Sunday, April 16, 2017

Bulletin 290 - Columbia #13 - Hummingbirds - part 2

Pablo Florez, the main guide, has co-written a book where to bird in Colombia. In it, he has a list of the Top 30 Most Sought-after Birds by a group of 40 birders visiting Colombia. I saw 12 of them on the trip and got photos of 10. When I show one of these birds,  I will mention its placement on the list.

This is the final bulletin of the amazing birds I saw, on my first trip to Colombia last fall. I started with hummingbirds and I will end with the rest of the hummers.

The 4.75" Sparkling Violetear (Colibri coruscans) is green with purple gorget. I had seen this bird before, but this was my best photo.


Sparkling Violetear
The 4" Mountain Velvetbreast (Lafresnaya lafresnayi) has a curved bill and white in the tail.. The male is green with a black breast and the female shown here has a spotted breast. I did not see a male.


Mountain Velvetbreast - female
The 4" Buff-tailed Coronet (Boissonneaua flavescens) is green with spotted belly and a buffy tail.


Buff-tailed Coronet
The 3.5" male Tourmaline Sunangel (Heliangelus exortis) is green with dark pink throat.


Tourmaline Sunangel - male
The 4.75" White-tailed Hillstar (Urochroa bougueri) is found close to fast moving streams and waterfalls. 


White-tailed Hillstar
.

The tiny 2.75" female Purple-throated Woodstar (Calliphlox mitchellii) is green on back and buffy orange below.



Purple-throated Woodstar - female
The 6" male Great Sapphirewing (Pterophanes cyanopterus) is a huge hummer with blue wings.


Great Sapphirewing - male
I have saved the best 2 for the end. The 5 species of thornbills are hummers with very short bills. This is the first I have seen. The 4" male Rainbow-bearded Thornbill (Chalcostigma herrani) is olive green with an orange forehead and crest and an amazing multicolored throat.

Rainbow-bearded Thornbill - male
The female is similar but lacks the multicolored beard.


Rainbow-bearded Thornbill - female
Lastly is the 4" Buffy Helmetcrest (Oxypogon steubelli). This is one of 4 species of Helmetcrest that live on the paramo on mountain tops. Until about 3 years ago, they were considered a single species, but have been split and each one lives on a different mountain. 3 are in Colombia and the other in western Venezuela, so the range is very limited for these birds. The presplit Helmetcrest is number 16 on the top 30 birds to see in Colombia.

Buffy Helmetcrest


Buffy Helmetcrest

We saw this bird on the Nevado del Ruiz volcano tundra. Some of you may remember hearing of a catastrophic volcanic eruption and lahar that killed 22,000 people in the 1985. This was the volcano. It was second worst volcanic disaster of 20th century and 4th deadliest since 1500 AD. Here is story on Wikipedia.

The tragic, heart wrenching story of a 13 year old girl who was trapped in the mud is here.

So it was an amazing experience to see such a rare bird on this famous volcano. It was spewing ash the whole time we were there.


Nevado del Ruiz Volcano - Colombia


There are 348 species of hummingbirds and I have photos of 118. They all can be seen here.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2017 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Bulletin 289 - Colombia #12 - Miscellanous

Pablo Florez, the main guide, has co-written a book where to bird in Colombia. In it, he has a list of the Top 30 Most Sought-after Birds by a group of 40 birders visiting Colombia. I saw 12 of them on the trip and got photos of 10. When I show one of these birds,  I will mention its placement on the list.

I am nearing the end of the amazing birds on my Colombia trip last fall. Here are the remaining non-passerines that I have not discussed earlier.

The puffbirds are a small (38 species) New World family. 24 of them are in Colombia. Puffbirds appear to be large headed birds with heavy  bills. They tend to sit motionless and then fly out to grab an insect or lizard. I saw and photographed 3 species on this trip, 2 of which were lifers. The one I had photographed before is the 7" White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis). This bird is rufous and white and a streaked belly.


White-whiskered Puffbird
 His cousin the almost identical 8.5" Moustached Puffbird (Malacoptila mystacalis) is darker brown in color and has a handlebars mustache. He was a lifer.


Moustached Puffbird
The other lifer was unexpected as we had stopped to photograph the Savannah Hawk, and this bird was perched right in front of us. This is the 8" Russet-throated Puffbird (Hypnelus ruficollis). 


Russet-throated Puffbird

The new World Barbets are another small (15 species) New World family.  The 7" White-mantled Barbet (Capito hypoleucus) is endemic to Colombia and obviously was a lifer as this was my first trip to that country.


