed single birds at Fort 
Amador on September 16 and at Palo Seco on November 8, in the 
Canal Zone, and a flock of 5 at the mouth of the Rio Chico, Panama, 
November 17 and 18, all in 1942. In my own work I collected a male 
from 4 seen at Monagre, on the coast of Los Santos, on March 16, 
1948, and saw several at La Plonda in the same province on March 20. 
On February 12, 1961, I recorded four on Venado Beach, Canal 
Zone. They are found rather regularly in August and September from 
the Canal Zone west to Los Santos. 

In 1956, I saw several on Isla Coiba between January 20 and Feb- 
ruary 3 and collected two on the latter date. In the Pearl Islands in 
1960 I shot one January 17 on Isla Contadora, and saw half a dozen 
on January 27 at the mouth of the Rio Cacique on Isla del Rey. My 
only record for the Caribbean side is of two seen on February 6, 1957, 
on a sandy beach at the mouth of the Rio Mandinga, San Bias. Eisen- 
mann has informed me of one at Fort San Lorenzo, C.Z., May 13, 

Sanderlings are birds of the beaches, where their common habit is 
to follow the receding waves to probe in the shifting surface sand 
for small Crustacea, and then to patter quickly back as the water re- 
turns. They nest in the tundras around the entire polar area and in 
migration move south along the seas of the world. In the Americas 
their flights take them to southern Chile and southern Argentina. 

EREUNETES PUSILLUS (Linnaeus) : Semipalmated Sandpiper; 
Playerito Gracioso 

Tringa pusilla Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 12, vol. 1, 1766, p. 252. (Hispaniola, 
West Indies.) 

One of the 3 smallest sandpipers that come to Panama. This spe- 
cies and the western sandpiper have heavier bills and black legs ; the 
bird of the present account differs from its near relative in shorter 

Description. — Length, 140 to 155 mm. Anterior toes with webs. 
Breeding dress, above brownish gray, with slight edgings of pale 


cinnamon-buff on crown and back ; crown streaked, and back spotted 
heavily, with black ; rump, central upper tail coverts, and central tail 
feathers blackish ; outer rectrices brownish gray, edged narrowly with 
white; lesser and middle wing coverts brownish gray, with slightly 
paler borders ; greater coverts, primaries, and secondaries dusky, 
the coverts edged with white; line over eye white, lightly streaked 
with dusky; loral space and center of forehead to base of bill 
dusky brown; auricular region streaked with grayish brown; sides 
of forehead and under surface white, with the breast and anterior 
half of the sides streaked with dusky. 

Winter plumage, above grayish brown streaked, more or less nar- 
rowly, with dusky ; superciliary, sides of forehead, and undersurface 
white, with the upper breast streaked lightly with dusky. 

Iris brown ; bill, tarsus, and toes black. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 211). — Males, wing 88-98.5 
(93.9), tail 38-44.5 (41.2), exposed culmen 17-20 (18.6), tarsus 19- 
21 (20.5) mm. 

Females, wing 92-101.5 (96.5), tail 40-44 (41.5), exposed culmen 
18-22 (20.3), tarsus 20-22 (20.8) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Abundance not certain from the few 
specimen records at present available ; probably of regular occurrence 
with the great flocks of Ereimetes niauri. Some may remain during 
the period of northern summer. 

The most definite character for separation of this species from the 
western sandpiper is in the length of the bill, this being longer in the 
latter. Since there is overlap in size between the female of the semi- 
palmated sandpiper and the male of the western, this criterion may 
be used with certainty only with birds of known sex, which implies 
a specimen in the hand. In field observations occasionally a bird with 
a very short bill — shorter than the head — may be accepted as a male 
of the present species, but such records need to be considered with 

A specimen of the present species, collected by McLeannan, in the 
British Museum that came from the Tweedale collection has a bill 
length of 18.2 mm. There is no locality data other than Panama, but 
it is probable that it is from the Caribbean slope. Bovallius secured 
a female at Panama Viejo, February 26, 1882 (Rendahl, Ark. Zool. 
vol. 12, no. 8, 1919, p. 11). Jewel collected a female (culmen 18.5 
mm.) at Toro Point, Canal Zone, on September 4, 1911 (reported by 
Stone, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci., Philadelphia, vol. 70, 1918, p. 245). 
Benson collected one at Aguadulce, Code, September 8, 1925 (speci- 


men in American Museum of Natural History). I have identified 
one taken at Almirante, Bocas de Toro, Oct. 29, 1964. Other re- 
ports are sight records, which as explained above may be subject to 

It is probable that the semipalmated sandpiper is regular in occur- 
rence along the Caribbean coast, and that it comes also along the 
Pacific in company with the migrant flocks of the western sandpiper. 

