All alone in Panama

Whistling Herons are not even supposed to be in Panama. But sometimes birds go exploring. Or get swept away by wind and storms. Or, as in this case, went looking for food to survive.

Whistling Herons are native to East Colombia and Venezuela, but in 2013 there was a drought in northern South America and so many birds went looking for wetter climate and some went as far north as Panama. There were about a half dozen of Whistling Herons (that folks know of) that came to Panama, but now only two remain. They hang out in a field in the Coronada-Chame district and they camouflage quite well in the fields where they roam, Their pink, blue and violet bill reminded me a lot of the Red-footed Booby’s bill. No relation, I realize, but still–gorgeous bills.

So when our guide, Beny Wilson, says, “Hey, do you guys want to see Whistling Herons?” You say, “Damn right, we do!”

And that’s what we did. After searching through our binoculars over acres of tall grass, Beny spotted them waaaaaaaaaaaaay in the distance.

I imagine it’s a strange thing to be the only pair of your species in a foreign place. It seems very Adam and Eve-ish. Except everyone is peering in on you through their scopes and big ass camera lenses as you strut around your Garden of Eden, waiting for you to mate.

And, good golly, I apologize that these are horrible photos, but they were way off in the distance and this is the best my 600mm lens could get.




Whistling Heron (I bumped up the saturation in editing so you could see the bird better.)


Whistling Heron pair (Sorry this is such a lousy photo)

So far, no nests that anyone knows of with this pair. But is it just me, or does this look like there might be some sort of courtship going on? Or maybe they’re just playing. Please chime in if you have an observation to add.