Yellow-headed Caracara…Milvago chimachima.

Yellow-headed Caracara…Milvago chimachima.

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Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

On my way down to the river with a washing up bowl one morning a loud, scream-like, call drew my attention to a tall tree, where a raptor perched surveying the forest. It was a Yellow-headed Caracara.

The bird had a buff coloured head with a striking black eye streak. The raptors underbody was buff, the wings brown with pale patches on the flight feathers. The longish tail was a barred brown and cream.

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Although a member of the falcon family the Caracara is not swift in flight but quite sluggish as I saw when it launched itself of the branch and flew at a leisurely pace over the forest canopy.

The Caracara eats amphibians, reptiles, small animals and carrion. The young will eat fruit.

The female lays 5/7 eggs in a stick nest in a tree.

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I never ceased to be amazed by the forest. I saw in just a few months more varieties of raptors, kingfishers, herons and finches than I had seen in my whole life before, not to mention parrots, toucans and hummingbirds. Every single day served up a surprise, a reason to stop and stare.

The Amazon Rainforest is a treasure of nature, a wonder to behold.

Agami Heron…Chestnut-bellied Heron…Agamia Agami

Agami Heron…Chestnut-bellied Heron…..Agamia Agami

The Agami Herons were regular visitors to the waterfall area. Being shy they kept hidden in the undergrowth most of the time, but occasionally I would catch sight of them on a branch or moving slowly along the river bank.

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The Agami is a long billed, long necked, short legged, medium size heron. It has a chestnut neck and chest and with a creamy white stripe down the middle of the fore-chest. The wings are dark green in mature herons, brown in immature birds.

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Agami gather together to nest in large colonies and usually have two blue eggs. A quiet, shy bird, when gathered together they make a low snoring sound. They eat fish, frogs, snails and small reptiles.

Despite their reputation for shyness the Agami did not fly off as we passed by in our canoe, but carried on picking amongst the reeds for fish, frogs and small reptiles.

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Black-collared Hawk …Busarellus nigricollis

Black-collared Hawk (Busarellus nigricollis)

The Black-collared Hawk is a handsome looking bird of prey. It has a rufous coloured body with a black collar below the neck. It’s head is white streaked with black and its tail feathers are black with a rufous edging. Wings are edged with black. The Hawks bill is black, its feet are white and its eyes are brown.

I often saw the Hawk near water, either perched on one of the poles placed in the river from which fishing nets were hung or in trees at the waters edge. From its perch it mainly took fish which it snatched from the water with its talons, but also snails, rodents and lizards. It kept its distance, hence the unclear photos, but was not concerned enough to fly off when it saw me.

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Raptors had to move upstream in the dry season, because the water was too shallow to hold fish that would satisfy their appetites, but the hawk still came to rest on a fishing post close to the harbour daily. It was a fine sight and kept me mesmerised.

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The Black-collared Hawk often nests high up near the water from which it gets its food, laying three or five eggs in a nest lined with green leaves.

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Herons and Egrets of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest.

Great Egrets ..White Herons (Ardea alba) Brazilian name; garça-branca-grande.
Striated Heron (Butorides striata).
Cocoi Heron ( Ardea cocoi aka White-necked Heron) Brazilian name: garça-moura
Capped Heron ( Pilherodius pileatus)

Fish and other aquatic life were easy pickings in the small, shallow pools left behind by the receding river during the dry season. To take advantage of this large flocks of herons would gather along the banks and beds of the river.

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Great Egrets and Snowy Herons were in abundance. The Great Egrets or Great White Heron can stand 1m tall. They have long, sharp, yellow bills which they use for stabbing prey of fish, frogs, insects and small mammals.
Occasionally a Great or Snowy Heron would stand quite motionless for ages on the warped planks of my river walkway and then suddenly stab into the water for a fish. If I sat very quietly it would do this very close to me and was quite a sight.
Striated and Tiger Herons and Cocoi Herons too walked the shores. Occasionally a beautiful Capped Heron, with its startling sky-blue face and legs, joined the throng.

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Capped Heron, a name that doesn’t do justice to this beautiful bird.

