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.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Bulletin 284 - Colombia #7 - Tanagers 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.

As everyone knows, the tanager family (Thraupidae) has some of the most colorful birds. In the first part we saw a number of them, so here are the rest from this remarkable trip.

The Bangsia genus consists of just 5 species of tanagers. These are birds of the mountains and until recently some of them have been rarely seen. These tanagers have relatively short tails. One of them is resident in Costa Rica and Panama, the Blue-and-gold Tanager. I saw and photographed it earlier this year. in Costa Rica. The other 4 are in Colombia and 2 are endemic and we saw both at Tatama National Park in the cloud forest.

The 6" Black-and-gold Tanager (Bangsia melanochlamys) is more common than the next one, but it still is an uncommon bird and is #8 on the list of most sought after birds in Colombia. It is listed as vulnerable.  This was a lifer.


Black-and-gold Tanager 
The 6" Gold-ringed Tanager (Bangsia aureocincta) is perhaps the most famous tanager in Colombia as it is on the cover of both 'Field Guide to Birds of Columbia' and 'Birdwatching in Colombia'.. In the Steven Hilty 1986 classic "Guide to the Birds of Colombia", he says this bird is poorly known from only 2 mountainous areas. It is listed as endangered and is #5 on the list of most sought-after birds in Colombia. The male is green with a black head and an incomplete gold ring on sides of head. This was a lifer.


Gold-ringed Tanager - male
The female is similar, except the black of head is replaced by green.


Gold-ringed Tanager - female
The 7" Blue-capped Tanager (Thraupis cyanocephala) is blue and yellow. It is much more colorful than the illustration in the guide books. This was a lifer. 


Blue-capped Tanager
The 7" Purplish-mantled Tanager (Iridosornis porphyrocephalus) has a purple hood and yellow throat. This was a lifer.


Purplish-mantled Tanager
The next one is a bird that I have loved the photo in the guide books for 20 years and finally I saw it on this trip. It is the 6" Swallow Tanager (Tersina viridis). The male is turquoise with a black face and a pale blue belly with some horizontal black streaks on flanks.


Swallow Tanager - male

The female is green and she lacks the black face.



 Swallow Tanager - female
The tangara genus of small tanagers are often the most colorful and here are 2 from the trip. Both were birds I had seen before. The 5" Plain-colored Tanager (Tangara inornata) as the name suggests is the exception to the rule. It is gray with a blue wing patch.


Plain-colored Tanager
The 5" Scrub Tanager (Tangara vitriolina) is aqua with a rufous cap.


Scrub Tanager
Finally, flowerpiercers are tanagers with a specialized hooked upper beak for making holes in the base of flowers and directly getting the nectar. 2 of them were colorful on this trip. The 6" Masked Flowerpiercer (Diglossa cyanea) is bright blue with a black mask and bright red eye.


Masked Flowerpiercer
The 5" Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer (Diglossa gloriosissima) is black with a rufous belly. This endangered species is endemic to Colombia and found only on two mountain tops. This bird was photographed at Tatama National Park. 


Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer

I have updated my tanager family photos and have 97 of the 370 species 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, January 8, 2017

Bulletin 283 - Colombia #6 - Hawks, Parrots, Toucan

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.

One of the stranger things I have noticed in the tropics is the scarcity of raptors (except vultures). In Texas we have hawks everywhere and in winter, it is not uncommon to see a dozen or more in a mornings outing. I did get 3 hawk photos on this trip, but no falcons.

The first is the 15" adult Double-toothed Kite (Harpagus bidentatus). I had previously photographed an immature of this species. The black vertical stripe in center of throat is diagnostic for this species.


Double-toothed Kite - adult
The 24" Savanna Hawk (Buteogallus meridionalis) is beige overall.


Savanna Hawk
And the last was a treat. I have looked for this bird for years and finally found it. It is the 19" Crane Hawk (Geranospiza caerulescens). It is named for the very long legs. It is gray with a red eye and red legs. It was a lifer for me.


Crane Hawk
I also saw several new parrots on this trip and the highlight was the 18" Yellow-eared Parrot (Ognorhyncus icterotis). This bird was thought to be extinct, but a small population of 81 birds was discovered in April 1999. The area was set aside as a reserve. The problem with this bird is that it only nests in wax palm trees. These palms themselves are endangered due to logging and use of the fronds in Palm Sunday celebrations. But a national education program was developed and land owners encouraged to preserve the trees. Also, nest boxes were provided to supplement nest cavities. The population has since climbed to over 1,000 birds and it has been downgraded from critically endangered to endangered. It is bright green with a long tail and yellow cheek patch and yellow underparts.

This bird is number 3 on the top 30 list mentioned above. The guide said that most visiting birders normally only see these birds flying high on the way to or from their night roost. In the morning it was foggy and I could just see that they were parrots. However we went back in the late afternoon and it was clear and several pairs were seen a long way off on the palms. A pair did fly closer and I got this photo.


Yellow-eared Parrot
And then they landed in a bare tree not too far away.