Loftin (Carib. Journ. Sci., 1963, p. 65) found them abundant at 
Panama Viejo from August 12 to October 13, 1962, when he captured 
and banded 43. 

EREUNETES MAURI Cabanis: Western Sandpiper; Playerito Occidental 

Ereunetes Mauri Cabanis, Journ. fiir Om., vol. 4, 1856 (1857), p. 419. (South 

Similar to the semipalmated sandpiper, but with longer bill. 

Description. — Length, 140 to 155 mm. Toes webbed; bill thick at 
base, with tip very slightly decurved. Breeding dress, like the semi- 
palmated sandpiper in general but separated by the much greater ex- 
tent of the rufous brown markings on the dorsal surface ; lower sur- 
face more heavily marked, with dark spots and streaks much heavier, 
and covering more of the lower foreneck, sides, and upper breast. 

Winter plumage, similar to that of the semipalmated sandpiper. 

Iris brown ; bill, tarsus, and toes black. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 216). — Males, wing 91-99 
(94.6), tail 37.5-42 (40.2), exposed culmen 20.5-23.5 (22.5), tarsus 
20.5-22 (21.2) mm. 

Females, wing 90-99.5 (96.4), tail 38-47 (41.7), exposed culmen 
23-28 (25.9), tarsus 21-24 (22.1) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Abundant locally along the Pacific coast ; 
recorded less commonly from the Caribbean side ; Isla Coiba ; Isla del 
Rey. Present, in the main, from August to April ; considerable num- 
bers of non-breeding individuals remain through the other months of 
northern summer. 

Small groups of western sandpipers may be found on beaches and 
mudflats anywhere, while flocks of thousands often congregate at 
such favorable localities as the mouth of the Rio Santa Maria, at 
Panama Viejo, and the mouth of the Rio Chico. I have specimens 
from Alvina near the Rio Santa Maria opposite Parita, Herrera, from 
El Real, Darien, and from Isla Coiba. There is one in the U. S. Na- 
tional Museum secured at Farfan Beach, Canal Zone, July 21, 1931, 


and others in the American Museum of Natural History taken at 
Cocoplum, Bocas del Toro, October 27 and 30, 1927, all collected by 
Rex Benson. One in the Gorgas Memorial Laboratory was taken at 
Almirante on October 10, 1964. 

EROLIA MINTJTILLA (Vieillot) : Least Sandpiper; Playerito Menudo 

Tringa minutilla Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 34, Dec. 1819, 
p. 466. (Halifax, Nova Scotia.) 

Differs from the other two species of very small sandpipers by more 
slender bill and yellowish legs ; also is somewhat browner on the 

Description. — Length, 130 to 145 mm. Bill definitely slender toward 
the tip; no webs between the toes. Breeding dress, crown with 
feather centers black, margined narrowly with buffy brown, the 
brown more cinnamon on the back of the head ; an indistinct light 
line over the eye ; hindneck dark gray, lined with buffy brown ; upper 
back and scapulars black, margined and barred irregularly with buff 
and pale cinnamon ; lower back, rump, and central tail feathers 
black ; outer tail feathers light gray, edged narrowly with white ; 
wing coverts dark grayish brown, with the greater coverts tipped 
narrowly with white ; primaries and basal half of secondaries fuscous, 
with the shafts white ; outer ends of secondaries grayish brown tipped 
with white ; f oreneck and breast grayish white, narrowly streaked and 
spotted with dusky ; rest of undersurface white. 

Winter plumage, above dark grayish brown, with the feathers 
darker, blacker centrally; less heavily marked on the breast and 
foreneck ; otherwise as in breeding dress. Darker gray above, with 
the breast more heavily marked than in the semipalmated and western 

Iris brown ; bill black ; legs greenish to yellowish brown. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 295). — Males, wing 82-88 
(85.5), tail 35-40 (38.2), exposed culmen 16-19 (17.2), tarsus 16.5- 
19(17.7) mm. 

