Motecuhzoma xocoyotzin in my backyard … or Monty is back !

Just a little while ago we mentioned to our friends and neighbors two houses further down the hill that we hadn’t seen nor heard either Toucans or Oropendolas lately. Bird’s lives are often governed by seasonality, which makes them plentiful or scarce, depending on time or place, and we thought our temporary lack of the clanking croaks of the toucans and the bubbly firecracker-finishedburbles of the oropendolas might be based on migratory range variation.

No sooner had we thus commented, the birds were back in range as if they had heard my complaint. Detecting and watching birds is an activity, which requires patience, focus and Sitzfleisch. But taking a decent picture of these birdly creatures is the true challenge because they have no Sitzfleisch at all! They’re always bouncing, flapping, leaping and flying hither and thither. When they do sit still for a few seconds, you can bet, there is going to be vegetation in the way, diverting your autofocus from the main object of interest, namely the hyperkinetic bird. You have no choice but to manually focus, by which time the compulsive hoppers have moved three twigs over and up … oh, well. Fortunately, the human eye is a vastly superior tracking device, which allows us to easily follow birds’ antics for never-ending enjoyment! 

Toucan croaking ebbs and swells all around us, especially early in the morning, but it’s been difficult to catch more than a fleeting glance of a distant bird in flight. Recently though, I have seen them close up more often since I moved operations from a corner of the dining table to our newly expanded casita (‘little house’, our detached guest room). I now have a private office and photo editing studio with a covered terrace, fronted in a westerly direction by a stand of guarumo trees and a bare, possibly dead, tabebuia. Birds like the guarumo trees, Cecropia sp., for their fruit & the arthropods living in it. I imagine, the woodpecker pair that comes every afternoon likes to pick off the Azteca ants, which live in the guarumos in peaceful mutualism.

Hoffmann’s Woodpecker, female – Melanerpes hoffmannii
(note her tongue sticking out)


Hoffmann’s Woodpecker, male – Melanerpes hoffmannii



Brown Jay sub-adult with yellow eye ring, feet & beak – Cyanocorax morio



Great Kiskadee – Pitangus sulphuratus



Northern Scrub-Flycatcher (?) – Sublegatus arenarum



Squirrel Cuckoo – Piaya cayana



Blue-gray Tanager – Thraupis episcopus


The guarumo trees are a bird pulpería, a convenience store for a quick pit stop on the way into or out of the canyon behind our house, giving me a great opportunity to watch different species of birds, like the ani, I saw the other day. 

The elusive Montezuma oropendola, which I have mentioned here or there, and which appears to be black, as it perches high up against the sky in the mighty guanacaste trees across the street, glows beautifully rusty red in the intense light of the rising sun, as I found out yesterday morning. A group of three youngsters, or females, I couldn’t tell the difference, alerted me with their chit-chat, when they briefly stopped right in front of me in the guarumo trees. There was no time to fumble with a tripod or think of any other optic advantage. This was my first chance of catching Montezuma’s personal bird this close-up and I knew, I had only seconds to act. So I crept outside as quickly & softly as I could, cranked up the maximum zoom on my camera and clicked away with shaking hands.
Montezuma Oropendola – Psarocolius montezuma


Happy Weekend * Gutes Wochenende * Buen Fin de Semana



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