Berg Virtanen, a Swedish scientist who has been studying birds in Panama for years, said that species well-known by Panamanians, such as parrot, parakeet, finch, woodpecker, hummingbird, oriole, tropical kingbird, vermilion flycatcher, indigo bunting, titubú pigeon, dove and grey-headed chachalaca, still have a safe habitat here.
Virtanen's notes indicate that between 5:00 and 6:30 in the morning and from 5:30 to 6:30 in the evening are the hours when residents of Darién can hear a wide variety of chirping from this diversity of songbirds that survive there.
The Swedish ornithologist Benjamin Hansson, who also goes birding in Darién, said that people in this part of the country can be at ease, because the pollution level is low, as indicated by the abundance of birds, whose presence serves as a thermometer to measure this environmental factor.
However, he states that the use of herbicides should be reduced, since the water currents carry this pollutant to rivers and beaches, where it affects the birds living around rivers, beaches and wetlands.
Both scientists agree that, while there are many who simply enjoy hearing the birds sing, others are attracted to the opportunity to observe them and study their habits. In Panama, these activities have yet to be fully exploited, and much less to be represented as a tourist activity, that could perfectly be promoted by the Panama Tourism Authority. Birding is only done through clubs.
According to investigations, certain sites stand out for this activity, such as Cana, west of the Pirre mountain range, the Monkey Crossing station, on the eastern side of that Pirre massif, and the Balsas station. According to specialists, Cana is an excellent site for observation, even of rare birds such as hummingbirds and a variety of the quetzal.
A classic guide
In 1993, U.S. scientists Robert S. Ridgely and John A. Gwynne published the first edition in Spanish of their Guide to the Birds of Panama, with the support of the National Association for Nature Conservation (ANCON).
The book served to provide a thorough understanding that the isthmus at that time sheltered over 800 species of birds, which welcomed other migrating birds who entered from the north or south, depending on the season.
The legend of Icarus and Daedalus, who wished to imitate birds by flying, reveals humans' eternal interest in birds, besides how they delight us with their song. Lately, scientists have increased their experiments with birds, as they may provide a warning prediction of climate change, due to their high sensitivity.