Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Day of the Oropendolas

First off, we've been extremely delinquent in responding to the people's will: you told us to get ourselves to Brazil, and to Brazil we go. In June, we're heading back to the Pantanal with our friend/guide extraordinaire Ailton Lara to the Pantanal Jaguar Camp. Ailton's so sought-after that we're competing with the crew of National Geographic for his time. We should clarify, since we've gotten a lot of questions, that we're not extending our six-month time away from home. This will be a side-trip, after which we return to Costa Rica before coming home as planned in mid-July.

In the meantime, we're very content with the hordes of birds we've been getting in our nets at Kekoldi. Today, we were stunned to get half a flock of chestnut-headed oropendolas. These are fairly large birds that don't usually come low enough to get caught in the nets, but we were on a ridgeline today that they kept crossing while foraging. We banded a total of seven, but a bunch more escaped from the nets as we approached. One of the nets actually collapsed under the combined weight.

Check out the enormous beak. It hurts, but not as much as the claws.
Above, Duaro has a laugh while Mike attempts not to get speared,
using a bag as protection from the claws.
Adult and hatching-year females (younger at right).
While we had the birds, their flockmates stayed very close to our site, calling for their friends in concerned voices. As we let them go, they went to join the others and had insane oropendola conversations about the ordeal. For those who haven't heard an oropendola before, you really should.


  1. Nice face Mike - are you catching birds with Nutella?

  2. Nutella makes the birds a lot more palatable. Just saw *your* "Three weeks. Three Continents." blog--very cool photos! Why won't it let us hyperlink the blog title? Sigh. http://dianaandnate.blogspot.com/