Wednesday, March 25, 2009

About Those Venezuelan Birds

All photos by Jerry Oldenettel

The sheer number of Venezuelan bird species alone is enough to overwhelm one. However, there are always a few that will remain forever etched in my memory. Thank you to Jerry Oldenettel for providing these photographs.

Shown above is the Venezuelan Troupial, the country's national bird. It's a type of oriole and remarkably colorful. Notice the pale blue, luminous patch around the eye. He has a unique song that was easy to learn on the day that four of us played hooky from the more dedicated members of the team. The troupial arrived shortly after our host at the lodge placed fresh bananas or other fruit in the baskets around the yard, always announcing his arrival before we were able to see him.
What can I say? Green-rumped Parrotlets in love.
An amazing number of raptors were observed during our two-week stay. Above is a Savanna Hawk that was remarkably cooperative.
And then, there was the elusive Rufous Crab-hawk. On our last day, we had an outing to the mangrove swamp, boarding two motorized launches that crept into the densely vegetated, but narrow waterway. It seemed logical to me that the target bird of the trip, a Rufous Crab-hawk, would eat crabs. So, I anticipated arriving at an oceanside beach where there would be an abundance of crabs -- for the birds to eat.

Our boats traveled farther along the now-widening waterway, and it eventually became a passage wider than most rivers I've seen. Still, there was no beach in sight. After two or so hours of ever-expansive waterways, our Venezuelan guide pointed to a tall, dead snag, high above the forest to a pair of raptors, the elusivie Crab-hawk. As I looked around at the dense mangrove forest, I wondered how the bird had gotten its name for there were surely no crabs anywhere near here.
That is, until we pulled in beneath the overhanging mangroves to get a look at a small flycatcher nest and discovered that the forest was literally crawling with crabs, big and small. Tree Crabs were so plentiful that they plunked into our boats with regularity, scuttling along the bottom of the boat until one of our softer hearted guys released them back into the wild. And now, you know the rest of the story.

1 comment:

Quilter Beth said...

These photos are absolutely gorgeous. I would love to do something with them in fiber. Would it be possible to get Jerry's permission? I would be grateful for any help you can give me.