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.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Bulletin 281 - Colombia #4 - Antbirds and Antpittas

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 antbirds and relatives are New World families of birds that generally found low in the forest and are very secretive and difficult to see let alone photograph. There are abour 230 species of antbirds and these include antwrens, antvireos, and antshrikes.

The 6.5" male Bar-crested Antshrike (Thamnophilus multistriatus) is typical black and white striped antshrike with a crest. The female has a rufous crest, wings and tail.


Bar-crested Antshrike - male

There are 8 species call antvireo and this is the first I have ever seen. The 5" male Bicolored Antvireo (Dysithamnus occidentalis) is gray with white spots on the wings. It is listed as vulnerable.


Bicolored Antvireo - male

Antwrens are small but usually easier to see as they are often found in the canopy. The first is the striking 5" male Northern White-fringed Antwren (Formicivora intermedia). He is solid black below and rufous above with a whuite line separating the two colors.


Northern White-fringed Antwren - male
The 4.5" Yellow-breasted Antwren (Herpsilochmus axillaris) is yellow below as expected. This bird was directly overhead, but the long black tail with white on edges is a typical tail on an antwren.


Yellow-breasted Antwren
I also obtained photos of 3 species called antbirds. The first is the endemic 6" male Parker's Antbird (Cercomaca parkeri). This bird was first described in the late 1990s as a new species and was named for the famous LSU birder Ted Parker who was killed in a plane crash earlier in the 90's. It is a typical gray antbird with some white wing spots.


Parker's Antbird - male
Another endemic is the male 5" Magdalena Antbird (Myrmecezia palliata). He has a gray head and underparts, brown wings, back and tail, and a red eye.


Magdalena Antbird - male
The 6.5" male Bare-crowned Antbird (Gymnocochla nudiceps) is a montypic genus. The male is black with the blue bare skin around the eye and on the crown as well. My guide said this bird is extremely difficult to even see, but this bird perched in the open and even flew onto the open ground about 15 feet away from us.


Bare-crowned Antbird - male
The next birds are the antpittas of which there are 53 species in their own family. We saw 5 species on the trip and I got photos of 4 of them. The first is the endemic 7" Brown-banded Antpitta (Grallaria milleri). It is rufous above and white below with a brown chest stripe. It has a very small range and is listed as vulnerable. It is #23 on the list of top 30 most sought-after Colombian birds.


Brown-banded Antpitta
Next is the 6.5" Tawny Antpitta (Grallaria quitensis). This buffy bird is a resident of the paramo or tundra atop the highest mountains. It is also the easiest antpitta to see as they walk around in the open.


Tawny Antpitta
The third one was the 7" Chestnut-crowned Antpitta (Grallaria ruficapilla). He is brown above and streaked brown below with a rufous head.



Chestnut-crowned Antpitta
And the last one is the 4.5" Slate-crowned Antpitta (Grallaricula nana). He is olive brown above and rufous below with a gray crown.


Slate-crowned Antpitta
The other one we saw and I should have been able to photograph was the 4" Hooded Antpitta. It is listed as vulnerable and is #20 on the list of 30 most sought-after birds.

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 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.