Whooping Motmot

Whooping Motmot: Rainforest Discovery Center, Pipeline Road, Panama, July 2022 — Once upon a time, not so long ago (certainly when I first visited Central America) there was a bird called the Blue-crowned Motmot that had an extensive range from Mexico south through all of Central America and down the southern reaches of the Amazon basin, from lowland rainforest to the highlands of the Andes. Then in 2014 a study was published suggesting that the Blue-Crowned Motmot was actually 5 different species, with several dozen subspecies among them. The split became official in 2016, when it was recognized by the American Ornithological Union. (The Motmots had already been split a few times before that.) It appears that motmots have difficulty crossing any kind of substantial water barrier…lake or even major river…and this contributes to the fragmentation of the motmot complex into isolated populations, sub-species, and species. If our guide had not been there to correct me, I would have called this bird, which hopped out into the road where we were stopped by a mixed feeding flock on our way back from the Rainforest Discovery Center, before we got to Pipeline Road, a Lesson’s Motmot, which I have seen in Honduras, Costa Rica, and far north-western Panama (though on the Caribbean side). At first look, there is very little to distinguish it as a separate species. It is, however, at least east of the Canal in Panama, a Whooping Motmot. The Whooping Motmot ranges from eastern Panama down through northern Columbia and just into Venezuela, with an isolated population in lowland Equator and Peru west of the Andes. (Yes, that is strange, but that is the motmot mess in a nut-shell.) Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications and multi-frame noise reduction. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. Nominal exposure: ISO 5000 @ f4 @ 1/500th. Plus .7EV exposure compensation.

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