White-mantled Barbet
The barbets are related to toucans and in between these families is a 2 species family, one of which is the colorful 9" Toucan Barbet (Semnormis ramphastinus). This multicolored bird is an easy ID. It is number 26 on the top 30 birds list above. I had seen this bird in Ecuador, but it was always nice to see again.


Toucan Barbet
Next is the 19" long tailed Andean Motmot (Momotus aequatoralis). These birds have a racquet tail in which there is a length of bare shaft on the long tail feathers. 


Andean Motmot


What was interesting to me with this bird which was coming to a feeder. was he did not have the bare shaft. The guide had not seen a bird without the raquet tail before. 

Here is a close up of his tail feathers. and they look perfectly normal. There has been some discussion as to how the bird gets the bare shaft. It was presumed that the bird stripped the shaft bare himself. But the latest I read, that the thinking now is the shaft just drops off the bristles. You can certainly see the tip of the 2 longest feathers are wider than the rest of the feather.




For comparison, here is another Andean Motmot I photographed in Ecuador. The bare shafts are readily seen below the branch.


Andean Motmot
I was surprised to only see 2 mammals on the whole trip. One was a squirrel, but the other was a monkey, the White-footed Tamarin (Saguinus leucopus). This small monkey has a very long tail. It is endangered due to habitat loss and is endemic to Colombia


White-footed Tamarin
And another of this cute monkey.


White-footed Tamarin
Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2017 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bulletin 288 - Colombia #11 - Sparrows

Pablo Florez, the main guide, has co-written a book where to bird in Colombia. In it, he has a list of the Top 30 Most Sought-after Birds by a group of 40 birders visiting Colombia. I saw 12 of them on the trip and got photos of 10. When I show one of these birds,  I will mention its placement on the list.

I know that a list of sparrows does not seem very exciting to those of us in North America where most of the sparrows are just Little Brown Jobs or LBJs as popularly known. But the tropical birds can be quite colorful and most are not called 'sparrows'.

The 7" Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch (Arremon brunneinucha) has a black face, white throat, chestnut cap and olive back.


Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch
His cousin, the 7" Gray-browed Brush-Finch (Arremon assimilis) has a black face with gray eye stripe and olive back.


Gray-browed Brush-Finch
And a third in the same genus is the 6" Olive Finch (Arremon castaneiceps). it is a very attractive bird with a gray head, rufous crown and yellow-olive body.


Olive Finch

The 7" White-naped Brush-Finch (Altapetes albinucha) has a black face, olive back, white neck, and underparts and a yellow throat. Here a pair were side by side.


White-naped Brush-Finch
His cousin is the 7" Pale-naped Brush-Finch (Altapetes pallidnucha). It is another attractive sparrow with its black face, rufous forehead, white nape and bright yellow underparts.


Pale-naped Brush-Finch
Another in the same genus is the 7" Tricolored Brush-Finch (Altapetes tricolor).It has yellow underparts, black face and a rufous crown.



Tricolored Brush-Finch
And a fourth is the 7" Slaty Brush-Finch  (Altapetes schistaceus). It is most gray with a black face and rufous crown.


Slaty Brush-Finch
The only bird called a sparrow was a pair of Rufous-collared Sparrows (Zonotrichia capensis) who were feeding a huge Shiny Cowbird baby.


Rufous-collared Sparrow
feeding Shiny Cowbird

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2017 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Bulletin 287 - Colombia #10 - Cardinals, Manakins, Tapaculo, and others

Pablo Florez, the main guide, has co-written a book where to bird in Colombia. In it, he has a list of the Top 30 Most Sought-after Birds by a group of 40 birders visiting Colombia. I saw 12 of them on the trip and got photos of 10. When I show one of these birds,  I will mention its placement on the list.

The habia genus of ant tanagers were formerly in the tanager family, but have been moved into the cardinal family. We had 2 species on the trip. The 6.75" male Crested Ant Tanager (Habia cristata) looks very similar to our Northern Cardinal. The female however, is red without much of a crest. It is endemic to Colombia.


Crested Ant Tanager - male
His cousin, the 6.75" Sooty Ant Tanager (Habia gutturalis) is gray with a bushy red crest and throat. the female is similar but lacks a crest.


Sooty Ant Tanager - male


The manakins are a small (52 species) New World family of small songbirds. They are known for the elaborate displays that the males perform on a lek. I photographed 2 new species on this trip. The first was the 3.5" Western Striped Manakin (Machaeropterus striolatus). This is a recent split from Striped Manakin. The male shown here has a red crown, green back, and white underparts with red streaks.

Western Striped Manakin - male
The second one was a real treat to see several males at a lek and this allowed a half hour of viewing the birds and several photos. The 3.5" male Golden-headed Manakin (Ceratopipra erythrocephala). It is an easy ID with the black body and golden head.

