Marshall Iliff sent in reports for his three consecutive VENT tours to Panama. Highlights below:
Feb. Altos del María: 1 White-tipped Sicklebill, 12 Snowcaps, 4 Orange-bellied Trogons, 2 Spotted Barbtails, 3 Spotted Woodcreepers, 2 Plain Antvireos, 2 Black-crowned Antpittas, 2 White-ruffed Manakins, 1 Rufous-browed Tyrannulet, 15 Tufted Flycatchers, 12 Ochraceous Wrens, 5 Tawny-capped Euphonias, and two Black-and-yellow Tanagers, among more expected foothill species. Our one new sighting for the area was a single Brown Violet-ear singing from a high perch. We did not see this bird well, but I recognized it as a Violet-ear from its persistent single chip note that it delivered from a high perch. When we found the bird it was easily identifiable as Brown Violet-ear by its short bill and its brownish coloration with pale underparts without darker pattern or iridescence.
Green Thorntail – We had three females and one adult male at El Valle 3 Feb.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – We had two birds this year; both on 4 Feb. One was in the town of Gamboa while the other was 2 miles away at Ammo Dump Ponds.
Cattle Tyrant – Nesting pair discovered at Tocumen Airport, Panama Province, 15 Feb. The two adults were delivering food to a nest in a palm tree at the airport itself, and the nest seemed to have at least three half-grown young.
Cape May Warbler – One immature female-plumaged bird was feeding in flowers at Metro Park, near Panama City, 9 Feb. Identification was straightforward as this bird was whitish breasted with fine dark streaking on the chest. The bill was fine and decurved. A faint area of yellow wrapped around the ear coverts. Photos are not great but amply confirm the identification.
Hooded Warbler – One heard chipping just south of Gamboa along the south side of the Chagres. The metallic high “tink” note is one I know well.
Common Yellowthroat – Two (one heard, one seen) at Tocumen Marsh 7 Feb.
Tricolored Munia – One was seen about 0.25 mi west of Summit Gardens (or 0.25 mi north of Summit Ponds) on 9 Feb. Identification was straightforward. An obvious Lonchura, and fairly large and large-billed as compared to Nutmeg Mannikin (Scaly-breasted Munia; Lonchura punctulata) which I see commonly here in California. The bill was large and whitish-blue; the back was rich chestnut; the head nape, chin, throat, and upper breast were black, giving a hooded appearance; the lower belly was black and contrasted with a white chest that extended down the flanks. I did not note tail color. It seemed slightly larger than Variable Seedeaters also in the area. I am not aware of prior reports for Panama, but have been following the news of its spread through other Central American countries (Costa Rica, Mexico, Belize, Honduras).