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.

Great Kiskadees..birds of the Amazon Rainforest, feeding on the remains of lunch left by Red-bellied Piranhas.

Great Kiskadees….Pitangus sulphuratus

Most often seen in the water fall area of my forest, but sometimes close to the lodge, were the Great Kiskadees. Always in small flocks, they were noisy, gregarious birds, with attractive chocolate-brown and sulphur-yellow plumage and masked eyes, like little bandits.
These fly-catchers are monogamous. The female lays two to four eggs in a round, ball-like nest built of sticks in a tree. The nest has a side entrance.
Kiskadees eat insects, fruit, tadpoles and fish. I’ve read that Kiskadees do not hunt in flocks, but like to hunt alone or in pairs. My observations told me otherwise.
On one occasion I sat in a canoe and watched as a small flock crept along a large branch that had fallen across a stream. They were agitated and noisy, staring at a commotion in the water below them. The disturbance was caused by a pyramid of Red-bellied Piranhas, turning and twisting their glimmering bodies, as they quickly disposed of whatever had become their prey.
The kiskadees waited above this melee. They seemed to be waiting for their share of the spoils. They appeared to be communicating with each other as they became more and more excited. Wisely, but impatiently, the kiskadees waited until the piranhas had their fill before diving straight into the water, not as deeply as kingfishers, but deep enough to take whatever scraps the piranhas left behind. Only then did they calm down.
In the first photo can be seen the splashing of the Red-bellied Piranhas as they ate their prey. Behind them on the large fallen branch the Great Kiskadees waited excitedly.

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