Females, wing 83-91 (86.5), tail 35-41 (37.1), exposed culmen 
17.5-20 (18.7), tarsus 16-19 (18.1) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Common along both coasts; occasional 
inland in the lowlands, August to April ; Isla Coiba ; Isla San Jose ; 
Isla Bayoneta ; Isla del Rey. 

Least sandpipers begin to arrive from the north during August, 
with the main flight in September. The northward movement is 
under way in March and continues into April. My latest record is 


April 11 at Jaque, Darien. It is probable that some remain to near 
the end of the month. 

These birds are found in little flocks, or alone, both on sand 
beaches and on rock flats and headlands. Also they come inland on 
the tidal reaches of the rivers, and along the larger channels in the 
lowlands, where open, muddy shores or gravel bars afford feeding 

EROLIA FUSCICOLLIS (Vieillot): White-rumped Sandpiper; Playerito de 

Rabadilla Blanca 

Trtnga fuscicollis Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 34, Dec., 1819, 
p. 461. (Parag^uay.) 

Similar to Baird's sandpiper, but with middle upper tail coverts 

Description. — Length, 160 to 175 mm. Bill heavier, tip somewhat 
broadened, with the surface distinctly pitted. Breeding dress, above 
brownish gray, with the feathers black centrally, those of crown and 
back edged with buff to cinnamon, and those of hindneck bordered by 
buff ; wing coverts brownish gray, with shaft lines of dusky ; greater 
coverts tipped narrowly with white ; outer primaries dusky ; sec- 
ondaries and inner primaries paler edged with white; rump dusky 
brown, with feathers margined with dull buff; central pair of upper 
tail coverts dusky black, tipped with white ; lateral upper tail coverts 
white with concealed darker markings ; rectrices with central pair 
black, others dusky brown or gray edged with white; under surface 
white, with foreneck heavily streaked and spotted, and sides barred, 
with dusky. 

Winter plumage, crown, hindneck, scapulars, and upper back 
brownish gray, with concealed mottling of black and buff; markings 
on under surface less in extent and grayer brown. 

It is common to find specimens in which details of the markings on 
the upper tail coverts are not sufficient for identification. The form 
of the bill described above and under the account of Baird's sand- 
piper, will serve invariably to separate these two species. 

Iris brown ; maxilla, except area below nostril, and tip of mandible 
dull black ; maxilla below nostril, and base of mandible brown. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 285). — Males, wing 117- 
122.5 (119.7), tail 50-53 (51.4), exposed culmen 21-24 (22.7), tarsus 
22-24 (23.1) mm. 

Females, wing 116.5-124 (120.6), tail 50-54 (51), exposed culmen 
21-26 (23.1), tarsus 22-24 (22.8) mm. 


Passage migrant from the north. Rare ; status uncertain. 

The only definite record is that of a specimen in the British Museum 
(Natural History), received in the Salvin and Godman collection, 
collected by James McLeannan, and labeled Lion Hill (see Sharpe, 
Cat. Birds Brit. Mus., vol. 24, 1896, p. 391). Eisenmann (Wilson 
Bull., 1951, p. 183) quotes Thomas Imhof for a report of 3 seen 
on June 15, 1942. Loftin (Carib. Journ. Sci. 1963, p. 66) recorded 
one September 23 and two October 13, 1962 at Panama Viejo. 

The white-rumped sandpiper nests in the tundra regions of the 
north from northern Alaska to Baffin Island, and winters in southern 
South America from Paraguay and Brazil to Tierra del Fuego. The 
Isthmus of Panama seems to lie to the west of its usual line of 
migratory flight. 

Many individuals may be told from Baird's sandpipers with 
difficulty, so that sight records, unless supported by specimens, may 
be open to question. 

EROLIA BAIRDII (Coues): Baird's Sandpiper; Playerito Unicolor 

Actodromas Bairdii Coues, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, vol. 13, June-Aug. 
(Dec. 28) 1861, p. 194. (Fort Resolution, Great Slave Lake, MacKenzie 
District, Northwest Territories.) 

Similar to the white-rumped sandpiper, but with all the central 
upper tail coverts black, so that this area appears dark in flight. 

