Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Suddenly "Common" Puffbird

As I mentioned in an earlier post, here is a recently "conspicuous" species: the White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis). I say that because prior to Hurricane Richard last October, this was a species that, with a little effort, could be seen along the forest trails near Chan Chich Lodge on most days. When we conducted the Christmas Bird Count in late December, it was suddenly "everywhere." We counted more than 30 puffbirds that day ... and our previous record had been 9.

This species is a "sit and wait" insect and small vertebrate predator. Interestingly, it excavates a burrow in order to build its nest. I have seen motmots excavate their nest burrows, but not the puffbird.

Since the hurricane, there is evidently something this bird "likes" about the modified forest that makes it seem much more common than previously. Frank Buck grabbed this nice photo of the puffbird in December -- my thanks for sharing it.

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