Daily Archives: June 25, 2010

Nature at the Front Door

In front of the house here in Potrerillos is a flower garden in which resides a single hummingbird. As far as I can figure out through Ridgely and Gwynne’s A Guide to the Birds of Panama and Glen Bartley’s Birds of Costa Rica web site (we’re only about 35 miles from the Costa Rican border here) this bird is a Rufous-tailed hummingbird.

It’s quite a feisty little beast. Nearly every morning when I go out with my cup of coffee to gaze down the mountain this little bird comes zipping out of nowhere to hover about 10 feet in front of me at eye level as if to say “okay, buster, stay right where you are. These flowers are MINE!”

And guard its patch it does. Every now an then another hummingbird will come to check out the flowers and is immediately put to flight by the resident monarch. And are these things ever fast. In only a couple of seconds they are off into the trees a couple of hundred yards away…ZOOM! You can almost hear the sonic boom in their wakes. So zealously does this little bird guard its domain that it often attacks the butterflies that come to savor the flowers.

There are a couple of kinds of birds that the monarch of the garden simply ignores probably since they present no competition for the food source. I haven’t been able to successfully figure out what they are. One has a vivid yellow breast and dark brown, almost black head, back and wings. Closest I can figure out is it’s some species of fly catcher. It’s about half the size of a robin. Towards the end of the first video you can see one fly in and land near the hummingbird. The other is a small, sparrow-sized bird that is only interested in the seeds of the weeds that grow around the garden.

My late Uncle Howard, my mom’s brother, was an avid bird watcher. In my walks around the area I have seen dozens of birds that you certainly don’t find back in the States and I know that Howard would have been thrilled to spend time here on the mountain.


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