Yellow-eared Parrot


Yellow-eared Parrot

The 16" Scarlet-fronted Parakeet (Psittacara wagleri) is a resident of Venezuela to Peru. I had seen and photographed this species in Miami where many parrots have been released or escaped. But this was my first occasion to see the bird in the wild. It is green with a scarlet forehead.
Scarlet-fronted Parakeet
The 7" Orange-chinned Parakeet (Brotogeris jugularis) is a small green parakeet with a white eye ring and hard to see orange chin patch.

Orange-chinned Parakeet
The 11" Bronze-winged Parrot (Pionus chalcopterus) is blue with bronzy wings.


Bronze-winged Parrot
Lastly is the 5" Spectacled Parrotlet (Forpus conspicillatus). It is green with blue around the eye.


Spectacled Parrotlet
The only new toucan was a far off 18" Black-billed Mountain Toucan (Andigena nigrirostris). It is blue and white underneath with a solid black bill/


Black-billed Mountain Toucan
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.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Bulletin 282 - Colombia #5 - Wrens, Donacobius, and Thrushes

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.

None of the birds in this bulletin are on the top 30 list, but several are very uncommon. or endangered.

The wrens are a family of small brown, usually secretive, birds with 86 species. All but one are in the New World. The forest wrens of Latin America in general are hard to see and photograph, so I was pleased to photo 4 new species on this trip and 6 overall. The sexes are similar for the wrens.

The first is the common 4" House Wren (Troglodytes aedon). This wren has the greatest range of any wren and can be found from southern Canada, all the way to southern Chile and several Caribbean islands as well. It is rather plain with just a faint eye stripe.


House Wren

The 6" Black-bellied Wren (Pheugopedius fasciatoventris) had his eye hidden by a leaf, but his distinctive white throat and breast and black belly are clearly seen. This bird has a range form Costa Rica to Colombia, but it was a lifer for me.


Black-bellied Wren
The 6" Chestnut-breasted Wren (Cyphorhinus thoracicus) is one of 3 members of this genus with the other 2 being the extremely difficult to see Musician Wren and Song Wren. This bird sang in response to the tape, but stayed very hidden down a slope. Finally, we found a window through the leaves  to get a photo. This was another lifer.


Chestnut-breasted Wren
The 4" Gray-breasted Wood-Wren (Henicorhina leucophrys) has a range from Mexico to Bolivia with several sub species that may be split in the future. It is rufous above with black streaked face and streaked gray breast.


Gray-breasted Wood Wren
His cousin is the extremely rare, endemic 4" Munchique Wood-Wren (Henicorhina negreti). After doing the research for this bulletin, I was delighted to have obtained a photo of this bird. It was only described as a new species in 2008. It has a tiny range in the cloud forest of the western Andes. There are estimated to be only 300 pairs and so is listed as critically endangered. It is one of only 16 birds in Colombia that have this rarest designation. This photo was taken at the summit of Tatama National Park.


Munchique Wood Wren
15 minutes after this photo, I got another lifer, the 6" Sharpe's Wren (Cinnycerthia olivascsns). This bird has a range from Colombia to Peru. It is plain brown all over.


Sharpe's Wren

The colorful 8" Black-capped Donacobius (Donacobius atricapilla) was formerly placed in the wren family, but now it has been moved to its own family. It is described as a vocal and noisy bird, more often heard than seen. I have seen it on a number of birding trips. The black cap, dark brown back and tail, beige underparts and yellow eye, make this bird an easy ID.


Black-capped Donacobius

Thrushes are familiar birds to everyone and in USA and Canada, the American Robin is the classic thrush. There are 165 species worldwide. The 12" Great Thrush (Turdus fuscater) has a range from western Venezuela to western Bolivia. It is dark gray with a bright orange bill and feet. It is large, common and easy to see.


Great Thrush
The 8.5" Black-billed Thrush (Turdus ignobilis) is the most common thrush is Colombia and occurs in open areas, towns etc, so is easily seen. It is brown above and grayish below.


Black-billed Thrush
This 9" Pale-breasted Thrush (Turdus leucomelas) was on her nest right beside the road we were walking along. It is gray brown above and gray below with a yellow bill.


Pale-breasted Thrush - on nest
The last bird is the 8" Black Solitaire (Entomodestes coracinus). This bird is black with a distinctive white cheek patch. Its range is Colombia to Ecuador in the western Andes. It is described as shy, solitary and heard more often than seen. In Hilty's 1986 guide book, he states that this bird is 'inordinately wary and difficult to see and usually only is glimpsed as it flies rapidly across small forest openings'. This bird was also at the summit of Tatama National Park. The guide heard one fly close and it landed. There was a window and I got a single photo before it left. The guide still has no photo of this bird. The guide told me that a previous birder spent an entire day looking for this bird and never saw it. So my birding luck continues to be outstanding. Needless to say, this was another lifer.


Black Solitaire

I have updated the thrush family photos and have 35 of the 180 species 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.