Cute little tyrant

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Caribbean Elaenia (Elaenia martinica)

I literally bumped into this cute little beauty. Although it formed part of my photographic wish list for quite some time, I never expected to encounter a Caribbean Elaenia (Elaenia martinica) while wading ankle-deep through mangrove muck, but there it was! Another wise lesson: always keep your camera at hand and ready-to-shoot at all times.

This little bird (its length is at most 15 cm.) breeds on Curacao and its direct neighbors, Bonaire and Aruba. It also occurs on other small Islands in the Caribbean, but not the larger ones. It belongs to the family of Tyrannidae, the tyrant-flycatchers, famous for the aerobatic performances of its members. Catching a fast-moving insect in mid-air is what they do, seemingly effortless. This little one, however, prefers lots of fruit. Only about a quarter of its diet consists of insects.

The reason it took a while for me to take its picture is the fact, that it generally keeps well hidden, so even if one is hunting in the (natural) neighborhood, getting a chance to observe it is rather small. The best bet is to listen for its call. So the next time you find yourself in scrubby surroundings or mangrove muck, listen for a cheery ‘pee-wee-ree’. Maybe you’ll get as lucky as I did.

About Leon Pors