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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Birdwatching Photography in Laguna de Apoyo

Although birds are not always easily photographed in the wild, some people are up for the challenge. The following photos were taken by Lars Saenger, who spent two weeks studying at Apoyo Spanish School and watching nature inside the Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. These photos demonstrate that the area is great for practicing nature photography.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) populations found in Nicaragua do not breed locally. The entire Osprey population of Nicaragua is regarded as migratory, nesting further north. Some birds pass through Nicaragua on migratory trips, but many choose the ample aquatic ecosystems to fish in Nicaragua until moving northward for another reproductive period. Ospreys feed almost entirely on fish plucked from the surface of water. Even though the Osprey does not nest in Nicaragua, there are always a few individuals present in Laguna de Apoyo, most likely immatures that remain behind in their southern range until ready for reproduction.

Hoffmann's Woodpecker
Hoffmann's Woodpecker (Melanerpes hoffmannii)
Most of the bird species found in Nicaragua have wide ranges, often spanning many countries. Some, however, are found in more restrictive ranges, within an ecosystem. One such bird species, Hoffmann's Woodpecker (Melanerpes hoffmannii), is located only in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. The species prospers in both open areas with plenty of trees and natural forest areas in the tropical dry forest region of Nicaragua. Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve is an ideal habitat for the bird, which is a close relative to and shares many superficial characteristics with the Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus), a species common through much of the eastern United States. Hoffmann's Woodpecker is active in most areas of the reserve year-round, including both the deepest forest areas and built areas with houses.

Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)
Some birds prefer to inhabit areas without human influence, but others may be particularly attracted to humans. One bird that responds positively to human impacts on the forest is the Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus). They tend to be active throughout the day, loud and ebullient, and many other species do not prosper in their presence. They are not found deep into the forest.

Cinnamon Hummingbird (Amazilia rutila), feeding on the nectar of Tabebuia rosea
Hummingbirds are always loved by birdwatchers. Their precise movements and delicate forms inspire awe among anyone who sees them. Among the most common hummingbird species in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve is the Cinnamon Hummingbird (Amazilia rutila). It and other hummingbirds consume nectar from flowers, as everyone knows; what fewer people appreciate, however, is that hummingbirds also consume very small arthropods, which they may glean from the air. One example of such prey is the juvenile spiders, that may actually be transported by the wind. The Cinnamon Hummingbird will feed on tiny spiders, often gleaning them from foliage and flowers. This bird species is common particularly near humans, and is even found in peri-urban areas of Managua.

birdwatching in Nicaragua
Boat-billed Flycatcher (Megarhynchus pitangua)
Many species of tyrant flycatchers have been documented in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, among them, the Boat-billed Flycatcher (Megarhynchus pitangua). At first glance, it resembles the Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulfuratus), but without cinnamon wing-feathers, and with a much more formidable peak and distinctive calls. It can be found in open areas as well as within a relatively closed canopy.

Turquoise-brlowed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa)
The bird most adored by Nicaraguans is the Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa). This lovely species is very common in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, likely because of the abundant sites for nesting available. The species makes nests in tunnels carved horizontally into loose clay and ash deposits in the steep banks in ravines and road cuts. This site may be among the best to find the species in the entire country.

Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Myiarchus tuberculifer)
Among the numerous species of tyrant flycatchers in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, is the Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Myiarchus tuberculifer). Its genus consists of several species, some of which are quite difficult to distinguish at a distance. It is common throughout the reserve.

Montezuma Oropendola
Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma)
Birdwatchers never tire of watching the Montezuma Oropendola (Psarocolius montezuma), especially around a nesting colony. Dozens of nests in the form of woven socks are constructed in a single tree, where the birds engage in highly social behavior among the nesting group. Nesting occurs during the dry season, sometimes starting as early as November, with as many as one hundred birds gathered into a single site! An oropendola colony is always a birdwatching paradise.

Please contact us for a birdwatching tour in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve or anywhere in Nicaragua. We organize expeditions in all locations of the country, and we would love to take you!

Click on the "escudo" to contact us at Gaia.

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