Published On: Mon, Jul 7th, 2014

BACKYARD BIRDING IN MERIDA, YUCATAN AND BEYOND-ONE TREE: 15 BIRD SPECIES, PART 1

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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

Giant brightly-colored bouquets of trees in bloom provide breath-stopping delights in Merida’s springtime prior to the rainy season.  Before these behemoths are drenched in leaves, the flamboyant red-oranges, sunny yellows, or pink orchid-like flowers burst out of the trees as if to cover up the nakedness of bare limbs. They boldly display their attractive enticements to pollinators…and to people.

During four May magical mornings in Merida, I decided to photograph one flamboyant tree to watch its parade of perchers.

Flamboyant Tree

Flamboyant Tree

One tree = 15 bird species.

On my first morning, I observed all the species but to photograph them required more early visits.

All the birds were either chased away by Couch’s Kingbirds or Clay-colored Thrushes. That’s why I missed photographing the Tropical Mockingbird species. I knew the kingbird is a bad-to-the-bone bully but I didn’t know the washed-out, robin-like thrush harassed birds too. Neither the kingbird nor the thrush had nests in this tree. Nor did the Couch’s Kingbird have a sofa. (Doesn’t it sound like it should have a couch or at least linger on one?)

Clay-colored Thrush

Clay-colored Thrush

Couch's Kingbird

Couch’s Kingbird

But I did locate two other nests in it, one of the Golden-fronted Woodpeckers and the other of Ruddy Ground-Doves.

Female Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Female Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Golden-fronted Woodpecker in tree nest cavity

Golden-fronted Woodpecker in tree nest cavity

Pair of Ruddy Ground-Doves building a nest behind the fallen flamboyant flower in a bromeliad

Pair of Ruddy Ground-Doves building a nest behind the fallen flamboyant flower in a bromeliad

Other species didn’t stop but flew through, around, or above it including White-fronted Parrots, Black Vultures, Vaux’s Swifts, Bronzed Cowbirds, and a swallow species. If this were either spring or fall migration, the number of species in that one tree would be larger.

My largest surprise arrived as a 16 inch Gray Hawk barely landed before the thrush scared it away.

Gray Hawk

Gray Hawk

And the smallest visitors were four to five inches long: a fleeting, feeding Cinnamon Hummingbird, and the dashing, tail-switching Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

Cinnamon Hummingbird

Cinnamon Hummingbird

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Part 2 will show other species of attempted “settlers” I observed in the beauty of this flowering tree. Stay tuned…

 

 

 

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  1. Lola says:

    Surprised the Hawk was scared away by the Thrush. Lovely idea to watch one tree!

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