Commando ornithology

Today, another in our semi-regular postings from far-flung author Hadoram Shirihai, this time from Panama …


Once again I am pleased to report back from my ceaseless work in the field. This time I’d like to present a special birding report from my photographic expedition to the remote Pirre Mountains in Darién Province, Panama, that took place in May 2012.

Under the umbrella of two long-term projects, the forthcoming Photographic Handbook of the Birds of the World (Jornvall & Shirihai, in prep.) and  Illustrated Checklist to the Birds of the Neotropics (Jornvall, Kirwan & Shirihai, in prep.), we are building up a sizeable base for our avifaunal photographic collections. This base collection derives from photographic expeditions designed for these projects.

Golden-browed Chlorophonia (© Hadoram Shirihai).


In the Neotropics alone, the projects’ photographic collection has already reached  3,200 species photographed, through extensive work in Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, northern Argentina, Ecuador, Guyana, Costa Rica, Panama and Mexico, as well as the Caribbean Islands.

As you can imagine, as we approach 3,500 species photographed in Central and South America, the project is entering a very interesting stage. Photographing new species now means exploring extremely remote areas, at considerably greater risk, in aiming for the rarest birds; this brings us to my current report “Commando Ornithology: After Extreme Birds”, from the Pirre Mountains.

Black Oropendola (©Hadoram Shirihai).


In May 2012, in collaboration with  Panamanian Security Forces and the National Park authorities, I managed to document most of the Darién endemic birds, and to end successfully a most challenging yet fruitful expedition!

Black-crowned Ant-pitta (©Hadoram Shirihai).


The full story of this unique expedition, with me and my 15-man expedition team, including a commando jungle fighter escort, is accessible here in PDF format. There is also an accompanying 8-minute video clip here.



Hadoram is co-author with Lars Svensson of the forthcoming Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds.



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