Karl Overman: Birds and More


Ok, so you have to squint a little to see the bird  in the photo but at least I got a photo of this mega bird. This is a bird that has long been on my mind but never thought I would actually see.  I started birding in the Neotropics in 1969 with a trip to Panama with two great birders, Bob Smart and Stuart Keith. Then I was off to Ecuador in 1974 and 1975 with the likes of Bob Smart, Tom Davis and Paul Lehman.  There were no field guides to Neotropical birds at the time.  For Panama we used a list of birds of Panama by Eugene Eisenman, a lawyer/birder  with extensive experience in birding the tropics for someone of that era. To get an idea of what the birds looked like in my early trips to Panama and Ecuador, I would visit museums and look at specimens.  I did this at the Field Museum, thanks to Emmet Blake, and the Smithsonian, thanks to Alexander Wetmore, and of course the University of Michigan, thanks to Robert Storer. While looking through specimen trays at the U of M, I was stunned to see a lone, spectacular specimen of  tanager--Orange-throated to be exact.  It had only recently been discovered in its tiny range in the eastern foothills of the Andes in southeast Ecuador and northeast Peru. It had been discovered in 1963, my second full year of birding as a young teenager.  Once I saw that specimen of Orange-throated Tanager, you might say I was smitten, and longed to see the species some day, as improbable as it seemed in the early 1970s.

Orange-throated Tanager (Wetmorethraupis sterrhopteron)

modified December 21, 2018