Sunday, January 24, 2016

Bulletin 249 - Ecuador #10 - cotingas, becards, cardinals

Cotingas are a diverse neotropical family with 66 species. They have names like bellbird, fruitcrow, umbrellabird, plantcutter and fruiteater along with, of course, cotinga. They are usually forest residents and are difficult to find. I have seen about 10 of them in 25 years birding. On this trip I was fortunate to get photos of 3 and saw a 4th bird, but it flew before I could take his picture. All were lifers.

The most unusual was the Long-wattled Umbrellabird (Cephalopterus penduliger). There is a lek of these birds at Buenaventura Reserve, and in fact the lodge is called Umbrellabird Lodge. The first morning we went early and heard and saw a bird or two high in the canopy, but it was at dawn and too dark for any photos. So we went back the next morning armed with spotlights, like we were going owling. One bird was quite low on a branch and there was a small hill we ascended so the bird was just above eye level and so close that I couldn't get the whole bird in the photo. This is a large bird at 16" in length and all black. The wattle is a long inflatable tube from his throat that he inflates to make his deep voice like blowing across the mouth of an empty bottle. In this first photo, you can see the umbrella-like crest of feathers arching over his forehead. Also the wattle can be seen in front of his feet.

Long-wattled Umbrellabird - male

I repositioned the camera to get a head shot, and the umbrella can be seen. His umbrella is all black.

Long-wattled Umbrellabird - male

When I first set up the camera and looked through, I saw this feathery thing and wondered what the heck is that? Of course it was just his 10" wattle I was seeing hanging down. You can see his feet in the top left.

Here is the wattle inflated.

This has to be one of the strangest birds I have ever seen. At Copalinga we also saw an Amazonian Umbrellabird. His umbrella has white at the base. He flew before I got a photo however. So I saw 2 of the 3 umbrellabirds on the trip..

The second cotinga for the trip was a 7" Green-and-black Fruiteater (Pipreola riefferii). There are 11 species of fruiteaters and all are in South America. This bird was right outside the lodge at Tapichalaca in the cloud forest. The bright orange-red beak and feet are distinctive. He also was the first fruiteater species I ever saw.

Green-and-black Fruiteater
The third cotinga was the striking 12" Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus). The males come in 2 different colors. On the east slope they are orange like this one with charcoal wings and tail and a yellow eye. On the west slope they have a red body.

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock  - male
Becards and tityras were formerly in the flycatcher family, but they have been reassigned to their own family. The Yellow-cheeked Becard (Pachyramphus xanthogenys) has a white belly, black cap and lemon yellow face and breast.

Yellow-cheeked Becard - male
The male One-colored Becard (Pachyramphus homochrous) is all dark gray. The female is a beautiful rufous color.

One-colored Becard - female
There was another flycatcher called the Royal Flycatcher, because of an elaborate crest, that was also moved the the becard family. It was also split into several species. The one I saw at Buenaventura was the Pacific Royal Flycatcher (Onychorhynchus occidentalis). The crest is usually kept flat against the head. It is orange and black and if you look closely, you can see part of it.

Pacific Royal Flycatcher
I also got photos of a couple of members of the cardinal family. The White-winged Tanager (Piranga leucoptera) is very similar to our well known Scarlet Tanager, but it has 2 white wing bars.

White-winged Tanager - male
The other was the Slate-colored Grosbeak (Saltator grossus). The bird is all gray, but has a bright red bill.

Slate-colored Grosbeak
Well this completes my photos of the trip to southern Ecuador. Thanks again to my superb guide, Pablo Andrade. I guess I will need to go back as they are still about 1500 birds in Ecuador I need to photograph!

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2016 David McDonald

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