Tag Archives: Birds

Yellow-throated Toucans

Along the Gamboa Trail in Las Cruces, we came across some yellow-throated toucans (Ramphastos ambiguus) displaying some peculiar behavior. One was hanging by its beak from another and a third was adjacent and calling. We watched with concern and took a video.

Eventually, the hanging individual was released with a loud snap—presumably the other bird’s beak snapping shut—and flew to a tree nearby, but was quickly pursued by the other two birds.

We assumed this was aggressive behavior, but, on the way back via taxi, the driver (who has lived in the area for his entire life… he even grew up in the garden at Las Cruces as his family worked there) suggested this was courtship—the female was hanging while the male held her. I couldn’t confirm this behavior anywhere (perhaps with a library) but beak knocking occurs during courting.

Mixed flock feeding

I’ve seen mixed flocks of passerines bouncing through a forest, feeding on different vertical levels and plants, but hadn’t really ever noticed it among these waders and swimmers. There were probably over 15 Double-Crested Cormorants, a few Snowy Egrets and Great Egrets, about six Brown Pelicans, and a handful of passing Royal Terns, all cruising a small marsh creek entrance as the tide approached the morning high.

Brown-headed Nuthatch

A first spot for me (although I’ve probably seen them before and had misidentified them as red- or white-breasted nuthatches because I learned the nuthatches of Ohio, not Georgia), the brown-headed nuthatch is markedly smaller than other nuthatches, and a few of them hang out near the entrance to the trails at Skidaway Island State Park—they’re an easy bird to watch and their behavioral quirks make them fun too; hanging out upside-down, diving, pecking, all kinds of cools stuff.