Description. — Length, 170 to 185 mm. Bill more slender than in 
E. fuscicollis, tip not broadened, with surface smooth. Breeding dress, 
crown, back, and scapulars with the feathers extensively black cen- 
trally, bordered by pale buff, buffy white, and, to a lesser degree, cin- 
namon-buff; wing coverts light grayish brown, edged with grayish 
white ; lesser coverts tipped narrowly with white ; primaries dusky ; 
secondaries brownish gray, edged with white ; rump and central upper 
tail coverts dusky ; outer ones white, marked with grayish brown near 
tip; central rectrices dusky; lateral pairs dark gray, margined nar- 
rowly with white ; foreneck and upper breast grayish white, streaked 
and spotted heavily with dusky. 

Winter dress, dorsal surface, in general, like the summer plumage, 
but back, rump, scapulars, and lesser and middle wing coverts tipped 
prominently with white to buffy white ; greater coverts edged with buff 
and tipped rather widely with white to form a distinct band ; crown 
and hindneck edged with buff ; upper breast feathers with dusky cen- 
tral mottling, washed with light buff' ; rest of under surface white. 

Iris brown ; bill, tarsus, and toes black. 


Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 281). — Males, wing 114-122 
(118.7), tail 48-53 (51.1), exposed culmen 20.5-23 (21.7), tarsus 
20-23 (21.1) mm. 

Females, wing 119-126 (122.3), tail 49-54 (51.7), exposed culmen 
21.5-24 (22.8), tarsus 20-23 (21.4) mm. 

Passage migrant from the north. Status uncertain; reported defi- 
nitely only during southward flight. 

Baird's sandpiper is another species that nests in the far northern 
tundras, from northeastern Siberia to Greenland, and winters in South 
America. Griscom (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 78, 1935, p. 307) 
included the species with the statement "Canal Zone on migration 
(once)." Hellmayr and Conover (Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 3, 
1948, p. 190) say "a few records from Panama," with no details of 
occurrence. The only other definite report is of sight records by 
Imhof (Auk, 1950, p. 256), who recorded these birds regularly from 
September 19 to October 28, 1942, at rain pools on the grass grown 
parade grounds at Fort Amador (Pacific side) and Fort Davis 
(Caribbean side), in the Canal Zone. I have seen no specimens from 

EROLIA MELANOTOS (Vieillot): Pectoral Sandpiper; 
Playerito Pectoral 

Tringa melanotos Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 34, Dec. 1819, 
p. 462. (Paraguay.) 

Of medium size, with foreneck and breast gray, washed with buff, 
and streaked heavily with dusky in a solid pattern, in sharp contrast 
with the white throat, lower breast, and abdomen. 

Description. — Length, 220 to 235 mm. Breeding dress, feathers of 
upper surface heavily black centrally, with those on crown and upper 
back, edged with buff and cinnamon-buff, and on hindneck and sides 
of neck, bordered widely with buff; tertials edged broadly with buff 
and cinnamon-buff ; wing coverts dusky bordered with buff and cin- 
namon-buff; lower back, rump, and upper tail coverts plain black; 
outer primaries black; inner primaries and secondaries dark gray, 
the latter bordered with white ; central tail feathers black ; outer pairs 
brownish gray, edged lightly with white; upper foreneck to upper 
breast grayish buff, lined narrowly with dull black, the whole sharply 
cut off from the white of the throat, lower breast, and abdomen ; under 
tail coverts white, with shaft lines of dusky. 

Winter plumage, similar, but with the cinnamon markings on the 
upper surface reduced or absent, and foreneck and upper breast gray- 
ish white. 


Iris brown; base of bill dull greenish yellow, tip black; legs 
greenish yellow. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., pp. 270-271). — Males, wing 
137-146 (139.8), tail 59-65 (62.4), exposed culmen 26-29.5 (28.4), 
tarsus 27-30 (27.7) mm. 

Females, wing 119.5-130 (125.8) ; tail 51-60 (55.3) ; exposed cul- 
men 24-29 (25.8), tarsus 24-26.5 (25.8) mm. 

Passage migrant from the north. Fairly common in southward 
flight in fall, mainly in October, seen less often in September; rare 
in spring. 

