Saturday, June 7, 2008

4 Male Quetzals and a Baby Howler Monkey All in 1 Day!

I woke up at 4:45 a.m. and started driving to Boquete at 5:40 a.m. -- all to arrive by 7:00 a.m. for the Boquete bird walk last Thursday. We were in search of the Three-wattled Bellbird, known to reside above 5,000 feet & seen a month before on the same trail. The presence of Mr. Bellbird is usually obvious from the male's call. However, they are much harder to see since they perch high in the canopy. The question on everyone's mind.....would we be lucky & see one? It was a drop-dead beautiful day as we walked up the steep hill. The first bird seen was a Flame-colored Tanager (muy bonito)! Such a wonderful group of birders. Everyone was extremely welcoming of me (the newby) and made sure to point out the birds. As we climbed higher, we got closer to the unmistakable sound of the male bellbird. Dale was the first one to see the bellbird high in a tree above us. I couldn't believe it! Talk about wattles! He flew off, so we climbed higher. Dale & I were in the lead and being drawn in by the sound of the Black-Faced Solitaire. It sounded like fingers rubbing crystal glasses. So magic! The rest of the group grew near and were talking about turning around before the rains hit. Just as we were about to leave, Dan said, "There's a Quetzal!!". All binoculars were trained on the Quetzal. Within a few minutes, we saw 3 more males... that's 4 total! Does it get any better than this? The bird photos and group picture was taken by Jack Doyle. He and his wife Shari retired in Panama after spending most of their lives in Kodiak, Alaska. Small world! The first picture is J.J. He is a 2 week old howler monkey who I met at Paradise Gardens after the birdwalk. J.J. was intentionally or unintentionally dropped by a mother in a group of howler monkeys near Panama City. An observer went to see what was dropped & found J.J. The family didn't come back, so he called Paradise Gardens & had them pick him up. He is receiving loving care from Jenny (Paul & Jenny run Paradise Gardens) so his changes of survival are pretty good.

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