Photo by Carlos Bethancourt
A melancholy, echoing whistle is heard early in the morning along Pipeline Road. It is the far-reaching mournful call of the Streak-chested Antpitta — a bird more often heard than seen! This 5.5-inch ball of feathers on skinny legs walks deliberately across the forest floor where it flips up leaves with its bill to secure a meal, mainly insects! Of the 5 species of antpittas recorded from Panamá, the Streak-chested is by far the most common. Like all antpittas, it is plump, squat, long-legged, short-tailed… and quite handsome! These neotropical birds are brown-olive above with an obvious buffy eye-ring; whitish below, with chest, breast and sides streaked black. The Streak-chested, or “spectacled” as he is also called, is quite common along Pipeline Road and in other humid forests and foothills of both slopes. These neotropical birds prefer forest with little undergrowth and can often be found calling from a branch about 4 feet off the forest floor. The Streak-chested Antpitta at times can be quite unassuming and doesn’t mind a close approach, if one is quiet. I took this photo while co-leading a digi-scoping workshop with Jeff Bouton, the Product Specialist for the Birder/Naturalist markets for Leica Camera in 2007. We are offering the same workshop in July this year. Yes, the Streak-chested Antpitta is always a crowd pleaser on my birding trips from the Canopy Tower!