There are sight records near Gatun on August 30 and September 
1, 1934 (Arbib and Loetscher, Auk, 1935, p. 326), and at Fort 
Amador on September 16, 1942 (Imhof, MSS field notes). Hasso 
von Wedel secured specimens at Puerto Obaldia, San Bias, on Sep- 
tember 25 and October 2 and 15, 1931, November 15, 1932, September 
16 and 17, 1933, and September 21, 1934 (data from skins in the 
Herbert Brandt collection at the University of Cincinnati). There is 
a skin in the U. S. National Museum, forwarded by the Malaria Con- 
trol Service, that was taken on the Pacific side of the Cerro Azul, 
Province of Panama, on October 11, 1955. There are numerous other 
records for October. The only reports during the northward flight 
are of one seen by C. O. Handley, Jr., May 30, 1959, on the old air- 
strip at Mandinga, San Bias, and others noted by Eugene Eisenmann, 
April 28, at Puerto Pilon, Colon, and on May 1 1 at Coco Solo, Canal 
Zone, both in 1961. 

In migration these sandpipers usually are found in fresh-water 
marshes or wet meadows and also come to pools of water left by 
rains on such open areas as parade grounds or golf links. Most of the 
reports to date have come from the Canal Zone. Hellmayr and Con- 
over (Cat. Birds Amer., pt. 1, no. 3, 1948, p. 194) have recorded one 
from Frances, in Chiriqui, but this seems to be in error, as Emmet 
Blake informs me that there is no specimen from that place in the 
Chicago Natural History Museum. 

EROLIA ALPINA PACIFICA (Coues): Dunlin; Correlimos Comlin 

Pelidna Pacifica Coues, Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, vol. 11, 1861, p. 189. 
(Simiahmoo, Washington.) 

The dunlin is a short-legged bird, slightly larger and heavier in 
body than the spotted sandpiper, with a bill decidedly longer than the 
head, rather heavy, and slightly, but noticeably, curved downward 
near the tip. 


Description. — Length, 200-220 mm. In winter dress gray above, 
with a grayish wash on the breast. 

In the brighter breeding plumage the lower breast and abdomen 
are black. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., pp. 262-263). — Males, wing 
108.5-125.5 (115.9), tail 42-57 (52), culmen 31-41 (35.6), tarsus 
23-28 (25.2) mm. 

Females, wing 114-125 (117.4), tail 44.5-56 (53), culmen 34-42 
(38.3), tarsus 25-27 (26) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Rare ; status uncertain. 

In the New World the dunlin nests in Alaska, northern Canada, 
and Greenland and winters regularly along the coasts from southeast- 
ern Alaska to Sonora and from Massachusetts to Florida and Texas. 
There is one record for Momotombo, western Nicaragua (Sharpe, 
Cat. Birds Brit. Mus., vol. 24, 1896, p. 611). I have seen sandpipers 
on three occasions that I identified as this species, one December 3 
and another December 28, 1955, at Panama Viejo, and five at the 
mouth of the Rio Chico, March 5, 1956. Since Panama is so far be- 
yond the recorded range I include these as not wholly definite, pend- 
ing the capture of specimens. 

MICROPALAMA HIMANTOPUS (Bonaparte) : Stilt Sandpiper; 
Chorlito Patilargo 

Tringa himantopus Bonaparte, Ann. Lye. Nat. Hist. New York, vol. 2, 1826, 
p. 157. (Long Branch, New Jersey.) 

Slender, larger than the spotted sandpiper, with very long yellowish- 
green legs and slender, straight bill that is decidedly longer than the 

Description. — Length, 195 to 210 mm. Breeding dress, crown 
dusky black, edged with grayish white and buffy white ; hindneck 
streaked with dusky and grayish white; a light superciliary some- 
what streaked with dusky ; back and scapulars mixed black and gray, 
with scattered edgings of buff; rump and upper tail coverts white 
barred with black; primaries black; wing coverts and secondaries 
dark gray, the latter tipped with white; tail gray, with white base 
and white tips on outer pairs ; underneath white, with throat plain, 
foreneck and upper breast streaked, and lower breast, abdomen, and 
under tail coverts evenly barred with dusky ; side of the head behind 
the eye cinnamon-rufous. 

Winter dress, upper surface plain brownish gray ; superciliary stripe 
white; under parts white, with the lower foreneck, sides of neck, upper 


breast, and under tail coverts narrowly and rather indefinitely streaked 
with gray. 

Iris brown ; bill black, somewhat brownish basally ; legs dull yellow- 
ish green. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 206). — Males, wing 116- 
135 (124.4), tail 45-53 (51.1), exposed culmen 35.5-41 (38.5), tarsus 
36-43 (39.9) mm. 

