Singing birds often are not visible from the road, so it's very important to walk into the forest to find them. There is usually much more to see in the beautiful forest than along the road with its thick border of vegetation. Plus, when we find interesting birds offtrail, they are ours alone, with no one else nearby. One of the most amazing aspects of birding on Pipeline is the probability (especially during the dry season) of seeing army-ant swarms with their accompanying antbirds (spotted, bicolored, ocellated), gray-headed tanagers, white-whiskered puffbirds, several species of woodcreepers, fasciated antshrikes and, if very lucky, rufous-vented ground-cuckoos. The birds catch the insects and other invertebrates scared out of hiding by the army ants; they are so intent in this activity that they appear oblivious to people, allowing approach (and photos) within a few meters. To find the ant swarms, we listen for the noisy bicolored antbirds and track them down; this often means walking offtrail about 20 to 50 meters. Typically there is so little understory vegetation that walking is quite easy. The main thing is to dress appropriately, as described in the "What to wear and bring with you" list above.
Birding Pipeline Panama
Water. You're going to sweat, so you'll need water.
Snack or lunch. Whatever you'll need; I eat a sandwich and an apple.
Binoculars. To see the birds, you need binoculars.
Good walking shoes or boots during the dry season (about Dec to Mar) and waterproof boots or footwear that can get muddy and/or soaked during the wet season (about Apr to Nov). Typically we walk only about 1 to 2 km, and we do so slowly so we can hear and see as much as possible.
Long pants that can be tucked into your socks or your boots. The long pants will greatly lessen the chance of being scratched by thorny vegetation; tucking-in your pants will keep biting insects from crawling up your legs.
Clothes in relatively dark, neutral colors: you don't want to spook the birds. T-shirts work fine, but you might want to wear a long-sleeved shirt to protect you from the infrequent mosquitoes and from getting scratched by branches in the woods. During the wet season (about Apr to Nov), it's good to have upper-body raingear or a small, collapsible umbrella. You should bring a plastic bag for each piece of optics you have with you.
Sunscreen, hat, insect repellent
Field guide (We'll have one)
Camera and camera equipment (mandatory for photographers!)
Sandals and an extra (non-sweaty) shirt to change into after we bird.
Photos, here by permission, were taken while birding with Kent Livezey along Pipeline Road: Lesser Nighthawk (Alain Sanfacon), male Gartered Trogon (recent split from Violaceous Trogon; Brian Puttock), Black-breasted Puffbird (Brian Puttock),Whooping Motmot (recent split from Blue-crowned Motmot; Jacques Giraud), male Crowned Woodnymph (recent split from Violet-crowned Woodnymph; Brian Puttock), Ocellated Antbird (Jacques Giraud), male White-whiskered Puffbird (Pedro Castillo). Header photos of male Spotted Antbird (Jacques Giraud) and Keel-billed Toucan (Wayne Lynch) are here by permission. Website by Kent Livezey.
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