Prior to my traveling days, when friends who visited south and central American countries for birding showed me photos of the trogons they had seen I remember thinking that I would never have a chance to see birds like this. Two trips to Costa Rica corrected my thinking.
But, for this trip, my first to Panama, the trogons surpassed even my Costa Rica experience. They often seemed like reach out and touch me birds. In all we saw five species and of the five three were seen more than once or twice.
Above: Male Slaty-tailed Trogon (Trogan massena) near Pipeline Road.
Above: Female Slaty-tailed Trogon near Pipeline Road.
Above: Female Black-throated Trogon (T. melanurus) seen along Pipeline Road. Alas, terribly out-of-focus but the only photo I got of black-throated trogan.
Above: Female Orange-bellied Trogon (T. aurantiventris) seen along the woodland trail near El Valle de Anton.
Above: Male Orange-bellied Trogon seen near the female above.
Above and below: Male White-tailed Trogon (T. chionurus) seen on the woodland trail near Achiote Road. This was the best photo op the bird gave and the only time we saw white-tailed that I recall.
Above: Male Gartered Trogon (T. caligatus) seen from the Canopy tower.
Above: Female Gartered Trogon seen along Achiote Road.
Finally, and saving the best photo for last, male Gartered Trogon seen from Canopy tower. This is the same bird as the one above who cooperated even further by moving to a closer and sunnier perch.
While viewing the larger, more cooperative and spectacular birds, I made the observation that our guides thought of these as the birds we had come to Panama to see. If I am accurate about this, our group quickly dispelled this idea. We pursued the quick and tiny antwrens, antshrikes and antvireos with determination and, in the case of our more talented and knowledgeable group members, with scientific rigor.
It struck me over and over again, perhaps inaccurately, that the birding infrastructure in Panama, despite its vast, unbroken rainforest, is behind that which is experienced in Costa Rica. This is true for even very famous places like Pipeline Road and the Rainforest Discovery Center. Panama surely receives many tourists but the focus seems to be on the Panama Canal. We saw many people on the trails with cameras, but often without binoculars, and the large, colorful birds and monkeys were possible to see this way.
Finally, a comment about my videos: They all have a lot of noise. I was birding with a large group and so cameras clicked and voices are heard. On the one hand I apologize for this, but on the other, it makes the moment real. In each video, I think the vocalization of the bird and the behavior of the sloth and of the leaf-cutter ants comes through. I know there are programs that allow extraneous noise to be edited out, but my computer skills and patience are not up to that task.