Golden-headed Manakin
I photographed 2 Jays on the trip. The 14" Black-chested Jay (Cyanocorax affinis) has a black face and chest and yellow eye.

Black-chested Jay
The 12" Inca Jay (Cyanocorax yncas) is similar to our South Texas Green Jay and in fact they were considered a single species until split by the IOC in 2009. 

Inca Jay
The 6" White-winged Becard (Pachyramphus polychopterus) is a member of the small family (45 species) of tityras and becards all in New world. It is black with white wing bars.

White-winged Becard
Swallows are difficult to photograph until you can get them on a wire, or perched near their nest. With their graceful flight, I have always loved swallows and  it is a pleasure whenever I can photograph a new species. I managed 1 species on the trip, the 5" Brown-bellied Swallow (Notiochelidon murina). This is a bird of high elevations in the Andes and the paramo. We drove past a farm house and they were nesting under the eaves and sitting on the tile roof.

Brown-bellied Swallow
A family of birds I have not written about previously is the tapaculos. The reason for this is I had never seen one until this trip. There are 60 species and all except one are in South America. I heard several on previous trips, but they are small (5") dark birds that stay close to the ground in thick brush. Finally, I got to see 4 species and managed to photograph the most exciting one, the large 8.5" Ocellated Tapaculo (Acroptemis orthonyx). This is the largest and only colorful one in the Colombia field guide. It has a black body with small white spots and an orange face. This bird is #14 on the top 30 target birds in Colombia.

Ocellated Tapaculo

The other ones I saw were the Stile's Tapaculo (a Colombian endemic and I missed a photo I should have gotten), the Blackish Tapaculo (they are all mostly black LOL) and a new species to science the Alto Pisones Tapaculo. This is the tentative name given to this newly discovered species, first described in 2012.

For those birders who may be heading to Colombia to see the avain wonders, there is a new guide book in second edition (2014)  "Field guide to the Birds of Columbia" by McMullan and Donegan. I was unaware of this book and just had Hilty's 1986 huge book which is quite out of date with splits and new species. My guides in Colombia had this newer book, but it is sold out in Colombia. A few copies are available from 3rd parties on Amazon however. New it is $34.95 with one vendor and $90 at 2 others, but used $170, so buy a new one before sold out! It is published by ProAves, a Colombia non-profit that uses the proceeds to buy habitat to protect the rare species. The first edition was in 2010 and this one has all 1903 species recorded at the end 2013.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2017 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bulletin 286 - Colombia #9 - Flycatchers

Pablo Florez, the main guide, has co-written a book where to bird in Colombia. In it, he has a list of the Top 30 Most Sought-after Birds by a group of 40 birders visiting Colombia. I saw 12 of them on the trip and got photos of 10. When I show one of these birds,  I will mention its placement on the list.

The Tyrannidae family of Tyrant Flycatchers is the largest family of birds with more that 430 species, all of which are in the New World. Many are rather plain, but I did see some new interesting flycatchers in Colombia.

The 3.5" Southern Bentbill (Oncostoma olivaceum) is IDed by the unusual bill and white eye.


Southern Bentbill


The 4.75" Torrent Tyrannulet (Serpophaga cinerea) is gray with a black head and wings. It is found along mountain streams. I had seen this bird at a distance before, but several were rather close on this trip.



Torrent Tyrannulet

The large 9" Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant (Myiotheretes striaticollis) put on a wonderful show the first morning as we were having breakfast at a farmhouse with hummingbird feeders.  What a beautiful flycatcher.


Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant

Another of the same genus is the 8" Smoky Bush-Tyrant (Myiotheretes fumigatus). It is gray brown overall with no other markings.


Smoky Bush-Tyrant


The 6" Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant (Ochthoeca fumicolor) is IDed by the white eye stripe and overrall reddish brown.


Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant
A long time favorite of mine is the 5" White-headed Marsh-Tyrant (Arundinicola leucocephala). I had seen this bird in 1991 in Venezuela, but this is the first time to see it since then. The cute male is black with a white head. the female has a white head and underparts with gray back. They sit up on exposed perches near wetlands and is a snap to ID.


White-headed Marsh-Tyrant - male

The 5" Pied Water-Tyrant (Fluvicola pica) is also found near water but is mostly white with black back, wings and tail.


Pied Water-Tyrant



The 4.5" Handsome Flycatcher (Nephelomyias pulcher) has a gray cap and a rusty breast and wing bars.