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The elegant Cocoi Heron

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A Tiger Heron, a very noisy heron. This one had attitude and protected his area with aggression.
Another Heron who didn’t mind my company was the Striated Heron. They were much smaller then the stately Great Egrets, with grey and white streaked plumage. They were every day visitors, settling on branches close to my harbour decking and fishing along with the kingfishers.

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When gathered together in great numbers the flocks of herons made a noise like a low snoring, grating or murmuring. It could be heard for miles and reached the lodge, which was up a low hill and in the forest.

Yellow-tufted Woodpecker…Scientific name: Melanerpes cruentatus

The Yellow-tufted Woodpecker… Scientific name: Melanerpes cruentatus

The Yellow-tufted Woodpecker is a small bird, black with a yellow, black and red head and a yellow eye circle. It has a red lower breast and a black and white chevron under tail. It has sharp claws for holding onto branches and strong neck muscles to absorb the shock of drilling into trees.
Highly social, these lovely woodpeckers are usually seen in noisy groups of 3-8.
This one particular afternoon,a pair appeared on a small tree behind my lodge. To get a good photo my friend quietly lay on the ground and invited me to join him. As I had seen a Feu de Lance curled there in previous days I declined, but Ananias, bravely lay down and took these photos.
The Yellow-tufted woodpeckers eat fruit, seeds, nectar and insects using their unique barbed tongue.

Thanks to Henry Cook @HCBirding for identification from post Woodpeckers and Woodcreepers

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Osprey, Brazilian Amazon Rainforest Migrant. Pandeon haliaetus.

The Osprey. Pandion haliaetus. Brazilian Tropical Rainforest visitor.

The magnificent Osprey could be seen from early in the mornings perched on the highest tree, during the wet season which began in late November. It would occasionally swoop down to catch its prey from the river with its huge, sharp claws.
It was a large bird, similar in size to a Buzzard or Eagle, with brown upper parts, pale grey underparts and long black wings. It’s greyish white head had an attractive black eye patch.
Ospreys are raptors. They eat fish…their common names are fish eagle or fish hawk. They have a long hook on their beaks which is used for tearing apart the fish.
The Osprey I saw was always alone. It was a non-breeding migrant, visiting from North America.

An Osprey sharing the same tree with a Heron. Both after the same breakfast, although I think the heron may have given way if they had gone for the same fish….unusual too, to see a heron at such a height.
I will never forget the sight of that beautiful bird, I looked for it every morning. It made my heart leap.

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Toucans of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest. Toco & Yellow-ridged Toucans and Chestnut-eared Aracari.

Toucans – Scientific name: Ramphastidae from the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest.
Toco Toucan – Scientific name: Ramphastos toco
Yellow-ridged Toucan – Scientific name: Ramphastos vitellinus
Chestnut-eared Aracari – Scientific name : Pteroglossus castanotis

Every morning I would see the Toucans fly from their roosting trees to their feeding grounds. They flew in small flocks and often in pairs. Their flight was undulating, almost as if their bills were too large and heavy for them. They would glide, fall away from the others and then furiously flap their small wings to gain height and catch up.
Their diet consisted of fruit, insects, small animals and sometimes the small chicks and eggs of other birds. Their huge beaks came in useful to reach fruit hanging at the end of long branches. Despite their size, the beaks were very light, with a hollow structure.
Toucans nest in cavities in trees, often those made by woodpeckers.
All day I could hear the Toco or Yellow-ridged Toucans on a high tree. Their mournful cry could be heard echoing over the tree canopy.
The Toco had a black body,a bright orange bill, orange feathering around the eyes and a white throat. The Yellow-ridged Toucan also had a black body with a yellowish to white throat, a black beak with yellow and blue markings and blue feathering around the black eyes.
The Toco and Yellow-ridged Toucans rarely came close to the lodge, but perched high up in the canopy. The Chestnut-eared Aracari was, however, a daily visitor. perching close by the lodge. it made its presence known by its raucous call. The Aracari is smaller than the Toco and Yellow-Ridged Toucans, but of the same family. It is black with a yellow breast, slashed with a red band and red feathers above its tail. It too had a large beak with serrated edges.
It was a friendly, cheeky bird unafraid of me on my verandah enjoying its visits.
The first photo shows a Yellow-ridged Toucan from a distance, which was the way I usually saw them. The next two photos are of a Toco Toucan. The next of the Aracari. Note the serrated edges of the bill.

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