How to find the Grassland Yellow-Finches at El Chirú, a report by Ken Allaire

On June 30, Alfred Raab and I visited El Chirú, Coclé Province, and found at least a pair of Grassland Yellow-Finches. There have a been a few reports of this species recently buried in larger reports of flashier birds, including sightings by Venicio Wilson, Jan Axel Cubilla, and Bill and Claudia Ahrens (who noted a female with nesting material last week). This is good news regarding a bird generally considered to be on the decline in Panama, even in its historic strongholds in Cocle. El Chirú is about 3k west of Río Hato—turn north just west of the big "Ahora le Toca al Pueblo" sign (there is a small "Bienvenidos al Hogar El Chirú" sign just in front of this), then turn east (right) at the next intersection, just before a stand of planted trees (eucalyptus, I think?). A couple hundred meters ahead on the right is a small cemetery; the birds have been seen several times in this area. The grass is high and the birds are hunkered down and not vocalizing, but with patience should be found. Due to the good habitat conditions many other typical grassland species are present in good numbers as well.