GUYANA – Part 2: Attention City Birders

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Dec 17, 2008 | by Kevin Loughlin

Red-shouldered MacawThis Red-shouldered Macaw was a life bird. This was but one of many images of these tiny macaws I made while visiting the Botanical Gardens (and National Zoo) in Georgetown. I have been to “city parks” to bird in many different places in North America as well as Central and South America. Through the years I have considered Panama’s Metro Park in Panama City to be the best of these concrete surrounded havens… until I visited Guyana.

After more than a handful of lifer’s at the Georgetown Botanical Gardens, this park has become my new favorite. I came to this conclusion not because I got life birds there, but rather due to the diversity of birds, abundance of birds and the ease in which I was able to create many images of the birds. They seemed to be very cooperative and I was able to photograph many different species.

Blood-colored Woodpecker

Like other city parks, this one has a couple specialty birds to seek. First and foremost, the Guyanan shield endemic — the Blood-colored Woodpecker. With a call that reminded us of a
 piercing Downy Woodpecker, the Blood-colored Woodpecker is a regular at the park. A few of us were able to see an adult male in its crimson garb, however, I was in this case, only able to grab this photo of a juvenile with just a hint of red.

Snail Kite

The number of Snail Kites at the park was astounding (a juvenile pictured at left). They offered great opportunities for photography, as
 did the Rusty-margined Flycatchers, Yellow Orioles and even a Yellow-rumped Cacique. The Burnished-buff Tanager however, was one of the few birds that did not cooperate for me. Julie Zickefoose (, on the other hand, got a few good shots of this subtle colored bird which she posted at her blog.
The park itself was very clean and well maintained. Except for a trash can which had been raided by the local dogs, there was very little litter. A crew was working on new bridges over the creek. I guess they were getting as much done early on in the day as they could, before the heat of the sun became unbearable!

At one point during our walk a gentleman rode by on a bicycle… carrying a bird cage with a Wing-barred Seedeater inside. What the…? We later learned that it is not uncommon to cage these seedeaters to use for the “Bird Races.” In these “races,” the birds never fly. In fact, they
 never even leave the cage! Instead, their captors place two cages side by side so that the male birds begin a song competition! I doubt that the competition would be to the death… but it would be interesting to witness the determination of a winner!

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