Sunday, November 27, 2016

Bulletin 280 - Colombia #3 - Marsh Birds, Cracids, Night Birds

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.

So the next of these most sought after birds is the 35"  Northern Screamer (Chauna chavaria). Screamers are a small family of just 3 species in South America. They are closely related to ducks and geese. We saw 2 pairs way out in a field. But they responded to the tape and flew closer. This bird is only found in Colombia and Venezuela. With the current political situation in Venezuela, Colombia is only place this species can be seen.They have a black body, white throat and red face with a wispy crest. It is #22 out of 30 on the above list.


Northern Screamer
Here is a bird in the air. Notice the spur on the leading edge of the wing.


Northern Screamer

We found a couple of waders. The 21" Bare-faced Ibis (Phimosus infuscatus) is a dark bodied ibis with a bare red face.


Bare-faced Ibis

The 49" Cocoi Heron (Ardea cocoi) is similar to our Great Blue Heron. He is paler and lacks the rusty thighs of the Great Blue Heron


Cocoi Heron
The last of the marsh birds was a treat to see, a rail. The are usually so secretive, but this 12" Blackish Rail (Pardirallus nigricans) walked out of the reeds for his photo. He is brown above, black below with a long yellow bill.



Blackish Rail
The cracids are a new world family of large turkey like game birds with 55 species in 3 broad categories - chachalacas, guans and curassows. The curassows are the largest, most threatened and rarest. I have photos of only 1 curassow so far.

The 20" Colombian Chachalaca (Ortalis columbiana) is brown with a pale belly. It is endemic to Colombia.


Colombian Chachalaca
The 23" Sickle-winged Guan (Chamapetes goudotii) is brown above and rufous below.


Sickle-winged Guan
The 25" Cauca Guan (Penelope perspicax) is another Colombian endemic. It is listed as endangered. It is brown with speckling underneath and a red throat wattle.


Cauca Guan
The 2 nocturnal birds were both spectacular, despite the fact I did not get any owl photos, but not from lack of trying. The owls would just not respond to the tape. 

So here is the 16" Common Potoo (Nyctibius griseus). Potoos are a small family of 7 species of birds in Latin America and the Caribbean, closely related to nightjars. What makes them unique is that they perch on top of a broken snag or tree and sit motionless all day sleeping, so as to become almost invisible. Here is a photo of a roosting bird I took in Panama 2 years ago.

So what  was so special about the Common Potoo here. Well, as well as roosting on the broken off tree, they lay their single egg in a depression on top of the snag as well. No nest is built.  We found a Common Potoo with the fluffy white baby both on top of a snag and sitting absolutely motionless. My guide had never seen a baby before, so this was a very rare find. I had to climb up about 100 feet on a 45 degree slope to get these photos.


Common Potoo with baby
Here is a close up of the baby. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

Common Potoo - baby

The other nocturnal bird was a lifer, the 18" Oilbird (Steatornis caripensis). Oilbirds are a separate family themselves, but are also related to nightjars and potoos. However, the big difference is that they are fruit eaters. Also, they are unique in that they roost during the day in caves like bats. They also use echolocation similar to bats.. This was the first time in all my travels to be at an oilbird cave. Here is a bird on a ledge on the wall of the cave.


Oilbird
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.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Bulletin 279 - Colombia #2 - Tanagers

The tanagers are a huge new world family and many are very colorful. I saw many of them on this trip to Colombia and here is the first group.

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.

So here is the first of the top 30 birds, the elusive the 8" Tanager Finch (Oreothraupis arremonops). It is #21 of 30 on the list. We actually had a small group of 4 birds and this one sat still for many minutes allowing multiple photographs. It is rusty orange with a black head and white stripe across it. It is listed as vulnerable.


Tanager Finch
The mountain tanagers are larger tanagers usually about 7" in length. I saw 3 differernt species on the trip as almost the whole trip was in the Andes. The 7" Lacrimose Mountain Tanager (Anisognathus lacrymosus) is slate gray above and mustard yellow below and it has a yellow tear below the eye.


Lacrimose Mountain Tanager
The 7" Black-chinned Mountain Tanager (Anisognathus notabilis) has a black head with a yellow crown patch and golden underparts.


