The Laughing Falcon

6 01 2013

Here’s a picture taken from our backyard of Jerry (I’ve named his girlfriend Elaine), one of our laughing falcons – Falconidae Herpetotheres cachinnans.

Laughing Falcon

Their common and scientific names both refer to their distinctive voices, which sometimes sound like maniacal laughter – especially when they are startled. Their English name comes from their loud voices, as does the specific name cachinnans, Latin for “laughing aloud” or “laughing immoderately”. Jerry and Elaine are raptors who specialize in eating snakes, so they commonly are perched high to pick up any movement on the ground or in trees. The generic name Herpetotheres refers to its preferred food; it is Latinized Ancient Greek, derived from [h]erpeton (ἑρπετόν, “reptile”) + therizein (θερίζειν, “to mow down”).  You can listen to his unique laughing sound here.   The first time I heard him, I came running out of our place to see who was making that sound. Cracked me up!


How to Clean Tarnished Silver with Common Household Products

4 01 2013

I can’t buy Tarn-X down here and I brought one silver bowl down with me.  I just tried this method and it works: Dissolve 2 tablespoons of baking soda in a stainless steel pan filled with water. Place aluminum foil in the bottom of pan and place the tarnished silver on top of the foil. Heat the pan on the stove top, without boiling, and the tarnish will disappear.

I wish I had known this YEARS ago!  No more stinky Tarn-X!

Red Lored Amazons

1 01 2013

We are enjoying the beautiful Red Lored Amazon Parrots (Amazona autumnalis)  that live around us.

Here is a picture taken from our backyard of one in a Cohune palm: amazon3195edgefr

There are 27 species of Amazona parrots, all of which are green in color and native to the the Americas. In fact, it was Christopher Columbus himself who apparently gave the name ‘Amazon’ to a green, short-winged parrot that he brought back to Europe after his first voyage to the New World. Once they were discovered, traders and sailors began capturing these parrots and exporting them back to Europe. Those that survived the long sea journey often ended up in pubs where they imitated noises such as spitting, coughing, snoring and learned a vocabulary of swear words. Once these expressions had been picked up, the owners found the birds almost impossible to retrain! Here’s an example of a talking Red Lored Amazon.  Here’s a singing Amazon parrot on a TV show

Red Lored Amazons eat a diet of fruits, seeds, and buds. They have powerful beaks and dexterous tongues. With these tools they are able to eat all kinds of fruit and remove tough nut shells with ease.  They would easily better me in a sunflower seed eating contest.

Most Amazon parrots spend time in small groups. We usually see them flying and perching in pairs. In the evening, they gather in small communal roosting sites. Parrots in captivity are famed for their ability to learn to speak. In the wild they have a range of calls, particularly shrieks and screams, used when flying between fruiting trees and during courtship. This is a recording of a couple of pairs flying by our place with their familiar squawking which starts at “wake up time” in the morning:

Here’s one doing a Spring mating or egg dance.  Pretty cute, eh? When they reproduce, two to four eggs are laid in a tree hole. The eggs hatch after three weeks and the young fledge after a further two months in the nest.

Their conservation status is least concern. CITES Appendix II listed. All parrot species are now protected by regulated commercial trade and several Amazona species are classified as endangered, with commercial trade prohibited.

Belize Botanical Garden

1 01 2013

We visited the Belize Botanical Gardens at DuPlooy’s Jungle Lodge beyond San Ignacio on the Western Highway on the way to Guatemala. Before entering the garden, we saw this Northern Jacana or “Jesus bird” (he looks like he’s walking on water when he treads through marshes with those big feet) northernjacana2893edge

At the entrance of the garden hangs sky flower vine (thunbergia grandiflora) with red ginger lily (alpinia purpurata) in the background.


These purple and white flowers adorn the yesterday, today, and tomorrow bush (Solanaceae Brunfelsia) – a tropical tomato relative.  Its dark purple flowers fade to lavender on their second day and fade to white on their third day.purplewhite2899

We saw our first Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) .   agouti2937agouti2929agouti2931agouti2924agouti2925

We hiked the river trail with our dog (a very pleasant hike through the jungle). “God’s touch is to be found at every turn of the trail.” ~W. Phillip Keller


This fig tree (Ficus Moraceae Amate) had one of its feet (mature trees are easily recognized by these buttresses on the lower part of trunk) wrapped around a boulder – hangin’ on…… inseparable.  “When we wrap ourselves around God, His strength becomes our strength.” ~Larry Lea.  Do we cling to Jesus like this? Let us so resolve to cling tightly to Him in the coming new year.  May His strength become ours!

The beach and mirror-like Macal River are a beautiful and peaceful setting, providing a site for launching canoes.


We saw a banded peacock butterfly along the river trail.


These little bats may be found at the end of the boardwalk from DuPloy’s Jungle Lodge overlooking the river:bats3004

Did you know that bat species account for 20% of all mammals?  I think there are around 62 species in Belize. These little guys might be the lesser doglike bat (Chiroptera Emallonuridae Peropteryx macrotis), but I’m not sure.  It is definitely NOT my area of expertise.

Anyways, back to DuPloy’s…where this green iguana in its orange breeding stage was in a treetop over the river:


The Orchid House is another peaceful setting with an arched bridge and stone wall.orchidhouse3035md

This is a plantain flower.plantain2908ef4

Can you see two eyes, a nose and a moustache on this flower like I do? This is on the Cannonball Tree (Couroupita guianensis)


This looks like albizia julibrissin alba mimosa to me.


This Queen’s Wreath vine (petrea volubilis) decorates a trellis with a porch swing. purpletrellis3081tonemd

I think this is Heliconia – not sure which variety.heliconia3101

The gardens have some plants like these Cat’s Whiskers or Java Tea  (Orthosiphon aristatus) for sale, if you are so inclined.


While at the garden, we talked with a lady who bought an “apocalypse” package at the lodge because of Dec 21st and the Mayan calendar TURNOVER. Cracks me up.  Lots of misguided tourists (how many watched Hollywood’s 2012 movie I wonder) trashed  the Mayan ruins while performing non-Mayan (make it up as you go along – borrow from here and there and piece together something that feels good for you pluralistic relativism) rites on the morning of the 21st. For reliable information about the end of the world, read the Bible (specifically the book of Revelation, Matthew chapters 13, 24, & 25; Mark 13; Luke 21; 1 & 2 Thessalonians). “God’s Word is our unfailing compass.  We can stake our lives on its dependability.” ~Henry Gariepy.  Note that the point of every Scripture on last things is NOT setting a date for it to occur (“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Matt 24:36), but rather on right and wise living (2 Peter 3:10-14), so as to always be ready for Christ’s return. Other good resources include the Moody Handbook of Theology chapter on Eschatology: Doctrine of Last Things and the charts in Clarence Larkin’s “Dispensational Truth”. You can even download a Master’s level eschatology course from DTS free here. For those who have trusted Jesus Christ alone to save them, the best is yet to be.  I am confident that God is in control and will be victorious in the end.