Shy birds

The birds here can be very elusive, remaining high in the canopy away from the attentions of curious scientists. Here are images of several island species – you can tell they are shy because their heads are turned away in each of these photographs!

First, the Puerto Rican tody (Todus mexicanus) – a tiny but stout green bird with a red throat and no neck. Very territorial!

Second, a scaly-naped pigeon (Columba squamosa), seen here in the rain. Every afternoon this bird lands on a high branch of the Cecropia tree outside the field station, and drops a seed or rock onto the metal roof. I think it is getting some pleasure from this daily ritual!

Third, a great egret (Ardea alba) seen near the ocean. The green coloration next to its bill (on the lores) indicates it is breeding season for this individual.

Fourth, several plovers (Charadrius sp.) along the beach – very camera shy.

And fifth, my favorite – the Puerto Rican screech owl. There are several that spend time near our field station, perhaps because the nighttime lights attract lizards and other prey. They are highly maneuverable, silent flyers. Here is one bird, perched on a parked car.

And another screech owl, waiting patiently while hunting.

Each of these birds looks very different – can you think of how their bodies might suit their diets and habitats?

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