Birdwatching in Panama and worldwide

This video is called Some nice birds along Pipeline Road in Panama.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Dear Cornell Lab Friend,

Thanks to the worldwide birding community, May 9 was a remarkable and historic day—the first Global Big Day for bird conservation.

More than 12,500 birders in 117 countries joined our “Big Day” team by entering their checklists at, achieving a global total of more than 5,800 species on a single day—more than half of the world’s bird species!

On Global Big Day, the Cornell Lab’s Team Sapsucker explored tropical rainforests, wetlands, and highlands of their host country, Panama. With logistic support from Canopy Tower Lodge and the tremendous skills of Panamanian teammate Carlos Bethancourt, they found 320 species, a team record.

The team reveled in the astounding species diversity, including a life bird, Rufous Nightjar, singing in the dark; the whoosh of air on their faces as a Spectacled Owl flew past; Pheasant Cuckoo, Emerald Tanager, Rufous-crested Coquette, and 39 species of flycatchers! Even more important, the team established numerous partnerships with conservation organizations in Panama, elevating awareness about ecotourism and bird conservation all across that amazing country.

In New Jersey’s World Series of Birding, our student team, The Redheads, won the Urner Stone Cup for the highest statewide total with 208 species, and the Big Stay award with 71 species.

Saving Panama amphibians

This video says about itself:

Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project’s New Rescue Lab

8 April 2015

Dr. Brian Gratwicke, international coordinator for the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project and SCBI amphibian research scientist.

April 8, 2015—Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) scientists working together as part of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project (PARC) opened a new safe haven for endangered amphibians today, April 8. The state-of-the-art, $1.2 million amphibian center at STRI’s Gamboa field station is the largest amphibian conservation facility of its kind in the world. The new center expands on the capacity of the El Valle amphibian conservation center to implement a national strategy to conserve Panama’s amphibian biodiversity by creating captive assurance populations.

Panama is a biodiversity hotspot for amphibians with more than 200 species of frogs, salamanders and caecilians.

For the past 20 years, however, many of Panama’s unique and endemic amphibian species have declined or disappeared as a result of the deadly chytrid fungus that has spread throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. In fact, a third of amphibian species in Panama are considered threatened or endangered. Amphibian conservationists around the world have been working to establish captive populations of the world’s most vulnerable amphibian species to safeguard them from extinction. Since 1980, 122 amphibian species are thought to have gone extinct worldwide, compared to just five bird species and no mammals during the same period.

“Our biggest challenge in the race to save tropical amphibians has been the lack of capacity,” said Brian Gratwicke, amphibian scientist at SCBI and international coordinator of PARC. “This facility will allow us to do so much more. We now have the space needed to safeguard some of Panama’s most vulnerable and beautiful amphibians and to conduct the research needed to reintroduce them back to the wild.”

The center features a working lab for scientists, a quarantine space for frogs collected from the wild and amphibian rescue pods capable of holding up to 10 species of frogs. In the working lab, SCBI scientists will continue research focusing on things like a cure for chytrid. They published findings last month in Proceedings of the Royal Society showing that certain Panamanian golden frogs were able to survive infection with chytrid as a result of a unique skin-microbe community already living on their skin. Seven amphibian rescue pods house the amphibian collection and colonies of insects needed to feed them. Amphibian rescue pods are constructed from recycled shipping containers that were once used to move frozen goods around the world and through the Panama Canal; they have been retrofitted to become mini-ecosystems with customized terrariums for each frog species.

“Our project is helping implement the action plan for amphibian conservation in Panama, authored by Panama’s National Environmental Authority—now Environment Ministry—in 2011,” said Roberto Ibañez, STRI project director for PARC. “This is only possible thanks to the interest in conservation of amphibian biodiversity by the government of Panama and the support we have received from businesses in Panama.”

The new rescue lab will be crucial to ongoing breeding efforts and breakthroughs, such as the successful hatching of an Andinobates geminisae froglet. SCBI and STRI scientists hatched the first A. geminisae froglet in human care in one of the amphibian rescue pods at the existing Gamboa amphibian conservation center. The tiny poison frog species, smaller than a dime, was discovered and described for the first time in Panama in 2014. They simulated breeding conditions in a rescue pod. The new facility will provide much-needed space to grow and expand, allowing them to build assurance populations for many more species. A small exhibition niche provides a window directly into an active rescue pod, where visitors can see rescued frogs and scientists as they work to conserve these endangered frogs.

PARC is a partnership between the Houston Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Zoo New England, SCBI and STRI. Funding for the new facilities was provided by Defenders of Wildlife, Frank and Susan Mars, Minera Panama, the National Science Foundation and USAID.

As a research facility, PARC is not open to the public. However, there are interpretive panels and a window into the research pod where visitors can get a glimpse of the project in action. To learn more, the public is welcome to visit the new Fabulous Frogs of Panama exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Punta Culebra Nature Center, located on the Amador Causeway.

Good bird news from Panama, update

This video is called Birds of Panama – Episode 1.

And this video is the sequel.

From BirdLife:

Bay of Panama saved from destruction

By Martin Fowlie, Wed, 25/02/2015 – 10:25

“There’s no way we would have been able to get to that day by ourselves…” writes Rosabel Miró, Executive Director of Panama Audubon Society in an emotional written message to the rest of the BirdLife Partnership. “We need to heal our wounds and show to our friends that are going through similar situations like the ones we went through, that it is possible to achieve your goals. We found strength in unity.”

