Sunday, December 13, 2015

Bulletin 245 - Ecuador #7 - raptors, owls and other non-passerines

I just had a couple of good hawk photos of new species. The first was a juvenile Double-toothed Kite (Harpagus bidentatus). This 13" raptor is IDed by the dark midline whisker below the chin. This bird sat quietly for a long time and was a puzzle. In my naivete, I told the guide I thought it was a Double-toothed Kite because I knew of the field mark and really nothing else about the bird. However, he agonized over it for a while before agreeing, as most juveniles are heavily streaked on the breast but just a few have plain breasts as this one does.

Double-toothed Kite - juvenile
Buenaventura Lodge
The other was a 26" juvenile Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle (Geranoaetus melanoleucus). This bird was soaring over the road as we drove between 2 lodges. As we stopped, he landed in a small tree just 50 feet above us. The juvie is brown with a darker chest. The adult would be gray with a black chest.

Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle - juvenile
I only saw a single toucan on this trip, the 17" Choco Toucan (Ramphastos brevis). It is similar to the larger Chestnut-mandibled Toucan and best IDed by voice. It is black with a yellow face and yellow and brown bill.

Choco Toucan
Buenaventura Lodge
Closely related to toucans is the small family (15 species) of New World barbets. I photographed my second and 3rd species on this trip at Copalinga Lodge. I think the best known is the 6" Red-headed Barbet (Eubucco bourcierii). The male is green with a red head and chest and yellow bill.

Red-headed Barbet - male
The female is very pretty too, but doesn't look at all like the male other than green body and heavy yellow bill. She came to the banana feeders at Copalinga.

Red-headed Barbet - female
The other species was the 7" male Gilded Barbet (Capito auratus). He is black with an orange throat and yellow underparts

Gilded Barbet - male
Puffbirds are a New World family of 37 species. My guide was able to show me 2 species, but we tried very hard for a couple of others, but no response. The 7" White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis) is brown with white on the cheeks and orange breast.

White-whiskered Puffbird
Buenaventura Lodge
The 8" Barred Puffbird (Nystalus radiatus) is brown with horizontal barring all over.

Barred Puffbird
Buenaventura Lodge
I saw several species of doves, but the only notable one was the White-throated Quail-Dove (Geotrygon frenata). Quail-doves are very difficult to  see and photograph as they walk along the forest floor and are extremely shy. This is only the second species I have managed to photograph. However, it was a slam dunk as they have a feeder for them at Tapichalaca Lodge. Just a couple of minutes after putting the corn on the stump, the bird appeared and I could get photos from the blind.

White-throated Quail-Dove
Tapichalaca Lodge
The only motmot species was the 19" Andean Motmot (Momotus aequatorialis). This bird has gone through a number of name changes as it was part of the Blue-crowned Motmot complex and also know as Highland Motmot in the Birds of Ecuador. The blue crown and long raquet tail ID this bird. It is the only motmot at 1000 - 2100m elevation.

Andean Motmot
Copalinga Lodge
The 9" Coppery-chested Jacamar (Galbula pastazae) was only my second jacamar species to get on film.

Coppery-chested Jacamar - male
Copalinga Lodge
I saved my favorites for last of course, the owls. Pygmy-owls are diurnal and can be called in to the tape in daylight which makes them easy to photo if they land in the open. We caught the 6.5" Pacific Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium peruanum) on the first day as we drove to Buenaventura Lodge. Pablo Andrade, my guide, played the tape and sure enough a bird flew right in. They come in 2 colors, reddish and brown. Here is a brown one.

Pacific Pygmy-Owl
A short time later, a second bird flew in and it was the red one. My guide said he had never seen the 2 color morphs together previously.

Pacific Pygmy-Owl - pair
Lastly was the 15" Black-and-white Owl (Strix nigrolineata). This beautiful owl is one of the target birds at Buenaventura Lodge as a bird regularly comes to hunt insects under the street light in the parking lot. But he only appears about twice weekly. Finally on my third and last night there we heard him hooting, as we were finishing dinner. There is no ID problem but note the orange beak and feet.

Black-and-white Owl
Buenaventura Lodge
A moment before this, he had caught and devoured a large grasshopper. I consider this my most amazing bird photo ever as you saw in my favorites last week.

Black-and-white Owl
Buenaventura Lodge
Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2015 David McDonald

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