Females, wing 120-137 (127), tail 44-58 (51.5), exposed culmen 
36-44 (39.9), tarsus 39.5-45 (42.9) mm. 

Passage migrant from the north. Rare. 

This interesting sandpiper breeds in tundra areas from northern 
Alaska and far northern Ontario south to the northern edge of the 
forests, and spends the northern winter season in southern South 

The stilt sandpiper was first recorded in Panama from 2 seen by 
Arbib and Loetscher, August 22 and 26, 1934 (Auk, 1935, p. 326). 
Eisenmann noted 3 on the Gatun Dam spillway August 28, 1958. The 
only other reports are of one that I observed on the mud flats at the 
mouth of the Rio Chico, March 5, 1956, and one that I collected from 
4 seen at La Jagua, Panama, March 24, 1964. 

The species is one that may be expected to occur rarely in its mi- 
grations. It is recorded in Guatemala and Nicaragua to the north, 
and in Colombia and Ecuador to the south. 

Stilt sandpipers frequent tidal flats and other muddy shores, some- 
times coming to open pools. It is common for them to wade in water 
so deep that it nearly reaches the body, and to feed with head and 
neck immersed. 

TRYNGITES SUBRUFICOLLIS (Vieillot): Buff-breasted Sandpiper; 
Chorlito Canelo 

Tringa subrnficollis Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 34, Dec. 
1819, p. 465. (Paraguay.) 

Rather small, with short bill; yellowish legs; buffy underneath 
from bill to tail. 

Description. — Length, 190 to 205 mm. Adults, upper surface in 
general grayish buff, the feathers with black centers; edge of wing 
white, narrowly barred with black; greater wing coverts grayish 
brown, tipped with buff ; primary coverts darker, with a subterminal 
spot of black, and a narrow tip of white; primaries grayish brown, 
black at end, tipped with white ; secondaries with outer webs grayish 
brown at base, dusky at tip, inner webs white, with the tips mottled 


with black and buff ; rump and upper tail coverts black, tipped with 
cinnamon-buff; middle rectrices dusky, tipped with buff, the outer 
pairs grayish brown, black toward the end, tipped and edged with 
deep buff, that becomes narrowly white distally ; underneath mainly 
light pinkish cinnamon, edged with white to buffy white; throat, ab- 
domen, and under tail coverts pale buff ; axillars and main under wing 
coverts white ; under primary coverts grayish buff, tipped with white, 
with irregular lines and subterminal spots of black ; inner web of 
remiges with irregular spots of black toward the tips. 

Iris brown; base of maxilla deep olive gray; rest of bill black; 
tarsus brownish orange (yellow ocher to olive-ocher) , shading to 
grayish buff on the upper part (the crus) ; toes olive-buff to honey 
yellow ; nails black. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 227). — Males, wing 129-136 
(132.1), tail 58-63 (60.6), exposed culmen 19.5-20.5 (19.9), tarsus 
30-37 (32.1) mm. 

Females, wing 122-132 (127.2), tail 54-62 (57), exposed culmen 
17.5-19.5 (18.4), tarsus 29-31 (29.5) mm. 

Passage migrant from the north. Rare. 

The only specimen record is that of Jewel (Auk, 1913, p. 426), who 
collected one in a dry pasture near Gatun on October 18, 1911. He 
saw another at the same place on March 29, 1912. Dr. Eisenmann 
has recorded this species at Coco Solo, and at Balboa, Canal Zone, 
on September 28, 1958. 

The buff-breasted sandpiper is another that nests in the tundras of 
the far north, from northern Alaska to northern MacKenzie, and 
migrates south to Argentina for the period of northern winter. 

On their wintering grounds in the far south I have found single 
birds with other sandpipers, but remaining somewhat apart, on muddy 
shores. ]\Iore often they were in small flocks that ranged over alka- 
line barrens amid scattered herbaceous growth. They are active and 
quick in their movements, and are constantly in motion. Their dis- 
tinct buffy color distinguishes them from the other small sandpipers, 
as does the slender neck, small head, and short bill, a profile that sug- 
gests that of a pigeon. 

Family RECURVIROSTRIDAE : Avocets and Stilts ; 
Avocetas y Ciguehuelas 

The few living species of this family of shorebirds are widespread 
through temperate and tropical regions of the world. All are of 
moderate size, and all stand on tall legs, those of the stilt, the only 


species of the group in Central and South America, being especially 
long and slender. Both avocets and stilts range in marshlands and 
along muddy shores, usually in companies that remain together during 
the nesting season. Their food is obtained from water and mud, that 
of the stilt by probing. Avocets often walk through shallows with 
the bill sweeping like a scythe back and forth over the surface of 
the mud. 

