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I Love a Spectacled Owl in the Morning!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Just across the road from Selva Verde Lodge is their botanical garden. Many, many treasures abound, botanical and bird. 

Cane orchid, world's tallest. Looks like a Dendrobium, but it grows right in the soil. Way over my head!

Lobster claw heliconia. The diversity of forms and colors in this family is delightful. The true flower is that yellow bit peeking out of the third claw down from the left. A succession of these flowers pokes out of the colorful, long-lasting bract, attracting hermit hummingbirds, with their decurved bills. 
Here's a green hermit, so you can see how its bill would fit right in that flower. Hermits are big and very cool, fast and flitty and severe-looking, with unearthly viridian green plumage.

Parrots are morning people. They fly over shrieking their species-specific shrieks just after sunrise. It behooves a birder to learn these shrieks, and once you get a handle on it, you can use the shriek and the size, shape and flight style to reliably identify speeding bird bombs high overhead. Getting a good photo of parrots is another story. I take probably 50 parrot photos for each one that's worth a darn. This one's worth a darn. Allopreening white crowned parrots (Pionis senilis) --get it? White hair? Old man?

A pair of pale-billed woodpeckers was double-rapping on a large hollow tree. What a thrill to hear the trademark knock of Campephilus woodpeckers. We all stood in awe, wishing imagining ourselves in a bayou somewhere in the States.

Pale-billeds are very short-tailed, and not nearly as massive as the ivory-bill, but still. 

Nearby, a pair of masked tityras croaked in a bare treetop. These cotingas sound like frogs and travel in pairs.

I walk with my head down, listening, looking at the ground. It's good to pair me with a guide who walks looking up, as Mario Cordoba does. We make quite a team. I miss flyovers. He picks them up. He misses mystery stomachs. I...well, I don't pick them up, but I see them.

A bunny met an untimely end. I saw its stomach (bottom center) and when I showed it to Mario, he showed me the rest of it (top right). I remarked that owls do that: surgically remove the stomach, which they won't eat, and then start eating from the head back. 

As we were looking at the crime scene, rufous motmots were growling and a variety of birds was scolding in the forested hillside just above us. Mario (who was looking up) spotted a large owl flying through the trees. Lightning fast, he set up the scope, and said, "Julie, you're gonna like this."

I did. I really, really liked it. A spectacled owl!!

Which was quite perturbed about being mobbed by motmots.

And which looked, as one of my Facebook friends said, like a stuffed version of itself. Some kind of avian Muppet. An amazement. And a gift on this misty clear morning as we were leaving Selva Verde.

We would go on to see many other things, but that owl stuck with me. In Brasil, they called it Carpintiero for its rapid, hollow, knocking hoot. They said it was building coffins. Love it.

This woman was cooking palm fruit (pejibaye) which is hanging in clusters over her head.

At our next stop this beautiful Brahma let me fondle her spotty brisket. I needed an animal fix of some kind, and she was kind enough to oblige. A good day in the making.


That owl does not look real! What a treat. And love the Brahma. Glad you got an animal fix.

What a treat! Thanks for sharing, as always.

Actually, not only the owl, but the lobster-claw plant and the hummer look unreal as well. Are you sure you didn't wander into a holographic program? ;-)

Posted by Anonymous March 9, 2015 at 3:49 AM

I love that tallest orchid. What a beauty. And I love all the naturey tidbits in this post.
AH--the eviscerated bunny. That explains a find in our yard a week ago--a dead bunny with all its entrails pulled out. The bunny was eventually eaten, but the insides remained. Not an owl, I don't think. But we have many hawks around here.

That owl's face is absolutely amazing! Thanks so much for sharing.I love your travelogues.

Cow ears!

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