Panama Audubon Society (BirdLife in Panama) is celebrating after winning a hard-fought effort to reverse the Panama government’s 2012 decision to withdraw protected status for the Bay of Panama Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), a site of international importance for migratory birds. Its protected status had been pulled because of short-term economic pressure for urban and resort development, including hotels and golf courses. At the same time, regulations on mangrove cutting had also been relaxed.

The legislative bill to reinstate full protection of the Bay of Panama was signed by Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela on February 2th 2015, World Wetlands Day. The new bill also includes recognition by law that the protected area is part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.

The Bay of Panama is one of five vital stopovers and wintering areas for migratory shorebirds in the Americas. The extensive mangrove forests play a vital role in supporting fisheries, filtering pollutants in runoff and protecting the City from floods and possible impacts of climate change.

“Many of the people that helped us in so many ways were at the signing ceremony”, said Panama Audubon Society’s Rosabel Miró in her correspondence. “Among those fighting shoulder to shoulder with us were NGO’s, community associations, business associations, politicians, allies from government institutions – they were celebrating, hugging us and smiling with us.”

Under the new Panama government, spearheaded by President Juan Carlos Varela, the outlook for the site appears positive. “The protected area, the Bay of Panama wetlands, not only belongs to our country, but belongs to the world, so we must show that we are able to maintain it, so we can enjoy its natural wealth and future generations continue to receive its many benefits”, commented government representative Emilio Sempris, part of Panama’s National Environmental Authority (ANAM).

“Through BirdLife we are part of a partnership that works for you when you need it the most”, finishes Miró in her message to BirdLife. “Even though our Partners can be geographically far far away we always felt somehow protected. We never felt alone. Thank you all. We really appreciate it.”

New frog species discovery in Panama

The hololotype specimen, which scientists used as the basis to describe a new species of poison dart frog: Andinobates geminisae. Credit: Cesar Jaramillo, STRI

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Scientists find tiny, poisonous new mystery frog

Mysterious new species of poison dart frog can fit on a fingernail and could be under threat

Andrew Griffin

Sunday 28 September 2014

Scientists have discovered a new species of poison dart frog, small enough to fit on a fingernail but still bearing the toxic poison that gives the frogs their name.

Poison dart frogs — many of which are threatened species — live in Central and South America and secrete poisons that are used by hunters to make blowdarts. They are often brightly coloured, with varied colour patterns that scare off predators.

The new animal, found in Panama, is only 12.7 millimetres long. The frog’s smooth skin and its unique call mark it out as different from any of the other frogs in the region, and researchers are unsure how it came to look like it did.

Other frog’s poisons have been harnessed by hunters for weapons, but it is unlikely that the new discovery’s poison has ever been used in that way, Andrew Crawford, one of the authors of the study, told National Geographic. The new frog’s poison has yet to be analysed.

It has been called Andinobates geminisae, and a specimen was first collected in 2011. Scientists have been working since then to understand whether the animal was a new species, and to sequence its DNA.

Though researchers have seen the frog before, it was unclear whether it was just another variety of a similar species. Little is known about the species, but it appears to care for its young.

Because the animal can only be found in such a small area and so its existence could easily be threatened, scientists have laid out plans for how to protect the frog. That will involve including the frog in a captive breeding programme that helps protect amphibians from diseases and habitat loss.

The scientific description of the new species is here.

See also here.

Flowering plants after dinosaur extinction

This video is called Angiosperm (flowering plant) Life Cycle.

From in the USA:

Flowering Plants Appeared in Forest Canopies Just a Few Million Years After Dinosaurs Went Extinct

A new study gives scientists some more insight into the weird history of flowering plants

By Mary Beth Griggs

Taking a minute to smell the flowers isn’t that hard nowadays, but angiosperms (a.k.a. flowering plants) weren’t always as ubiquitous as they are now. They appeared rather suddenly in the fossil record, definitively showing up around 132 million years ago. Their sudden appearance has puzzled scientists from Darwin on to the present day, and while today we understand a bit more about how they diversified, scientists are still learning new things about their history.

In a new study published in Geology, scientists think that they’ve figured out another piece of the angiosperm puzzle. Researchers looked at the patterns of leaf veins of flowering plants in tropical forests in Panama and a temperate forest in Maryland. They looked at the leaves of 132 species, reaching the top of the forest canopy with a 131-foot tall crane, and also taking a look at the leaves that had fallen to the forest floor. Leaves that originated at the very top of the trees tended to have a denser collection of veins than the ones further down the tree trunk.

The scientists then compared the patterns found on the leaves in the forests to leaves found in the fossil record, and discovered that flowering plants had reached the heights of the forest canopy around 58 million years ago, during the Paleocene, just a few million years after the dinosaurs went extinct.

Birds of prey migrating in the Netherlands

This video is about raptor migration in Panama.

The Dutch SOVON ornithologists report about migration of birds of prey.

Yesterday, 27 August 2017, was a good day for raptor migration.

451 honey buzzards were counted. And 278 marsh harriers; though most individuals of this species migrate in September.

There were 38 ospreys. And four Montagu’s harriers; one hen harrier, and a pallid harrier (claimed; experts still have to find out whether it was really that rare species).

Yellow-billed cotinga online

Yellow-billed cotingas

From Neotropical Birds Online:

New on Neotropical Birds Online: completed account for the endangered Yellow-billed Cotinga (Carpodectes antoniae). This account features what may be the first-ever images of a juvenile of this beautiful, ghostly, and declining species.

Yellow-billed cotingas live only in southern Costa Rica and adjacent southwestern Panama.