HIMANTOPUS MEXICANUS (Muller): Black-necked StUt; Viuda 

Figure 68 
Charadrius Mexicanus, P.L.S. Muller, Natursyst. Suppl., 1776, p. 117. (Mexico.) 

Legs very long and slender ; black above, white underneath. 

Description. — Length, 345 to 365 mm. Adult male, crown, sides 
of head, hindneck, upper back, and wings black, with a slight sheen 
of greenish blue; forehead, spot behind eye, central portion of both 
eyelids, central and lower back, rump, upper tail coverts and entire 
undersurface pure white; tail pale gray; under wing coverts dull 
black, with a few white markings on the edge of the wing. 

Female, similar but lower hindneck, upper back, and scapulars 
brownish black. 

Immature, black of crown duller; hindneck and upper back gray- 
ish brown to brownish black. 

Iris red ; bill black ; legs and feet pinkish red ; claws black. 

Resident. Found locally along channels in the mangroves, on tidal 
mudflats, and around lowland pools. Part of those present in the 
dry season may be migrants from elsewhere. 

The first report of the species is that of Lawrence (Ann. Lye. Nat. 
Hist. New York, vol. 8, 1863, p. 12) who listed it as received from 
McLeannan without comment. Jewel (Auk, 1913, p. 425) secured 
one at the Gatun Dam on November 11, 1911, a bird that had been 
present there for a week. Griscom (Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool., vol. 69, 
1929, p. 155) recorded a female taken by Benson at El Real, Darien, 
in 1928, and another (I.e., vol. 72, 1932, p. 322), a male, collected by 
Wedel, at Perme, San Bias. These are the only published records of 
specimens that I have seen. 

In my own field studies I found an adult and a full grown imma- 
ture bird on April 4, 1948, at the mouth of the Rio Chico, Panama, 
and in the following year on March 16, I shot a bird there that 
still had part of the juvenile plumage on the back of the neck. Others 
were seen there on March 24. On March 5, 1956, I found between 
50 and 60 at this point, the largest assemblage that I have recorded in 



Panama. Some of those seen have been encountered along a channel 
that is bordered by mangroves, but most have been out on the open 
flats. T. A. Imhof in his notes recorded them here on November 17, 
1942. I was told that in the rainy season they spread back around 
pools in the savannas. My only record here away from the coast is 
of two at a fresh-water pond on the eastern side of the Rio La Jagua 

Fig. 68. — Black-necked stilt, viuda, Himantopus mexicanns. 

on March 21, 1958. The birds are well known, and it is my supposi- 
tion, from those in partial immature dress that I have seen, that they 
nest here. 

My only record in other areas is of one flushed on March 23, 1960, 
from a roadside pool west of Puerto Vidal, Veraguas, a short distance 
from the Rio Tabasara. 

Family PHALAROPODIDAE : Phalaropes ; Falaropos 

The phalaropes in general form resemble their cousin plovers and 
sandpipers but differ in the possession of lobes that broaden the toes 
and a feather covering that is dense and strongly water repellant. 


like the plumage of gulls. Both are developments for a truly aquatic 
life as phalaropes are adept swimmers. 

The tarsus in all is strongly compressed from side to side. Males 
are smaller and duller in color than females. The three species nest 
in the north and in winter move into the Southern Hemisphere, 
where two range in flocks at sea, and the third is found along shores 
and inland in southern South America. 


1. Bill shorter, about as long as head, broad, slightly expanded toward the 

tip ; base of bill with nostrils definitely separated from the frontal feathering. 

Red phalarope, Phalaropus julicarius, p. 430 

Bill longer than head, slender and attenuate, with the nostrils close to the 

frontal feathers 2 

2. Smaller, with much smaller legs ; tarsus less than 24 mm. ; bill more slender, 

especially at the tip, and shorter, not more than 25 mm. 

Northern phalarope, Lobipes lobatus, p. 432 
Larger, with longer, heavier legs; tarsus more than 28 mm.; bill heavier, 
particularly toward tip, and longer, not less than 28 mm. 