Handsome Flycatcher

Another bird I saw in Venezuela in 1991 and did not see again until this trip is the 8" Cattle Tyrant (Machetornis rixosa). It is IDed by the black eye strip and bright yellow belly. It is found in open farmland and often may be on the ground or perched on the back of a grazing animal.


Cattle Tyrant
And lastly is the 4" Black-throated Tody-Tyrant (Hemitriccus granadensis). These tiny flycatchers are difficult to see well as they flit around constantly,. So it is always exciting for me to get a good photo of one of them. Then I can really see what the bird looks like. It is olive above, white below with a black throat.


Black-throated Tody-Tyrant

I have updated my Tyrant Flycatcher family photos. There are 435 species and I have photos of 114 of them here.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2017 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Bulletin 285 - Colombia #8 - Cotingas, Blackbirds and Warblers

Pablo Florez, the main guide, has co-written a book where to bird in Colombia. In it, he has a list of the Top 30 Most Sought-after Birds by a group of 40 birders visiting Colombia. I saw 12 of them on the trip and got photos of 10. When I show one of these birds,  I will mention its placement on the list.

The cotinga family of songbirds (66 species) is a diverse group that hardly even look similar.  It is as if they just couldn't place the remaining birds anywhere else, so they dumped them all here. On this trip I saw more cotingas than on any previous trip.

The most spectacular is the 12" male  Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus).  The males congregate at a lek and perform for females. I had seen this bird before at a lek in Ecuador, but this lek is supposed to be the best in the world. There were at least a dozen males when we arrived in the late afternoon. The male is red with a bushy crest, black wings with a large grey patch. He has a yellow eye.


Andean Cock-of-the-rock - male

And another bird.


Andean Cock-of-the-rock - male

Pihas are cotingas that once were thought to belong to the flycatcher family. I had seen some on previous visits to the tropics, but this was first time to get some photos. They are plain looking birds, but still nice to see as both were lifers for me.

The 13" Dusky Piha (Lipaugus fuscocinereus) is a drab charcoal colored bird.


Dusky Piha
The 10" Olivaceous Piha (Snowornis cryptolophus) is olive colored of course.


Olivaceous Piha
The fruiteaters are mostly green cotingas. I had seen one before in Ecuador, but got much better photos on this trip as well as a second species that was a lifer. The most common is the 7" Green-and-black Fruiteater (Pipreola rifferii).This is the one I had seen before, but it was weird that the birds came to the antpitta feeder location and were eating worms, despite their name. The male is green with a black hood bordered in yellow, and orange beak and feet.



Green-and-black Fruiteater - male

The female is uniformly green all over.


Green-and-black Fruiteater -female
We also saw this bird which is not described in guide books, but must be a juvenile male, as the green hood is distinctive and bordered in the yellow.


Green-and-black Fruiteater - juvenile male
The other was a 7" male Orange-breasted Fruiteater (Pipreola jucunda). This one is green with the black hood and an orange breast. It was another fantastic bird in Tatama National Park.


Orange-breasted Fruiteater - male
The last is the 15" Red-ruffed Fruitcrow (Pyroderus scutatus). This is a black bird with an extensive red throat and rufous belly


Red-ruffed Fruitcrow
The icterid family is a New World family (108 species) of blackbirds, grackles, meadowlarks, orioles and relatives. Those of us in North America are familiar with several species. I photographed 2 new species on this trip and both were lifers.

The first is the 7" male Yellow-hooded Blackbird (Chrysomus icterocephalus). It resembles the Yellow-headed Blackbird of western North America, but is a different genus.


Yellow-hooded Blackbird - male
The other is the 12" endemic Red-bellied Grackle (Hypopyrrhus pyrohypogaster). This bird is #27 on the list of 30 most sought-after birds in Colombia. I saw this bird the first morning in the mountains near Medellin. It is unusual for what we know as grackles, as it is  a forest bird.


Red-bellied Grackle
The last family  got new photos were the warblers. I saw 2 new lifers and photographed them.
The 5" Golden-fronted Whitestart (Myioborus ornatus) is found only in Colombia and Ecuador. It is all golden and except for black back, wings and tail. The tail has white edges.


Golden-fronted Whitestart
The 5.5"  Russet-crowned Warbler (Myothilypis coronata) has a range from Venezuela to Bolivia. here is an adult above with a hungry baby begging below.


 Russet-crowned Warbler - adult and baby
Russet-crowned Warbler - adult and baby
I have updated my families lists for both warblers and icterids.

I have photos of 71 of the 120 warblers here

And 43 of the 108 icterids here..


Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

dkmmdpa@gmail.com

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

To have these trip reports sent to your email, please email me at the above address and ask to subscribe.