Monday, May 3, 1999

Western Kingbirds at El Chorogo

Coming down from El Chorogo on Saturday, april 3, 1999 two, but possibly more, Western Kingbirds were detected by Darién Montañez about halfway down the last potrero before getting to the San Bartolo River. What first called attention to them were their calls, which sounded more like those of a Gray-capped Flycatcher: a sharp, whit. When one of the birds took flight, the whitish edges on to the outer tail feathers were noticed. The birds were rather tame, allowing for close approach, as close as about two meters. There were no Tropical Kingbirds nearby, but I've seen enough to have a general impression of their shape and size. The most noticeable difference between these birds and the TK was their tails, which were black with whitish edges and just slightly notched. Their bills were shorter and thinner. The head was pale gray, paler at the throat, and this color extended down to the chest, which is olive in the TK. The yellow underparts turned paler at the undertail coverts. The birds perched on the low bushes at the potrero, but would sometimes fly up the nearby trees, where they were seen feeding on the fruit of an Indio Desnudo tree. The Western Kingbird spends the winter from Mexico to Western Costa Rica, but apparently a few birds sometimes make it as far south as Central Panama, as shown by the only previous record of the species in the country: a bird that was studied carefully on Chiva-chiva road in 1988.

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