Wilson's phalarope, Steganopus tricolor, p. 431 

PHALAROPUS FULICARIUS (Linnaeus): Red Phalarope; Pollito de Mar 


Tringa Fulicaria Linnaeus, Syst. Nat., ed. 10, vol. 1, 1758, p. 148. (Northeastern 

A small, swimming shorebird, with heavy bill that is slightly ex- 
panded toward the tip. 

Description. — Length, 200 to 210 mm. Nostril separated from the 
anterior margin of the feathers on the forehead by a definite space 
of 2 mm. or more ; tarsus short, about equal to middle toe. Summer 
plumage (male definitely duller than female), crown, hindneck, and 
loral area slaty black ; throat somewhat gray ; upper back dull black ; 
scapulars and upper tail coverts black, edged broadly with buff ; wing 
coverts dark gray edged lightly with white; primary coverts and 
inner secondaries with broad white tips and edgings ; primaries, rest 
of secondaries, and tail slaty black; under wing coverts and sides 
white ; entire under surface vinaceous-brown. 

Winter plumage (sexes alike), head, neck, and entire under surface 
white ; occiput and region around eye slate ; upper surface light gray. 
In changing plumage the white of the under surface often is mixed 
with brown. 


Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., p. 419). — Males, wing 119- 
130 (125.2), tail 59-70.5 (62.9), culmen 18.5-23 (21.9), tarsus 19.5- 
21.5 (20.7), middle toe 19.5-21.5 (20.5) mm. 

Females, wing 129.5-139 (135.1), tail 63-71 (66.4), culmen 21.0- 
24 (22.5), tarsus 20-22.5 (22.0), middle toe 19-21.5 (20.4) mm. 

Migrant from the north. Occurrence uncertain. 

Red phalaropes nest in the far north and winter at sea, chiefly in 
the Southern Hemisphere, where they are common off both coasts of 
South America. Their main migrations, which include many thou- 
sands of individuals, are also offshore. They may be expected at sea 
on the Pacific side, perhaps casually in the outer Gulf of Panama. The 
only record to indicate this at present is one by Robert Cushman 
Murphy who informs me (in litt.) that he saw two about 5 p.m. 
on November 19, 1956, when the ship's position at noon had been at 
lat. 8° 55' N., long. 88° 50^ W., a point far to the west of the Gulf of 

In Spain this species is called falaropo picogrueso. 

STEGANOPUS TRICOLOR Vieillot: Wilson's Phalarope; PoUito de Mar 


Steganopus tricolor Vieillot, Nouv. Diet. Hist. Nat., nouv. ed., vol. 32, Sept. 
1819, p. 136. (Paraguay.) 

Largest of the phalaropes ; rump white, wing nearly plain. 

Description. — Length, 215 to 230 mm. Tarsus decidedly longer than 
middle toe. Breeding dress (male duller than female), crown and 
upper back gray ; hindneck white ; wing coverts and lower back 
brownish gray ; upper tail coverts and side of rump white ; primaries 
and secondaries fuscous brown ; tail brownish gray ; sides of head 
black; sides of neck, of upper back, and much of scapulars rufous; 
foreneck and upper breast pale cinnamon ; rest of under surface 

Winter dress, crown and sides of neck light gray; hindneck and 
back brownish gray ; underneath white. 

Immature birds have the wing coverts slate gray margined with 
pale buff and white. 

Measurements (from Ridgway, I.e., pp. 431-432). — Males, wing 
116-125 (121.1), tail 48-54 (51.2), culmen 28-31 (30.5), tarsus 28.5- 
33 (30.1), middle toe 22-25 (24) mm. 

Females, wing 130-137.5 (132.6), tail 52.5-65 (55.9), culmen 31- 
36 (33), tarsus 30.5-33 (31.7), middle toe 24.5-26.5 (25.3) mm. 


Migrant from the north. Several sight records indicate casual 

The Wilson's phalarope, in addition to following the sea, comes to 
fresh and brackish waters regularly during its migrations between 
its summer home in fresh- water marshes of the western United States 
and Canada, and its wintering grounds, which are mainly in southern 
South America. 

Eugene Eisenmann informs me that he observed this species at 
Puerto Pilon, Colon, and at the Gatun spillway in the Canal Zone, 
on August 28, 1958. It was found also at Coco Solo, Canal Zone, 
September 28, 1958. Arbib and Loetscher (Auk, 1