Black-chinned Mountain Tanager
The 9" Hooded Mountain Tanager (Bauthraupis montana) has a black head, yellow underparts and distinctive red eye.



Hooded Mountain Tanager
There were a couple of green colored tanagers found on the trip. The large 7" Grass-green Tanager (Chlorornis riefferii) is all green except for a chestnut face and undertail. It also has a red bill and legs.


Grass-green Tanager

The 5" Glistening-green Tanager (Chlorochrysa phoenicotis) is an oily green color with a small yellow ear patch.


Glistening-green Tanager
The ramphocelus genus of tanagers are manly black and red. The 6.5" male Flame-rumped Tanager (Ramphocelus flammigerus) is black with an orange red-rump. It is endemic to Colombia.


Flame-rumped Tanager - male
The 6.75" Crimson-backed Tanager (Ramphocelus dimidiatus) is mostly red with black wings.


Crimson-backed Tanager - male
I have photographs now of 97 of the 370 tanager species and you can see them all 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.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Bulletin 278 - Colombia #1 - Hummingbirds

Oh Colombia..the second most ecologically diverse country on earth and the most diverse per square mile.  In a country the size of Texas + California, it is estimated to contain 10% of all species on earth. It is #1 in birds with 1900+ species. It has 10% of mammals, 14% of amphibians and 18% of birds. It is #1 in orchids, It has more than 2,000 species of marine fish and is second in freshwater fish. It has more endemic species of all types than any other country.

With the dismantling of the cocaine cartels and elimination of many of the rebel groups, Colombia is open for tourism again. Birders started going back to Colombia about 8 years ago and increasing numbers are taking the opportunity to see birds that can be found nowhere else.

I went with a guide Pablo Florez and his company. I found him on birdingpal. Although he was busy, he booked 2 partners (Johnnier Arango, and  José Castaño) and they were excellent guides. We did a tour of the central Andes starting in the Medellin area, the second largest city and once infamous as the home of Pablo Escobar....head of the Medellin cartel.

Pablo Florez has cowriiten 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.

So we will begin with everyone's favorite - hummingbirds. Some of these were seen previously in the Ecuador series. However, I got better photos of many of them on this trip.

The pufflegs are hummingbirds of high mountain forests. We saw 2 on the trip. The 3" male Black-thighed Puffleg (Enocnemis derbyi) is green with charcoal puffy feathers on legs that can be seen in this photo.


Black-thighed Puffleg - male
The female has a spotted breast and white leg puffs


Black-thighed Puffleg - female

The 4.75" Golden-breasted Puffleg (Enocnemis mosquera) is green with a golden chest and white leg puffs. The sexes are similar.


Golden-breasted Puffleg


The 3.25" Steely-vented Hummingbird (Amazilia saucerrottei) is green with bluish wings and tail. The bill is reddish which is typical of this genus.


Steely-vented Hummingbird
Hermits are generally brown hummingbirds and many have central elongated white tail feathers. They usually have curved bills and most species do not visit feeders, so you have to catch them at a flower. I got a photo of the 5" Tawny-bellied Hermit (Phaethornis syrmatophorus).

Tawny-bellied Hermit
The 3" Wedge-billed Hummingbird (Schistes geoffroyi) is green with white on throat and a short dagger like bill that  he can uses to pierce to base of the flower and 'steal' nectar.



Wedge-billed Hummingbird
However, here is another photo showing the bird at the base of the flower.


Wedge-billed Hummingbird
The 4.5" Shining Sunbeam (Aglaeactis cupripennis) is unique in its overall cinnamon color. The sexes are similar.


Shining Sunbeam

The 3.75" Speckled Hummingbird (Adelomyia melanogenys)  is green with buffy underparts and green spots along flanks. It has a vertical white strip behind the eye. The sexes are similar.


Speckled Hummingbird

The 3.5" male Viridian Metaltail (Metallura williami) is all green with a blue tail


Viridian Metaltail - male
The female has a greenish tail.


