Monday, November 03, 2008

My Favorite Tanager

I've seen a lot of tanager species in my years of bird watching. Both summer and scarlet tanagers nest on our 80-acre farm in southeast Ohio every summer—more scarlets by far. Tanagers come in a wide variety of color schemes, often involving bright red, yellow, or orange. Yet my favorite tanager is one that comes in subtle hues: the blue-gray tanager.

Blue-gray tanager in Cerro Azul, Panama.

I can't tell you why I like the blue-gray tanager best of all. Maybe it's because, like mountain bluebirds, they make the most of a rather plain uniform. Or perhaps it's because they are common and easy to see throughout much of the New World tropics—from central Mexico to the northern half of South America. I've enjoyed them in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, and Peru.

Bay-headed tanagers are fabulously beautiful. I got to see them in Panama a few weeks ago, along with crimson-backed, silver-throated, and golden-hooded tanagers—all stunning birds.

I don't know. There's just something about a blue-gray tanager.

There's not much left on this piece of fruit.


During my recent trip to Panama, while staying at a nice hotel in Cerro Azul called Hostal Casa de Campo, there were blue-gray tanagers visiting the fruit feeder just outside the dining room. Due to our schedule and the weather we only had about 15 minutes with the birds, but I managed to capture a few worthwhile images in between bites of lunch.

Blue-gray tanager in Cerro Azul, Panama.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dawn, Cerro Azul


From the overlook, dawn breaking like soft rain
the humid, warming earth heaves skyward its misty breath.
Smaller hills like sleeping bodies peek above the blanketing white.
Squeak-buzz of hummingbirds, tinamou whistles, toucan croaks
and this forest of rain—this jewel-filled jungle—launches itself unquietly into another day.

—from the garden at Birder's View, Cerro Azul, Panama

Labels: , ,