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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3 responses to “Nature at the Front Door

  1. Really high quality videos. What camera are you using to take them.

    Don, Thanks for the nice comment. I have a Sony Handycam DCR-SCR80. It has an 60 gig internal hard drive so there’s no tapes or DVD discs to deal with. Let me tell you, though, with the internet connection I have here in Potrerillos that 2 minute clip took over an hour and a half to upload.

    Remember when you were a kid and thought nothing could be neater than being a wildlife photographer for National Geographic? Well I discovered trying to get those shots I simply don’t have the patience for it. Those two shots seemed to take forever. The great thing about the internal hard drive on the camera is that just hit the delete button and they were gone. No wasted tape of DVD disc.

  2. Hi Richard:

    Thank you for both videos. The resolution was great as well as the audio. The chirping of the birds was awesome. I viewed and listened to both videos several times, just to enjoy the sound of the happy birds.

    Yes, Panama is a paradise for flora and fauna lovers besides many other attractions.



    Thanks for the compliment, Omar. I actually noticed the chirping of the birds more on the vids than I usually do sitting on the front porch. Also, if you listen to the sound closely in the second video you can hear the rushing of the brook off to the left about 75 meters or so. It’s hidden in the trees and not visible from the house. On Thursday we got five inches of rain which swelled the stream into a torrent. The dirt road leading from the paved road to the house was a veritable river.

    According to Sr. Ricardo Espinosa’s rain data ( Potrerillos is on pace to set a rain record for the wettest June since 2003 when he recorded 41 inches. After Thursday’s deluge we’re up to 39 inches with six days to go. Sr. Espinosa has been keeping weather records since 1992.

    There’s a third “f” I’d add for lovers of Panamanian Flora and Fauna and that’s Females.

  3. Lovely videos ~ and lucky you to have a hummingbird willing to sit around a bit for the sake of his admirers!

    I have a friend in the Texas hill country who has constructed a wonderful hat. The brim is about 12″ all around, and stiffened with a wire frame. From it he’s hung four small humming bird feeders. Two are directly in front. He drags it out each season, the birds get used to it, and he gets up-close and personal looks at the birds.

    If you’re in need of a project….. 😉

    What a great thing to do! The flies this time of year here on the mountain are outrageous and if I was going to construct any kind of hat it would be like those things the Aussies have with the corks dangling from the brim. The engineer of Jolie Aire in France was an Aussie, the late, great, Greg Meekle who warned my girlfriend Florence about those people with the cork hats. “You don’t want to get near those guys,” he’d say. Another of his favorite lines, which he’d say to Florence sometimes over dinner, was, “I’ve seen a lot of pretty sheep in my day.” The world’s a poorer place since Aussie Greg’s passing.