Viridian Metaltail - female
Lastly is the amazing 5" Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera). The bill is 4" long. and makes the ID of this hummer. I had a chance to watch one come repeatedly to a feeder and finally he perched on a stick beside the feeder. This is the male with green underparts. The female would have spotted underparts.


Sword-billed Hummingird - male

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.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Bulletin 277 - Ecuador #11 - other birds

This will be the last of the photos from my Ecuador trip at the end of June. But don't worry I have some more from a later trip.

I got photos of 3 different jays. The Inca Jay (Cyanocorax yncas) is very similar to the Green Jay in south Texas and in fact until a few years ago, there were considered to be the same species. However, if you look closely, there are several color differences.


Inca Jay
The Turquoise Jay (Cyanolyca turcosa) is mostly blue with a black mask.


Turquoise Jay
Lastly, the Violaceous Jay (Cyanocorax violaceus) is purplish with a black hood.


Violaceous Jay
The juvenile Black Caracara (Daptrius ater) is all black with a yellow face and bill. The adult would have red in place of the yellow.


Black Caracara - juvenile
The Squirrel Cuckoo (Piaya cayana) is a typical long tailed cuckoo and yher most commonly encountered. This on is all rufous and this is the best photo I have obtained of this bird.


Squirrel Cuckoo

The cute 4" male Red-capped Manakin (Dixiphia mentalis) is black with a red head and a pale eye.


Red-capped Manakin - male
Lastly, I got photos of several guans. The Sickle-winged Guan (Chamaepetes goudotii) has black upperparts and a rufous belly. He also had blue bare skin on his face.


Sickle-winged Guan
Spix's Guan (Penelope jacquacu) is gray brown with a red throat patch and bare blue skin on face.


Spix's Guan
The Andean Guan (Penelope montagnii) has a spotted chest, head and neck and brown back with a red throat patch.


Andean Guan
And the last is the Blue-throated Piping Guan (Pipile cumanensis). It is black with a white head and wing patches and a blue throat.


Blue-throated Piping Guan


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.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bulletin 276 - Ecuador #10 - more Hummingbirds

This was a remarkable trip with 23 new species of hummingbirds photographed. So here are another 9.

The largest hummingbird is the 6.5" Giant Hummingbird. I saw it, but didn't get a photo before the bird flew away. The second largest hummer is the beautiful 6" Great Sapphirewing (Pterophanes cyanopterus). The male has blue wings and we saw several of them.


Great Sapphirewing - male
Another bird I love is the Collared Inca (Coeligena torquata). I had seen this bird on my previous Ecuador trip, but it is always a delight to see them. They are dark green appearing black with a white chest and white in the tail. I spent considerable time at San Isidro Lodge to get one hovering.


Collared Inca
His cousin is the rather drab Bronzy Inca (Coeligena coeligena).


Bronzy Inca
The male Purple-bibbed Whitetip (Urosticte benjamini) is all green with a small purple throat patch and white tips to the tail feathers.


Purple-bibbed Whitetip - male
Woodstars are small hummers 2.5 to 3.5 inches long. The male Purple-throated Woodstar (Calliphlox mitchelli) is green with a purple gorget. Most woodstars have white on the rump as well which helps in their ID.

Purple-throated Woodstar - male
The male White-bellied Woodstar (Chaetocercus mulsant) is green with a pink gorget and is mostly white underneath. Also just a glimpse of the white rump is visible.

White-bellied Woodstar - male

The male Tourmaline Sunangel (Heliangelus exortis) is all green with a small pink gorget. This on was sitting on a large flower stalk.

Tourmaline Sunangel - male

The last 2 species are probably the most spectacular of the trip. The 5" Sword-billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) is a target bird for all birders in South America. It has an amazing 4" bill and ehrn it comes to a feeder, the body seems so far away from the feeder.

Sword-billed Hummingbird
The 4" male Velvet-purple Coronet (Boissonneaua jardini) is glittering purple in good light. I took many photos before getting this one. In poor light the bird just looks black. This is the guides (Pablo Andrade) favorite hummer in Ecuador out of 130 species.

Velvet-purple Coronet - male
I have updated my hummingbird family photos and now have 111 species of the 348. You can browse them all at this link.

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.