Published On: Mon, Apr 21st, 2014

BACKYARD BIRDING IN MERIDA AND BEYOND-IF OTIS REDDING WERE A BIRD, HE WOULD BE A PUFFBIRD

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White-necked Puffbird, Notharchus hyperrhynchus, Buco de Collar (Spanish)

Cherie Pittillo, “nature inspired”, zoologist, wildlife photographer, and author, explores nature everywhere she goes. She’s identified 53 bird species in her Merida, Yucatan backyard view. Her column, published on the 7th and 21st of each month features anecdotes about birding in Merida, Yucatan and beyond. Contact: all4birdies@gmail.com  All rights reserved, © Cherie Pittillo

 

White-necked Puffbird

White-necked Puffbird

In Otis Redding’s song,”Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”, he sits on the dock of the bay watching the ships roll in and then roll away again. He sits and watches the tide roll away. Just sits and watches.

Like Otis, the White-necked Puffbird sits and watches.  It waits and watches and waits and watches as it sits on on a tree limb as each day rolls in and rolls away, just like the tide.

White-necked Puffbird sits and watches for prey

White-necked Puffbird sits and watches for prey

White-necked Puffbird waits and watches for prey

White-necked Puffbird waits and watches for prey

While Otis sits on the dock, he sees a fly and smashes it to smithereens. The White-necked Puffbird looks at flies, other insects and spiders too. Those critters plus frogs and lizards are on its menu “dock-eat”. When they come close, the puffbird becomes an aerialist catcher. That stout bill enables giant insects and other prey to be caught. After capture, the puffbird pounds its prey to a pulp against a tree branch. That is pulp non-fiction.

Large bill of White-necked Puffbird

Large bill of White-necked Puffbird

Maybe Otis’ last name came from the “redding” of his eyes from the glare off the ocean. Red eyes adorn this chunky bird.

 

Red eye of White-necked Puffbird

Red eye of White-necked Puffbird

Sometimes Otis observes a school of fish. From above their dark backs blend in with the water. If he were to swim below them and look up, their white bellies would blend in with sunlight. Certain tree-dwelling and aquatic species adapted this camouflage technique of countershading.

Since this species of puffbird often perches on an exposed branch along a forest edge or high in the tree canopy, perhaps its darker back coloration protects it from predators soaring above and the lighter belly serves as camouflage from a predator looking up. Even that black necklace on the puffbird resembles a limb or a shadow across its chest.

Those feathers look fluffy yet raggedy probably like Otis’ hair when an ocean breeze puffs it out.

Black crown and puffy feathers of White-necked Puffbird

Black crown and puffy feathers of White-necked Puffbird

Side view of White-necked Puffbird

Side view of White-necked Puffbird

Maybe Otis left the Frisco Bay and visited other bays from southern Mexico down to Ecuador and Argentina, exactly the range of the White-necked Puffbird.

When Otis ends his song, he whistles a tune. The White-necked Puffbird’s song sounds like a whistling trill.

http://www.xeno-canto.org/69827

So, both Otis and the White-necked Puffbird are “sittin’ in the morning sun, (and they’ll)…be sittin’ when the evening comes”.

I rest my case and now, like Otis, I’ll rest my bones.

Photo Note: I photographed this bird at Laguna Ocom, near Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo. It’s an uncommon bird to see and my first ever sighting.

DISCLAIMER: References do not agree on details about this species: A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America, Sal a Pajarear Yucatan Guia de Aves, Birds and Reserves of the Yucatan Peninsula, A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica, http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=287896,  A Neotropical Companion, Bird Coloration, and Birds of Tropical America.

Mexico Travel Care

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